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December 29, 2003
As sure an event of macro-circadian rhythm as the solstice comes the urge in late December to set things in order: the pile of papers that occupies a faux "urgent" spot between my monitor and my printer, the collection of videos on top of the television set. The CDs that used to be arranged by category -- why would Frank Sinatra be on top of Anonymous Four?

No, wait. Don't answer that.

Perhaps now is the time to buy eternal plastic boxes for the Christmas things, instead of using cardboard ones. Then we could see what was inside without opening them up. I check a discount store online, where a dizzying display of such boxes greets me. Quickly daunted -- I would make a good communist, as I find our multiplicity of consumer choices utterly depressing -- I return to my work.

But the urge is strong. I will finish things. Clean things. Arrange things sensibly. The end of the year will not see me with a thousand dangling threads of fraudulent potential, but replete with the quiet satisfaction of good jobs, well done. That I think this happen this year, when it has never happened my whole life long, is yet another example of the triumph of hope over experience.

Nevertheless, a toast:

To each jar, its lid.

To each receipt, a home in its proper file folder.

To each book, a companion on the shelf from its own discipline, or a related one. No stowaways: no cookbooks among the poetry, children's books studding the row of Norton anthologies.

To each spare ink cartridge for a defunct printer, a new home at the stationary store down the street. Gratis. A donation. You're more than welcome.

To each card, one more grateful read. And then, the circular file.

To the half-box of brownies, a dignified burial somewhere other than on my hips.

To my unfinished essay, a cheery row of number signs, one of the journalist's signals that yes, this really is the end of the story.

To that row of unwritten sermons, the same.

To my unfinished book, a miracle. One on the order of Chanukah. Or the time when God stopped the sun for Elisha.

Some of my toasts to the unfinished will bear late fruit, and -- if the past is any predictor of the present -- some will bear no fruit at all. But thanks be to God, though, for this flurry of orderliness, however brief, and for whatever sense it has time to make. Already the days are growing longer, a few minutes each day. There will be more time.


The retelling of the Christmas story that occupied the eMos for the fortnight preceding Christmas is over. I may have mis-numbered an episode; check the titles. If you think you're missing one, check the website,, where old eMos live on.

I hope to publish a more complete print version of this story next year, in time for Christmas. Also in time for Christmas next year from Morehouse, a book of reflections for the Daily Office, called, appropriately, "Let Us Bless the Lord." A new edition of "Finding Time for Serenity" (1994) will be available from Morehouse in the late summer.
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