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November 29, 2004
I'd better get the rest of the bulbs in before what's happening in Reno and Nebraska works its way out here. We haven't had any snow, really -- just a dusting one day that was gone almost as soon as it landed.

And I'd better do some triage on the ambitious transplanting program I imagined -- clearly, it won't all get done. I imagine the peonies will jostle each other impatiently in their border for yet another season -- they've been doing it for thirty years, so another year won't kill them. Same with the irises, I think. Maybe I'll just move some roses and call it a year.

The reality of my achievement never equals my imagined excellences. In real life, they always shrink. So many things that would be so good to do -- I still haven't painted the living room, as I said I would do before Thanksgiving. I haven't the nerve, now, to say a thing about painting it before Christmas, which hurtles toward us like a high-speed train.

But yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. The beginning of the new year, whatever else the secular culture thinks and does. Facing failures and inadequacies is a welcome part of Advent for me, by far the most welcome part: we were never supposed to get it all done. We never have been self-sufficient. We need a saviour now, and we've always needed one.

So the landscaping won't be the most important thing. Or the painting. Neither will the buying and wrapping of gifts -- did you know that you can give them unwrapped, if it comes to that? Just slip it into a paper bag, look the recipient straight in the eye and tell the truth: you ran out of time. You may feel like a failure, but you may also endear yourself forever to someone who is also weary and swamped with work.

Time to sit and think. Time to rest the body. Time to pray and read. Time to prepare the soul, as well as the house. Time to enrich the lives of the poor in some way, instead of re-embroidering your own rich life. These things, too, are part of getting ready to welcome the coming Christ.
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