Sunday Best – October 25, 2020

I woke to a drizzly morning, misty and still. As the sun struggled to come through the clouds, a little breeze stirred the tree branches, and whoosh! A thousand leaves fell. A few minutes later I glanced out the window again, and with the next puff of air, woahhhh! A murmuration went flying through the air, swooping and swirling for ages before finally settling to the ground.

We know that change is constant, that even in the slowest-moving times things are shifting and developing under the surface. But every once in a while, we witness the changes firsthand. The boulder that cracks after decades of snow and ice. The child that gives a first glance of grown-up recognition. The baby bee emerging from a cell. The tree that releases its leaves to the air.

Dear ones, change can bring greatness, and it can also be unsettling, or even unwelcome – which often makes us blind to its signals. We look away in a moment of discomfort, and days or weeks or whole decades fly past. Yet we know that without the long winter there can be no green-gold spring.

Friends, let’s not look away.

Let’s witness the changes that are before us, knowing that along with some sorrows they bring great joys, holding all of the potentials of our incredible world.

 

 

*****

Our new publication, Month of Sundays, can be found at all of your favorite booksellers. Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor, whose proceeds will be recirculated to some of the most vital nonprofits around.

Thank you for asking how to further support this project!

  • Spread the word – on social media, or to friends and colleagues. We are @mofsundaysbook on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Write a review on Amazon (this is easy, and matters more than you’d think). Just scroll down the book listing to the “reviews” section and there are easy instructions for adding your own.
  • Gift a copy to a friend (or two or ten).

Sunday Best – October 18, 2020

 

Dear friends,

Sometimes there is nothing to do

but to make a wish

on a floating milkweed seed.

May we all have a wish-filled week.

(Please click “view photos” if you cannot see the images here).

 

Sunday Best – October 11, 2020

Sometimes a theme arises so powerfully it cannot be ignored. This week, a sharp unexpected storm knocked out the power and the cell tower and the internet. A deep discussion with a dear colleague revealed a problem that ran deeper than any project or analysis could reach. Even my favorite escapist podcast featured an astro-miner who was working for years in solitude, with no idea what was happening to loved ones back on Earth. In each case, the backup to the backup to the backup failed, and no amount of planning would have saved the day.

The podcast story held the key, as good fiction often does. “Low Energy Economy” by Adrian Tchaikovsky follows the end of the space miner’s life, where he has no idea what has happened as a result of his work, if anything at all. In the end, he is rescued, and honored, and shown a great gleaming city that exists only because of his sacrifice.

Here is the thing. Sometimes we don’t get to know the ending.

Sometimes we get to plant a seed or tend to a small shoot that won’t bloom until well after we’re gone. The space miner was lucky in those last moments, to have the comfort of knowing his work was worthy, and appreciated. But that gleaming result would have existed regardless.

Dear ones, like the astro-worker, we can be fiercely devoted without clinging to immediate evidence of success.

We can rest in knowing that our efforts are worthy, whether tending a garden or a child or an idea.

Our care is percolating out into the world whether we see it or not, perhaps in glorious ways.

 

****

* The podcast I reference here is LeVar Burton Reads – yes, that LeVar Burton! Most selections are short science fiction, though these days they sometimes seem matter-of-fact and not so fantastical.

****

Our new publication, Month of Sundays, can be found pretty much everywhere, thanks to the magic of print-on-demand technology. Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor, whose proceeds will be recirculated to some of the most vital nonprofits around.

Thank you for asking how to further support this project!

  • Spread the word – on social media, or to friends and colleagues. We are @mofsundaysbook on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Write a review on Amazon (this is easy, and matters more than you’d think). Just scroll down the book listing to the “reviews” section and there are easy instructions for adding your own.
  • Gift a copy to a friend (or two or ten).

 

Sunday Best – October 4, 2020

Every week, it seems that a good summary could be, “wow.” Our normal descriptors are all falling short. I have been wishing that the English language was a little more like German, with helpful compound words like kummerspeck (gaining weight from comfort eating – literally, “grief bacon”) and weltschmerz (pain that the world does not live up to our expectations).

In a time like this, it sure doesn’t help to keep scrolling through the news. It doesn’t help to keep asking others if they can believe whatever is it the headlines. And grief bacon is rarely a good idea either.

The best part of this week for me was taking a long walk on Friday evening, when my in-box had started to ping a little more slowly and the rain had finally stopped. Along my favorite road in my favorite place is a great old maple tree, with limbs sprawling everywhere and a heart-shaped scar from a branch that fell long ago.

I’ve admired this tree for years, but usually I look up as I stroll by, give a nod, and keep moving. This week I wandered off of the path, right up to the base of the tree. I examined the bark, admired the turning leaves, took in the whole web of branches over head, and sat for a good long while, leaning against the trunk and hoping that some wisdom would soak through to my spine. No earbuds, no screens, no others.

It helped.

Friends, we need to get beyond ourselves. We need to put our time in a larger frame, vital and urgent as this moment is. Worthy service or useful work or a good book can do this. Time with children or those in need or other dear ones can do this. Rivers and rocks and trees can do this.

Curiously enough, stretching beyond our current time and place allows us to be IN our current time and place more fully, with love and care and equanimity.

Dear ones, let’s turn off the news, just for a bit.

Let’s go see a tree.

*****

Though age is just one small of what makes this particular tree special, thanks to a handy online calculator I learned that it is likely over 250 years old! 

This maple is also the one that is featured in the chapter headings for my new book – details on Month of Sundays are below.

*****

Our new publication, Month of Sundays, can be found pretty much everywhere, thanks to the magic of print-on-demand technology. Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor, whose proceeds will be recirculated to some of the most vital nonprofits around.

Thank you for asking how to further support this project!

  • Spread the word – on social media, or to friends and colleagues. We are @mofsundaysbook on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Write a review on Amazon (this is easy, and matters more than you’d think). Just scroll down the book listing to the “reviews” section and there are easy instructions for adding your own.
  • Gift a copy to a friend (or two or ten).

 

Sunday Best – September 27, 2020

These past months of separation, my family has sometimes hosted virtual movie nights, where we watch the same film from our different locations and text our comments back and forth. It is not as good as piling on the sofa together, but it’s still pretty fun.

Last night we watched Miracle, the film about the 1980 US Hockey Team and their victory over the Soviet Union. It’s the sign of a powerful story when different elements stand out at different times in your own life – and right now, when revisiting this impossible story in this impossible time, three observations shone most brightly:

First, my memories of this night came back vividly. My mom and I were upstairs on Dogwood Drive, and my dad and brother were shouting so loud after that first goal that we bundled up my little sister and all gathered downstairs in our Bicentennial-themed family room to watch, even though it was already past our bedtimes. Probably at least one of us was wearing plaid pants, though I can’t say that for sure. I do not remember every second of the game, but I remember the thrill of knowing something special was happening, and the joy of being together and hopeful and proud.

Second, the 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech from President Carter was not just background context in the movie this time ‘round. It was sharp and present and well worth revisiting here in 2020.

And finally, last night we had to explain to the younger folks that there used to be a thing called the Soviet Union.

Friends, big things can stay the same.

Big things can get even worse.

And big things can change for the better.

We have the chance to influence all three, each in our own way. Our thoughts and actions, big and small, can create arcs that extend far beyond the horizon.

What will we set in motion today?

 

The full text of the Carter speech is here. In addition to its essential observations on late-70’s challenges to US well-being, it shows the early stage of US energy policies that eventually have led to a hydrocarbon surplus that was truly unimaginable in 1979. It also shows a leader who started a big important speech by reading aloud all of the legitimate critiques of his own capabilities by regular citizens, something I have not witnessed before or since. 

Also, I just learned that the game was played at 5pm but broadcast at 8pm, and we had NO IDEA what the outcome was, three whole hours later! I do kind of miss living in a world where “spoiler alert” was not yet a needed phrase.

*****

 

Our new publication, Month of Sundays, can be found pretty much everywhere, thanks to the magic of print-on-demand technology. Thank you to those who have supported this endeavor, whose proceeds will be recirculated to some of the most vital nonprofits around.

Thank you for asking how to further support this project!

  • Spread the word – on social media, or to friends and colleagues. We are @mofsundaysbook on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Write a review on Amazon (this is easy, and matters more than you’d think). Just scroll down the book listing to the “reviews” section and there are easy instructions for adding your own.
  • Gift a copy to a friend (or two or ten).

 

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