I sit in my recliner today smelling of cherry eucalyptus and vapor rub. My hair is matted in the back from napping on and off all day. My red nose rivals that of Rudolph, and my chair-side table is overflowing with tissue, cough drops, and all other flu related items. I have my kindle, my computer, and my smart phone…lest I feel disconnected in my quarantined room. I have sole possession of the remote to the TV, which NEVER happens. I have enough medicine to keep me comfortably uncomfortable. Even with all of this, I find myself gazing out the window into the yard and wondering how many days have I sat in this chair and pondered life outside my window?
Eight years ago, during my cancer treatments I spent an enormous amount of time in this space. There are remnants of that time here today…a willow tree angel of good health watches over me from the book shelf, and a TV tray bought for that time has taken up permanent residence in the room. It has come in handy the past couple of days as I sip chicken soup and drink hot tea to ease the pain in my throat. I hate the flu. I have only had it a couple of times in my life, but I just hate feeling bad. Being confined to this chair isn’t my favorite thing, whether it be for cancer treatment or other temporary sicknesses. Yet, it requires me to slow down, to take in details that on a normal day the busyness of life hides from my eyes.
I see that a family of Brown Thrashers has built a nest in the shrubbery and one of them is digging in the flower bed, trying to come up with dinner. There are squirrels too, who come up to the porch hunting acorns among the fallen leaves which have blown and gathered in piles among the corners. Earlier today a cat, the one who loves to torment our dogs, came by and sat on the swing for a bit. I am thinking she knows the birds and the squirrels hunt here. The sky is gray today and it washes everything with a monotone color palate. Trees are skeletons, reaching for the sun, which does not wish to play today. The ground is blanketed with dry, brown leaves reminding me that the leaf blower hasn’t been fixed yet. A chipmunk steals my concern over the carpet of leaves by pulling a couple of them to cover the entrance to his tunnel under the bushes. Once he is satisfied his home is invisible to predators…such as cats…he disappears under them. This causes me to realize that the fact we are not “yard people” is probably a good thing for all the critters who live here. My brown, drab, ready-for-winter yard is the perfect place to hide out until spring arrives.
Inside, when the door to my temporary sick room is cracked and I can see the living room, I gaze upon our Christmas tree. It is beautiful, all lit for the season. Just the sight of it brings a smile to my face. It is as warm and inviting as the yard is stark and gray. It is cozy and decorated for the celebrations that will come next week…if I am well enough by then to host. The presents under the tree are few…since I hadn’t done much shopping yet. But still, I am reminded of how blessed I am.
Last year, from this same chair I watched my girl celebrate Christmas in Africa. It was different because I wasn’t confined to the chair due to illness. I was mesmerized and frozen here by the pictures coming across the computer screen from the other side of the world. There was a gaping hole in my Christmas, but one that I wouldn’t have changed for anything. I saw the love of God displayed in the faces of the orphans who had so very little in a material sense, but who lit up the day with their joyous smiles. I saw that Christmas doesn’t have to be commercialized to the max, but can still be a simple day filled with good cheer and sweet friends. There were children who were grateful for one new outfit, and for shoes without holes. Each one got a new toy and their eyes shown with the radiance of wonder. There in the midst of them all, the face of my own daughter grinning from ear to ear. Here in my chair, I saw Christmas in all its meaning from all over the world. God reaching out to share himself with us. All of us. From every nation. It was a beautiful thing.
And so…this Christmas, I find myself stuck in the chair again. I am well aware that this chair causes me to take in the world from a different kind of place….more reflective place, which gives me so many reasons to rejoice. I am cancer free. My daughter is home this year safe and sound. All four of my kids will be home for Christmas. So far Bill does not have the flu. And as long as I am stuck in this chair…no boot! Hurray for that! Seriously, I am so very grateful for family and friends and all the blessings God has given me. So from my chair to yours…Merry Christmas!