number 29

when i am among the trees

OUR BEAUTIFUL new-to-us home in downtown Columbia is nestled in the midst of an old, established neighborhood. And that means it's also nestled amidst giant old trees--in this case, red oaks, mostly, with ancient branches that stretch long and high above the yard and house, creating loving, life-giving, THANK YOU JESUS shade.

Also, it has been our experience during our short time in this house that sometimes a big wind will blow, and a big branch from one of those giant old oaks will fall, and sometimes this will result in damage and leaks and the need for a whole new roof.

And so.

With a bit of consternation and a great deal of deliberation we decided the best next step was to bring in an arborist. Better to have a professional assess how many of the beloveds should come down now, we rationally decided, than to wait for one or two or three to crash through the ceiling and into our bedroom, where--one deep, dark, dangerous stormy night--they would no doubt come to their end resting right on top of us.
big, beautiful, and so close to the house
Said arborist came on Friday. He walked around the yard, looked, examined, considered, and made copious notes, when (at last!) we met him on the back deck, he offered this verdict: There are dead limbs that need to be pruned. But all in all these trees are sound.

Wait. What? The trees are sound?

He saw my face and smiled. You don't need to take any of these old trees down.


My heart rejoiced! And it was a feeling that rose so fully, so completely, it made me realize how much a heart needs joy, how rare the purity of full-on joy has been in these last weeks and months, how much the worry and the inability to come to terms with an unimaginable situation not to mention one that is going on and on has cost us during this pandemic. There has been, at least for me, a constant undercurrent of foreboding that has loomed and pulled and permeated, that has tempered joy* the way a baker tempers chocolate: determinedly, deliberately, with control and insistent moderation.

But Friday, standing beneath the canopy of those ancient oaks, I felt the surge of joy. Real, unabashed, unfettered J * O * Y. And for that--as well as for the sparing of our beloved old trees--I am immensely grateful.

XXOO, Cathy

(*but for the joy of Eliza and Preston's sweet surprise engagement, which for this Mama is so beyond it does not even count)
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

when i am among the trees, by mary oliver

wonderful nobodies

A|B, the debut album from The Wonderful Nobodies, a Nashville-based trio of singers, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists hailing from the Appalachian region of Virginia and North Carolina. I love their description of the album's theme: In an either/or world, it's about trying to figure out how to be both. Dip into this album. Then buy it, cause this one, you're gonna wanna have.
I'm Still Here

This eye-opening conversation between Brene Brown and Austin Channing Brown, author of I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
The One Voice Children's Choir sings Memories, in quarantine. Just wow.
Blue Marlin
very happy hour
Of course I think any Lee Smith novel is the very most perfect read for anytime. But this novella? Lee, herself, wrote of Blue Marlin, "It makes me so happy to hold this little book in my hands--for of all the stories I've ever written, this one is dearest to me, capturing the essence of my own childhood--the kind of unruly, spoiled only child I was; the sweetness of my troubled parents; and the magical sense of Key West, one of my favorite places in the world ever since January 1959, when these events actually occurred." I promised you it would be, and now that I've read Blue Marlin I can confirm. IT'S SO GOOD.
Fierce, Free and Full of Fire

Fierce, Free and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You, by Jen Hatmaker
Okay, so I am a big, big fan of Jen Hatmaker so of course I love this book. And I particularly love it in audio, which is read by the author herself, and in which Jen often diverts and laughs and cries and offers side notes of things that occur to her as she is reading the book. She is so smart and funny and full of fire. Thank you, Jen.
This sweet sentiment from Joanna Gaines and Magnolia: Welcome (back) Summer
I do love a BBC offering, and this one made me laugh and cry and scream at the characters: Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. in the most delicious way. Last Tango in Halifax is a romantic comedy featuring a love story between two widowed 70-somethings (one of whom is Derek Jacobi) and what's not to love about that? PBS and Netflix.


In consideration of: this time for quiet; this time for listening; this time for learning.
read the full post here

Stay home. Extend grace. Take good care.

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