Today is a day for me to celebrated birthdays: my mother-in-law, my niece, and my nephew. Birthdays come in threes for to me: May 8—my mom, another niece, and a special friend. Then there is December 30, my birthday which I share with my sister and one of the most caring teachers I ever worked with. My son and a very good friend share August 25; I mention this because I know there is a third; I just can’t remember who it is. Alas.
This morning I awoke thinking, “Oh no, another covid day.” No, I don’t have covid but as a human beings in the world I am dealing with this common negative ‘something’ that we all share. And yet, I’m an optimistic person; my cup has always been at least half full, often overflowing, good always flowing in.
If this covid overwhelms me, there is not hope in the world. I have to do my part. That’s was the beginning conversation with myself as I came into consciousness. What can I do to keep good pouring in so hope can spill out? I need a plan, not just for today, but for each day; something to commit to every morning.
Ah, daily commitments which become recommitments.
• I recommit to my faith (God).
My best college friend died in her sleep yesterday morning at her brother’s home. She was ill for just couple of months; was hospice for one of those months. A good death, as we might say. I will miss her but am grateful for our friendship of unconditional love.
Let Evening Come
BY JANE KENYON
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
We are into January. I know that because we had our first snowfall yesterday and our first sun-fall today. When the walkway in front of my house is icy- treacherous, I drive to the Lady of Fatima parking lot and start from there. Come along an enjoy the snow and sun.
When my sister Margot asked me what I had planned for our birthday today, I told her it would be a perfect day. I would be visiting my 101 year old friend Ruth and delivering a dinner to a friend who is in the midst of some pretty brutal chemo.
You may notice that Margot referred to ‘our birthday’. Yes, we share it. I recall my dad telephoning from New York City to our home in Connecticut to wish me a happy birthday and tell me that I had a sister for a birthday present. On that day that I turned six I learned about sharing.
Except for one birthday, when my sister’s party got in the way of mom driving me to ice skating with friends, I have loved that Margot and I have the same birthday. Two years ago, when I turned 80, we had a big celebration at the Wayside Inn. Last year Jim and I celebrated, just the two of us. Today will be another perfect celebration. Ruth offers me the motherly love that I received from my mom when she was 101. I’m grateful for my good health and happy to support my friend.
There is much that is packed into the end of December for me:
28th—Our Wedding Anniversary
31st—New Year’s Eve
I wonder what my ‘word’ for 2022 will be? In 2020 it was gentleness, in 2021, patience. I’m still working on those, although they are coming along. At least I am more aware when I am harsh, not gentle, and when I am impatient, rather than patient.
I sit her waiting for the 2022 word to come into my consciousness. Ah, here it is--loving: the bottom line of all faith traditions. Two aspects of loving come to mind: to slow down and show people appreciation: and to send loving thoughts to people (and situations) with whom I don’t agree.
I’m home. Easy travel--Florence, CDG Airport, Boston--except for the bumper-to -bumper traffic from Logan Airport to home. Everyone was on the road. I wonder what it will be like this weekend with omicrom seemingly taking over our lives? I never was concerned that I wouldn’t make it home, but I glad I came when I did. Nothing is for certain and Covid news is changing minute by minute.
The airline emailed me that I had to have a covid test the day before I flew. At a pharmacy in Florence it took no more than 15 minutes to receive the test and a print out indicating I tested negative. And then, that was the last I heard about it; I was NEVER asked to show the paper. Going through customs was the easiest ever. The good news was that most likely everyone on the plane was covid free!!
To be inside the San Marie dei Fiori alone! A dream that came true yesterday. The line outside was short (unlike the long ones in the fall), and so I joined. After showing our ‘green pass’ and going through the scanner, about thirty of us were let in together. Then, as the people in my group began to leave, but before a new group entered, there I was, alone in this enormous cathedral.
It brought back one of the most vivid memories of my time here in 1959. It was here in this duomo that I was first aware of my desire for solitude.
One of the benefits of traveling alone is flexibility with everything I do. It’s up to me. I don’t have to confer with anyone or make compromises. At a whim I can change my plans. Yesterday morning I started out with the intention of walking along the Arno. But no, instead I turned toward the Piazza della Signoria, stopped for a cappuccino, and then entered La Badia Fiorentina, where Lauds was being sung by the six monks and eight nuns that make up this monastic fraternity of Jerusalem in Florence.
As the service ended men and women in all kinds of dress and nationality began coming in to help set up for 11 o’clock Mass, including a medical volunteer wearing a yellow vest. A man of Indian heritage, dragging a suitcase, lit a candle. One of the gypsies that I’ve seen around the city begging for money, sat in the back corner.
This place was alive with with people reaching out to God. You see, the call of this fraternity is to be present :“In the heart of the cities in the heart of God.” Their mission— to help the poor, and the homeless, to meet them where they are.
In the entrance way is a statue of a homeless man sleeping on a bench. The inscription quotes Matthew 25:6: I was naked and you clothed me.
Every time I come to Florence I get fixated on the paintings and frescoes of Annunciation . Just when I think I have snapped every depiction of Mary and Angel Gabriel, a new one appears. Yesterday, it was at the Academia. Most of us go there to see Michelangelo’s David, but I also love to climb to the first floor to absorb the paintings of the Florentine School 1370-1430, which include Late Gothic and Early Renaissance works. Most have been restored to the vibrant colors that were a landmark of the shops (bottega) where the artists and apprentices worked to create these magnificent altar pieces.
Wealthy patrons made sure that their own portrait joined the adoration of the magi or was present somewhere in the picture, tympanum, or predella. They were eager to do what they could do gain a place in heaven and to gain favor with the powerful in the city.
Contact me: email@example.com