I know, it's January 21st, well into the New Year. But today I feel it is more like the beginning of a new epoch. [More about that in my earlier blog today: The Day After] It is a liberating feeling. People seem more hopeful. I know, cliché and all of that. But even the die hard conservatives--even the cynics and the haters among us--have to acknowledge that yesterday's historic groundswell in our capital was a force of all of the good that is still left in our country and in humanity. [Some already have, at least on national television.] I was also glad to see the world acknowledged as largely a place for good and for peace and for a return of celebration and the arts to our nation's capital! Music, poetry, art, marching bands. "Bring in 'da noise, bring in 'da funk" [And I mean that in its full African American effulgence as well as for all of us who celebrate the arts and culture.]
On the subject of the New Year, today we received a card from our friend Ruth. [I still have a few lingering cards or reciprocal greetings to write to others and this cheery handmade card, complete with a collage of quilts on the top, was a friendly reminder that what got left in my letter basket before Christmas needs to be completed!] She is the matriarch of many children and grandchildren and soon to celebrate her 70th birthday (as will my own mother at the end of next month). She wrote: "we are so thankful that we have a nice warm house with the chill weather we are having." Whenever I complain about anything, I will think of those words: Thankful that we have a nice warm house. That is what it is all about: shelter from the storm, shelter in our family and friends and neighbors, sustaining nourishment for body and soul.
It is a reminder, too, of people like our friends Marvin and Debbie. They have returned to the area after living all over the place. They are renting a small trailer from other friends of ours, fixing it up from its near derelict state. They have no car, they have sporadic employment, and, by necessity, they live on very little and without a lot. I am not romanticizing their situation in saying that they are among the happiest people I have met. Debbie laughs constantly and Marvin is working with a small crew of people on some of our outbuildings here. He is hardworking. So is she (and she keeps a neater trailer than my double-wide, that's for certain! And she cans almost everything, bakes her own bread, etc.). They seem to choose to make enough money to sustain themselves. That, too, is liberating. In fact, those who live that way--by choice or circumstance--as many of our neighbors here do, are probably scratching their heads, saying, "What recession? What 501(k)?"
But back to blessings and to Ruth. She closed her note with this lovely poem and I pass it along to you:
God bless thy New Year!
Thy rest, thy going about,
The smooth, the rough,
The bright, the drear ~
God bless thy New Year!
[NOTE: The photo above was taken with permission of Ruth at the Galilean Christian Academy's Fall Festival in Liberty, Kentucky (as she does not mind being photographed, if asked). She had just won a cake in the cake walk! A few weeks later I bought some of the quilts she made for the annual Galilean Quilt Auction and a Mennonite benefit auction later in October.]