Lately I have been experiencing some long-awaited joys.
Tuesday my first grandchild arrived, a little girl, who bears as her middle name the name of my mother. The very existence of this tiny human being marks the passing and legacy of the generations. She is a word of my own finitude and mortality, and in that I am set free and overjoyed. I have not yet met her, but there will be time for that.
Last night a small group of us shared a worship service in my barn. In my deepest heart and in a few quiet conversations, this has been envisioned over and over for the past year. Last night it finally came to be. We sat in the cold barn around a propane heater. We talked of Herod the Great and his architecture, and how in the face of those grandiose projects Jesus chose to be born in a place much like this. He came, as Peterson has it in The Message, for everyone. Nothing could symbolize that better than that first night's lodgings. So we shared communion with a bold red wine and homemade whole wheat bread.
Outside the barn, one of those lovely December snows was beginning. The flakes wafted downward past the longhorn steer skull above the door on the barn, through the rarely-lit yardlight's illuminated cone, settling on the ground and obscuring the tracks of whitetails and cottontails that crisscross my yard.
Then we adjourned up the hill to my house (remember the $350 trailer house I've been working on with the help of many of these same friends?) and shared chili and cornbread and lefsa and mulled wine and the joy and conversation that comes with shared life and deep trust.
I find myself living out a manifesto of simplicity and contentment here. I've mentioned Wendell Berry before and his articulate advocacy for this kind of a life. Here is a piece in which he recommends some concrete steps that lead one into this kind of living. Enjoy.