“The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches between your head and your heart.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

This quote by a Buddhist monk summarizes the journey I’m taking this Advent, it seems. Amid all the volunteering, gifting, shopping and partying, I’m trying to wait in hope. A few examples:

  • Watching hundreds of students pet my 12 year-old retired guide dog Ivanna and Luna at the library—Luna and Ivanna meet each individual differently and the students left refreshed to face finals.
  • Delivering pet food and supplies to thirty-five households
    • Volunteers contribute a little present colorfully wrapped for each household
    • A friend sews catnip toys for all the cats
    • A volunteer brings me a plate of Christmas cookies
    • A pet food recipient gives Luna a treat—most of all people took time to make it happen.
  • Mary Oliver’s poem, “Making the House Ready for the Lord” pointing out as we welcome all creatures, we are welcoming the Lord inspires me to be more attentive to the people who come visiting.

As an Advent carol I’d never heard before “People, Look East” by Eleanor Farjeon says:

Vs 1: People, look east.

The time is near

Of the crowning of the year.

Make your house fair as you are able,

Trim the hearth and set the table.

People, look east and sing today:

Love, the guest, is on the way.

Every year I read a couple Christmas books. This year’s were: Christmas in Harmony by P. Gulley and On Strike for Christmas by S. Roberts. In the first of these, the Quaker pastor of Harmony, Indiana must deal with a bull in a China shop kind of parishioner who organizes a progressive nativity scene, wondering if a 4-slice toaster is too extravagant a gift for his wife and other complications of the season. In the second book, the women of the knitting circle decide they’re tired of doing it all, the parties, the decorating, the cooking, etc. and go on strike. In both books Christmas spirit and tradition make for happy endings, no surprise there!

As I was trolling around looking for one more heartwarming Christmas story, while babysitting my retired guide dog, I came upon Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid, a coming of age story complete with an Irish setter.

Happy Advent and happy reading—I’ve got to go see how the noble Irish setter makes everything okay!