Wednesday, December 26, 2007

In the Spirit

* Note: This blog entry was written four days before Christmas.

When I was a kid, the belief that Santa knew my name and was going to come down the chimney and bring presents--specifically for me--made me feel special, tapped in and alive. The Christmas Spirit was easy for me to have then. I had 100% belief in something magical and wonderful.

As the years went by, several weeks before Christmas I would feel that tingle in my bones the first time I heard a Christmas tune or saw holiday lights. There was a permanent smile affixed to my face, the smell from the tree brought heavenly delirium, and buying gifts for loved ones was not a chore, but a pleasure.

Then, my husband I had children. We planned and plotted and worried we'd have enough for them. We worked hard, shopping all over town, trying to make sure Christmas was as special for our children as it had been for us. How did our parents do it? we wondered. The Christmas Spirit would hit me a little later than it had before, sometimes just ten days or so before Christmas. I would wait for it, and it would come...eventually.

This year, the Spirit of Christmas seems to have let me be. I've had a hard time focusing on presents. I can't remember what's been bought or what's not. I can't seem to smell the Christmas tree that my daughter and I decorated. Maybe it's the 80 degree weather we had for so long after Thanksgiving. Maybe it's that I'm finding I cannot write and so I'm unable to focus. Maybe it's that one of my dearest friends is in the hospital with terminal stomach cancer and all I want to do is be with him and make him well.

I understood something last night about the Christmas Spirit.

I was sitting next to my friend's hospital bed, watching him in his morphine-induced sleep. He'd had a very bad day and was in a lot of pain. As I listened to his labored snore, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to be there in the room with us. Then I held my hand about an inch and a half over his left hand, the one with his wedding band. I closed my eyes and began praying out loud. I am not a pray-out-loud kind of person. The words started flowing out of me as if I weren't even speaking them. I prayed and prayed harder and after a while, became conscious that my hand was immoveable over his. I looked down to see if I was touching my friend's hand because I felt as if my hand was resting on something. It was not. But something was there.

My friend is also an author. He had his first book published this year. He's so proud of that book. We all are. A few days ago he and I discussed the "magic" that was in our little writers' group three years ago when I was writing my debut and he was writing his. I said it was as if the Holy Spirit had descended on our little group. He agreed and said at the end of our meetings, late at night, he'd have to go home and write, basking in the aura of what had just happened. I admitted, I did too.

Then he said, "It's not there anymore. That Spirit." And I have to agree. Our little group is smaller than before, three of us are published in one way or another, and we continue to write and write well. We continue to enjoy eachother's company and friendship. We continue to encourage one another. But that infectious Spirit is gone. The one that gripped us and sustained us and wrote the words for us. It was a gift to us to get us going. God gave us the spark, and now it's up to us to fan the flames.

Today, I'm not waiting for the Christmas Spirit to hit me. I know what it is now. The Christmas Spirit is nothing more than the Holy Spirit. As a child, it's quite easy to access. As we get older, more stressed, bogged down with daily life and knowledge, it's harder to believe in that which we cannot see. But for believers, the Holy Spirit is something that can be with us when we request it. It was the there last night in my friends' hospital room. It is with me today as I write this and listen to my children playing and I plot my gifts on a spreadsheet and get organized for the holidays. Christmas is coming whether I'm in the Spirit or not. It's the same as life. I'd rather be in the Spirit every day, so I need to ask daily to be filled. Life depletes us. God can fill us back up. Over and over and over again.

I wish you, friends, the happiest of holidays. May your life be filled with the Spirit every single day of the year.

Nicole Seitz is the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass and a second novel coming in March, Trouble the Water, about three flawed women who experience God's healing grace and unlikely angels. Today, she is busy writing her third novel. Visit her website at


Keetha said...

What a beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

Such a moving essay. So sorry to hear about your friend.


PH said...

The Holy Spirit is so ancient but yet still so relevant. He hovers over us now,that same creative force that was present in the beginning teaching us what to do with our words.

Thank you for sharing so authentically. I'll pray for your friend too.

Nicole Seitz said...

Thank you for your kind words. My friend is in hospice now. He has done so many things in his life, but he said the one thing that means the most (aside from family) was publishing that book this year. His heart and soul was shared in it. Amazing how important writing our true heart can be.

Keep writing your hearts out!

Camellia said...

What peace I found in this post. Thank you for sharing it.

Camellia said...

What peace I found in this post. Thank you for sharing it.