November is always a beautiful and bittersweet time of year. It begins with the feasts in honor of those who have gone before us to Heaven or to Purgatory. It ends, at least here in the U.S., with the earthy, rich, national feast of Thanksgiving.
The days in-between are just that: in-between. Days in-between two worlds, in-between the Kingdom of Heaven and this greatest of all earthly nations. Days in-between past and present, present and future. Days in-between longing for reunion with deceased loved ones and treasuring the union we have with those who are with us. Days in-between yearning for what will be and gratitude for what is.
Finally, the feasting gives way to the close of one Church year and the beginning of another, with the solemn, penitential, and anticipatory season of Advent.
Unfortunately, this November is different. Much more bitter than sweet. My family and I are facing our first Thanksgiving without my dad. Also, I have been so overwhelmed by earthly business this past week that I could devote very little time to my usual observances of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. Both of these situations have put me into a great deal of disarray.
Instead of being caught up in the stimulating, curiously harmonious tension of the “in-between days” I feel this year like I am just… nowhere. I feel helplessly adrift, with very little light to carry with me into the lengthening, darkening nights.
Even though I am currently taking some time for vacation and being with my family, this month and this year so far have been much more about famine than feast, and I don’t expect that will change any time soon. The vacation time is much more a necessity than a pleasure. It’s a mere matter of preserving sanity. While I always love and treasure time with my family, I can’t even make the most of that because I’m so at the brink of falling to pieces. You can’t give anything to others if you can’t even keep yourself together.
I can scarcely spare a thought for Advent right now. Other than that it’s coming up way, way, way too quickly.
For now, I just need to try to get into this whole “vacation” thing. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. There is just soooo much stuff on my mind.
O Domine! Dona mihi pacem!