Winter is near. I can hear him clearing his throat behind the gray stacked clouds and the fallen oak leaf making its farewell trip to the ground. There was ice on the road. The glassy tickle of a first frost. The quiet shake and hold, the white handed knuckles wrapped gently around each stem. And my heart jumped. There was a trickle of excitement, for the impending quiet and soft fallen snows. My feet woke the ground with each step. And I tried not to wake them from their deep slumber.
The light wished and fell and moved in the breeze. My coat caught the edge of the stem and a pane of broken glass frost fell to the ground. So I sat in the audience and watched as the sun found each crystalized heart and warmed it with its smile.
And sometimes it is best to wait, to let the heart thirst. To feel the build and the swell. And this time, this leading up to, it asks for the quiet nurture of candles lit in darkened windows, the gentle fire left to burn only in the glow of its last embers.
And for the cold heart, the heart waiting for the hand of warmth, it is this curve of love that retreats the frosted morning. There is a season between seasons, the wait. The flex and hold. The arched back, the holding close. The waiting for the sun to reach the heart, for fingers to find deep pockets, for the cheek to feel the red frost itch against the stoked fire.
It seems almost impossible to think of this coming holiday season, to move past days not yet lived. But we did. We journeyed ahead to lay a path for love to follow this December. When hands are held tighter, with cheeks fully flushed with warmth and wonder, when these eyes will fill with the reflected twinkly light on dark paths. And home is home again.
Curtains opened, soups spilled into handheld cups and the stream of smoke from chimneys warmth spreading laughter and memory over the naked forest.
"How will we know when it's time?"
When the season is ripe with lit trees and cinnamon ornaments and the wayward holly berry is found under open cabinet doors.
And the smallest hand found freedom in the rise.
"What if we loved every day?"
"What if we all shared something that was ours?"
A smile. A hope. A dream. A card. A poem.
And the path grew longer.....
Our 25 days of Love. Our very own Advent Calendars.
And they began. With day one.
How will I give? How will I share? How will I love from right here?
25 cards for 25 days for 25 hearts.
So they drew. They outlined and filled and placed the decorated expressions of warmth on each and every card. They stopped to laugh, to shake their tired hands, to reach for the artist's choice sustenance.....cheese nips and pretzels.
And their hearts became softer and their words moved between them.
"What if I gave her a new toy?"
"What if I made him a a Lego?"
"What if I gave my mom a great big kiss?"
And the voice of every heart that ever opened its doors to the world, the voice that shakes in the wintery air of vulnerability. This voice, found its way between shapes and textures, watercolors spilling and laughter holding.
"But what if they don't like it?"
"What if they laugh?"
"What if it isn't good enough?"
And she needed to know. Right then. Right now. How will these words be protected? How will my heart know when to open its doors?
How will I know when it's time?
When the frost is thick and the sun is still hidden, when the dark clouds blanket the sunrise in its weight, when your wee path is covered in snow. A light will come. The rise suspended between morning light and nightfall's shadow. And one small stream of smoke from a chimney hidden deep within the forest will find your heart and pull you back home to this place of safety. Where love is real. Where love is strong. Where love melts this morning frost.
And your voice will feel free to run past the broken frost falling and these hands will give and shape and hold. The moment the paint meets the page and the holy words are written....
Because this love you hold is bigger than all of the doors still closed.
Your words are the warmth on the coldest morning. Your hands bring color to the deepest shade of gray. This love is the first ray of light on a frosted morning drive.
And your love, your love is the sweet lit candles on a cold winter night guiding a lost heart home, melting the last bit of frost on one hopeful, curled petal.