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).

 

Sunday Best – September 20, 2020

A new season is arriving. I can tell because my favorite flannel shirt has emerged from the closet, the sunrise is too late to serve as an alarm clock, and the garden has gone from green to gold.

This week I was observing the sunflowers, as they fade from glory into a deeper beauty. Some spindly specimens sprouted up in too fast of a sprint, with no chance to build their own strength. On the other hand, some faced too much adversity, neglected or impeded at a key moment, and never really recovered. And within the strong lucky crop that made it through, still, there were huge differences. All were striking, but some were truly stunning, with blooms that went on and on.

Friends, we don’t get to control all of the conditions that affect our lives. Sometimes there is drought or shadow or a big mean bunny that constantly thwarts our progress. But we are fortunate to have examples all around us of people whose lives shine brighter and brighter over time. Whether quiet personal heroes or those known to many, the qualities are always the same.

Always, they have faced adversity.

Always, they have lasted.

Always, they have had some source of love and support.

And always, they have served something beyond themselves.

May we learn from our most stunning examples, whether in the garden or in the courtroom.

May we serve something beyond ourselves.

 

 

 

 

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 13, 2020

 

YOU ARE THE PLACE WHERE I STAND ON THE DAY WHEN MY FEET ARE SORE.

This is the literal translation of “mo sheasamh ort lá no choise tinne,” the Irish phrase for trust, as noted by Pádraig Ó Tuama.

As the summer has advanced, I’ve started to see my situation as a kind of fractured fairy tale, one where the character has her wish granted, only to realize it was a foolish and incomplete choice. Here I am, so lucky – healthy and employed and living in a place where I’ve always dreamed of waking up every morning – yet instead of being a dream come true, it’s felt like I’d made the wrong wish.

Then last night I climbed up to the top of the silo to get a better view of the trees I’d just planted, with the beehives I’d tended earlier off in the distance. On one side of the field the deer were eating my smallest apple tree, again, and at the edge of the woods a fox was leaping straight up in the air, and as I squinted into the setting sun I realized with a start, Oh! This is no foolish wish! This place has been holding me up!

Dear ones, for the luckiest among us, it continues to be a challenging year, and for so many of us, it’s way more than that. But something, somehow, is helping us through, and for that we can give thanks. Maybe it’s our faraway best friends on zoom or our spouses who are now also work-from-home colleagues or the nurses that still tend our children with care. Maybe it’s the novel that helps us travel from our living room sofa or the research project that is revealing new insights or the puzzle that gives a little spark of joy when solved. Maybe it’s the tomatoes that our neighbor shared or the smell of the woods after the rain or the way that the late-day sun strikes a flower.

Maybe it’s faith.

Maybe it’s hope.

Maybe it’s love. 

Whatever it is, here we are.

Whatever it is, we are here.

And for that, let’s give thanks.


**You can hear more about this – and many other insights – from the conversation between Pàdraig and Krista Tippett at the terrific OnBeing.

** And for some late-summer reading…

Many of you have followed our book lists for years, and we are delighted to note that our latest is available on Bookshop, which links to indie stores all across the country. 

And of course our own 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 6, 2020

Friends, I am unplugging a bit this weekend, and hope that you are too.

Instead of our usual reflections, I offer this audio link to David Foster Wallace’s original Kenyon commencement address, which later became the priceless small volume, This is Water. I re-heard this last night while sitting on my front porch near sunset, and it was by far the best and most important part of my week.

 

***

And for some added inspiration…

Many of you have followed our book lists for years, and we are delighted to note that our latest is available on Bookshop, which links to indie stores all across the country. 

And of course our own 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 – August 30, 2020

On one level things have been very calm – even boring – these last months. On another level it’s intense. I can tell I’m not quite as fine as I think, because despite beautiful summer weather and plenty of pleasant and enriching things to do, I have watched the entire Gilmore Girls series, all eight years of it. Twice.

And yet.

This past week, I witnessed a beautiful sunset, ate a perfect tomato, and gathered safely and joyfully with a few dear friends by the water. I finished a satisfying project at work, planted a new flowering vine, and pedaled so hard on a bike that my heart was pounding. I walked through the woods on a crisp early morning, drank a delicious glass of wine, and viewed a movie featuring one of the greatest superheroes of all time.

Friends, sometimes we need to retreat, even from the good parts. Time spent staring at an old tv show might not be optimal, but it’s understandable. And then we hear news of a chance that’s passed or a life cut short, and realize all over again that even in the strangest and toughest of circumstances, we are so fortunate to be here, with at least one more chance or one more day before us.

Right here, right now.

 

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

       – Emily Dickinson

***

It might be harder to travel on vacation this year, but with a good book we can always get away.

Many of you have kindly asked how to support our new book publication, Month of Sundays especially in this time of fewer events and gatherings. Thank you for asking!

  • 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).

And in case you missed it last week, we are delighted to share our summer book list, just in time for this last stretch before Labor Day. In honor of Independent Bookstore Day (a worthy holiday if ever there was one), we also are testing a neat site called Bookshop, where our lists of favorites link to your local indie bookstore.

SUMMER BOOK LIST 2020

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