It’s November, and there are so many endings these days. The mornings here have frost, and I have more and more friends reporting their first snowfalls on facebook each day, and this means the last of my Queen Elizabeth roses had their pink buds frozen on the stems last week. There will be no more flowers in the garden until spring. It’s dark early, it’s light late, and the prices of my favorite summer fruits have gone up past a place I can sensibly splurge on them. I’ve started sneaking my kids’ shorts and flip flops out of their closets and drawers—they never want to let go of those warm weather clothes, even when it’s degrees below freezing outside, so I have to be surreptitious about it all. For myself, I keep my sandals available all year long, and alternate wearing my fuzz-lined shoes with my favorite lavender keens to dance class no matter the weather. Yes, it’s a double standard at my house when it comes to goodbyes. And of course the year is drawing to its close. Time for the swan song of the miracles and monstrosities of two-thousand-fourteen.
This year, my November has already been significantly different than recent years. I started teaching dance classes again last fall, and with my second year at the studio where I teach, I felt it was time for me to get involved in the (optional) Christmas production. The studio does a gorgeous re-telling of the Nativity through dance. It starts with prophecies of Christ’s birth, and moves through the annunciation, Mary’s time with Elisabeth, the traveling, the stable, the visitors to the Christ Child in Bethlehem, and finally Herod’s fury towards possible competition, and the Holy Family’s escape into Egypt. I’m helping with choreography and rehearsals, and we have a short six weeks to bring to all together.
I will admit that I am not usually on the Christmas train this early in the season. I’m firmly in the not-until-after-Thanksgiving camp, or at least I have been since my last season performing “The Nutcracker” about twenty years ago. Right now, that’s not a luxury I have—both because of the four to six hours of rehearsing I’m doing (to Christmas music) each week, and because I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with my mother and grandmother, and the kids and I won’t be home until almost the middle of December which makes me determined to have Christmas decorating done before I go so we can just come home and revel in it.
An interesting thing has happened this month, the month I typically consider the Beginning of the End. Thinking about and listening to the messages of Christmas has created a sense of hope during a month I’m usually struggling to find it. Regret for the things I didn’t accomplish this year, stress over whether one more Christmas will pass without having created a sufficient store of happy memories for my children, and the death of my long sunny days and world full of living, growing things. And yet.
Who is this Child
Asleep in a manger?
The heavens are bright
And the stable’s so cold
On this holy night
Have You come to redeem us?
And if we lose sight
Of Your sweet face
At the birth of grace,
And the light of truth shines
Like Bethlehem’s star
Lead us to where You are,
Show us who You are.
As I watch my son and the other six-to-eight-year-old dancers twirling and leaping to this song—“Babe in the Straw,” by Caedmon’s Call—I feel light. I feel hopeful. That this end, that all the endings we have, can be consecrated as we move forward. I get that fluttery feeling right under my ribcage—the one I usually associate with joy—and I am reminded that the future has the potential to be filled with peace, healing, resurrection, and “good things to come”.
This month, both of our offerings share a similar story. Kel George’s poem “Valkyrie” describes hope as dessert-eating, alto-singing, thing of beauty. Alizabeth Worley shares her own journey to understanding hope in her essay, “Step Two is Called Hope”.
Coming soon: archived content from the Spring/Summer 2012 issue
February 2014, no issue
April 2013 — Special Issue: 2013 Contest Winners
March 2013 — Special Issue: Mormonism and Disability
Featured Artist: Annie Henrie
Segullah Volume 9 Spring/Summer 2012
“Justice and Mercy”
Featured Artist: Amanda M. Smith
Featured artist: Cindy Ferguson
“Inside and Outside Marriage”
Featured artist: Maralise Petersen
Featured artist: Rebecca Wetzel Wagstaff
“Gifts of the Spirit”
Featured artist: Leslie Graff
Featured artist: Lee Bennion
“Palette of Light”
Featured artist: Sharon Furner
“Roots and Branches”
Featured artist: Mandi Mauldin Felici
Featured artist: Jacqui Larsen
Featured artist: Jamie Wayman
“Cleave Unto Charity”
Featured artist: Rose Datoc Dall
“Women Proclaiming the Gospel”
“Corridors of Change”
Featured artist: Claire Ferguson
“The Measure of Creation”
Cover art by Victoria Holt