I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago, And people that will see a world that I shall never know. -JRR Tolkien Dear Friend, Earlier to


I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,

And people that will see a world that I shall never know.

-JRR Tolkien

Dear Friend,

Earlier today I drove past an elderly neighbor raking leaves, gingerly raking leaves ...for the sake of raking leaves. And she wasn’t even making a dent. One large gust of wind would have returned every leaf to its original spot. I stopped my truck and introduced myself. I asked her how long she had lived there and she said she was too old to remember, that her memory was failing her. She told me that her parents had owned the house next door but they had passed away long ago. I think that translates to: a long time. She said it would be nice to have a young neighbor around since she and her husband were having a harder time getting around. An image passed through my mind of using a gas-powered leaf blower to annihilate every leaf in that yard within just a few minutes. But I wondered if I could just rake leaves to rake leaves.

I drove away and thought about how our lives will probably only overlap for a few years. I thought about how all of humanity overlaps just enough to keep us going and that nothing is all at once. A few minutes later, in my "next year" yard, I parked my truck and watched what looked to be billions of leaves swirling and taunting me. I estimated about 6 days worth of work. And then I looked up the street and I could see my neighbor, raking her leaves as if she were petting a puppy. I think she moved exactly 3 leaves while I was watching her. Maybe 4. She wasn't making a dent. And I thought I might be capable of that too if I tried.

“It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”

-Vincent van Gogh

Earlier this week I wrote about finding my monastery: watching the clouds roll in and out can be enough to fill the soul. Watching an elderly lady rake her leaves can do the same thing.



P.S. If you've received this letter secondhand, you can leave your email address here to receive my weekly letters.


"Today I was asked what I was most looking forward to in our new place next year. My answer? A refrigerator with an ice maker. Instant ice! The best invention ever. And the view. I’ve never had a view of anything until this year. I like being able to watch the hustle and bustle of the town below. And the train whistle throughout the day! It feels really magical actually."

...


From the Vault:


How to take photos of your Christmas Tree!


What I'm Reading (and Re-reading) Now:

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Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

“I write because I am alone and move through the world alone. No one will know what has passed through me... I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life... I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I'll ever have.”

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A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Nye

A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Nye

A collection of seventy-two poems written especially for girls ages twelve and up by the much-honored and beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

"We forget about the spaciousness above the clouds but it’s up there. The sun’s up there too. When words we hear don’t fit the day, when we worry what we did or didn’t do, what if we closed our eyes, say any word we love that makes us feel calm, slip it into the atmosphere and rise? Creamy miles of quiet. Giant swoop of blue."

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