Winter retreat...

We are now at my daughter's farm in Plainfield - hill country - where it is always 10 degrees colder than our home and much more snowy! It is about 25 miles away but feels like a world removed.  First, it is silent. Ain't nothing happening in these hills except fields laying fallow, snow falling and winter animals trying to stay alive. Second, it is totally dark. All the stars are out tonight on this wintry cold night in late December. And third, nobody knows us here.  In Pittsfield, after seven years we see loved ones and more everywhere we go:  it is part of the charm and grace of being in a small city.
Here, where we don't work or live, we are totally anonymous. It is just what the doctor ordered after the fullness of Advent and Christmas Eve. I was blessed to have my daughter, son-in-law and new grandson stay with us for three days this years.  And, joy upon joy, we all gathered at this farm with my other daughter for Christmas dinner and gift giving. And now that the family has gone their separate ways, the country folk needed house-sitters for their sojourn to Boston.

After Christmas we NEED to escape into solitude.  Back in Tucson, we would head for the hills outside of Bisbee.  Being at this farm today as the snow fell softly and the sun began to hide behind the hills, felt like a prayer come true.  My only tasks for the next few days is feed the goats and the chickens each morning and evening and make sure they get back into their respective shelter before sundown.  We will walk in the woods, be still, read, write and reflect on all the ups and downs of 2013 while we are here.  And after worship on Sunday, we'll head back here for another three days of solitude.

Mary Oliver put it like this:

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.


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