Advent is upon us with all it's hush and quiet. The ground is brown and the air fecund as spring, a warm breeze sweeping our part of the earth for a few days time before the frosts descend again. It reminds me of the stable smells of Christmas, Mary giving birth in the hay, a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Hope springs up warm and wet and earthy sweet from the frozen ground around us, and for a weekend, it's palpable....like the miracle of a forced bulb on a windowsill against a snowy backdrop, the virgin birth so out of place with it's surroundings every sound and smell must have been something magical, the moments creeping slowly by as she tried to memorize them, fix them forever treasures of the heart.
How she must have turned them over and over again like smooth stones in the palm of her memory, once she had seen Him brutally murdered and then risen and then taken again - even if up to heaven. I have watched mothers after their sons go to heaven, I have ushered an unborn son there, too, and I know that it is faith alone that buoys you in their absence. Faith alone that they are comforted there and faith alone that you yourself will someday be comforted. The bittersweet agony of a mother's breaking heart soothed only by the whisper of belief that remembers, "Behold, I go to prepare a place for you..."
This season, though, is about that night of the brilliant shining star twinkling through the rafters of the stable, the warmth of the animals breathing moist in the air, the newness of skin fresh from the womb. All this is what I see and smell in our glimpse of thaw. And a glorious brown Christmas it is.