A Lovely Gift from a Lovely Friend

My friendship with Samantha goes back to eighth grade, when we played night games with other neighborhood kids every summer night and did not maim ourselves jumping from the tree house onto the trampoline in her backyard. In high school we survived dominated AP Language, AP Literature, AP European History, AP US History, and AP US Government together. Later we attended different universities, but we corresponded and kept up through college craziness, summer study abroads, and dating drama. Now we both have husbands and she has a baby, and we’re still the best of friends.

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Samantha just stitched this lovely gift for me! (How she found the time to do that with a new baby, I have no idea.) These sweet little birds are the perfect addition to our built-in bookshelves. They make their nest with the gorgeously illustrated old copies of Oliver Twist and Journeys Through OZ that Samantha gave to me. And see that book of Portuguese love sonnets? That was a wedding present from Samantha and her husband. I think Mark and I will take a leaf out of their book and start reading love poems together for date nights sometimes. John Donne, here we come!

A friend who shares your obsession with old books, who has read everything under the sun and always has great reading recommendations? A friend who hand-stitches a thoughtful gift for you just because? A friend whose constant friendship has endured more than a dozen years? Very lovely indeed! Thank you, Samantha!

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God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Assurance

What completely blows my mind (breaks my heart, actually)
is that there are people who think this is all just a

Fortunate Accident.

But I am one of the very lucky ones, I suppose–
No! Not lucky, blessed
–whose surety is simple enough that

In the morning when the rosy light bathes the mountains,
And shines through my soul like a tile of glass,

I know that there is a God.

That is all it takes, really.

Yet all things bear witness of it.
The way Julia says my name, “Dee-dee-dee!”
The miracle of birth and
My Family
The sinking-into-a-warm-bath feeling of true friends
The poem “Jerusalem” by William Blake
Sitting at table with my Barlow grandparents,
The life that they have lived
Friendship of two brothers who astound me with their goodness.

And even in my life’s darkest night,
the glitter of the stars
is enough

to know.