TODAY IS THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT : Diana Gabaldon
That means that it’s One Week (seven days, or 168 hours, if you prefer) until Christmas. This observation might fill one with joy, anticipation and a general feeling of satisfied benevolence. Or…you know, anxiety, panic and hysteria, depending.
But the fourth candle in our wreath burns for Peace, and peace is at hand, no matter _what_ else is happening. (Well, putting aside house fires, heart attacks or screaming babies…but these are temporary distractions…) It’s always possible to step aside, if only for a few moments, to breathe deep (even if sitting in a privy), let your heart slow and your mind lie open. It doesn’t matter if you call this prayer or meditation or simply silence. If you make a place for peace, peace will come.
[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright 2021 Diana Gabaldon. For those who haven’t read BEES yet, this is from Chapter 128: SURRENDER, which deals with Roger’s ordination.]
ROGER WAS SEATED IN the family privy, not from bodily necessity but from an urgent need for five minutes of solitude. He could, he supposed, have gone into the woods or taken momentary refuge in the root cellar or the springhouse, but the house and all its surroundings were boiling with humanity, and he needed just these few minutes to be by himself. Not—not by any means—alone, but not with people.
Davy Caldwell had arrived last night, with the Reverends Peterson (from Savannah) and Thomas (from Charles Town). The house was as prepared as half a dozen determined women could make it; the church had been cleaned and aired and filled with so many flowers that half of Claire’s bees were zooming in and out of the windows like tiny crop dusters. The scents of barbecued pork, vinegar and mustard slaw, and fried onions drifted through the cracks in the walls, making his stomach twitch in anticipation. He closed his eyes and listened.
To the sounds of the festivities gearing up, the distant rumble of people talking, the fiddles and drums tuning up by Claire’s garden—even the loud nasal drone of a bagpipe in the distance. That was Auld Charlie Wallace, who would pipe the ministers into church—and pipe them out again, their number augmented by one.
He’d been uncertain about the piping, given the Reverend Thomas’s opinions regarding music in church, but Jamie—of all people—had said that he didn’t think the sound of the pipes should really be called music.
“People dance to it,” Bree had said, amused.
“Aye, well, folk will dance to anything, if ye give them enough liquor,” her father replied. “The British government says the pipes are a weapon of war, though, and I’ll no just say they’re wrong. Put it this way, lass—ye ken I dinna hear music, but I hear what the pipes are sayin’ fine.”
Roger smiled, hearing this in memory. Jamie wasn’t wrong, and neither had been the British government.
_ Fitting_, he thought, and closed his eyes. He was under no illusions that what he was about to do wasn’t one—and an important one—of innumerable steps on the road to a great battle.
_Yes_, he thought in reply to a silent question he’d answered before, would answer again, however often it came—and he knew it would. _Yes, I’m scared. And yes, I will_. And in the stillness of his beating heart, all sounds faded into a great, encompassing peace.