I was greatly, happily, distracted this year. I didn’t read the news at all and I didn’t go looking much for anything. Most everything that brought me joy jumped in my face, because it simply had too. It felt like a very old fashioned year, because the people in my life alone occupied my thoughts, but some of these things are indeed shareable, and so I have come to share them.
My dear friend Annie, creator of my own mule above, has kept me up-to-date on her remarkable work, and you can see what she has for sale here. If you like cowboys, you will love her shop, and if you don’t, well why not?
Annie was one of my bridesmaids. I hadn’t seen my fiance for many days before the ceremony, and I, sequestered in a separate house from everyone, was anxious to know what was going on. Most everyone teased me saying things like, No I haven’t seen Andrew anywhere or Yeah, I saw him and he looked real worried. But Annie would come to my side and tell me everything, describing it perfectly and if she didn’t tell the whole truth, she only made it sound better than reality, which is her nature and the most likable fault you ever will find on this earth. She also held my dress up during my long walk through the woods and picked many a Sweetgum ball and pinecone out gently, with as much care as she puts into her art.
Someone else I want you to see is Ruth. She is a long best friend and neighbor, and makes the most exquisite patterns here: http://redearthdesignstudio.com. If you knit or crochet or know someone who does, you ought to see these. She is brilliant and the most committed craftsman(woman?) I know. She was also a bridesmaid and she sang for the ceremony, which is how I always imagined it would be.
And finally, my friend Kimberly, though a busy mom of seven, farmer and butcher (yep, that’s right!) has made time in her life for art again, which gives me hope. She does paintings on commission and sells her work here: https://kimberlybouchersart.com I mail many cards and her bird series have been my favorites this year. I used to think women were prettiest in their twenties, but Kimberly is one of the many women who have shown me different. There is something about an honest woman in her forties, wise and tender-hearted, become who she was meant to be by love, necessity and gifting, that is, I think now, more lovely still. This also gives me hope as I find gray hairs and am now unable to button my jeans.
Unlike previous years, there were only a few books that could hold me sufficiently to be remembered, but that just made them all the more better. I list them at the bottom with a couple of my favorite lines.
I know this was a hard year for the whole world, with my friends in Kenya and the UK feeling the same sort of confusion and fear as I did. I have nothing new to say about these things, except this:
I called the local nursery this morning to ask if they had dogwood trees. “Yes,” the old man said, “pink and white.”
“And you’re still open in the cold?” I asked.
“Yes, ma’am. You see, what’s wrong with public America is they don’t plant in the wintertime. Public America doesn’t think about dogwoods until they see them in the spring.”
“Alright,” I said, “what about cypress trees?”
“Yes, ma’am we have those. We have big ones mostly, because public America doesn’t have the time or the inclination to wait for a d— thing.”
I’m on the same page as this old man, and my advice is: Don’t be like public America, friends. Buy young trees, plant in the wintertime and be thinking about dogwoods. You can read into this what you like, but I mean it quite literally, as he did.
from Upside Down Spirituality by Chad Bird:
On 1 Corinthians 13, Lovely, poetic words, right? Almost hymn like in tone. But why is love patient? Because it often endures the beloved behaving stupidly and selfishly. Why is love kind? Because it suffers unkindness and meanness from the one loved. Why does it not boast? Because love often weathers humiliation from the very one to whom its heart is devoted. Why does it keep no record of wrongs? Because if it did, there would be little time for anything but score-keeping and sin-tallying. This chapter on love is also the quintessential chapter on humanity’s lovelessness.
We step into the vocations of husband and wife; we don’t create them, shape them, or redefine them according to our whims and preferences. And thank God we don’t. We’d make a terribly defective product…. When we marry, we step inside an ancient, divine structure that’s bigger and older and more stable than our love or feelings or commitment. It’s also an ideal place, this divine house of marriage, to be a blessed school for sinners.
From Handle With Care, by Lore Wilbert:
To love in this way, to touch, is to risk brokenness, making mistakes, getting it wrong. But, as I said in the beginning of this book, there is a gospel for that. We cannot live lightly on this earth, but must tend the unruly garden we’ve been given– others and ourselves.
As I let the bread settle on my tongue and let the wine pool around it, I remember… I am just this body, mind, and heart right now and I am not the Christ. But I have the Christ…
From So Brave, Young and Handsome, by Leif Enger:
You are no failure on a river. The water moves regardless- for all it cares, you might be a minnow or a tadpole, a turtle on a beavered log. You might be nothing at all.
Why was I a slave to sentiment when it failed me so reliably?
And from Virgil Wander, by the same:
His merriment was unhitched from his success.
So Rune fell in love– ‘like rolling downhill’ was his tender confession.