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HAPPY FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT!

HAPPY FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT!

Our wait is nearly over, and through the shadows and difficulties that beset our lives, we see the glow of everlasting light.

Excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD
Copyright 2012 Diana Gabaldon [Please don’t repost or reproduce this, but certainly you may link to it if you’d like to!]

Jamie was sitting as I’d left him, alone by our tiny fire, now burnt down to a bed of red ember furred with ash. And yet…not quite as I’d left him. I stopped abruptly, a little way outside the glow of the embers, fascinated by the look on his face.

He was entirely still, still as a waiting hunter, still as the stump he sat on. And yet his face was alive, his eyes looking into the fading coals but somehow beyond them, not abstracted at all. He was seeing something, and I felt the hairs lift on my arms, so slowly that I felt each one rise. And yet, the sense of him was one of absolute peace. The hurry I’d felt a moment before had vanished as I watched him. He might have been alone in some vast wilderness—alone, save for whoever he was talking to in the silence that surrounded him.

I didn’t move. I couldn’t take my eyes from his face. I too stood apart from the chaos of the camp for a moment, and heard silence. Silence filled with presence, a sense of quiet joy.

Then Jamie drew breath and closed his eyes, shoulders relaxing. The sounds of the night and the racket of the camp came back. I drew breath, too, and he heard me, for his head came up, his eyes opened, and he smiled at me and reached out his hand.

“_Mo nighean donn_,” he said softly, and kissed the hand I put in his, his breath cool on my skin.

“What were you doing just now?” I asked, as softly, and laid my free hand to his cheek, stroking back the ruddy hair behind his ear. “Praying?”

His mouth twitched, but he looked away, self-conscious.

“Och, no. I was just talkin’ to Ian.”

I blinked, glancing automatically over my shoulder, searching for Ian’s tall, rangy figure among the fires and smoke, even as I realized that wasn’t who he meant.

“No, the elder Ian,” Jamie said, smiling as he caught my look. “My friend, aye?”

“Do you do that often?” I asked curiously, sitting down beside him on a convenient rock. He turned toward me, and I saw the puff of white at his shoulder. “You have a split in the shoulder seam of your coat. Take it off, why don’t you, and I’ll fix it. You can’t be going into battle with your sleeve hanging off; General Washington wouldn’t like it.”

He gave a small snort at that, but obligingly stood up and wriggled out of the heavy coat, while I dug the hussif out of my pocket and found a needle threaded with something dark—it was impossible to distinguish black and indigo in the shadows.

“Aye, I suppose I talk to Ian often,” he said matter-of-factly, sitting down again. “Just the odd word now and then, when something minds me of him. But I dreamed of him last night, of when we were in France, so he was still wi’ me today.”

I looked sharply at him. I generally knew when he dreamed—always when he dreamed about war—but hadn’t noticed any disturbance of his sleep the night before. In fact, he’d slept like the dead until the wee hours, when he’d suddenly rolled over, gathered me into his arms, and fallen instantly back asleep, his face buried in my bosom.

“Aye, it was odd,” he said thoughtfully, as though knowing what I was thinking. “The closer we come to—“ He waved a hand, encompassing the army around us, “—the more terrible the dreams get. Things comin’ back, aye? And yet last night…I was sittin’ by a fire with Ian, in France, and the rest of the band around us, and we were sharpening our dirks, sharing an oilstone. I kent we were readying ourselves for a fight, but I wasna at all concerned about it, nor was Ian. I was only glad to have him there, by my side,” he added softly.

I’d seen him once, standing in nothing but his shirt at a spring on Fraser’s Ridge, call on Dougal MacKenzie for help, and seeing him now in his shirt, pale against the dark, reminded me. That encounter had held something of the strange stillness of what I’d just seen, but wasn’t the same.

“Did you—ask Ian to…er…come with you?” I asked, cautious, but curious. “Just now, I mean. Into battle?”

He blinked at that, surprised.

“No,” he said, and smiled, half-embarrassed. “It’s—och, it sounds foolish to say.”

“You don’t think I’d laugh, do you?” I asked, smiling too. I stabbed the needle into the fabric of the coat, and took his hand. It was hard, but smooth-palmed, and his fingers curled slowly round my own.

“It’s only—sometimes I find myself at peace, ken. No for any reason; just there it is, the gift of a moment when bein’ alive is all there is, and all I could want. Does that happen to you, Sassenach?” His head turned toward me, features now fading into darkness, but I caught the brief shine of his eyes, heard his beard-stubble rasp softly against his stock.

“Yes,” I said, after a moment. “Yes, it does. Sometimes in the most peculiar circumstances. But not often…and out of the blue.” Like this one.
“Out of the blue,” he repeated, liking the phrase. “Aye, that’s how it is. Ye canna make it happen; all ye can do is live it—and if ye’re lucky, remember it now and then.”

He paused and cleared his throat.

“Sometimes…well, it strikes me sometimes, the dead must be happy and at peace as spirits in heaven, but still—maybe they miss bein’ an animal. What it is to touch, and taste, and breathe and all. And so…I was just sitting here, feeling full of good food, wi’ the taste of decent beer on my tongue, thinkin’ how sweet it was to sit down and rest, and how the night air felt soft on my face and…aye, well. Sometimes there’s a good moment and I…well, I ask one o’ my dead in, ye might say. To share it with me.”

He squeezed my hand gently, let it go, and put his arm around me, drawing me in so that my head lay against his chest. I could hear the slow thump of his heart and the gentle gurgling of his stomach, smell sharp mustard and beer on his breath, smell his sweat and the sun of the day in his skin.

“I dinna always feel them nearby—but tonight I kent Ian was with me.”

I hoped he didn’t feel the seep of my tears through the damp cloth of his shirt, but he did, for he drew back a little and with a small “_Tck_” sound, cupped my face in his hands, wiped the tears away with this thumbs, then bent and kissed me, soft and slow.

“Ye live in all my moments, Sassenach,” he whispered. “And the taste of you is aye on my tongue.”

[end section]

[And many, many thanks to Barbara Schnell, my Most Excellent German translator and mistress of the German Diana Gabaldon website, for the wonderful notion of the Advent “candles.” _Danke_!]

[In which Otis Sees a Great Light]

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41 Responses »

  1. I wish you and your family a great Joy and Peace this Christmas and the same to all other fans of this site,
    Thanks for your Advent Candles, it´s given me a great pleasure and moments of reflection.

  2. Dear Diana , You may get two messages from me as my computer is acting up. However thank you for the beautiful reminder of Advent. It has been some time since I thought of it. I have been rereading the Outlander series with no less enjoyment as the first time I took it off the library shelf and went out to buy it. I have one request; please no slime green cover. But if that is the way it comes I shall run out and buy it anyway.

    Love the dog. I have one fur dog child and two fur cat children. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    Sincerely Julie

  3. Peace be with you…All.

  4. Ah but it was the “slime green cover” which first led me to you on a ferry in Vancouver, reading the last first, as it were, because I needed a “fat paperback” to keep me occupied. Having since read first to last thrice I still treasure the slime green, eagerly awaiting rescue of young Jem from wherever and however. Many thanks for such thorough enjoyments,

  5. Diana, thank you so much for the last four Sundays, excerpts from “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood”. This was my best ever Christmas present.
    I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year.

  6. I have tears in my eyes right now. This scene perfectly descibes how I “share” moments with my loved ones who have passed. They are moments filled with life and gratitiude and I “share” them with my dad or my grandmothers so they can still feel and know. It might sound a little hokey, but it fits in my spiritual journey. Thanks for gifting us with glimpses into the next book. And many blessing to you and your family in this coming year.

  7. The new book sounds wonderful! I have read the entire Outlander series 3 times. The characters have become part of my family and I miss them when I’m not reading one of the books so that they are in my life. Thank you so much for the Outlander series. I enjoyed The Scottish Prisoner as well. Didnt think I would since I had’nt read any of the Lord John books but it was great. I am so excited about Written In My Own Hearts Blood!!!!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
    Rosemary

    • Thank you Rosemary..I thought I might read The Lord John Books …but have not gotten around to them… but Did order The Scottish Prisoner … And now with the New Book coming out…Thank You Diana…”A Leaf on The Wind of All Hallows’ An Outlander Novella is on BN as an ebook…Nice addition to the series … Diana you know your Readers Well

  8. Thank you Diana you are very generous to share this with us. Wishing you and and your family a very Merry Christmas and Cheers to a healthy, happy 2013!

  9. Thank you for the Advent treats! As satisfying as the chocolate found on many Advent calendars, and far less fattening! :-)

    Otis is cute, even if the black-and-white equivalent of “red-eye” makes him look a bit like Cujo!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  10. Thank you Diana for your thoughtful, soul touching Christmas gift for all of us, faithful
    readers of your masterpiece.
    Marry Christmas for you and your loved ones!

  11. Thank you Diana!! They Advent specials are very nice and thanks for sharing! Noreen

  12. That was just beautiful! I too am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Thank you Diana for sharing your gift with us. A blessed Christmas to you and your family and all of your readers too!
    Teresa x

  13. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season to Gabaldonians everywhere!

  14. Diana, best wishes for you and your family and have a fabulous holiday season! I also would like to express gratitude for your writing of the Outlander series. I found myself wrapped in the life of each of these characters. I also enjoyed the historical research you display in each of these books. As I patiently wait for the next book in this series, I will keep the Outlander characters close in my mind and heart. I have been an avid reader all of my life but have never found waiting for the next book in a series so difficult. You truly have a gift! Thank you and again enjoy this precious time with family and friends.

  15. Diana:
    A secret that all folks need to cultivate. Enjoy the moments of perfect peace. They are a priceless treasure that can’t be stolen. May you and your family enjoy a vunderbar Christmas, with health and an abundance of happiness in 2013.

  16. Feliz Navidad Diana, may God bless your home and family and prosper you even more this coming year :-)

  17. Thank you for this, Diana. It brought tears to my eyes and a great longing to spend time with Jamie and Claire again. I love them so!

    Peace…….

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of writing with us, I am so excited to go back in time with your next book!

  19. My sister was so excited to give me my christmas present this year, and I couldnt wait to get home to start reading my gift. A copy of “A Trail of Fire”. I will now start re-reading my copies of the series as I do before each new book is released. Can’ t wait until “Written In My Own Heart’s Blood” is released!

  20. Hi Diana, enjoyed your advent sharing. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I have so enjoyed your Outlander series and pantingly waiting for the next book. My copy of Outlander is like a worn pair of bluejeans, I’ve read it over and over. I have one question if I may, I tried to link to the writers section on compuserve but can’t seem to get connected. In Outlander when Frank is walking home and he sees the ghost Scot, who is that? (pardon if I missed it). I keep going back to that scene and wondering who that is since in no other book is the ghost character explained. I hope you (or someone) can answer the question. Again wishing you all the best over Christmas and hopefully a wonderful New Year. Best regards, S

  21. Thank you so much for your words and for sharing them. I’ve read and re-read the Outlander books countless times, but each time is amazing and I’m on a sewing-box’s worth of pins and needles waiting for the next one!!!

  22. Diana! thrilling to read this. I’ve been reading since you’ve been writing and this scene is evocative of something I’ve often felt, but never vocalized — much less seen put into words as well as you’ve done here. “it strikes me sometimes, the dead must be happy and at peace as spirits in heaven, but still—maybe they miss bein’ an animal.” It’s the one thing that reminds me to keep sniffing the herb garden, wrapping myself in the wet morning air, and, yes, eating the strong mustard. I’m looking forward to this release. Thanks for sharing your endless creativity. ~ Abby

  23. OH! lol, forgot to acknowledge Otis who has CLEARLY seen a great light ~ you cracked me up!

  24. Always enjoy excerpts of the new book, I miss Jamie and Claire and look forward to meeting back up with them this fall.

    Btw, I have an Otis the Pug as well. Don’t know if he has seen the great light or not!

  25. Thankyou so much Diana,
    I’m a huge fan, your books have given me so much solace and joy over the years I don’t know what I’d have done without them. You are a great inspiration to me.
    May you and your loved ones be especially blessed this New Year coming.

  26. So glad that the 4th Advent excerpt was Jamie and Claire. (sigh) I was hoping that it would be. Thank you for these beautiful scenes. They keep us in high anticipation of the next book. Happy New Year!

  27. Your books are my addiction. I love your beautifully written characters and I check weekly for updates on IMHOB. I’m sooo anxious to see what happens next, and I can’t wait until the book is released. I’m not going to pester about it or ask because you need to take your time to make it the perfection it will be. I am curious though if anyone has ever asked if you’ve ever thought of bringing Jamie and Claire (maybe young Ian too) back to the 20th century? It would be a very intriguing twist an I often think of what Jamie would make of it. LOL! The letters are great, but I do miss the interpersonal relationships and family dinamic with Brianna and Roger, Jamie and Claire. (I’m halfway through Echo). Thanks again for this truly unique and beautiful series. <3

    • Yes! Yes! bring them to the present! Jamie can go through those stones. It’s only his tone deafness that prevents him hearing them!

  28. Happy Hogmany Diana. Lang mae yer lum reek! (Long may your chimney smoke.) May your first foot be a tall dark man wearing a kilt and bearing gifts for health and happiness in 2013.

  29. How lovely and peaceful and so appropriate as I just lost my mother and can hear her voice and talk to her often. Thank you, Diana for your beautiful writing, your understanding and your ability to put into words what many of us feel quite deeply. Happy New Year.

  30. Beautiful excerpt to day, thankyou Diana ! 2013 and we’ll eagerly but PATIENTLY waiting for MOBY. All the best for the New Year to you and your beautiful family and thankyou for being so accessible to all of us ! Best greetings from an addict from France. Christiane

  31. Cannot tell you enough how great your “Outlander Series” is, cannot wait for book 8 to come out. reading this series makes me feel that you are there in time with Jamie and Claire, I could not put any of those books down. I love the question that Julie wrote on brigning Jamie into the 20th Century. I shall wait patienlty for the next book. Best Wishes to you and your family for a great New Year.

  32. I love the Outlander novels. Can’t wait for the eighth book. I am rereading the first seven novels in anticipation of the new book.

    I would like to comment on Jamie’s voice. His voice is not deep. He speaks in a tenor voice. The only time he speaks a bit deep is during the calling of the clans and his speech before the fiery cross when he is addressing the militia. I’ve tried to hear him as a deep voice, but his speech is not written deep. Has anyone else commented on this?

    I can’t wait for the new book. I’ve gotten the Guide to everything Outlandish, so I can fully understand the nuances. Your research and application of that research is impeccable. Thank you for this wonderful series. I may have to get some of the John Gray books to satisfy my appetite for the time being. Problem is once I finish a book, I don’t want to wait to read the next one. I can’t pace myself till the fall! Can’t wait! You are a genius.

  33. Thanks Diana…that was beautiful. I love shared moments like that and Jamie is right, they come at the most unexpected times. That’s what makes them sacred and forever seared in one’s memories. Have a blessed 2013.

  34. Loved reading this scene Diana. My best wishes for you and your family!

  35. I know I am late to post, but I just read this passage and I am so fascinated with Jamie and his committment to those who have gone on before him. The way you write about this part of Jamie always strikes a note with me. You capture the feeling and express it just as I feel it too.
    Thank You Diana!
    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  36. Thank you for these lovely excerpts Diana. Here in Scotland the dark of winter is all around and ever present and your words have given a little flicker of much needed light. I hope that you and your family have had a peaceful and holy Christmas and that 2013 has wonderful things in store for you.

  37. Dear Diana – Have just found and read the Advent Candles: such a wonderful idea and a remarkable gift.

    I too await MOBY (my library refuses to accept my “order” for a book that is not yet published which I think is highly unreasonable of them) but am learning patience. However, in looking over your notes it occurs to me to ask: is there anything I can do for you? I have time available and would be happy to assist you with anything you might name. Just let me know. Meantime, I have ordered the UK version of Trail of Fire to while away the hours…days…weeks… Sigh.

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