It is the Nativity Fast and I feel so lost. I turn and I turn, I try to silence the noise, the blogs full of stuff and waste. I need to find Him; the tiny babe in this madness of commercialized holiness. I reach for the phone and I call miles away. I reach to touch my heart still pulsating in a village far away. I cry and I tell her how all is too bright, all is too busy. The stores, the blogs, the churches all too busy selling stuff, create in me a wounded heart. She listens and she breathes and how I wish I could be there feeling her breath and holding her aging hands. So this is how people lose the wee baby in America, buried under all the stuff. Adding more gifts to the already beautiful traditions, thus robbing them from the peace and the simplicity of that Holy Night!!
The Nativity Fast has begun. Her words whispered from miles away brought me back home in that small European house; my great-grandfather whispering stories by the oil lamp and my baba spinning wool, the warm glow of the wood stove warming our small room while outside the snow was busily about, creating a thick soft blanket of wonder!!! The words coming softly from where my diado (grandfather) sat were coming back through the years to speak to my heart. The simplicity and the deep love of people long ago, their faith so strong and unshakable, yet as simple and as rugged as the earth on which they work. Such faith that builds giants can be created only in the simplicity and poverty of their lives. I listen to prayers whispered in the dark, candles lit by the icons, and songs sung with lungs full of faith. The bareness of the cottage, the white washed walls, the dirt floors, the oil lamp flickering in the dark is what has built my soul and mind. The Christmases tucked away in that small village are the ones that breathe life, love, and faith. Tears roll down my cheeks as I listen in gratitude. My soul is being healed, like the wee lambs my diado used to bring home and care for them by the warmth of the wood stove. The balm of simple peasant faith is a life-giving miracle for my weary soul. And I know that I am the great-granddaughter of many peasant women of faith who greeted the holy babe in the simplicity of their own home, far away from the noise of the modern madness of Christmas!!!!
It is the Nativity Fast and by God’s grace I am here to open my heart and my children’s hearts for the tiny visitor. I dust my icons, put new oil in my lamp, and pray for the faith that was born in a manger two thousand years ago. I go in the woods and bring fresh greens for the wreath and I pray for the strength to carry that faith like the women who walked the floors on our tiny cottage back in the mountainside. There is no tree yet and no light because it is the Nativity fast, not yet Christmas!!! As a flip through the pages of old recipes, looking for meatless dinners I know that my heart is still beating with the holy season. There are no malls, stores, or cyber shopping frenzies here. There should not be. I must guard this holy fast and pray that my faith will grow bigger. I must hope that one day my unworthy self will be gifted with the faith of the women who rocked their wee babes in that small cottage. We gather around and we each busy our fingers in the prayer of creating a handmade gift for the ones we love. As we pray our stitches through the fabric or our lines on the paper we are thinking of the person who will receive the gift. It makes it easier to pray for them and it makes it sweeter on our hearts and souls.
It is the Nativity Fast and all is well with my soul. I am who I am and it is okay that I cannot change. I am here miles away from the dirt floors back home but I have found my pulse again. I am the next in the long line of peasant women passing down the quiet, the peace, and the warmth of the Nativity of Our Lord!!!