Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweetness

Today is a day of sweetness. It is a day of smiling. You feel it as you drive home, infusing your body and your soul.

Is it because of the woman walking out of the gym, the woman holding on to a walker, ready to blazon her way out of the double doors? You hold the door for her. She thanks you, then says, "If I don't see you before then, have a happy Thanksgiving!"

You can't imagine seeing her before then; you haven't seen her before today, but you wish her a happy Thanksgiving, too.

"Oh, I plan on it! I definitely plan on it!" she says, as she struggles with her walker.

"There's much to be thankful for, isn't there?" you say.

"Yes, indeed. There sure is," she says.

Much to be thankful for. Is it hypocritical of you to say that when you have the easy use of all your limbs, and she struggles with some sort of degenerative disease? When you have felt very little gratitude lately, and it nearly oozes out of this woman's pores? It echoes in your mind as you walk through the parking lot. You get in the car, and The Song is on--the song that is the song that you listened to with your husband, back before he was your husband. You sat in the airport, waiting for the boarding call, his boarding call, and shared ear buds listening to this song, this sweet song, with tears streaming down your face, knowing that he would be flying across the country, and you would be staying put. That, too, happened at Thanksgiving time. What were you thankful for then? The telephone? This new thing called email?

The sweetness takes root deep within as you listen to this song, infinitely thankful for your husband, who you giggled with last night, until you wept and your belly ached. You simmer in the sweetness.

You stop at the store to pick up some wrapping paper, some tape, some more Christmas presents, and when you find yourself back in the parking lot, there is a woman struggling with her shopping cart. She asks for your help, so you hold the cart as she unloads an awkward card table into the back of her van. How sweet it is to help someone.

Back at home, the fire glows hot, and the leftover pizza and chocolate toffee crackers feed your body. You decide not to worry today. Not about your children, not about upcoming festivities, not about news you wait for.

Today is a day for sweetness, a day for love, a day of gentleness and kindness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Small Miracles and Large

She walks behind a waterfall, the water pelting down a hundred feet while she edges her way along the limestone cliff underneath it. Behind and above her are layers and layers of rock that had been worn down over time, so that the rock looks like stacks of books or carpet squares one atop another, rising up to form the escarpment.

She feels so very small at the edge of that path as the mist from the waterfall surrounds her. She often feels that way, like she's one small person in the midst of so many needs, so many sorrows. What can she do, really? She can't take away hunger, or pain, or sickness. She can't even find change to drop into the Salvation Army bell-ringer's bucket most days.

Just one small person.

On one side of her, the darkness of a narrow cave looms; on the other, a grandeur that makes her speechless. A cave is an ideal place to hold small things, small people. She ducks in there for a minute, but its closeness makes her uncomfortable. The darkness presses against her, and she doesn't stay. She turns, instead, toward the glory of the water, shimmering, falling, diving into the air, dancing with the sunlight, racing over the stones. She wants to reach out to touch the water, but it is too far.

They hike to the top of the escarpment and look out over the landscape below them. Farms, trees, a patchwork quilt of cleared land rolls out over an enormous bed frame proportioned for a giant with the distant Adirondack Mountains as the pillow. The waterfall is the giant's shower, she thinks, and we are nothing more than ants. They continue hiking the path until they reach the source of the waterfall.

It's just a small stream.

Such beauty, such grandeur comes from one small stream, barely five feet across? She's five feet tall. Well, five feet, three inches. There seems to be a correlation here. Can something that big come from something that little? She looks down at the water rolling over the edge. It can.

Small miracle or large?

You decide.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Somewhere

Someone somewhere is washing dishes right now, plunging her hands into hot, soapy water, feeling the sludge on the bottom of a pan that used to be the drippings from a pound of bacon fried up crisp. Her strong arm scrubs out her frustration as bubbles lift up into the air.

Somewhere else is a new mother nursing her baby, her nipples sore and cracked. The baby's wobbly head holds still against her chest, and his sweet scent soothes the tired mother. She wishes her baby would sleep. She wishes she could sleep.

In another part of town, a mechanic tightens a gasket and wishes once again that he could move to Austin.

An aerobics instructor leads a step class, the microphone loose around her head. She wishes the gym would get a better one, so she wouldn't have to keep adjusting it.

A teacher grades her last papers of the day. She is underwhelmed by this lot. Of course, she was underwhelmed by the last lot, and the lot before that. She wonders if it's time to retire.

A clerk at the grocery store scans cat food (bleep!), nasal spray (bleep!), breath mints (bleep!), and paper towels (bleep!). After scanning the order, the clerk thinks his life is marginally better than the guy in front of him, if only in comparison to what the poor bloke just bought.

And someone somewhere waits. That is not all she does; in fact, she has a long list of tasks to accomplish to keep her mind off of the telephone. She does laundry, she shops, she plans a birthday party, she writes a long overdue letter. She plans a new scene, though she doesn't yet gather the courage to write it. She plucks the leaves off stalks of thyme that she dried from the summer's harvest. Leaf by leaf by leaf until her nose clogs with the scent of it and her hands become sticky with the oil...killing time with thyme.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaves

The falling leaves look like God's confetti from some divine parade.

If the leaves are confetti, then she's on street sweeper duty, raking, raking, raking. She wonders under what circumstances God would arrange a parade. Would there be a brass band, New Orleans-style? Ticker tape, as well as confetti? Perhaps someone would be throwing candy. Would there be floats, manned by angels waving majestically? She decides she'd like to be at that parade, even if only as a humble street sweeper.