Today I return to 'Very Grateful'. I am wearing the light pink Carpe Diem T-shirt that my nieces had made for the family for Mom's memorial service. My morning coffee is in my "Book Woman" mug. I will be writing in the front room where I keep all of Mom's papers. I have faith that I will know what to say.
Here is the offering for today from The Mystic Vision: Daily Encounters with the Divine, complied by Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring. Enjoy this quietude and leisure.
Lately I became aware of the meaning of Quietude.
Day after day I stayed away from the multitude.
I cleaned my cottage and prepared if for the visit of a monk
Who came to me from the distant mountains.
He descended from the cloud-hidden peaks
To see me in my thatched house.
Sitting in the grass we shared the resin of the pine.
Burning incense we read the sutras of Tao.
When the day was over we lighted our lamp.
The temple bells announced the beginning of the evening.
Suddenly I realized that Quietude is indeed Joy,
And I felt that my life has abundant leisure.
· Wang Wei
I’m in awe of these early fall days with a tinge of yellow on the leaves. That’s the way it was on our drive south to Pennsylvania. Four days later, on the trip home, the yellow was more than a tinge; about half and half and that’s the way it is today as we ease into the September Equinox, which in Boston will occur tonight at 10:29. All over the world, night and day are exactly (well, pretty close to) the same length--12 hours each. Time seems to tread water and then get on with it’s days and nights. The leaves are dancing in the wind in similar fashion. Soon they will get on with their rhythm.
I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our 2004 Camry with 175,000 miles showing on the odometer. Jim and I are on our way to Pennsylvania to visit Emily, Tony and our grandkids. On the way we’ll stop for lunch at my sister’s. It’s a particularly a poignant time for me, because she now lives in the condo that was Mom’s home from age 80 to 90.
Um, it just dawned on me that for the last seven years of Mom’s life, we drove this very car to visit her. Longevity comes in many flavors.
It’s been a challenge to blog ever other day. It’s all about writing, and I’ve been immersed in preparing the final draft of “Very Grateful”, my memoir about Mom. Tomorrow is the day it goes in the mail to my editor, so she can begin work on it next week. I appreciate a deadline and work well with one. But this is also about Carolyn, who has to plan her life as well. She can’t meet her deadline for my manuscript, if I can’t meet mine first.
Sounds complicated but it’s really rather simple. Back to write.
I just completed a 1000 piece puzzle of a library scene, aptly named “Sanctuary of Knowledge”. The picture reminds me of a university library of old, undoubtedly in England, with stacks receding into infinity. In the foreground is an elderly couple and a young boy and girl. Perhaps we are seeing grandparents and grandchildren reading together, the women and children sitting in over-stuffed chairs, the grandfather standing with book in hand by the fireplace. They are surrounded by several cats, books stacked on tables and an array of collectables acquired over the years. Angels fly in from the nearby stacks.
This comforting scene, with its moment of silence, solitude and simplicity, is worth a dream. I like to imagine that in the next minute someone will comment on what they are reading. Or, one of the cats, looking for affection and a comfy place to snooze, will jump into a welcoming lap.
Here’s what’s new from my silent, solitary and simple home. Thank goodness my husband and I fit well with this. We both like it.
1) I love my new washing machine, but am also delighted with my old dryer. I had ordered a new one to go along with my new washer, but cancelled the purchase when it wouldn’t fit in the door. I can’t believe that I was sucked into thinking that washers and dryers have to be bought and discarded as a team. After all, they don’t die at the same time! My twenty year old dryer is still tossing the clothes around, and since I hang most of my laundry out to dry, I figure it should last my life time—even if I live to be 101 like my mom.
2) Speaking of Mom, the memoir is about ready to be mailed to my friend Carolyn for developmental editing. Next there’s the copy editing, cover design, formatting for print copy on demand and for e-book, and then the launch of Very Grateful on Amazon—hopefully by the end of the year.
3) The Jane Austen project has slowed down a bit because I just received an annotated edition of Sense and Sensibility from interlibrary loan. 400 pages of text, notes, photographs and paintings. So I’m rereading but I haven’t given up the e-book, which I must say is an extremely different experience. All good—including the audio edition in 10 compact discs.
Here’s an update on my Jane Austin project. I’m still living with Sense and Sensibility and the Dashwoods. I’m taking it slowly, savoring, reading only a couple of chapters a day—am up to Chapter 17. I purchased all of Jane’s (we’re on a first name basis) works for $.99 cents for my Kindle. It’s the simple way to go for this kind of reading. I just click on and am right at the page where I left off. Spending less than a dollar satisfies another one of my criteria for simplicity—be intentional about how I spend my money. The CDs just arrived from inter-library load, so I’m getting ready to listen, always at least a few chapters behind my reading.
The characters are forming more and more clearly in my mind. Although each conforms to the times in which Jane lived and wrote about, each personality is distinctive. I’m reminded of my family, of all families. Am I Elinor, Marianne, Margaret? Definitely not any of the other women I’ve met so far. I’ll have to ask my sisters who they’d pick for themselves. I wouldn’t be surprise if we’re all variation of Elinor.
Leading a simple life is complex. What might be a simple task for some of us, is incredibly complex for others. I’ve been thinking about this because this afternoon I’ve agreed to assist the youth group at church in making meals for some of our older members who can use a little help.
As we prepare the meals, I want the young people to get a sense of what it’s like for someone who has given up driving, who is now cut off from easy visits to the supermarket. I want them to understand that it is not just a question of transportation. Even when the elderly are given a ride to the store, they have to exert a great deal of energy to purchase the ingredients for even a simple tuna casserole: they have to make a list, remember to take it with them, make the purchases, bring them into the house, and put them away before the cooking even begins. This can be a big ordeal as people get older. And what about the men, who, well into their eighties now have to start cooking and being the person in the kitchen?
Simple for me, overwhelming to someone else.
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