I woke up this beautiful morning thinking of the words in Ecclesiastes 11:7
Truly the light is sweet and a pleasant thing it is for the eye to behold the sun.
These words set me off on a good track for the day. Lately, I’ve sometimes felt depressed and discouraged but, really, I should not. There are so many good things in my life. So many reasons to feel grateful. Simple pleasures. I have enough food, a warm home, good neighbors, running water, a roof over my head. These things are worth celebrating every day.
A friend of mine spoke to me about the deep satisfaction she feels after having had a leaky roof for some time to know that her roof is now solid and won’t let the rain in. The repair was coordinated by some of her dear friends, which was another reason for her to feel grateful. Friendship.
Lately I too have had several occasions to deeply appreciate what it means to have good friends. Connections with friends are more important than ever these days and they often offer a different way of looking at things. A long-time friend of mine who is a frequent traveler keeps a lively blog of her various journeys, including reports of her many artistic pursuits, sewing, reading, fashionable outfits, knitting, gourmet cooking, domestic and family activities, and so forth. It’s an impressive read and worth checking out:
In a recent blog she wrote: We’re going back to Portugal! Grab your appetite and your curiosity, but you won’t need a passport or a suitcase, nor even a credit card. She’s still hoping to get to Portugal soon but, in the meantime, she’s used her blog to share photos and experiences of her past trips. She writes about the idiosyncrasies of some of the people and places she has encountered, the villages, the meals, the unforgettable sardines. It’s entertaining for readers to share those experiences and it must be wonderful for my friend to re-live her experiences at a time when she can’t travel. (
We can all enjoy travel without getting on a plane. Memories offer a kind of time travel and I find them heartening. As Penelope Lively wrote more than once, the past is real and the re-living of it can be important. Recently, someone on Twitter tweeted that his six-year-old daughter had asked, “What happens to time that has passed?” A good question, I thought. A physicist responded, proposing that it stays where it is, in space time, while we have moved past it. He compared this to walking down a road but being unable to go back to where we came from.
Even though we can’t re-inhabit the past, there’s a way in which we can re-live it and perhaps re-member it — put it back together — from a later perspective. That can be instructive and often healing.
Today, among the many things for which I’m grateful, I’m celebrating both memory and friendship. They often go together. Talking with long-time friends about the past is one of the pleasures of old age. And with our deepest friendships, absence never lessens the connection. When we meet again, it is as though time hasn’t passed.
Not all memories are happy, but our friendships have the capacity to help us heal old wounds. And that makes me recall Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30:
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past.
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.