It’s the Sunday before Christmas so in church we had the usual mixture of children dressed as shepherds, special readings and video presentations about how no one knows who Jesus is any more. Our roving reporter talked to children and asked them if they could give a gift to Jesus, what would it be?
In my lifetime I have received some absolutely amazing gifts from a husband whose language of love is wonderful surprises. There was the time he presented me with a tiny toy red helicopter and announced that we were flying over the Grand Canyon for my 50th birthday, and the time I opened the door to a smartly dressed gentleman carrying a bouquet to which were attached the keys of a mini convertible – also red. One Christmas I opened a box on which was scrawled ‘Just like the song’ and inside was a dress – yes, you guessed it, red again! People often say he looks like Chris de Burgh – so that made sense at the time.
But my favourite present was two Christmases ago when he told me to close my eyes and led me through a door into my own room. My own room! I have always wanted my very own space since watching an episode of the Cosby Show. Mrs Cosby got her own room containing nothing but a phone and she chatted to her friends behind a locked door without interruption. As a busy mother of four, I often longed for a room where I could disappear, preferably without a phone, where I could read and have some me time. Well it happened! I love my room and on the wall there hangs a painting by one of our favourite artists, Paul Horten. In it a wizard dressed in a blue robe walks through deep snow towards a small two-storey house with a curved wooden door. You can’t see if it is occupied but there is a plume of blue smoke which promises a warm fire and a welcome. It’s called The Hideway and that’s what I call my room – the place where I weep, think and pray, remonstrate with myself for mistakes made and resolve to do better.
I’ll probably make my New Year’s resolutions here – no doubt the same one I made and broke last year – not to run in the corridors. I'm always in a hurry and even when I’m quiet, inside the corridors of my mind I’m still running. Today in church, our friends Nick Koch and Peter Wilson (aka Duke Special) sang Duke’s version of Silent Night. To the traditional words he added:
Here comes the noise that fills up the silence
Here come the voices who steal my peace…
Snow is a theme in Horten’s work. On our 30th wedding anniversary when my husband was on tour in the US he left me another special painting. This time two children, a boy and girl hand-in-hand, trudge through a white landscape. They are passing a house and from the window the wizard is watching. The painting is called If you Believe. A very young friend told me today that it’s six sleeps till Santa. Christmas is a time to believe and hope that the adventure in the snow is not over. I love its thick silence. Perhaps it will slow us all down so that we can feel the peace.