Five things Friday roundup: “Come stroll with us in the snow of our tiny village.”

Photo by David Augsburger.

The lights are on in the windows, someone must be home in the little houses that line our hearth, shall we knock?

1. Christmas village tradition.

Each year miniature houses, a steepled church, shops and snow covered trees appear on our hearth. Granddaughters once peeked in the windows and played with the figures, nephews found little tractors to plow the snow, now grown older and more sophisticated, they rearrange the trees or give the elements an artistic twist. It has come to symbolize community, like a village we know and whose streets we have never walked, but it opens our eyes to real neighbors down the block. And, for a moment of fantasy, it helps anyone who sees it become a child again.

2. “Arousal breakout”

This is what Frank Farley, a psychologist from Temple University has named the wild driving and dangerous risk taking that has caused a sharp increase in accidents and deaths nationwide. The speeding cars weaving and braiding the freeway traffic, the rolling stops and cacophony of horns has caused a plethora of complaints and discussions in normally more intelligent conversations. “Cooped up people, lock down restrictions, mandated masks et all stimulate a form of rebellion on the road,” various commentators observe, and we have a 23% increase in traffic deaths nationwide to support the theory of arousal breakout. Pent up feelings behind the wheel, who needs to fill the tank, we’re running on adrenaline.

3. “Where shall we take our evening walk?

It is a pleasurable decision—go north to the Thompson Creek Trail, south to the California Botanical Gardens, or the picturesque streets of Claremont Village, or east to the University. Ane we love our own neighborhood. Walk briskly, check the path for rocks, roots, uneven sidewalks, and look up to see the beauty of late Autumn. One needs paper and pen to take notes on inspiration, memories, fresh ideas, things to google later. And often it is the quiet, the stillness of dusk, the softness of light, the reverence for nature that refreshes as much as the exercise. Back in the car, we share thoughts on the way home, or compare pictures snapped along the way. A walk is a gift.

4. Tornado Belt.

Every conversation this week returns to the horror of the two hundred miles of devastation in the middle of the country. Leann sees it through the soul of one who survived a vast typhoon in Taipei in the seventies; David feels it with frightened memories of the roaring of the churning air mass narrowly missing his elementary school in Elida, Ohio in the forties. Each person seeks some frame of terror to imagine the descent of destruction. Prayer becomes lamentation, empathy becomes shared pathos, life and love more precious. Understanding life begins with contemplating suffering, then it moves on to gratitude, humility and through it all, joy.

5. “Hard to be Merry.

Our dear friends Annie and John in Sydney tell us how they are inviting those who find Christmas dreary, not merry to come to their church on December 21, for a “Blue Christmas” service to reframe and refresh the seasonal “Ho, Ho, Ho” with a more seasoned meaning. We are moved by this nationwide movement in our own country to mourn with those who mourn on the shortest and darkest day of the year. Sets us rethinking how to find time and place to vent pain at advent, to recognize that many we know and love face loneliness, grief, loss. Advent is also adventure, exploring new directions, thinking new metaphors, rediscovering the enduring. (Google Blue Christmas)

David and Leann Augsburger

David and Leann Augsburger are two semiretired people (CA school psychologist, Fuller Seminary professor) who co-lead a home-based church (Peace Mennonite Church,Claremont, California) and volunteer to welcome, care and connect people in the San Gabriel valley. Read More

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