(Thoreau’s Cabin in the Woods…On Walden Pond-Artist-Don Barne)
My senior year in high school…I either took an extra elective course or perhaps signed up for some kind of club…but it was an extra literary look at the great American authors/philosophers. Mother twisted my arm on that decision telling me that it would look good on my college application and resume.
The senior high school teacher, in charge of this seminar, had been there for decades…”Miss Ruth” and if you ever wondered why she never married you only had to start the unit on Henry David Thoreau to discover the answer. She was hopelessly in love with Thoreau. (Unfortunately…the timing was off! ) 🙂
I had forgotten we made a scrapbook with pictures, cut-out quotes of the great American literary giants…and I certainly didn’t realize I still had that old notebook until I was going through some plastic bags where too many of my old family and children’s photos are kept, along with report cards, notes, and letters. Famous words…“One day I will get these organized.” 🙂
One segment of the scrapbook dealt with JOY and I had cut out the lyrics to the “Joyful hymn” – “Joyful Joyful We adore Thee....” followed with family photos, Erskine College where I had just been accepted, my church, my little dog, Christie, and photos of high school friends. (Things and people, pets who made me joyful.)
At the top of the page…I had written down this famous Thoreau quote:
“I am grateful for what I am and have. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite-only a sense of existence…O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it- for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”
I intuitively understood that my discovery of this notebook (and this particular quote) had to be a God Wink...especially these days. It is so fitting for the times in which we live.
So many hard-working Americans, recently, have lost jobs or will before this health crisis is over. They probably wish, like “Miss Ruth” did… that Thoreau would invite them for a stroll around Walden Pond too. That he would “enrich” them with the wisdom of the ages…regardless of economic wealth or lack of…reminding everyone that only we can give our greatest wealth away, the daily joy of life, by giving in to modern society’s misplaced economic priorities.
Think about our children….what do we want them to remember from this time of uncertainty…that they were”stuck” at home, wore masks when out, couldn’t play with friends, were disappointed and dismayed at how schools looked and felt so differently without the benefits of human tactile hugs of encouragement and compassion…no groups or “hands-on” learning…not sitting together on the “story rug” to listen to the teacher read her favorite children’s book.
Instead…if our children can look back fondly on this period when they had more time with their mother and father, when extended families grew closer, when creative adventures of crabbing at the creek became a favorite past time…or experiencing drive-in movies for the first time.
…Or realizing they understood the basics of cooking now, they felt more a part of the family while eating together, or taking walks each evening together, reading more together, dividing up responsibilities among each family member…and finally …pulling together to create their own daily adventures…
If a decade from now our children look back on this time fondly ( even as one of their favorite times) then you will know parents… that you got an A+ on parenting. You got it right. You looked until you found joy in every day and then passed it around.
The longer I live, the more I realize that the way we spend our day is the way we spend our life.
***Libby’s daughter, Betsy, shared this beautiful message.. I loved it…so would have Thoreau!
So until tomorrow:
Powerful, isn’t it? Parents…remind yourself of this “lesson” each time you get down…children are so resilient…they will bounce back…just make sure they have strong, loving memories to carry with them. In other words…just love’em and let the chips fall where they may.
As Mother Teresa once said:
“I’m happy in the moment and that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, no more.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh