It is a short drive to The Station, my favorite diner. Maybe ten minutes. In the traveling this morning from home to diner, I have thought about labor unions, the good and bad of them. Enough to write an essay, for sure.
I have thought about church politics, at the large and small level, and how a need for power too often sways the church into something I do not think it was meant to be, just as likely to push people away as draw them in. Maybe in recent years, more likely. I could write a book on this one.
I thought about how much my little corner of Vermont has changed in the twelve years I have been here. You think little changes in bucolic rural towns and villages, but nothing could be further from the truth. Fully half the businesses I knew when I came here are gone. Some replaced. Some not. None of my neighbors are the same. Families I know have split asunder. I could write on this but it makes me sad.
I thought about the diner itself. After today it closes for two weeks because of a shortage of people. They need cooks and waitresses as some of theirs have gone to college, or taken jobs elsewhere. All summer has been a struggle for them to just stay open. It is not for a lack of business. Otherwise they are thriving. But when you don’t have people to do the work, the few of you in place just wear out after a while. I am hoping they make it long term, but I have my worries. All the news articles on this in the paper, but few really show the exhaustion and valiant efforts people are making to keep our services going. I’ve read all the articles on the whys, from both sides of the political fences, but watching it close hand, here and in other small businesses in the area, is heartbreaking.
I thought about mental health, and all the people around me struggling, and how a modest change in how we treat it, as individuals and in the health insurance industry, would pay unbelievable dividends. Not just for the people I know personally, but on a national level.
I thought about what my sermon topic might be next Sunday. About work around the house I need to do. About a painting I would like to try. About how the love of power and greed mess up everything.
All in about ten minutes. I was thinking about greed when I got here. Another few minutes and I would have written an essay in my head on that one too.
It’s no wonder I need to write when I sit down here. Too much in my head in the mornings. This morning at least, they were larger topics. Just as often they are deeply personal ones. Spawned by my own struggles or the struggles of people nearest to me. Emotional and I process emotions slowly. That’s what I do here most often, just empty myself. There is never a shortage of things to write about. The hard part is the choosing.
Yesterday was a delight. After church, the woman I love and I drove to Cooperstown, NY, not to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, but to visit a small Farmer’s museum just outside the town.
They have moved buildings from all over New York State to create a 19th century farming town. There are people to show you the crafts or talk about the buildings. It was one of the few museums open without having to make reservations weeks ahead of time, and because it was so spread out, it seemed like a safeish place to spend some time, and have a bit of pre-Covid normalcy.
Hardly anyone was there, which not only made it a safe place to visit, but also fit my need for peace wonderfully.
It was a good day. A quiet day. I took hundreds of pictures. Most of them of details. Small things. Like the one that is at the beginning of this blog entry.
I have learned that I tend to take pictures of what is going on inside of me, not about what’s there. If I am feeling expansive, the photographs will reflect that expansiveness. Landscapes. Broad vistas. Farms and fields. If I am dark, I photograph dark spaces. And when I am feeling a need to focus, I do as I did yesterday, take pictures of the details. The small things. Any of the three can be in the same location where I am clicking my camera, but the camera will tell the tale of what’s happening inside. I can go to the same place time after time, and the pictures I take will be radically different, depending on my soul that day.
So the poems over the next few days will likely reflect smallness. Details. A need to focus in a world that despite the lowering of rhetoric, is diverse, troubled and struggling. And people I love who are also diverse, troubled and struggling. Sometimes it soo much, and I need focus.
“Be still,” the bible tells us (Psalm 46:10) “and know I am God.”
God, in any form you might honor him, whatever religion you embrace, is grand and glorious and so all encompassing that he, like the world we live in, can be overwhelming. Add that to a world that is also overwhelming and , well you know. It can be overwhelming.
But God is also a god of details. Of the small things. A bee in the flower. A feather on the ground. A detail of craftmanship. Even a good cup of coffee, which I am sipping right now, as my mind empties, and I become ready, at last, to write. There is a wisdom in stopping and savoring the details and it is for our mental/emotional/spiritual health as much as anything. A peculiar kind of worship that has the power to heal.
Be well. Travel wisely.