Last weekend was our anniversary getaway and it was cold and rainy.
We spent most of the first day trying to make ourselves leave the cozy hotel room. Because we had come to experience the old city of Basel with its traditional Christmas Market.
The first night was music and a tree lighting. And the music was lovely and even though we couldn’t understand a word that the head of the city said, she was so enthusiastic and sincere, I am sure it was heartfelt and inspiring.
And the tree in the center of the town square was magnificent.
And later we strolled through the stalls, admiring the handmade wooden toys and ornaments, smelling the sweet mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.
But all the while there was just a little emptiness inside of me.
It’s just that way when you are far away from home at Christmastime.
I’ve spent so much time alone over here that the empty places have become familiar and I don’t fight them anymore.
I make room for the space, it houses things I can’t even remember anymore but they feel important.
And I have this habit: everyplace I go I look for tiny lit-up windows, cozy hidden spots behind which I can imagine the scenes that might play out:
A little girl is reading a book and daydreaming.
An elderly man thinking about his grandchildren.
A newlywed couple decorating their first tree together.
A woman like me writing in her journal.
I like to think that we all have these secret interior lives, and they’re kindled from within, and we keep our little scraps of holiday cheer beneath our private eaves.
Each of us a unique spirit, quietly burning a candle in a world of over-bright lights.
You know there are times when I can’t come up with any kind of reason to believe that my story is unique, that it is in any way valuable at all.
But then I look up at the tiny windows and I know that each of us has a light, no matter how small, a small spark.
And even if only one person happens to glance up into it, our window shines out onto the cold, weary street.
And standing down here with my feet frozen on the cobblestones, I look up and let the little light from the window come inside me.
It is the season of light in the darkness.
Happy Advent, my friends.
May you each find the courage to shine your own little light.