Welcoming the Christmas Guest

Scarlet Catchfly ~ Silene subciliata


Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice — it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances — but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.
                                                    Making the House Ready for the Lord ~  Mary Oliver

Comments always are welcome.

59 thoughts on “Welcoming the Christmas Guest

  1. What a beautiful Christmas flower, Linda! I love the excerpt from Mary Oliver, too. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May 2023 be better for all of us.

    1. In what might be one of the strangest associations that’s come to me, your combination of ‘red’ and ‘ready’ brought to mind Reddy Kilowatt, one of the ever-present logos of my Iowa years. That aside, I’m certainly ready to begin searching for this gorgeous red flower again in the coming year.

    1. Just before our freeze began, I welcomed a lizard into my house, plunking him into a Hawaiian schefflera in a storage closet. Instead of a frozen landscape, he got a well-watered plant warmed by a couple of lightbulbs. The squirrels had to stay outside, though.

    1. Red and green certainly are traditional ‘Christmas colors,’ but the holly and the ivy aren’t the only reds and greens that can do the job! I thought the photo was as inviting as Mary Oliver’s poem, and her poem is one of my Christmas favorites. I’m glad you enjoyed it, too, Arti. Now, it’s on to celebrate the full Twelve Days leading up to Epiphany!

      1. It was indeed, Linda. Hope that yours was, too. Even braved the cold and got a walk in the sunshine. It’s always perplexing how there can be so much sunshine and yet oh some bitterly cold.

  2. A beautiful flower for Christmas! And I love Mary Oliver’s poetry. (I suspect my cats may have discovered an ‘uproar of mice’ in the garden – there’s a spot they are both drawn to keep watch on.)

    1. The catchfly is one of my favorites. It’s more an east Texas flower; that’s where this photo was taken. I found it at the edge of woods, which is why there are suggestions of sky behind it. Isn’t ‘uproar of mice’ a wonderful phrase? I have an uproar of something in the ceiling now and then, but it’s entirely too noisy for mice. I suspect my possum might have found a snug corner for the winter.

    1. I keep finding new gems from Mary Oliver. She was so prolific that, quite naturally, not all of her poems appeal, but when she’s on target, there’s no one better. I especially enjoyed the limping raccoon; I have some experience with raccoons, and always like it when someone gives them their due.

    1. Thanks, Dana. Between your Christmas poem and this one, I was well supplied with things to ponder this year. Merry Christmas to you — and give my best to Dr. M and the Roy.

    1. Christmas red and Christmas green can appear in many forms, and I think this is one of the loveliest. I’ve not a thing against holly berries or poinsettias, but this red? It deserves to be shown off — just like your ferns! A happy Christmas season to you!

    1. Thanks, Jeanie! I trust you’re safely home now. I’m giving thanks I decided against a flight up to Kansas City — looking at the Southwest Airlines mess, I can only imagine the frustration and etc. Being within driving distance is good, even if the conditions are exactly the best!

    1. Thanks, Sam. I hope your holiday was a good one, and that you had a little nature time yourself. There wasn’t a whole lot of that around here. I’m not so intrepid as some people I know. I’ll go out in 50 degree weather, or even 40 degrees if it’s not blowing like crazy, but 25 degrees with a substantial wind chill? To everything there is a season, and the days around Christmas were meant to be inside days!

    1. As am I. I’m taking a friend down to the West End Marina tomorrow, and we’ll do a little scouting along the way. I do have a new bird at my feeders. I think it’s a Warbler of some sort. It has lovely bits of yellow on it, but it doesn’t seem to be Yellow-Rumped. I still don’t have a decent photo of it, but once I started putting out some dried meal worms, it began to come around more frequently, so I may get a chance.

      1. I saw a Palm Warbler for the first time, down on Bay Street in my November outing (I have yet to write him up). He is striped brown, and has bright yellow underpants, and a creamy chin. Could that be what you are seeing?

        1. It might be, particularly since he seems to be hanging out around a palm tree I can see — as well as a bald cypress. I do know I’m seeing two species, though. This morning, a Yellow-Rumped, one of those cute little ‘butter butts’ showed up, too. That’s one I do know.

    1. Today’s downtime is going to be especially nice; I’m off to Galveston Island; the predicted high is around 70F with sunshine and a bit of wind. I’ll be forgoing photography for the day for a variety of reasons, but it will be interesting to see how things look post-freeze. It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the new year, but so it is: time to look forward as well as looking back.

    1. This is one of my favorite flowers. It displays such a pure, clear red — it’s not hard to spot because of its color, although it can hide a bit in the midst of undergrowth. It seems to me to be a perfect Christmas flower. I hope you had something as pretty and bright for your celebrations!

  3. You have provided yet another Mary Oliver gem which I had not yet discovered. She certainly captured the spirit of Christmas!

    Gini and I hope your holidays are what you wish them to be.

    Like a couple of Ms. Oliver’s squirrels, we gnawed a ragged entrance into our daughter’s home on Christmas Day and she opened her arms and said “Welcome”. (Well, to be fair, she may have been reaching for the platter of red and green sugar cookies I was carrying.)

    I know I’m late (again) but you told me there was no schedule, so: “Merry Christmas”!

    1. Even if there were a schedule, you’re well within the confines. My Christmas tree is sparkling away — I don’t take it down until the 12th day of Christmas, or Epiphany. I’ve read that in olden days they sometimes pushed the celebration all the way to Candlemas, on February 2. I might consider that next year.

      Besides, I got another Christmas gift today. Sitting on a friend’s back porch, I looked up and saw the brightest Eastern Bluebird I’ve ever seen. In fact, it was the first bluebird I’ve seen in this area. It sat for a while, allowing us to admire it before flying off. I think it might have been the Bluebird of Happy Christmas.

    1. It’s one of my favorite flowers. I was pleased to find a small patch of them at the edge of an east Texas woods, where I could add a bit of sky to the background as well as a bit of mud to myself!

    1. Mary Oliver almost always can provide a ‘good word’ for the season. Now it’s January 2, and time to move on; I hope this year’s a good one for you and yours, filled with the ‘gold’ of health and happiness.

  4. It is a lovely bit of prose. I’ll substitute goddess or Mother Nature or The All That Is for lord. The masculine form is inappropriate I think, not associated with nurturing so much.

    1. I don’t know — I’ve come across quite a few males who were far more nurturing that some of the women I’ve known. That said, Oliver has several poems where ‘Lord’ appears. A Christ figure? I don’t know, and I haven’t read any analyses that deal with that issue. But for me, the language is fine and the poem one that I cherish; I think it would lose its power if abstractions were substituted for ‘Lord.’ Different strokes, and all that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.