The shortest day. I crawl ashore after months of being submerged in the vast, cold, murky ocean of work. The switch from gills to lungs is as painful as always, and the stiff flippers resist resuming their earthbound tasks. And there, leering at me from the woods, is the red-clad pedophile, Santa, stroking his vermin-infested, egg-nog clotted beard and beckoning. He's carrying an 80's style boom-box playing an endless tape loop of a country and western version of The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.
I worked, yesterday, at the office with the Big Windows.
The day before I'd left the other, rockbound office at 8:45 with supper uneaten and hours of work still undone. My laptop had gone south -- fatal system error, no less -- 10 days prior, Dragon and all, and had been restored to me Dragonless. My typing skills -- a two fingered hunt and peck -- are nonexistent: chopsticks, eyes on the keyboard. I'd been hunting and pecking myself into a stupor for days.
I was also fuming at the practice's consensus that it is perfectly OK to weigh patients in the center of the long, trafficked hallway where the "flow stations" (don't even ask) are. It was all the more surprising to me as the consensus was from a cadre of very young female MDs : I would have thought them more sensitive to issues of women, body image and weight.
The only other dissenting voice was a woman of my generation: we are relics of the era where corporate efficiency and uniformity did not trump everything.
Hunting, pecking, fuming, sleep-deprived -- I arrived at the office-of-beautiful-windows before sunrise to finish the undone work. The light arrived, yes, and the day got underway but this time it seemed to be sneering at me: this is not for you. Neener neener. Look but don't eat, no matter how famished you might be. This eucharist is not for you.
But it ended, the day did, the awful work-stretch did; the Dragon man was summoned to re-install the dictation software and I limped home with only one note left unwritten, hoping to regain some semblance of equanimity in the upcoming two weeks of respite.
But there's Pedophile Santa, begging to differ. There's Florida, to which I must fly on Monday to visit Paterfamilias who winters there. Has anything good ever come out of Florida ? Florida and Christmas, Florida and winter solstice: antithetical. I am an unapologetic Northerner. The darkness, the bareness, the cold, the snow -- the resonances of my inner and outer landscapes. Palm trees upset me. Truly. Not to mention airports and rent-a-car pavilions. Manatee crossing ? Seriously ?
So I am fortifying myself with weeds and berries, green and red, holly and ivy.
What's the phrase -- shoring something up against my ruin ? Why, then Hieronymus. Why indeed.
I have been dropping by the God joint in recent weeks, drawn in by Advent, candlelight, the old songs, the variegated Body making its way to the rail, the mysterious fume of wine on the tongue. But then there are the the texts, many of which resist mere interrogation, and require waterboarding or extrajudicial assassination, but some of which can stir the heart in ways that only music can, wordless and visceral.
(Meanwhile, Pedophile Santa had donned swim trunks and Hawaiian shirt, and is guzzling Daiquiris on the beach.)
In the shower, today, I had an inner verse of We Three Kings pop into my mind: Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom. Sorrow, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold tomb.
The moral arc of the universe, I thought, is a sagging flatline, an asystole, a seemingly endless Holy Saturday. You have to hand it to a religion that has sorrow, sighing, bleeding, dying and a stone cold tomb occulted within the tender body of its newborn, unblemished, enfleshed God --
-- and then posits the scandalous koan of resurrection for fallen humanity to chew on (like a mouthful of stones) for all of eternity.
Weeds. Humus. Humility. The common grave.
Something that resists and persists despite all the desolations and catastrophes. Even when the decorations on the tree are invasive, lethal and bittersweet.