“No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are.”

― Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith


Consent and permission is such a part of my daily life. My two boys look to me regularly, often with a little mischief hiding behind those lashes, asking for my consent. They want permission to do something, eat something, go somewhere or play with some item. Always a process of asking for consent. Children, unlike us, “evolved” adults, often find themselves happily treasuring and seeing the rightness of the red X that marks their spot. They observe, test the waters & often find great pleasure in the ordinary.

Yesterday, my willingness to consent to be where I am was NOT working out so well. As is our habit, we {and by “we”, I especially am referring to my oldest son} start dragging out the Christmas tubs as soon as the turkey has hit the refrigerator. We spent Friday in Oakland instead, though, so the decorating was to happen on Saturday. Matt got our fake tree out of storage and began to assemble it…doesn’t that sound so cozy and homey?!? Putting together the Christmas tree?




And with great sighs of “please, no”, we realized that three big sections were dark, even after the plugs were turned on. The following few hours involved finger splitting and bleeding light removal while keeping the youngest out of all the ornaments that eldest had unleashed on every flat surface in sight. Lights were finally removed by 3:30pm (three hours later) and new lights put on by 5:30pm…only 2/3 lit. We still need to get more lights today and then will hopefully get ornaments on eventually—-only to be removed by our resident 2 year old, no doubt.

On Thanksgiving Even, upon seeing the set table, Drew kept saying “Cool. Awesome.  Wow.” Looking at the moon in the night sky that same night, he stopped, looked up and again sighed, “Cool…..Awesome.  Wow.” He looked at that tree yesterday, 1/2 lit, unadorned, and reflected with those same words, “Cool. Awesome.  Wow.” He also added in “hot” for good measure. We shall see how this season goes tree-wise.

Despite all the chasing, boundary-setting and time outs for Drew as of late, I am so often struck by his willingness to be in the moment. To be willing to treasure the now. To look down, realize he is standing on the figurative red X and jump up and down with vigor, clapping his hands and saying, “YEH!!!!”

As Advent draws near this week, I am preparing to prepare. To open my eyes to what is already around me and plant my feet there. To keep things simple this season. To plan for spending lots of unplanned, yet intentional time here. Being present in the moment. I love the daily traditions of easing into Christmas and focusing on the true meaning of the season, realizing as Barbara Brown Taylor reflected, that I already have what I need. The recollection, turning back to see that squeezing in every, single, solitary opportunity is empty, draining and not worth it. With a plan in place, I hope to be ready for what could happen, but willing to let it go just as easily.

Yesterday, a new response occurred. My eldest, usually hell-bent on getting the tree decorated immediately, let go of his stubborn frustration. I think seeing my bleeding fingers and sweaty face as I removed burnt out lights for hours gave him pause. My neighbor even brought over a bottle of wine! But, we let the tree be what it was to be—-unfinished. We all went to bed with the tree—-unfinished. That almost makes me sweat to type. Ornaments are still out, waiting to be put on. It was lit up in out window last night….only half lit. Baby steps, this holiday season, baby steps. Baby steps to get back to that red X that marks the spot I’m already standing in. To consent to be where I am.


2 thoughts on “Consent

  1. I love this post Christine~ you sound a bit more relaxed than I have seen you in the past~I love what you said~ that you are ready for what could happen, and willing to let it go just as easily~ thank you for the wonderful reminder of what this season is about, and that we have what we need~ this leaves us with time and spirit to do for others and to see to their needs~ love you, miss you and your family~! Need to come visit again~ maybe drag Myrna down with me~ Happy Holidays~ ❤

  2. When I was carving the turkey Thanksgiving Day (and what other day would I be carving a turkey–difficult to get rid of the dot every i, cross every t) Drew stood next to me, entranced by the noise of the knife and repeating over and over, WOW, WOW, WOW. He does indeed get into the moment!

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