My Heart in Stillness Waits

Advent wreath with three weeks lit.  This Sunday is the final one of Advent and only a few days before Christmas.
Advent wreath with three weeks lit.

Advent is all about waiting.  Lighting the purple and pink candles.  Waiting for the Christ child to be born and placed in the manger.  Waiting for Him to come again at the end of time.

When I lit the wreath today, I wondered how people felt before electricity.  In the coldest and shortest days of the year, candles were a significant symbol of hope.  For me, they still are.  I’ve tried this Advent to hold a place of stillness in my heart, to be a part of the world as I prepare for Christmas, but to remain calm in spite of all the busyness.  Sometimes, I succeeded.  Other times, not so much.

Magnolia x soulangiana
Magnolia x soulangiana

Winter is also about waiting, but the promise of new life is everywhere if you look. The buds of my Magnolia x soulangiana, Tulip Magnolia, are cloaked in their warm, fuzzy coats, but in only a few months, spring will return.  This tree will unfurl its blossoms revealing the same shade of purple as Advent vestments.

Even the bleached, worn leaves of the Japanese maple are beautiful. Vestiges of last summer, they still cling like cutwork lace to the tree’s purple stems.  Inside those stems, new leaves lie in wait for the warm temperatures of spring.  If I close my eyes, I can see them.

Japanese maple leaves
Japanese maple leaves

Tiny leaves peak out of the soil as if holding a testing finger in the air, trying to decide if they dare grow any further.  Our temperatures are up and down, so they are a bit confused.

Daffodil beginnings
Daffodil beginnings

I say to them, “No, wait a little while longer.  More cold weather is to come.”

I wish I could say the same thing to Christmas, but Christmas won’t wait.  Five more days, and it will be here, whether I am ready or not.

If you celebrate Christmas, are you ready?  How do you make merry during these dark days of anticipation?


  1. Dee~
    Lovely post.
    This year, for the first time since I had children (10 years ago) I was ready way ahead of time. I really made an effort to relax and enjoy the season and time with family instead of frantically making, baking, shopping and wrapping. It has been the most enjoyable xmas EVER. Spending time with family is the best gift we give each other.

    We actually played board games all day, read and sat by the fire today. NO STRESS. Whew! What a relief! Wish I had gotten the point sooner.

    Merry Christmas Dee. Enjoy your holiday with your family!!!!

    Theresa/GardenFreshLiving´s last blog post..Gardener Spa Treatments

    Theresa, my youngest is a board game fanatic. When we play with her, it makes her day. I’ve spent a lot of time playing Guitar Hero with her too. It’s addictive, but loads of fun.~~Dee

  2. Daffs are popping up everywhere in the garden right now. This last week of warm weather has made them surge. Happy Holidays from Charleston, SC!

    compostinmyshoe´s last blog post..A Garden’s Soul

    We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in temps here too, and I’m starting to see everything coming up. Oh, and we had rain. That makes everything grow.~~Dee

  3. Thanks for the beautiful post, Dee – we followed this custom for years and years, too, also using one pink candle for the third Sunday. Only a few more days of lighting the wreath, Dee – may your Christmas be merry and bright!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Merry Christmas to you too, Annie.~~Dee

  4. MrBrownThumb says:


    I have to agree with Lisa above me, this post is “lovely” and thought provoking. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Thanks MBT, and the same back at’cha.~~Dee

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A lovely post Dee. It makes us remember we should slow enough to remember what the season is all about.

    Our biggest and best event is to gather at my Sister’s home to celebrate together. I can’t wait to see everyone.

    I love the holidays, don’t you?~~Dee

  6. Leslie says:

    I’ve tried to do the same, Dee, with spending some time each day trying to just be still and sit. Even if it is only 10 minutes and difficult to keep my mind from trying to keep going! I’m about ready…just a few little things to wrap and that’s it! Merry Christmas!

    Leslie´s last blog post..GBBD December 2008

    It’s hard to do, Leslie, but oh so necessary.~~Dee

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    I’ve done some baking and nearly all my shopping is done. Now I’m just relaxing with my mom and sister from out of town, and I think we’ll go see the 37th Street Xmas lights tonight. Merry Christmas, Dee!

    Pam/Digging´s last blog post..Hot and cold Bloom Day

    Hi Pam, Merry Christmas to you too!~~Dee

  8. tina says:

    Very nice! I too have been noticing buds all about-it does seem too early here. You know I never knew J. maples kept their leaves like these until this year. I am glad you posted this as I thought something was wrong with mine. So now I will wait…

    tina´s last blog post..Christmas Cactus

    Hi Tina, glad I could help. Merry Christmas.~~Dee

  9. Mary says:

    I’m getting ready for surgery tomorrow and praying for a speedy recovery. We’re already celebrating a wonderful Christmas. God is good!

    Mary, I pray all went well with your surgery. I’ll look over at your blog and see if you give us an update. God is good indeed!~~Dee

  10. Frances says:

    Hi Dee, your idea of keeping calm, or still inside is an excellent way to honor the season. It is hard to do in our times though of rush rush rush. Yesterday while in Knoxville with offspring Semi, the cars and people were so frantic it was scary while doing the last minute shopping. Not festive, frantic. And raining. What is left to do here is cooking, something I enjoy, and a little wrapping, we use fabric bags I have made from remnant upholstery material year to year. We look forward to seeing the family together again. May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas full of joy!

    Frances´s last blog post..Gift From The Woodpeckers-The Yule Log

    You too, Frances. I may have things left undone, but they don’t matter so much. Can’t wait to see the family tonight and tomorrow night.~~Dee

  11. joey says:

    Dee, you captured the spirit of the season … ‘to hold a place of stillness in my heart, to be a part of the world’. My most favorite time of this season is knowing I have done something outside my life. Each year we adopt a family and also carry on my brother’s dream (who died way too soon) of building a camp for adults with children with disabilities. May the spirit of this beautiful season surround you and your family with love. Christmas Blessings!


    Joey, that’s a beautiful way to celebrate the coming of the Christ. Christmas blessings to you too.~~Dee

  12. Meems says:

    Hi Dee,
    Not quite ready but very relaxed this year. I’ve simplified my decorating, my shopping and my baking so I’m lots less stressed. The season has come fast and I know the actual day will, too. Loved your advent candles and the reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
    Meems @HoeandShovel

    Meems´s last blog post..Sharing Christmas Traditions

    Hi Meems, I think simplification and keeping one’s mind off of the commercialization of Christmas certainly helps. The season has come very fast, and I think I’m ready now.~~Dee

  13. Gail says:

    Dee, That was just lovely! Happiest of Christmases and I hope it slows down just a little so you can catch up! gail

    Gail´s last blog post..Feeling My Way To A Garden

    The same to you, Gail. Happy Christmas.~~Dee

  14. I’m ready for Christmas. I try to be ready a few days ahead so I can relax a bit before the actual day.

    Beautiful post!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog post..Annual Christmas Letter from May Dreams Gardens

    Hi Carol, good for you, but then, I’m not surprised. You’re always so organized.~~Dee

  15. deb says:

    What a nice thoughtful post. We have a little bit left to do and then settle down to enjoy the holiday with our family.

    Merry Christmas.

    Deb, Merry Christmas to you too. You’ll get everything done that needs doing.~~Dee

  16. Victoria says:

    I loved your post, Dee. The promise of light at the end of the darkness is such a comforting thought.

    Victoria´s last blog post..The naming of names: the search for order in the world of Blotanical

    Victoria, I think that light at the end of darkness is what always keep the human race going. It’s is part of our will to live.~~Dee

  17. Mary Ann says:

    This is the time of year for me to quietly take stock of the garden, myself, the world around me. Some good, some not so. And then, quietly wait for the unfolding. Thank you for the lovely post.

    Mary Ann´s last blog post..White House Kitchen Garden: YES!

    Mary Ann, thank you. May you have a wonderful Christmastime.~~Dee

  18. I’ve been in a state of Christmas denial. It’s hard to get ready when you’ve been laid out by a bad cold. We’re stilling digging things out of the basement. At least we finally found the creche.

    Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog post..The Truth About Black Jack

    MMD, you’re absolutely right. A cold will sideline you. I applaud you for getting out the creche before Christmas Eve.~~Dee

  19. eliz says:

    We are just about done. I just need to bake some biscotti to bring to dinner on Thursday.

    Lovely post, Dee.

    Elizabeth, thank you. I hope you get all of your baking done. With all of your parties, I’m amazed at what you accomplish.~~Dee

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