Winter Oranges


In September, I start thinking about oranges, tangerines, satsumas, minneolas. By October, I salivate whenever I think of them. When I spot the first box of satsumas in early November, I buy them no matter how much they cost. The bright lights of winter. My mom gave me this gray bowl for a housewarming present. When I fill it with fruit and set it on the counter, it reminds me of the riotous abundance in my life and in the world.

We had our housewarming party last month--one year after moving in, one week after the painters were done, and one day after baseboards were nailed to the wall and pictures hung. We cast a wide net--family from here and from Seattle, neighbors, families from Roosevelt Elementary, friends from high school, and old family friends. When the first guests came, I judiciously laid their coats out on my bed and poured them a drink. An hour later, there was a ridiculously massive pile of coats and shoes by the front door and I couldn't even cross the room. 

I told Yancey I had a biological need for a party. A party to say "We're here!" and to christen this house we've resuscitated. The party satisfied my needs in every way. We sat around afterward debriefing with my parents (who produced countless trays of nachos all night), emptying the last pints from the keg, and feeling, more than ever before, that moving to Bellingham has meant coming home in all the best ways. 

I've been cooking my brains out, but in very routine ways. Rice and beans, lentil soup, burritos, baked potatoes, lots of cookies for clients or teacher appreciations. We've definitely entered another stage of life with both kids playing basketball, Wyatt in choir practices, and more and more homework at night. Somehow we've managed to keep eating together at night, but it's meant keeping it really simple. We have friends or family eat with us once or twice a week and I've gotten good at not doing anything special for them. And my new rule is never to apologize for a messy house. It's much more important that we are together.

And that we are grateful. There are some people in my orbit whose lot in life is hard right now. At the moment, my lot in life is easy. But I hope, when the hard times come, I can still be grateful. I'll leave you with this beautiful quote from Kevin Kelly, part of the "This I Believe" NPR series. His essay has been important to me for a long time, but I pulled it out again recently to pass along to a client. As often happens, I needed it too:

I've slowly changed my mind about spiritual faith. I once thought it was chiefly about believing in an unmeasurable reality; that it had a lot in common with hope. But after many years of examining the lives of the people whose spiritual character I most respect, I've come to see that their faith rests on gratitude, rather than hope. They exude a sense of being indebted, and a state of being thankful. When the truly faithful worry, it's not about doubt (which they have) but it's about how they might not maximize the tremendous gift given them. How they might be ungrateful. The faithful I admire are not certain about much except this: that this state of being embodied, inflated with life, brimming with possibilities, is so over-the-top unlikely, so extravagant, so unconditional, so far out beyond physical entropy, that is it indistinguishable from love. And most amazing of all, like my hitchhiking rides, this love-gift is an extravagant gesture you can count on. No matter how bad the weather, soiled the past, broken the heart, hellish the war – all that is behind the universe is conspiring to help you – if you will let it.