Hoo-wee! Just four weeks until the 12 days of Christmas begin for real. Even the build-up to those golden days is fun! It was evident just driving past a popular shopping area, seeing the parking lot totally glutted with empty vehicles awaiting their owners’ return with carts and bags and boxes, and hopefully, their credit cards.  (Who are all these people, heading to a store on Black Friday?) Decorations are appearing. The tree is up at my office complex (at our house, too). Stores are jammed with  Christmas everything. All this festive activity floods me with childhood memories – the smells, the music, the lights, the meals, the visits, the feeling in the air, the gift buying and wrapping, the candles, the candies, the only-at-Christmas desserts (I’m not even going to mention my mother’s famous fruitcake in case there are any fruitcake naysayers reading this). But more than those things, there is another – the tree! Always a balsam fir at our house. Frequently a bit wonky and needing to be adjusted by my father cutting a branch from a thick place on the trunk and drilling a hole and inserting it into the bald spot. Sometimes, a tree was a tad crooked and needed to be wire-anchored to the wall and/or ceiling to keep it from tipping over due to gravity or the too-near scuffling of four rambunctious Freeman kids. But more than those alterations, it was about something glorious, something all-things-Christmas – that smell! Mmm-mmm! (I need a moment). Another signature characteristic of this type of tree, was the ever-present ‘sap’ (which I’ve since learned is not sap at all, but the tree’s insect-repelling, protective resin. The balsam fir produces sensitive resin blisters on its bark, blisters which, when opened, ooze a clear, ultra-sticky goo. A goo, I might add, which is ridiculously hard to wash off your hands!

I’m not suggesting we be covered in bark, nor do I wish for anyone to develop blisters, but is it possible for us, during these four weeks leading up to Christmas (what we’re calling the Season of Advent) to be ‘covered’ or ‘dressed’ or ‘perfumed’ with the now-familiar themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love? Could we so focus on these Advent characteristics that the Holy Spirit finds us outfitted and ready and waiting to ooze? Could it be, that all who come in contact with us pause to take note, to have their curiosity piqued, to wonder about that appealing aura/aroma trailing behind us? Could we choose to make ourselves unhurriedly available to answer any questions posed? Could we so trust the leading of the Holy Spirit that we find ourselves involved where we do not typically involve ourselves? Could this exercise re-define our own understanding of Hope, of Peace, of Joy, of Love? Could this exercise even turn out to be fun? Wanna be an oozer? We’ll talk more tomorrow 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD

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