We gathered in silence in the chapel at Wooster School in Danbury at 8:30 this morning. The pelting rain and raging wind and wooden floor squeaks were the only sounds in the hush. The names were read and the beloved phrase "gentle, generous, truthful, kind and brave" was our anchor. At 9:30 the prefects rang the bell, and its tolling joined bells in other steeples all over our small state of Connecticut. It was sad and solemn and sobering.
The days cannot get much darker here. Yet when we stepped out into the world, it felt washed clean and the heavy and grey clouds were being chased away by the thinnest of sunbursts. In some ancient way, we have honored the darkness, and in some more miraculous way, nature has taken us by the hand and said...look...the light is irresistible, magical and welcoming. Move in that direction. Be brave and faithful and be hopeful.
Happy solstice, dearest ones. May your days be spangled and brilliant and filled with wonder.
During Hurricane Sandy, a cluster of huge trees toppled in our yard. We have someone coming next week to cut them into pieces and move them off the stone wall. In the meantime, there is a huge and gaping hole where the root ball has been uprooted and exposed.
I can see the hole, with the tree roots dangling, from our kitchen window. Sometimes as I stand at the sink washing pots and pans, I can feel a strange and irresistible pull toward that hole. It reminds my mammal self of a cave. A dark and inviting cave. At this time of year, when daylight is so precious, I feel the tug of hibernation. Some ancient and primal part of myself wants to lumber up the hill, crawl into that hole, curl up, close my eyes, let out a long, long sigh, and go to sleep.
Instead, I am living in a busy world, where our "evolution" has robbed us of a long winter's sleep. So, I am searching for light...in the smile of the guy at the transfer station, in the sparkle of the holiday lights downtown, in the candlelight of the menorah, in the laughter around the dinner table, in the anticipation of the magical solstice and in the bright shining hope of these paper white narcissus.
I seek the light of the season. In that seeking, I move forward toward hope, and peace and love.
When we had a houseful of four small children, we had very strong ideas about how to raise them. (Ask them, they'll confirm that!).
Some of the basics?
-Play outdoors. A lot.
-Notice and appreciate the Natural World.
-Read. To yourself, aloud to your siblings, and to your parents. Under the covers, sometimes with a flashlight.
-Draw, cut, paint, write, sing, dance, pretend.
-Hold hands around the table before eating as a family.
-Do your chores without being reminded (hmmm...).
-Co-operate whenever possible. Negotiate when necessary.
-Be compassionate. Be inclusive. Be fair.
-Remember that you always have a choice, and the choices you make always have consequences.
-Try hard to do your best, especially when that feels daunting.
-The most important words we shared with them? PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
All these many years later, we have a flock of grown, young adult children who are capable, fascinating and delightful to be with. Oh, and just nerdy enough to be interesting in the best possible way.
Stewart, our oldest, is a high school history teacher. You may remember when he launched his blog, Artful Geographic, a while ago. He is now in the midst of a really fun project over at Kickstarter, a fabulous "funding platform for creative projects". Have you ever checked them out? (I love the many ways that the internet has created alternative economic venues).
Please take a minute today and look at Stewart's project. As I watched his video, I couldn't help but remember the little boy who collected bugs in a jar, loved to write plays with his younger sisters and read late into the night with his flashlight under the covers.
There are so many folks who will appreciate them...
To comfort the hardworking staff...please send to...
The Office of Student Development
801 National Road West
Richmond, IN 47374
To comfort the grieving families...please send c/o the Office of Student Development, above.
The Heymann Family, who lost their daughter Tracy
The Edwards Family, who lost their daughter Lenore To comfort the recovering student...please send c/o the Office of Student Development.
Your simple, heartfelt thoughts and prayers are appreciated. They may be delivered, folded into the wings of a crane, or simply sent out into the world by our kindness. Whatever small gesture we make, it adds to the light and love in the world. Namaste to each of you.
Inspired by this story, Gretta and I have been folding paper cranes. As we were sitting yesterday, I heard news that Lenore, despite our strongest hopes and her amazing courage, had left this world on Sunday night.
I tucked a crane into a note I sent to her family. Gretta and I have been folding cranes when we have a spare minute. We have a growing flock. This morning, as the snow falls gently outside, I have lit a chalice to comfort me as I fold.
These cranes are headed to the Office of Student Development at Earlham College, where the staff has been working mightily to hold our beloved community together through this very sad time. It is one small way that I can add to the comfort, light and hope that we all crave right now.
I am far away in miles, but I am standing on the heart in spirit. Please let me know if you would like to fold some cranes and send them along...
I've driven to Knox College and back, to fetch our early graduating Gretta. The midwest was putting itself to bed for the winter, with combines cleaning up the last of the corn stalks in the fields. The sky was blue and the interstate was flat. The graceful turbines were turning in the wind. Our favorite listening track was HOME, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros...listen here. It was a quick trip, and we regret passing some exits on I-80...but we were on a tight schedule. The tug was strong, so we blew kisses as we passed by.
Tonight Batman and I will uncork a bottle of champagne and toast the end of 16 years of college tuition. We invested big time in our kids' education, and we have not regretted it for a minute. CHEERS!
The car is unpacked, the laundry is chugging, we've been to the grocery store, pumpkins from the gardens in VT have been roasted for the pies, the cranberry orange relish has been made and is in the fridge. Gratitude around here is deep and growing and Thanksgiving is just days away. How about you? Are you feeling the lure of gratitude?
Appreciating the shelter of our little place in Vermont. Only the voting booth in CT will lure me back on Tuesday.
On the list for eventual improvements up here...
-a hand pump in the mudroom
-an outhouse/composting toilet
-rehabbing the root cellar
-possible solar panels
Self reliance and preparedness have become more important to us in the last year or so. How about you?
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