Portrait on a December Evening


I was sitting here only minutes ago when the reality of now struck me with a curious intensity.

So I hooked up my webcam for a moment and snapped a picture of myself, just as I am right now (and for that purpose, I grabbed my Missal since the thought of a completely-alone selfie was just too awkward. Pulling St. Joseph and the Child Jesus into the frame made it much better). Jeans, bare feet, oversized sweatshirt, minimal makeup.

Behind me is the room I share with my youngest sister. The closet door is open; you can see a snippet of a laundry hamper hanging from it. (Those hampers are incredible nifty, by the way.) Then you can see the curtained window, and the “If You Love Southern Women” kitchen towel I got for my 21st birthday this summer (which is being saved for future use . . .).

Right above my head is “The Song of the Angels,” the beautiful frame of which was custom-built by The Dash (that is currently his nickname, expertly coined by Lena) for my birthday, back before we started courting; the actual artwork came from his dear family. To my right (in the picture) comes washed-out lamplight, and a peek at my prayer altar.

In this moment, I am listening to Ola Gjeilo’s gentle piano arrangements on Spotify . . . I’m at my desk, typing hurriedly since it’s almost time to go down and bake fish for supper. I’m at the end of the first day of December. It’s been a patchwork day at home, full of little things tricky to recall and mention because they are so little . . . but now there are fragments and colorful images still drifting through my head like last snowflakes at the end of a storm.

English lessons with my brother . . . gerunds and verbals, now combine these sentences; throwing football in the living room with him . . . giggling and testing reflexes; kneeling in front of the computer for the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart from Fribourg . . . The thoughts of His Heart are from generation to generation: carrying in groceries . . . pull out the cold, put it away; strumming guitar while my computer undergoes updates . . . remember these fingerpicking patterns?; an early Christmas package coming in the mail . . . walking down to the gate under the gray sky while the dogs leap euphorically around me; listening to a talk by Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, on Catholic courtship . . . honor and virtue and sacrifice . . .

On and on, they come, these fragments. It’s been a good day. I can hear my dad’s voice from downstairs . . . a good and warm sound. My sister squeals, probably being tickled.

Novenas, courtship, plans for tomorrow, choir practice, numerous prayer intentions that span faces and states and whole countries, and now Advent nearly here . . . these are all flickering through my mind in sporadic but vivid fashion, as I sit here typing to the strains of piano and cello. Here I am, present in time by the design and grace of God; 21 years old, a woman at home, part of a beautiful family and courting a wonderful man.

Downstairs, my sister is now banging out a piano exercise I taught her weeks ago. I have winter laundry on my bed to sort and put away . . . my brother is whistling cheerily, having just finished a workout with dad. The thought comes to me: There’s little that’s more true and real and beautiful than life inside the home.

And now it’s time to go and cook (and also to look up the best ways to store onions and potatoes, like I promised Mom I would), so I’ll end this random reflection on the present moment and wish you all a blessed First Friday and beginning of December 🙂