Detail from a Rev. Howard Finster painting
In Nashville, I ran into people. I ran into my friend Nancy's husband, Rick, and I ran into YA author Sarah Dessen, who lives five miles away from my house and who I only ever seem to see in Nashville, and I shook hands with a true American hero, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). I also saw Wynonna Judd at the airport. I did not actually run into Wynonna, but simply admired her (and her hair of many colors) from afar.
Now I'm home and settling in for awhile, at least until I go visit my mom in a few weeks. She's doing well. She's finished four rounds of chemo, with two more left to go. Her doctors are very hopeful about her chances for remission.
"The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of life."
--William Morris, The Aims of Art
I love this time of year. It's a very home-y time of year, if you're lucky enough to spend it at home. I'm back to making quilts, after a months-long pause, and already thinking about Christmas, in hopes of making it less insane this year.
Since it is my sabbath year, I've been pondering the meaning of life quite a bit (I assume this also has to do with the fact that I'm just shy of turning fifty and also that my mother is very ill). Sometimes meaning escapes me. Sometimes religious truths are just too abstract. What does it mean to love God with all my heart? What does it mean to love, period?
I'm not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with paying attention. We're making that harder and harder, what with all our addictive devices that draw us away from the people at hand. But I think one of the best ways to love another person is to be fully present with them, the way we ask God to be fully present with us.
I've also been thinking a lot about healing--as in the healing of the heart. Every day has its slings and arrows; it's almost impossible not to return home without a least a few scratches. How can we be healers and how can we be healed ourselves? Again, paying attention and being present. By creating spaces that are restorative. By telling funny stories at the dinner table.
(let me take a break here: one of the reasons I haven't been blogging much is because this is how my thinking is going right now--as in, all over the place and searching and not really easy to sum up; but the problem is, if I'm away from the blog too long, I miss your company. I really do. So bear with me, please!)
Soul food. Our souls need feeding on a daily basis! I think as a culture we have forgotten this, if we ever knew it in the first place. When we don't feed our souls, we lose our way. We start telling lies to our children about how the most important thing in life is getting into an ivy league college and having a brilliant career. And then we wonder why they binge drink. Their souls are empty and they're trying to fill them up in the crappiest way possible--alcohol and porn and hooking up. But of course those things don't feed the soul, they crush it.
Soul food. Walking and talking and art and God and sitting quietly on the porch and, yes, food! Asking someone if you can help. Remembering to take care of yourself by exercising and eat fresh vegetables and listening to the Staple Singers while you're going to pick up the kids from school.
Anyway, back to it being a home-y time of year. I find a great deal of meaning and purpose at home. If what I'm after is peace, reconciliation, restoration and healing, then I can't think of a better place for all that than at home. To hope for these things, for myself, my family and the world, how better than to start at home? To clean the bathrooms and bake a pie and to ask the Man how his day went and actually sit down and listen to what he says instead of just nodding and wishing I could get on to the next thing.
So that's what I've been pondering and that's what gives my life meaning and I hope you'll find a way today to eat a little soul food and give a little love. The end!