“The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.” Sir Francis Bacon
I took no photos on Saturday. Why? I got caught up in the excitement of a party and I forgot. Yes, I missed once-in-a-lifetime pictures. And I could say that I have deep regrets. Yet, that would be a lie.
Perhaps, I’m too tired to beat myself up. Perhaps, I’m getting better at picking and choosing my battles. Or perhaps, it’s something else…
Sixteen women gathered together on Main Street, in a corner cafe. Each came from a different location, generation, marital status, economic class, religion, culture, lifestyle, political affiliation, or profession. They sat together. They ate together. They played a game together. They laughed together. They shared life stories and secret dreams together. They welcomed a soon-to-be bride, together. And they departed having generously shared the beauty of time, presence, hope, peace, and joy.
Keith and I will soon be blessed with a daughter! We admit that it took us by surprise, but we couldn’t be happier! Tomorrow, we shower her with our blessings. I just hope I don’t overwhelm her with my excitement. I’ve been outnumbered by the guys for a long time. You know, guys rule, girls drool? So, look out boys! From now on, there’s gonna be double the girl power!
I can’t believe this is 145 YEARS OLD! Well, not this particular one. Anyway, hot water bottles are nothing new. In fact, even before there the rubber ones, there were ceramic, hot water bottles. There were also bed warming pans, filled with hot embers. All warmed cold beds and frigid feet. Then electric blankets were developed in 1912 and electric socks in the 1950’s. Yet, I still marvel at the effective simplicity of a humble, rubberized, hot water bottle. So, my cold feet and I give thanks to Slavoljub Eduard Penkala. He was the Croatian engineer who created it in 1903. And in case you’re wondering, he called it a Termofor.
Agape is the highest of all love. It is an unconditional love. It is a sacrificial love. And it is a selfless love. It goes far beyond friendship, family, or erotic love. It’s a kind of love that marriages are to emulate. It’s not a glamorous love. In fact, it’s inconvenient, difficult, not very pretty, and often painful.
Our Valentine’s Day was one of Agape Love. It was not celebrated with roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, diamonds, fancy clothes, or dinner at a restaurant. Instead, Keith dressed this morning in his Carhartt’s. He did all the morning chores, cut-up half a hog, worked a twelve-hour shift, did all the evening chores, and paid bills. It was my day off. So, I dressed in a stained t-shirt and worn-out jeans. My hair was in a disarray and I wore no makeup. I did laundry, dishes, delivered tax information to the accountant, worked on a family party for Saturday, cooked 1/4 of a hog (for another celebration), and made dinner.
Our evening meal was dished at 7:00 pm. However, there was no room available at the kitchen table. It is full of party preparations. We had to eat in the living room, but first a load of clean laundry needed to be moved out of one chair. It was relocated to the bed in our bedroom. After dinner, the laundry was returned the chair, so Keith could go to bed. Dinner dishes and the laundry will wait until morning. Why? I’ll be pulling the cooked pork. It won’t wait.
Now, I understand that most folks don’t fantasize about such things. In fact, I know many women that would threaten their spouses with divorce, if they spent Valentine’s Day this way; much less, everyday. Instead, their food is grown by others. Their dishes are done by machine. Their laundry is done at the dry-cleaners. Their hair and nails are done at the salon. And any parties are catered. I also know men that won’t work 8 hours, much less 16. They drink or play video games; all day. The bills don’t get paid. Their wives have to do all the work, or it goes undone. And let’s not forget the folks that demand or begrudgingly give Valentine’s Day gifts. Where’s the romance in any of that?
Our evening was hectic, but peaceful. It was tiring, but gratifying. When Keith kissed me goodnight, our Valentine’s Day ended, the same way it had begun. Yes, it was just another day on our homestead… another day of Agape Love.
Why are you humans in such a damn hurry? Are you even aware of your surroundings? No, you’re not hearing things. Look up! I’m high above your head, at the top of this tree. Now, you squint against the sun and ask, “What am I?” Maybe, you even back away to a safer distance. Well, I’m not a bird or a raccoon. And I’m too small to be a bear cub. So, let me give you a hint: I’ve stripped away bark at the top of the tree. Why? I’m eating it. Still guessing? I’m a porcupine. So, why didn’t you expect to see me way up here?
It was the week of Valentine’s Day, twenty years ago. I was standing in the produce aisle, with my three young sons. My middle son, Ted was sobbing… hysterically. While, I was doing my best to comfort him, a stranger approached me. She boldly chastised me “for making him cry”. And then she demanded, “Just give him some candy!” True, there was a bulk-bin of candy behind us. However, I firmly told the stranger, it wasn’t candy that Ted wanted.
In fact, candy would have been cheaper. Instead, Ted wanted fresh Brussels sprouts, in the middle of winter, for $8 a pound. I had been explaining to Ted that we’d get frozen Brussels sprouts, when the lady had interrupted. And when the lady tried to give Ted a piece of candy, he pushed her hand away. Then Ted once again, very loudly professed his undying love for Brussels sprouts. The lady’s face instantly flash-froze and she was speechless. She had no other words of wisdom. She simply turned and walked away.