I am wrapped in the love and beauty of Mitchell's celebratory gathering. I think the tone was set when the family requested that those attending wear red and yellow, festive colors. Red is Mitchell's name in Chinese, and yellow is his favorite color. There were Christmas trees on the altar and people glowed with reds, yellows, and golds.
Honoring Chinese tradition, we were all given a red envelope with a coin inside so we can buy a treat and keep our memories sweet. In the case of Mitchell, it seems that there is only sweetness to be shared.
Glow sticks danced in the night as the celebration ended, and we all feasted on some of Mitchell's favorite desserts.
I felt him there, overseeing love and peace.
Mitchell had said he would show up in shooting stars and silver linings for clouds. I saw a shooting star, and then there was the sky last night. Did you see the clouds before, during, and after the sun set? The clouds were lined with silver, and, also, gold. There were diamonds thrown in, and jewels. Even as I drove south at 10:30 last night, I could see gold, silver, and jewels shining through the dark pillowed clouds.
I don't understand life and death. I suppose none of us can, not logically, but, what I felt last night was great love, joy, connection, peace, ease. Yes, there were tears and there was something momentous in what was shared.
May we all value the moments of our lives. That was the message. May we live with a smile on our face, with courage and determination to love, love, love, and to tell those we love how much we love them. Don't be stingy with the message. Share. Share. Care.
I wish everyone could have been there, and with modern technology, they can. It was recorded for all to see and remember.
The house where I attended brunch yesterday is always lavishly and lovingly decorated for Christmas. There is a theme each year of something to count. The theme this year was how many items were in the house that dealt with flight. We were counting the birds, and Santa's sleigh, and Rudolph and the flying reindeers, when we noticed the clock that was wearing antlers. Did it fly? Time flies.
See time with wings, and live aware of how rich you can make its flight.
The theme of the pastor's talk last night was time. Mitchell now lives where there is no time. Since we are still bound by it, we can live, seeing how stretchy we can make it be.
Be elastic and light with time!!
Feel your lips curve like goblets of gold.
Hold light, fragrant, and kind.
Mitchell's light envelops us with halos of gold.
I went to the De Young Museum yesterday. I entered by the Fog Bog. When I left, I sat on a bench and looked across at the Academy of Sciences with its odd grass-colored balls with eyes. I walked past the Pool of Imagination.
I looked at the clouds and the leaves and the trees that were bare and those that still held butterfly leaves of gold.
I scattered leaves with my feet and felt softness and padding.
There was movement outside, fresh smells. I admired the dirt that held the plants that grew and changed in the light.
I wondered if we build museums so we better appreciate what is outside. The contrast was amazing. The exhibit, sculptures by Louise Nevelson were mainly black, literally black. There was an unusual collection of teapots that for the most part could not be used to make tea.
There is an odd smell in the De Young. I can never quite define it, but it is the most wonderful release to exit back outside, and see the clouds, sky, and trees.
Defining art can be as difficult as describing death.
Here is an explanation of art by Rebecca West in "The Strange Necessity."
"This blazing jewel that I have at the bottom of my pocket, this crystalline concentration of glory, this deep and serene and intense emotion that I feel before the greatest works of art .... It overflows the confines of the mind and becomes an important physical event. The blood leaves the hands, the feet, the limbs, and flows back to the heart, which for the time seems to have become an immensely high temple whose pillars are several sorts of illumination, returning to the numb flesh diluted with some substance swifter and lighter and more electric than itself ... Now what in the world is this emotion? What is the bearing of supremely great works of art on my life which makes me feel so glad?"
We made a fire in the fireplace this afternoon. It still glows. I lit candles and made wassail, simmering apple cider, cinnamon, cloves, lemons, limes and oranges. I re-read Giovanni's Light by Phyllis Theroux and A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg. In the National Wildlife's December Treasury, I came across these words by May Sarton from her poem, "The House in Winter."
This is the last stanza of the poem, The House in Winter by May Sarton.
There is a wilder solitude in winter
When every sense is pricked alive and keen
For what may pop or tumble down or splinter.
The light itself, as active as a painter,
Swashes bright flowing banners down
The flat white walls. I stand here like a hunter
On the qui vive, though all appears quite calm,
And feel the silence gather like a storm.
Mitchell's mother wrote about Mitchell's Life Celebration today on their blog at Caring Bridge. She writes of the sun, and the clouds with the silver linings guiding their decisions, and the drops of rain, the tears that fell at the end of the ceremony late last night.
Continuing prayers for Mitchell's family who courageously shine like silver linings amidst great pain.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, consider these words by Donald Culross Peattie, written in 1935.
Time now for the long sleep of the four-footed brethren. The frosty nights, the days so brief and so subdued, the cold and voiceless emptiness of the ruined woods, have warned the woodchucks, the pine mice, the chipmunks and the bats. And now in couples, or in families, they creep away to their lairs.
When I am troubled with insomnia, I think not upon those foolish sheep, jumping heavily and wearily over a stile. I think instead of the sleep of the white-footed mice, in their burrows and hollows, warm flank to warm flank, clever little paws folded over sensitive noses and whiskers, as they doze away the days and the nights together, secure in their retreat, contented with their lot. They sleep as the plants sleep in their roots and bulbs. Their hearts beat so slowly that they scarce suffice to force the warm blood through the chilled limbs, minds are a blank, all hunger, desires, impulses and fears in abeyance for days and days, for weeks and weeks. So do these little fellows sleep, five and ten at a time, fallen upon each other in little furry windrows of drowsiness.
- Donald Culross Peattie, 1935
Here is Edwin Way Teale on nights lit by fire.
For us the pleasures of our fireplace begin even before we light the first fire. During the latter days of October and the early days of November, Nellie and I range through the woods over fallen leaves, gathering sticks, breaking up dry branches, picking up poles in a harvest of winter kindling.
Then, in the short winter days and the long winter evenings, the great fireplace of our living room comes into its own. It brings light and color and movement and sound and perfume and a direct warmth into the room where an old wall clock ticks away the minutes and chimes the hours and half-hours throughout the day and night.
The appeal of an open fireplace is deep-seated. It has its roots in four of our five senses: sight, hearing, feeling, smelling. We watch the flicker and the altering shapes and colors of the flames. We hear the snapping and crackling of the burning logs. We smell the perfume of the various woods as they are consumed. We feel the warmth of the dancing flames and glowing coals. Endlessly these elements are combined and recombined. No two fireplace fires are ever the same. Each represents a different pattern of flames, a different sequence of sounds, a different play of colors. These fires of winter are as dissimilar as wave marks on the seashore, as varied as autumn leaves or flakes of snow or human beings.
The voices of our fireplace range from a soft flutter of flames, like a silken flag flapping in the breeze, through sharp snappings of the burning wood, like small firecrackers exploding. At times there are tiny cracklings like sleet on a windowpane. Then, at the end of the evening, comes the sleepy-sounding fires, dying, falling into silence with a soft simmer and murmur as lulling as rippling water or rustling leaves.
How wonderfully snug and enclosed we feel in winter storms with logs blazing on the hearth! Sitting there, gazing at the ever-changing kaleidoscope of the flames as they flicker before the smoke-blackened stones, we often become aware of a curious dislocation in time. We might be enjoying the warmth and light and color in any other period during the long history of this companionable hearth - before the first airplane flew or before the Civil War or when California was in Spanish hands. In no other hours is this feeling of temporarily being afloat in time, of living in undated moments, more apparent that when Nellie, filling in gaps in our acquaintance with the classics, reads aloud at the end of the day from books that came into being over a span of centuries of time.
And as the winter days go by, as the logs of oak and maple and hickory that are packed row on row in the center shed, each in turn burn to ashes, we watch the piles dwindle down like sand in an hourglass. Each year we burn about five cords of wood in our living-room fireplace. The gradual disappearance of fireplace wood measures, as in some larger glass, the progress of the season. In all varieties of winter weather I bring in the logs. Often as I emerge from the shed, a log on my shoulder, the smell of woodsmoke is sweet in the clear cold air.
- Edwin Way Teale, 1974
Most of us don't burn five cords of wood in a winter, but we all have candles. We can sit and look at a candle, breathe in and out, and get much of the same effect as with a huge fire. Sleep tight these cold winter nights.
Be the flame tucked and untucked in the shifting currents of air.