Saturday, December 06, 2014

Savour the Story and the Season

It is time ... for the season is upon us to bring forth Jan Karon's treasured Mitford story from the book shelf and put it on our bedside tables.

Although a marathon reader could finish Shepherds Abiding in a few short hours, it is much preferred to read it ever so slowly so that we can s-a-v-o-r this lovely story over the Advent season. For as any Jan Karon fan knows, we never want to cut short a visit to Mitford. We don't want to speed through the pages as though we are flying around the world on Santa's fairy tale sleigh come Christmas Eve.

Rather, we want to savor the unfolding pages -- even if we've read the story a baker's dozen times -- for we want to put off that last chapter much the way a young child might savor her cup of hot cocoa or bowl of cheerios when she's trying to stay the inevitability of bedtime.

As we begin this gentle read, we discover that with the approach of Advent in Mitford, Father Tim has been seen spending a lot of time at Andrew Gregory's antique shop. He's taken on the task of refurbishing an old neglected and derelict Nativity set that comes complete with the Holy Family, shepherds, sheep, camels, and angels---all for the coveted moment of seeing his beloved Cynthia's cornflower blue eyes light up when she opens up his gift on Christmas morning.

But before that happens, Father Tim arrives at a point in the project where he's feeling the pressure building up. For the refurbishing has turned into a much larger, more intricate undertaking than he first surmised. And with so much still to do and the days slipping by like skates on ice, he wonders if he shouldn't choose a larger paintbrush and just get the job done already. Haven't we all be there, done that?

In the end, he decides that, no, this gift must have his best effort, his deepest concentration, and his whole heart. No hurrying through this project like he's the one on those skates. He was not going to "blast through an experience without savoring it or later reflecting upon it. For him, working on the figures had slowed him down, forced him to pay attention and to savor the work of his hands... . "

Too many times have I wanted to hurry my own projects along, wanting to get the thing done already. All the while ruining the opportunity to live in the moment and be present to it. To savor and enjoy the process of what I am working on without pressure. Perhaps that's one reason why I love this story. I'm right there with Father Tim, chewing on my lip as I concentrate, tempted to hurry, but then the magic moment -- when the world that has been too much with me, not to mention those too many demands and too-long lists -- falls and takes me to a place that's peaceful. Purposeful. Timeless.

From the first time I read Shepherds Abiding when it came out in 2003, I felt it was to become a treasured annual event in my life. For me, it creates that place where, along with Father Tim, I take time to savor the wonder of this holy season -- and marvel once again at the story of the Christ Child, Emmanuel, God with Us.  I might not have cornflower blue eyes, but just as surely mine light up at the beauty of such a story. 

With a gentle kiss atop thy heads,
Brenda and Snowflake


  1. Brenda, I try to slow down to read every bit of the blogs I'm following, as sometimes it's pretty easy to scan through them. I so enjoyed your story of Father Tim. thanks.

    1. I know what you mean about taking time to really read posts and not just fly over them in a hurry. Taking time to savour.

      Thanks for your kind comments, Linda.

  2. I love this book and everything Jan Karon writes about Mitford! Have you seen the new book? I'm going to show it tomorrow in my post....and a new book about Downton Abbey, too. Hope you stop by. I'm going to put your blog in my favs, too! I don't know why it's not already there! Holiday hugs, Diane

    1. Diane, I've read the new book -- another lovely visit to Mitford -- and I've been hearing about the new Downton book. Yum!

  3. Okay, this is the third or fourth time I've heard about this book. I'm going to have to try and find it. Thanks for the recommendation Brenda.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo