George Shinn in 1875 was summoned once at midnight to the bedside of an old woman who lived by herself without much in the way of either money or friends and was dying. She managed to convey that she wanted some other woman to come stay with her for such time as might have left, so George Shinn and the old woman’s doctor struck out in the darkness to try to dig one up for her.
It sounds like a parable the way it is told and I am inclined to believe that if someone were ever to tell the tory of your lives and mine, they also would sound more like parables than we ordinarily suppose.
They knocked at doors and threw pebbles at second story windows. One woman said she couldn’t come because she had children. Another said she simply wouldn’t know what to do, what to be, in a crisis like that. Another was suspicious of two men prowling the night and wouldn’t even talk to them.
But finally, as the memoir of Dr. Shinn puts it, in the prose of another age,
“They rapped at the humble door of an Irish woman, the mother of a brood of children. She put her head out of the window.
‘Who’s there?’ she said. ‘And what can you want at this time of night?’ “
They tell her the situation.
“Her warm Irish heart could not resist.
‘Will you come?’
‘Sure I’ll come and I’ll do the best I can.’
“And she did come,” accounts Dr. Shinn. “She did the best she could.”
Excerpt from: “Listening to Your Life” by Frederick Buechner for December 4th.
Fence on the Beach, Oil Paste
Father getting ready checking the surf while daughter plays in the sand.
When he is ready, he wades the waters and she bravely treads in with him.
As it gets deeper, he places her on his long board and off they go.
i did not have a long enough lens nor good enough camera to record their return on the larger waves.
As my husband and I watched this amazing short drama, we noticed the little blonde in the shallow surf. Unafraid, she dove again and again in the churning white surf. Fearless, she steadily got up and dove in over and over again.
After Dad finished his stretching on the beach, he picked up his long board and she hopped over excited and jumping up and down. He walked down the beach, she followed and like all children stopped and fiddled with the sand. He kept going and she would look and up and follow. Trust!
After he checked if she was ready, and she hopped up and down again, they got in the water and he paddled them off into the riptide.
Obviously he is an incredible surfer. Obviously he did not need a long board, he could have used a short one with ease but this attentive man brought a long surf board to take his little girl out. Without “teaching” and with just spending a few precious hours with his daughter, he bolstered her up and encouraged her as she learned the skill of riding the waves.
On the way back, riding the waves, we saw him hold her up, show her how to lean always keeping his hands on her. On the second wave, he actually picked her up and moved forward on the board to make it go faster.
Once on shore, her excitement was evident and she clapped her little hands, jumped up and down again and looked up at him with trust born of her short experience in life.
My husband and I were amazed and moved by the whole scene. Whether he knew it or not, this amazing man was making memories with his little girl, making her more confident and self-assured for future success.
“Women who shop by telephone do not know what the pleasures of buying are.”
The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen.
It is true that people who shop by telephone or as it stands now, by internet miss the communication that shopping in person allows.
When buying fabric one touches and feels the textures. When buying food, one smells the sweetness, the sourness or sees the freshness of a melon or a peach.
The actual act of choosing and putting back a purchase is in itself a satisfying action of the soul. It gives the buyer the right to pick and choose what they buy, making it satisfying to their senses.
A persimmon in a picture is beautiful. But, it will not be the same persimmon delivered to your door if you are not there to pick it. Children and adults go to pumpkin farms to pick their own pumpkin right out of the ground. The pumpkins are there on the dirt they grew out of and get chosen to be taken home by a child. There is almost an act of love in that choice.
The actual interaction between buyer and seller is lost in the telephone and internet shopping venture. There is direct human contact with the act of giving and receiving, in buying and selling. Money has to be exchanged. Trust has to be built. Smiles are exchanged. A feeling of wholeness and well being as you walk away with your purchases having been satisfied by the interaction.
Money seems removed from people who are wealthy. In that, they do not use actual currency. Very few carry cash. In this day and age of computers and automation, it makes no sense. Everything is delivered, from merchant to laborer. Even money in the form of credit cards, is delivered from the bank to the credit card company without involvement of the buyer.
Things are moving forward and that is good and wonderful. We have to progress and move along with the times. Yet, just a reminder, be careful how much you automate your life, be careful how much you separate yourself and be aware of the consequences of isolation.