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

Sunday Best – August 23, 2020 (plus summer book list!)

Like many of us, I’ve been chipping away at some household projects lately, though not the ones I’d imagined. The closets are still a mess and there are still some dust bunnies under the beds, but last week I stepped on a small paving stone and realized that an entire walkway had disappeared under fringes of crabgrass and thyme and moss.

I tried pulling at the weeds, which was completely useless. I tried using a set of garden shears, which was exhausting. Finally, I remembered that we had an old-fashioned hoe in the garage, and voila! Leverage! The magic of a simple machine!

It is a helpless-feeling time in so many ways, and words like “unprecedented” and “impossible” and “uncertain” are at the top of our current vocabulary lists.  But the paths are there, just under the surface.

We might still be hacking away, but we also have the right tools, if we pause to remember them.

Dear ones, let’s start clearing the way.

***

This week we are delighted to share our summer book list, just in time for this last stretch before Labor Day. It’s an extra joy to include our own Month of Sundays in this issue, offered in support of worthwhile organizations like the Omega Institute, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Biomimicry Institute (links to other booksellers are here).

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

SUMMER BOOK LIST 2020

 

 

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