Hark! the Cricket
Let the cricket wind his heartspring
And draw the night by like a child’s toy . . .
Sounds gentle, doesn’t it. Almost idyllic.
But night falls. Sometimes, crushingly. Which feels worse during holidays.
And who initiates the winding that changes the scene? In the above quote, it’s the lowly cricket at work, back legs cocked like hinges — rubbing, rubbing — its muscular song a vocation: dispelling darkness.
It’s Advent again. For my husband, Dreamer, and I, this year it’s a hard one.
Crèche, sounds like crush
Or kibosh. A long-term dream, just coming into fruition, abruptly ends. With a phone call. The person in charge will be “going a different direction.”
Plans are scrapped. Tickets, cancelled. Months of labor — and now, nowhere to invest it.
Dreamer and I try to lighten our mood. Like the scene-changing cricket, we emulate stage hands. Our living room, awaiting tree and toys for the grandkids, becomes the stage.
We surround our buffet on three sides with a wooden folding screen. Intricately pierced, the eight panels reflect light from the mirror behind the buffet. Glancingly.
The u-shaped walls will shelter our crèche.
Dreamer leaves me to it. “Call if you need me.”
Paging Jiminy Cricket
As a kid, I knew the wishing star was real. Sky’s the limit, my parents said. “Makes no difference who you are,” Disney’s Jiminy sang, “Dreams come true.”
Alone now, leaning into the screen’s hinged embrace, I position the stable. The beasts and the figures. Angels, lights, miniature grasses and date palms.
Greenery blurs the gape of angled joints, a sprung hinge. Dowels placed across the top suggest rafters. A crude dwelling.
I enter the hush. Since childhood, this little world poised within the noisy, everyday realm has gathered me in, an irresistible attraction.
Soon little stars made of straw dance on black threads at the merest breath. I stand back, marvel that staggered heights create depth of field.
Then I summon Dreamer.
We survey our modest act of Advent. The screen shelters the Story like a murmured yes. Like the arms of a mother. Glancingly, wonder percolates. Sadness abates.
Yes bristles around us, chafing our tender places. But as author Brian Doyle once prayed:
… your gentle hand … has sustained me. Thank you for saying yes not once thousands of years ago but all day every day in ways far beyond my ken. Thank you for … the star-furnace of your love.
… Thank you for this moment. Thank you for being in it with me.
Hark! The cricket winding the heartspring — like the Child, himself — both dispelling the darkness: each embodies grace. Within the crux of the cell, the deep core of gristle and bone, the pulse of blood …
… one small, throbbing Noel — newly perceived — at the soul’s hearth.
Any crickets (or their equivalent) at your place?
You might also enjoy: Sometimes, the Gift Tears You Open
* Cricket quote, Robert Siegel, “Rinsed with Gold, Endless, Walking the Fields”
Brian Doyle, “Prayer to the Madonna,” A Book of Uncommon Prayer
Photo: Bill Klein