Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Thinking of California, that beautiful state, and how vulnerable portions of it are tonight, with so many people frightened, mourning, in shock, running, I think of the many happy moments I have spent there hiking in the Big Sur and Sequoia, eating nectarine crisp in that fine Monterey restaurant. It’s a big state, and not all of it is in trouble, but are not we all afloat on the raft together, like the fellow in Yann Martell’s Life of Pi,  on a small raft on the ocean with a Bengal tiger?

Facing the death of a much loved, but ungiving person, I dashed off these notes some years ago, and thinking of our common frailties and common strengths, am reminded of them tonight. . .

The unknown. The unknowable. What does it mean to be a person? What is life? Who was this woman? Did I really know her? Even in her initial ungiving, she was a teacher. She was my guidepost and a lantern of warning. What are the lessons?

• Love, love, love. Love with all of your being. Don’t stint.
• Look at the world in wonder. Find the beauty. Immerse yourself in it. It will keep you from getting lost in the world of mundane daily tasks.
• Don’t be afraid or unwilling to give yourself to the people you love and to the works you’re inspired by.
• Be passionate about life.
• Don’t diminish the spirits of the people you love by being critical. Accept them. Love them. And let you know you love them. Tell them and show them. Have a generous spirit.
• A habit of criticism is as destructive as continuous water on a rock. It etches a family like acid and brings no good – only pain.
• See God. If believing is difficult, try to have faith. Even the search will give your spirit exercise and keep it from becoming rigid and incapable of growth. Doubting, yet continuing the quest, is still an affirmation of life. I have become unutterably convinced that it is a better way to live.
• The possibility of an afterlife is not the issue for me. It’s heaven on earth I’m interested in achieving.

A special little girl I know would pray sincerely for our California friends and say, “God bless Everyone under the rainbow.”

Goodnight. Stay safe. Be strong.

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