Sunday, December 1, 2013

Taking Time To Follow the Star


It is the first Sunday of Advent. Although I no longer make the Advent wreaths that the kids and I made together when they were young, I will try to take time during each day to follow the Star. I will go to my bedroom and turn on the small tree that is the first Christmas thing I decorate each year and the last thing to pack away. It is a white flocked tree that son Defee and daughter-in-law Wallace gave me, and it will go to their little Nora someday when she's old enough not to break the vintage pink ornaments I've collected over the years.


I'll sit down in my old reading chair where books are stacked everywhere and baskets are close by holding my current writing project. This is my sanctuary and I want my things around me. This corner is for me-time. No bills get paid here and no blogging. The laptop rarely comes into this room.


Here is where I sit and read and pray and scribble. Here is where I'll have my own Advent devotions. This year I'll be using a new book recommended to me by a fellow blogger. Maureen, when I read this book of Wisdom from G. K. Chesterton, I'll be thinking of you there in Devon, England. I won't link to you here as you've been taking a bit of a blog break, but if you happen to read this, I miss you and hope you start again soon.


After I read and pray I'll read one of the old Christmas books from my collection. This is the first one I'll read, an old 1928 book by Temple Bailey called The Star in the Well. Here is a link to some I found, in case you're interested.


This is a beautiful book in almost mint condition, in it's own pink box. It has deckled edges, a tissue paper covering the title page with frontispiece etching of Paul Moschocowitz's Madonna and Child.


Mary-Alice's parents are typical of the jaded jazz age, especially her father Michael who brushes aside his wife's concern that they have "lost the Star." It takes a life-threatening illness for Michael to return to his southern home place and search for the values taught him by his parents when he was young, where he can teach them to his little girl.


Does this book seem too naive, too simple and old-fashioned? Most of my old Christmas books probably are just that. I admit to being from the Norman Rockwell school of thought when it comes to books, more so the older I get. I think like Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie in this respect:

"Isabel thought about this. It was just too easy to say that adults did not like stories that were simple, and perhaps that was wrong. Perhaps that was what adults really wanted, searched for and rarely found: a simple story in which good triumphs against cynicism and despair. That was what she wanted, but she was aware of the fact that one did not publicize the fact too widely, certainly not in sophisticated circles. Such circles wanted complexity, dysfunction and irony: there was no room for joy, celebration or pathos. But where was the fun in that?"


I can't read books anymore that leave me upset and unsettled. I don't want to be disturbed in spirit when looking at a painting or picture.


Maybe I'm just an old fogey but I bet I'm in lots of good company, truth be told. Here's someone you might recognize who must have agreed with me:

"I dream of an art of balance, purity, tranquility,

devoid of disturbing or disquieting subject matter…

something akin to a good armchair."

Henri Matisse

Henri, I'll just sit in my armchair and read a good book and read the Good Book while I listen to Christmas carols, glancing up every once in a while to look about my sanctuary.



And this month of December I'll try to follow the advice of another man:

"Every day look at a beautiful picture,

read a beautiful poem,

listen to some beautiful music,

and if possible, say some reasonable thing."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Isn't that what we attempt to do on our blogs? I could type a list here of blogs I follow for those things, but I don't have to do that. Just scroll through my blogroll and you'll see a long line of them that are there for that very reason.

May this be a blessed December for each of you reading this!



45 comments:

  1. Oh Dewena I love your Sanctuary! It is beautiful and cozy, I can hear the Christmas Carols...wishing you a beautiful and peaceful start of our holiday season! XO Marisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for liking my Sanctuary, Marisa! I know you will make a beautiful and nourishing time for your sweet family at this special time of year!

      Delete
  2. Oh, Henri! And that's not O Henry. Henri Matisse is my absolute favorite artist...I have loved him for decades...he teaches me everything I know about simplicity, tranquility, purity, order, and balance.
    Happy First Sunday of Advent, Dewena!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is wonderful that you have been so greatly influence by Matisse, Becky--but I should have guessed that just from following your blog. Your post today meant so much to me!

      Delete
  3. A beautiful post, words and pictures. Love your tree. I like little trees myself. Done with the big ones. Thanks for an inspiring post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Debby! I know I would still have a humongous tree if I had the space and energy to decorate it but I love little trees too. I have to take my decorating in small bites each day.

      Delete
  4. CRAP!! I was just trying to muster some energy up to finish decorating and now you make me want to sit in a chair and read. But I want to sit THERE where you are...oh my my do you ever have the perfect cozy corner there. It's like right out of a book ...
    Happy Advent :)
    Beautiful post Dewena...they always are! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always make me laugh, Deb! I have to save my chair sitting for an afternoon rest, and I would love to have you join me. I would give you the comfy chair and I'd draw up an old green Windsor and we'd read together. Happy Advent to you!

      Delete
  5. What a lovely post. We all need some little space that is our sanctuary where we can relax, read and be at peace. Your sanctuary is lovely indeed. That little white tree is absolutely adorable. I adore all of your quotes and you are so right, things don't need to be complicated, simple things and moments are sometimes the best things and times of all. I hope you have a lovely December.
    Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Patty! I'm so glad you liked my little corner of the world! That's all it takes, doesn't it? A place for everyone in the family to get away and call their own.

      Delete
  6. Dewena,
    Your white tree is just beautiful. I like the JOY at the top of it. Nel would love all your books, as she is a book lover herself. Your reading area is so charming, and your home says "Welcome" to me.

    I hope you are enjoying the Christmas season.

    Love,
    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sheri, I like joy to be at the top of everything! Tell Nel to look at my Christmas Books board on Pinterest. I'll keep adding to it as I post about some of the old Christmas books that so far haven't been put there.

      Delete
  7. What a perfect place for solitude and just being you. This time of year can get so busy rushing around but you have found a great spot for just being quiet. I can see you there in the mornings breathing softly as you read and write. Your posts are wonderful, Dewena. I find the quotes so comforting. What a great tradition to pass on that tree to your granddaughter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Peggy! I appreciate your sweet comment. We do have to carve out a place and time to recharge our batteries, don't we?

      I just got an email last night with my little granddaughter standing in front of the Christmas tree they had just put up. She was reaching out to it with the most beautiful excitement and appreciation on her face. It moved me to tears! Another Christmas lover in the making!

      Delete
  8. good grief charlie brown!
    you're the book. you're the smells and the light and the sounds and the heart of christmas!
    i had the most peculiar feeling seeing all of your pictures here . . . i lingered over each one . . .
    like it just might all be in the hollow of a tree somewhere in a deep forest. and i could stop by and you would serve me tea. only i don't like tea. but i like your tea cups. and your cosy rooms. so you'll serve me cidar instead. or a nice cup of black coffee! and we'll stare at all your magical things. and we will be very happy.
    somewhat like those people in wind in the willows.
    XOXO
    love to you dear heart. love and a huge snoopy hug!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I would so very much like to have you sitting in my little corner, Tammy! We would drink whatever you liked--a glass of V-8, maybe? I would say that we would read together but we'd probably be too busy talking a mile a minute!

      Delete
  9. Both of your personal spaces are stars! I can imagine how happy you must feel upon waking each morning of this merry month, and seeing this pretty white tree, glowing with shiny, pink pretties before you, greeting you with open armed, snowy boughs! And, as you take your hot cup of tea to your cozy corner, and cuddle up with your favourite words of inspiration, while Christmas carols fill the room with melodious joy, you are happy, content and blessed, prayers answered. Simple pleasures, in your little snug, shared with us who wish they could join you in person, to see that comforting smile and listen to more snippets of holiday happiness, thinking how lucky we are! 'Complexity, dysfunction and irony' have invaded the world; THIS space, YOUR space, surrounded by precious pastimes, is for celebration.

    xo
    Poppy
    Put the kettle on, sweet friend...you have company!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's always room for you, dear Poppy! I'm so glad you stopped by to read a book with me, listen to some music, look at the Christmas lights, and most importantly, have a little good conversation. That's what we do by blogging and I thank God for the blessing of it.

      Delete
  10. Oh, I couldn't agree more, my friend. I don't know why the negative things, death, etc….are heralded above the positive, like life, in art and literature! MEH!

    Matisse was a genius, yes?

    And BTW I'm reading my first Alexander McCall Smith book EVER right now! ;P

    xo,
    RJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really! The McCall Smith detective series, or the Isabel D. series? I know there are at least two more series too that I haven't read. I'm very fond of him. He's one of the people I'd have at my dinner table if asked that question!

      Delete
  11. Dear one, your reading nook is so like my bedside table and floor. I surround that area with books. Also with images of those I miss. Sometimes I do not watch TV or read about current events and fall into my own world where all is beautiful. I have worked and lived in so much that was quite the opposite.The Christmas season for me is one of reflection (no gifts are purchased-extreme perhaps). xo, olive

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Olive, I'm so glad my little corner reminded you of yours! And I know from reading your older posts that it is so important to now surround yourself with things that bring you quiet contentment. And your blog gives us that feeling when we visit you.

      Delete
  12. Such a cozy reading spot. I'm refusing to get caught up in the hustle this year too. I may just put up one little tree. I'll let you know how it goes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to keep it simple, Betty, but my way is starting early and pacing myself. I admit that I've already put up a second tree and then there is the fresh one to be bought and decorated. But I will stop when it stops being a joy!

      Delete
  13. Oh, Deweena, thanks for having us come into your spot... and look at all the people here whom you've inspired!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been wonderful to have you all visit, Mary Ann! And we all inspire each other!

      Delete
  14. Such a lovely post, Dewena. Your flocked tree is so pretty, and that breakfront behind your chair took my breath away. It's gorgeous! I love happy ending books. You're right. We deal with enough horror in real life. I don't want to deal with it in books as well. Have a good week. laurie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Laurie! I'm so glad you thought it was a breakfront! But it is actually a marriage of the bottom of an Ethan Allen dresser my parents gave us when we got married 50 years ago, with the top of our china cabinet that seemed too match-matchy so we split them up. Now the top holds books in my bedroom that are the only ones I won't lend out--not because they're first editions but simply because I can't do without them. It is where I tuck small trinkets of family history too.

      Delete
  15. We must be soul mates Dewena, for your cozy corner is one I have envisioned in my mind's eye many, many times. I can picture you there, deep in thought or reading, savor in your solitude and little slice of heaven.

    I am honored to be included in your blog roll, and yes, we are all just trying to 'say something reasonable', and you certainly achieve that with every thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everyone needs one spot that's their "fill-the-well spot," don't they, Doreen?

      I am so glad to have met you recently. Blessing to you on all the upcoming preparation for your daughter's wedding!

      Delete
  16. We must be soul mates Dewena, for your cozy corner is one I have envisioned in my mind's eye many, many times. I can picture you there, deep in thought or reading, savor in your solitude and little slice of heaven.

    I am honored to be included in your blog roll, and yes, we are all just trying to 'say something reasonable', and you certainly achieve that with every thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, Dewena, I love Advent and the thoughtfulness it inspires, too. I have dug out my copy of Henry Van Dyke's "The Other Wise Man" to re-read this season, and get a daily devotional by e-mail that is always thought provoking. Your cozy nook is a wonderful place for reflection, prayer and gratitude. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't believe I've read that Van Dyke book, but I do have an old copy of his The Mansion.

      Thank you, Michele, for visiting me, and a blessed Advent season to you!

      Delete
  18. Dewena, your sanctuary is delightful, we all need a someplace we can call our very own. You're wise to not allow a laptop. My bedroom is for sleeping or reading...despise electronics in the bedroom, even a radio. Chesterton is a favorite, even when he's difficult to understand. God bless you as you center yourself and focus on Him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sandra. I have never regretted taking the t.v. out of the bedroom over 10 years ago.

      I have always loved Chesterton's quotes so I knew this was a book I wanted. I have never read a complete book by him but have meant to find one and see if the books were as wonderful as his quotes.

      Delete
  19. i'm back. i had to come back! i just love those first two pictures.
    that little tree and that wonderful chair and bookcase . . . the cosiness of it all. i simply love it. and had to see it again. don't mind me. i'll be quiet! just resting here a bit. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love repeat visitors, Tam! It means a lot to me to know you liked my little corner.

      Don't you ever be quiet! But do rest here as long as you like!

      Delete
  20. I don't mind a sad story if there is something of value to be culled from it, but I'm with you, I don't enjoy a disturbing one anymore. And I can easily follow Herr Goethe's sage advice...except for the part about speaking reasonably in December. Christmas is so chock full of exclamation points that I am often in peril of sloughing all reason and restraint and running wild with it. Hope! Love! Joy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, yes! All reason thrown away in December and my heart beats faster too! We wouldn't have it any other way. Nice point!

      Delete
  21. I love this post so much, Dewena! I find myself only wanting to read uplifting and positive books. This trend continues in music, and movies. Maybe that's why I love Christmas music and movies so much...they are feel good, heart warming shots in the arm. I was a Psych major in college and am always aware that just like our body's are fueled by what we eat, our minds focus on and are influenced by what we "put in" there as well. I remember a study on patients in a hospital watching I Love Lucy, etc and the role these shows played in their recovery...very interesting. Thanks for sharing and I love your reading chair...so cozy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Melinda! And I remember the "trash in, trash out" slogan, and isn't it the truth? I'll take Lucy over doom and gloom anyday. Maybe there are more of us out there than I realized!

      Delete
  22. Dearest Dewena,
    I agree with Melinda and you-I too only want to read, see, listen and feel positive! Uplifting books, movies, art, friends, thoughts. I find that my home and garden are my sanctuary where only positive and happy things grow. I was once accused of living in "candy cane lane," well, what is wrong with that! Better to live a positive life filled with good thoughts than to complain and grumble with negative ones!
    Just beautiful Dewena!
    Many Blessings my friend-
    Jemma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know there are plenty of life-is-real, life-is-earnest blogs out there, Melinda, and sometimes life gives each of us times like that. But I'd so much rather live on your "Candy Cane Lane" when I have the choice. Polyanna was a pretty smart cookie! And Mary Poppins with her Spoonful of Sugar!

      Delete
  23. You've inspired me to carve out some time for prayer and reflection this special season. Christmas blessings. Dixie

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dewena, I love the tradition of a Christmas tree in your bedroom! Nora will treasure it some day. Thank you for sharing your cozy chair for reading. You have reminded me to make time among the chaos for reading during the holiday season. It's funny how I had just recently discovered Chesterton and am reading Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton, too. Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete

Hello! We would love to hear from you and get to know you in return. Thank you for visiting.