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Beyond my big picture window, the world dresses in blue shadows, as it does every clear day before the sun rises to yellow its world.  I sit in my same comfy chair with a cup of coffee beside me and pen and paper in my lap.  I’m suppose to be writing, but instead my eyes bounce between the view outside — to the view inside, where with help of man-made light, lives a tiny world of my making on top my coffee table — a table-scape where fake pumpkins have just given way to flickers of a winter candle.

The year revolves around the dance floor, each turn coming faster and faster, making it a struggle to keep up.   Then, just like that —  the dance slows down.   The music stops.  And I look up —  I look up  to see it’s Advent?   How in the world can Advent already be here?

Well, it is.  I know because I went to church for the first time in two years yesterday.  And to top that, I went for the best reason of all:  I wanted to.  For me, for now, It was time to wake up.  Time to crawl out of a warm bed into the cold of a morning.  Time to resume everyday life with church being part of the picture window.

And how wonderful to do just that.  To wake up to the sounds of a beloved husband snoozing.  To dogs snoring and sprawled all over the bed as if they owned it.  To listen to the swooshing heated air falling out of ducts hidden within my walls.

It’s Advent.  Advent, as in, ‘coming.’  As in Christmas is coming soon.  As in, all is well. All is calm, all is bright.  Sleep in heavenly peace.

And what’s not all calm and bright — well — Advent grants us time to prepare ourselves — to put our best faces on, so to speak —  sort of like putting a dash of red lipstick on in the rear-view mirror of the car, while waiting for a traffic light to shine green — or for some, less mobile, while sitting in a wheelchair waiting for death and two tacos from Taco Bell to come.

Still alive, though a far cry from her everyday self, that’s what my lovely mother-in-law did during yesterday’s daily visit with my husband, her son.  She put on a dash of lipstick and a few other cosmetics to make herself feel better while waiting for a couple of fast-food tacos.  Perhaps she did it to make herself feel more like her old self  — maybe to reclaim a small fragment of an everyday life she no longer owned.  Or leased.

And who knows that maybe the gloss did the trick for a while, since she and my husband enjoyed a leisurely visit for a change —  instead of one truncated by sleep, like others this past week.  But by nine o’clock, the shine must have worn off because nothing was calm or bright in Janice’s world.  We know because — completely out of character — she called my husband on the telephone to fix it.  And after failing to do it, she asked for me.

Hello.  That’s all I remember saying before she launched into a series of short whispers.

She needed to find a place to stay for a couple of days.  Her husband needed a break from his around-the-clock care-giving.  She knew her husband hated her.  Stuck in bed, she wasn’t tired.  She couldn’t sleep.  She was desperate.  Needed to get out of there.  Tonight.

I listened until she grew too tired to talk, until she had said her piece, until she wound down enough to fall into what I hope was a peaceful slumber —  in a world far removed from heavenly peace that — well better to face it — doesn’t even try to put its best face on most of the time.  Unless it’s running for office.  Or posing before a camera.  And then not always.

The call left me unsettled.  It left me feeling powerless.  It left me feeling blue.

How strange that blue skies denote happy times while feeling blue is anything but.  There is a heaviness to blue.  But thank God, not so heavy to keep the sun from climbing the sky to lighten life up a bit. For the calendar to chug along its way to the light of Christmas Day.

Real light, true light — why it’s enough to warm a soul from the inside out —  to set a face aglow.  No lipstick required.

Advent Already?   Yes.  Advent Already.  Amen.  Amen.

Come what may.