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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 by Diana Gabaldon [Please don’t repost or reproduce this blog entry or its contents, but certainly you may link to it if you’d like to! See below.]

2012-Advent-wreath-DGabaldonJamie 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.

2012-Otis-sees-a-great-light-Gabaldon“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!]

[Second image: “In which Otis Sees a Great Light”]

Copyright © 2012 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

As stated above, please don’t repost or reproduce this post, excerpts of my work, and images, but certainly you may link to this blog entry if you’d like to! Copy and paste this text version of the link (URL):



This blog entry was last updated on Monday, December 24, 2018, by Diana’s Webmistress.

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44 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

    • 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!


  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

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