When it’s sunny and we don’t have much going, we tend to “seize the day” with a drive some distance through familiar countryside. We’ve enjoyed at least five such drives since mid-November, taking advantage of the relative warmth and lack of snow. We attached a “purpose” – however flimsy – to each one of the drives.
Trip #1 – Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op. We visit this beautiful space in downtown Owen Sound at least twice a year. This time the purpose was for Sam to choose a Bruce County photo as a Christmas present from me. He started looking at the framed photos while I wandered off to the beeswax candles and the art cards. He chose so quickly I barely got to glance at the photo before it was securely wrapped by the clerk! So it will be a surprise for me on Christmas Eve day.
The landscape along Hwy. 6 on the way north looked wonderful. We saw just enough snow to cover the gently rolling hills – and none on the road. We stopped for lunch at Pebbles, a Mennonite buffet at Varney, just south of Durham, where I know some of the food agrees with me.
Trip #2 – Simcoe. The following week, we drove south to Simcoe on a promising day to deliver a couple books which a friend ordered. Why put them in the uncertain mail, we wondered, when it’s such lovely day? Plus I got to see my friend briefly! Lunch that day was a Subway sandwich, an occasional treat for both of us.
Again, we drove in sunshine, with just a little snow covering the rolling hills. The drive reminded me of my reflection time on the road during the years I had a spiritual director in the Simcoe area. I used to love the rural drive for three seasons of the year, not including winter.
Trip # 3 – St. John’s Convent. One Wednesday we traveled much less serenely on the 401, the 407 and Yonge Street in Toronto. We had been determined to find a compatible date for spending an overnight at the convent before Christmas, and this was it. We are always so pleased to get off the expressway and Yonge St., arrive at the very sheltered convent, and then go walking in what is actually a quiet residential neighborhood.
The next day, on the way home, we had coffee with a friend at a restaurant near the Yonge St. entrance to the 407. Steeped in the peace of the convent, I really didn’t think about the upcoming drive home during the afternoon commute!
Trip #4 – Burning Hanukkah Candles. This time we drove west, picking up an old friend at the retirement home where he lives north of Stratford. Again, we drove through lovely countryside to get there. An added bonus was going into Stratford to a place which permitted us to burn Hanukkah candles. I was pleased to find a way for the three of us to revive our thirty-year tradition of setting up a menorah and watching the dancing coloured candles in darkness for 45 minutes or more before they burned themselves out.
Farm near Glen Allan, Ontario
Trip #5 – To Dorking and the Country Sisters. One Saturday, we delivered a book in Elmira, then headed west on the old Hwy. 86. We had passed Dorking Groceries & Home Baking, run by Markham Mennonites, many times when it wasn’t open, and had determined to stop in when it was open. We bought some Christmas cookies from a good saleswoman who would have sold us the whole store! We also ate a very basic lunch at Country Sisters just up the road, and could also have reveled in lots of their yummy-looking Christmas baking.
Looking back on these drives, I think they were not so much about “seizing the day” as about “graciously receiving the day”. For they included Advent time seeing old friends, viewing beautiful artwork and going on retreat, as well as driving through the sunny southwestern Ontario countryside. “Seizing the day” sounds too forceful – violent even- for our gentle endeavors.
Christmas blessings to all as you visit with family and friends. And, if you’re driving in the countryside in daylight (especially in sunshine!), take a moment to let your eyes and your spirit graciously receive what you see…
Question for Reflection:
What’s the difference for you between “seizing the day” and “graciously receiving the day”? Which stance beckons you as Christmas nears?
Next week: A new year beckons….