November: learnings

1. The differences between wind-borne leaves and birds is sometimes negligible in November.

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2. Fall is a season which might convince one of the glory of dying: the dance of the leaves as they fall, and the trees casting less and less shadow and admitting more and more view of the sky and the sun. If I must waste away and decay — and, eventually, I must, if I don’t die suddenly and young — I’d like to do it this way: showing up less and less of me, and more and more of the Majestic Glory behind me.

3. Teaching depressing literature is easier than teaching happy literature. I think, when I find the way to teach the happy literature well, I will consider myself a better teacher than I am now.

4. There’s a new doll on the market, like a Barbie, but made to match the proportions of an average, real-life girl. Along with the Lammily Doll, you can buy a set of reusable stickers in order to give your doll acne, cellulite, scars, stretch marks, and make her blush, among other things. The need for such stickers, to me, indicates the death of imagination: kids can’t imagine things that aren’t there; they have to have physical evidence. (And who wants to pretend her doll has acne, anyway?)

5. I finally “got” the parable of the lost sheep: for years I’ve read it and felt just a bit disappointed deep down that the angels didn’t rejoice that much over me, because, having been saved so early, I never got lost. Praise the Lord for allowing me to see that in truth there are no good sheep. Each of us who is in His fold as a repentant sinner is there because He went out and sought us when we were lost. And His grace is such that He would save even me, though I spend so much time thinking that somehow I didn’t need finding.

6.  It is hard to get a really good picture of cotton bales when driving past them:

cotton

7. There are so many guest rooms all over the U.S. which have been made available for me to use on someday visits: it makes me grateful for years of moving all over the place, and for having attended a college where everyone was not from one state. (Will I visit them all? It doesn’t seem all that feasible, but it’s nice to have the option.)

8. Speaking of long-distance friends, I re-discovered that I have some wonderful ones. And that is wonderful.

9. Asian grocery stores are interesting to visit. (Or, at least the one I’ve visited was.)

10. My taste in apple pies is not like other people’s. I don’t like them goopy or very sweet: I’ve only been making apple pies for twenty years or something, but this is the first year I learned that other people expect goopy sweetness. Still, people like to look at them, anyway:
pie11. Again and again, at many times and in many ways, through all the surprises that a November — or any other month — can offer, God is indeed good. He lets me taste and see it. I rejoice.

12. I can’t count? (Actually, this is a December learning, since I noticed today that when I wrote this post yesterday, my numbers ran 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10, 10.) I’ve corrected that now.

What-We-Learned-November

Today I link up with Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at The Sky to share things I learned in November. Use the button above to visit her site and join in the fun yourself.

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Noticing, Day 10 (and Five Minute Friday): care

noticing

The cotton harvest has begun. This morning, I saw a row of svelte, cylindrical bales — each wrapped in sleek yellow plastic — outside the gin, and this afternoon they’d been joined by several of the bulky, rectangular kind which sit upon the ground wearing only ill-fitting tarpaulin caps. New and old converging in the gin-yard.

Every year I notice: pleased to see the rows of bales assembling, sorry when they’re gone leaving only a dirty cotton residue on the ground. And, while I wear cotton clothing often enough, these bales have little bearing on my day-to-day life. I wonder why I care?

But I like to watch the progress of things around me: the way they build roads and bridges and storm-drains, the growth of houses from smooth dirt through rough pine frames to the shingles of the ridge-caps and the sod on the muddy yards. And, yes, the crops: corn from pale green sprouts to moldy stubble, with the corn a golden pile beside the barns and silos; cotton to its full green height, the brown-and-white after defoliation,  strewn on the roadsides, baled in the gin-yard.

My work is in a world of so many abstractions. I deal with ideas and I deal with people. Ideas can’t be touched; people can’t be built or gathered like houses or corn. The results I get to see aren’t the only results there will be — I hope! — and ways of quantifying the products of teaching only work so far.

Sometimes, I think I care about the cotton because I like to see things reach completion. And while I am an incomplete person, living in the world of incomplete people, I have this confidence: my God cares to complete the work He has begun; I shall not live in the partial forever.

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Today I wrote longer than five minutes on Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: care. Click the button above to visit her site and read more about it!

© 2014 by Stacy Nott

homeward

The cotton harvest is begun, heralded by six tarp-covered bales waiting in the dusk outside the gin. I am neither farmer’s daughter nor farmer’s wife, but I’ve been driving by the fields for upwards of seven years, hearing the talk of the farmers and their families, watching the different machines roll out to do their different works.

I still think of myself as an outsider so much of the time, but the other night I found myself instructing people who don’t drive past the fields in the ways and means of cotton harvest. And I realized that I was telling them of things that I know and love.Somewhere along the way, these fields became my fields, these farmers my farmers; this home — their home forever and ever and I wasn’t born here — is somehow, sometimes, mine.

One of my professors once suggested that a large part of the definition of loving is wrapped up in the idea of knowing. It rings true.

The boy who boasted of camouflage underwear in the nursery years ago now boasts of shooting doves in the “older elementary” Sunday school class. The boys who used to be in that class have deep voices now and stand whole heads taller than me. I know and participate in their stories.

For a long time now I’ve preached the benefits of being from somewhere else — how it keeps you always mindful of your status as “elect exile,” how it points you always on toward Home.

But there’s this other side of the equation: the benefits of belonging somewhere so that the very bumps on the road and bugs on the windshield are somehow yours. If one taste of home — for one who wasn’t born here — can be this sweet, real Home must have a surpassing sweetness.

Because we know that however sweet this Now may be, it will not always be Now. The sweetness dissolves on your tongue, is gone with the swiftness of a thought. Here we have no lasting city — or farm, or children — but we seek the city that is to come.

So that both those at home here and those homeless have the same goal pressing upon them, the same call, the same hunger, and, one day, for those in Christ, the same satisfaction.

 

 

*artwork © 2008 by Hope Carr, http://hopecarrart.com. Visit her site for more beautiful work!