I’m a liar. Months and months ago, I’d promised a romantic tale of train travel—of moonlit plains slipping past the windows of a midnight sleeping car, of cabin-weary travelers stretching their legs at sleepy depots, of a conductor booming out the names of the depots still to come. And I’d meant to write that story, had even cropped the photos for the post, but life happened and apparently I am nowhere near a woman of my word. Still, I am a grateful liar, simply because it was life that was happening, all the drudgeries and annoyances and joys of our time on this side of eternity, and not the alternative. Some haven’t been so lucky.
In these early days of 2016, my Facebook feed is filled with the passing of old friends and neighbors. Tis the season, I guess. Nobody wants to go at Christmas and the need to keep December merry for the family must be a powerful medicine, better than anything modern science has come up with. January is when those who fought the good fight finally give themselves permission to rest. God bless them. God keep them.
After all the gloomy Facebook news, thank heavens for Doris and her latest post on Time Out 2 Blog. I like to think of Doris as a kindred spirit and nearly always find something uplifting in the writings she shares. This time she quoted a dying Oliver Sacks, whose thoughts in his essay “Sabbath” drifted to “the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done and one may, in good conscience, rest.” I love that recognition of rest as a reward for our labor, the sense that work isn’t an interruption of our life but the purpose of our life; the stuff that sweetens the sleep that follows, the balm that soothes a too-often troubled conscience.
The neighbor who sometimes plowed the snow from my driveway was one of this January’s casualties; I never asked him to do it and I only knew it was his work when I happened to look out the window and catch him spraying white arcs of snow from his blower onto our already snow-covered lawn. That’s what I remember about Jim, not the places he’d been or his vacation photos, and, judging by the Facebook comments I’ve seen about his passing, it was his acts of love that others remember too. He was a good man, and we know this because he did good works. Love is a verb, I’m told.
So that’s my excuse for not keeping up this blog. Life is happening and there are verbs to knock out in real life and not just on the virtual page. I’m still earning my way to my seventh day. But since I promised so long ago, I’ll share a few photos from our Amtrak journey below.
Rest in peace Jim, John, Neil and all the rest of the weary whose passing I’ve learned of in the past month or two. And to those who miss them—Peace.