>It Is What It Is

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And What It Is is three days until Christmas.
And also the Feast Day of the Holy Martyr Anastasia, patron saint of my Goddaughter, Stacy. There’s a thread here, I promise.

Let’s start with Saint Anastasia. (You can read more about her here and here.)

Anastasia was a wealthy, beautiful maiden who visited Christians in prison in Rome, to minister to them. She was eventually martyred (†290) and since then many have been healed by her and pray to her as the “Deliverer from Potions” because she has freed people from the harmful effects of substances. I’m praying to her now to help me and others who struggle with addictions of any kind.

Or even people controlled by obsessive compulsive disorders. And for all of us who tend to get a bit stressed out trying to make everything perfect for Christmas or any other time. I’m wanting a sign like this to put up in my house to remind me how far I’ve come in this regard. Well, maybe without the cigarettes in the picture.

Okay, so I did send out Christmas cards. And visit my mother in Mississippi and take her gifts. And today I got my Christmas grocery shopping done. But my “Christmas Day Menu and Schedule for Food Prep” is much less complicated than in years past. Yes. I save the ones from other years, like these, from 1999 and 2005. But that’s not so weird.

My husband saves notes from homilies (sermons) he’s given over the years, filed on index cards by topic or Gospel passage or date or something. So when he’s running short on time to prepare a homily, he pulls out his index cards and goes from there. Works for me.

And really, my family wants pretty much the same menu every Christmas, so why re-invent the wheel?

Everything is a bit downsized this year…. Tiny tiny tiny little fake tree with lights and no ornaments.

Just brought it down from the attic and plugged it in the other day.

But we do have stockings hung… but not the usual display of St. Nicholases that we’ve collected over the years. And nothing much else around the house that’s Christmassy. Oh, but Jon and his dad (yes!) did hang the outdoor lights today! I’d take a picture but it’s raining outside. They’re the icicycle kind. I love them.

The point is I’ve done most of this BY MYSELF many years, for one reason or another. So this year I said No. I’m a full time writer and iconographer and wife and daughter and mother to three and Godmother to thirteen and I just decided it was time to slow down. And un-decorating is always such a chore… and the house is still on the market and my foot surgery is still scheduled for January 8 and… well, you get it.

So this morning I got up early, at 7 a.m., because my dear friends Sarah and Keith were leaving town for Christmas and were stopping by to swap gifts at the last minute… After they left, I sat with my coffee and read more in Anne Lamott’s wonderful book, Traveling Mercies. Every page is a treasure, but here are a couple that really helped me start my day out right:

I prayed for the stamina to bear mystery and stillness.

What a great way to say it. And yes, bearing mystery and stillness does require stamina. A different kind of stamina than the frantic energy we sometimes use when we’re trying to be perfect.

And this one:

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” – Persian mystical poet Rumi

So I combine these two thoughts and come up with this:

“When I can be still enough to bear mystery, in the midst of the messiness of life, I can find the treasure.”

Here we are, at the end of this post, with you waiting for me tie the thread of these thoughts together.

It is what it is.

The phrase I learned from my precious God daughter, Stacy, who is celebrating her Name Day today. Because of the wisdom and example of people like Stacy, I’m learning to accept the ruin and believe there’s a treasure to be found. Thank you, Stacy, and Happy Name Day!

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