Winter Greeting: 2017

  • Winter Greeting: 2017

    Winter has long been the season of reflection so, get cozy, pour yourself a cup of something and let’s chat.

    This year for the first time I started my decorating, shopping and gifting early. Ask my siblings; I am notoriously a last minute girl. Myers Briggs P through and through. But this year, I think I needed her more.  Her? She is Light, Hope and Mercy.  Mostly Mercy. “Her” is Grandma Anna, the grandmother of the universe as well as the grandmother of Jesus, and mother of his mother Mary in the Christian faith. She is the part of the universe that is infinite love and mercy. Mostly Mercy.

    To my mind, Christendom’s celebration of the birth of Jesus is also a celebration of the triumph of light, hope and mercy over all that stands against their expression.   (Mostly Mercy.) Did you know that around the world there is some sort of celebration of light at this time of the year? Whether it is the birth of Jesus, the light of the world, or the Jewish Hanukkah, or Kwanza or Denali…worldwide there are celebrations of light returning. Increasing hours of daylight means the promise of new beginnings, of redemption, and for me in particular, the triumph of mercy and empathy over fear and constriction.

    There are a number of seasonal firsts this year for the Wonders Dearings. In addition to getting an early start on the season we are taking a trip and hosting our first open house. After years of promising that one year we would not do Christmas gifts etc. but would instead take a trip, the Wonders Dearings finally did it. The 24th found us on the road to the Gage Hotel in Marathon Texas and exploring Big Bend National Park. The 27th we discovered the magic of Marfa, Texas, home to artists and spiritual seekers.   We renewed and re-discovered the magic of our connections, of our shared passions and learned to be a bit more elegant in navigating our divergent temperaments. It is no small thing to put three solo adults, all more leaders than followers together for a large amount of time and in close quarters.   We did that.  It brought us closer together as these kinds of conversations do.  We had and made time for them.  We are better for them.  Each of us.

    Another first: No true Christmas tree with all the ornaments our memories can conjure, but instead something I have long wanted; decorating with nature and light. An abundance of greens, flowers, candles. I have thoroughly enjoyed the change, maybe even more so because it was so long in coming.

    And … and … and yet, I feel this melancholy. Even in this long desired reinvention of how we do this season, (and my heart flutters at the thought of any kind of reinvention), yet this unshakable melancholy persists. Why?

    Even in our togetherness there were poignant moments of time passing too quickly or where-has-it-all gone. Even in the best of experiences, the extraordinary drive through Big Bend replete with hiking the Santa Elena Canyon, the vastness of the Chinati museum, and time unbounded a bit, it persists. This curious combination of deep thankfulness mixed with some unnamable loss. Like the vast beauty of the desert that also holds all manner of prickly cacti and fierce critters.

    Maybe this is aging and the nostalgia that comes with it? Maybe the desert sky renders this feeling larger? Or maybe it is realizing that more Solstice celebrations of the return of light are behind than ahead of me?  Or the dawning (and unbearable) awareness that I will not accompany my children (physically) through all the pivotal moments of their lives.

    I remember my sweet and humble academic father, who never saw his grandson graduate from MIT, now studying at Harvard Law School. Papa missed this all and how it would have thrilled him.  Zachary Robert Dearing, you can’t possibly know what this would have meant to your grandfather. He would not have even dreamed this as a possibility, it was outside of his rural and humble beginnings to hope or dream for these institutions. But please trust he would have been both humbled and proud by your remarkable achievements, especially in the face of your dyslexia. And my mother would have been beyond wowed at her granddaughter Katharine Lillie Dearing’s culinary talents and the culture shifting work she is creating in the world. Even though it might confront her political and worldviews, she adored her Katie and would have not been able to easily dismiss her series, Woman of a Certain Age, and it’s Tribeca acknowledgement. There are so many things my parents are missing. As we too miss sharing these moments with them.  A granddaughter married and their first great grandson. Another granddaughter is engaged and planning her wedding while making a new life for herself in fashion in New York.

    My life holds so many gifts and blessings…and always has …but as I play the Leslie Odom, Jr.’s Simply Christmas CD (the new) alongside Barbara Streisand’s Christmas album and so many other old favorites, I wonder: Is this the magic …(albeit bittersweet) of Christmas? Is this annual seasonal celebration a direct line to everything that came before and everything that will yet come to pass?  A direct line,  AND all at once!  How do we sweet tender human hearts hold that kind of complexity? How do we grow hearts large enough to continue to rise up with a full throated “YES!” to each day, ever more aware of time moving on? This daunting challenge is more and more my daily companion. In small and large ways, I am reminded I must apprentice myself to the beauty of impermanence.

    Recently, I have sensed, just a hint or a glimmer, that there is a singular and stunning ~ heart stopping ~ beauty in this part of life’s trajectory. For this very young-at-heart woman, this woman whose life has been firmly planted in innovation, emergence, and possibility, how will I find those beginnings in my decline and death?  I love, adore maybe even worship the expansiveness in beginnings. Can I uncover a different expansiveness in loss? Is that even a thing?

    I am sure it is beyond words, it is unspeakable.   Yet, I feel compelled to attempt to incarnate my new sensibility of this time.  I continue to sense that there is an abiding but different security and comfort in impermanence. Please don’t ask me to explain it. I also can’t explain why I simultaneously cry and feel a deep abiding peace driving in the desert. Something about the soul piercing starkness of this beauty. Is this the face of God?  Is this wonder and awe?

    Isn’t it interesting that in the bible when the angels come to visit a human their first words are “Be not afraid.” Indeed, this impermanence is of the divine and I/we humans initially respond in fear. “Be not afraid my soul whispers, but my mind resists.”   Is this the blessing of life? Succumbing, surrendering to the Unfathomable but not in fear rather in love? AND with that surrender, do we glimpse the beauty beyond all naming? A beauty as majestic as the Marfa, TX desert sky. Impermanence is not what we think we want. But we aren’t always the best judges of what will truly make us happy. I know from my own life that what I thought would make me happy, often failed me miserably and paradoxically what I was sure I didn’t want, often fulfilled me in ways beyond my wildest imagination.  I no longer think I am the best judge of what will make me happy. And that makes it easier to welcome and embrace what is, even when it falls very short of my desires.

    As we move into 2018 in the era of Donald Trump, with abundant natural disasters and nuclear threats, it might be more important than ever to love what is. That includes each of us loving our own flawed and imperfect selves. Enough self-improvement! Instead a full-on embrace of how we are made; the good, the bad and especially the ugly. And then onto our equally imperfect family, friends and neighbors. Maybe there is something inside of each of us that is truly inviolate, wise and as vastly loving as the West Texas sky. Touching that sweet spot with far more regularity might be the gift that never disappoints.

    So, in the spirit of the Beauty and the Joy of Impermanence I wish each and everyone one of us  a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, a Sweet Solstice, and Happy New Year.



    December 31st, 2017 | admin | Comments Off on Winter Greeting: 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

About Nancy


Nancy C. Wonders is an interior designer. The “interiors” she designs are psychological, not physical, space -- a client’s personal interior landscape, or the emotional barometer of a team, or an entire organization. Nancy’s office includes a “design bar” where clients have a chance to re-invent how they see themselves and/or their organizations. These re-structurings result in discovering what is fresh, new and alive. This discovery prompts profound, immediate change, on both the inside and in interactions with others. Read more»

Comments are closed.