Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Break

Today begins our Christmas break, so the entire middle and high school student body gathered at St. Peter’s Church for a service. The weather was cold and windy, but the day was also bright with sunshine and blue sky.

I am struck by the quiet hope of the season, the solemnity of it all, and the power of winter, even here in southern California. After finishing at school for the day, I went to a local shopping mall. Big mistake! I felt like I was assaulted by the crowds, the cars and traffic, the frantic nervousness of it all.

To me, the dream of Christmas is a reflective time. The year has been difficult, what with the economy tanking and the increasing stress of simply being. I enjoyed the pause of church this morning, the calm before the over-heated nonsense of the mall. This is the time to think of where we are in our lives, what is important to us, and the meaning of love and friendship. It seems more and more difficult to connect with people these days. Everyone exists in his own universe. I include myself in this assessment.

On the wall over my desk in the classroom, I have a quote that I put up every year as a reminder. “Listen to the silences that you are unaware of,” it reads. Grammar is awkward, and the literal meaning might be paradoxical, but I love it nonetheless. That is what I will spend this break doing: listening to the silences. It is a noble pursuit. I will also grade some papers, read, hopefully get some rest, and get back to taking some walks in the brisk weather.

I will try to figure out where I am in my life, what will come next, and how to live better.


  1. My best wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season and may wonderful things happen for you in 2010. I look forward to reading your reviews and essays -- and please let me know again, come Spring, if you see any geese heading north so I can be on the lookout for them!

  2. While I was away recently on my writing retreat I read a book by Lynn Freed, called 'Reading Writing and Leaving Home'. In it she writes about the importance of listening as you write, listening for what comes out of the silences in your mind.

    Thank you for this beautiful image and these tranquil photographs.

  3. Elisabeth, great minds do think alike. I read an essay by Ms. Freed in Harper's Magazine a while back and I order her book. It is on my shelf to read this break. I too liked what she said about teaching writing. She really nailed it regarding students and teaching writing.

    Merry Christmas

  4. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts this holiday, Annie. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my work this year. I am on the watch for those beautiful geese.

    Merry Christmas


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