Accepting generosity, and some thoughts about winter

Dear friends,

Today is a blustery autumn day, although it feels more akin to winter. There’s a cold wind blowing through town that makes me so glad to cozy up inside of a coffee shop, and there will definitely be a pot of soup on the stove tonight.

What a week it’s been! It really flew by what with picking up extra shifts at the shop, working on Halloween and catering to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters (and supplying their parents with hot chocolate, cider, coffee, etc.), along with tutoring and moving to a new house! There were many moments during our move day that my roommate and I were so thankful that it wasn’t icy or rainy, especially while we were shoving her couch through our bay window.

It feels really nice to have my own little place to call home. I’ve definitely felt my nesting instincts kicking in as I search the local thrift shops for curtains, mugs, a french-press coffee maker, lamps, etc. As it is a little house which was built in the early 1900’s and sits on the slope of the mountainside, it is naturally quite cold. Needless to say we’re on the hunt for tricks to keep our heat in and the cold mountain winds out. Bit by bit we’re making it ours, and I can’t wait to have people over to make it feel even more like home.

People have started putting up their twinkly lights – whether it’s on the lampposts or in their gardens or around their windows. It really does make the cold nights cheery and I’ve been glad to see them. With daylight savings time we do start to notice how dark it gets in the early evening, but it really creates an interesting atmosphere in the community. People draw closer together to share meals, warmth, and companionship. I find myself craving warm company in warm places, and it’s a feeling that’s almost tangible throughout the town. It’s homey and small-town and nice.

And so, the onset of winter has taken on a romantic quality – it’s a different kind of beauty and creates a different kind of lifestyle. Normally it’s a challenge for me to allow myself to slow down, to be okay with resting. Winter here makes me pause, gives me permission to let the quiet settle over my soul and create space for rest, for others, for reflection.

As I’ve reached my month anniversary of being in town, I am struck by the generosity of my community, both in my new home and back down south. People taking the time to call, invite me over for a meal, send me a piece of encouragement in the mail, giving me a ride to the grocery, sending me home with a bag of fresh carrots from their garden, etc. People opening their arms to invite me into their lives.

I’ve noticed how difficult it can be to accept selfless generosity, to accept the fact that someone wants to take care of you simply because they want to help you. They don’t expect anything from you. Why is this so challenging for me? I think it’s because I have to stop myself from protesting, to recognize that when we accept a gift we are accepting someone else’s attempt to love us. And sometimes we don’t understand why we’re lovable. For example, after Mass on Sunday I met a parishioner who comes to town every few months. He has an office here, and when he found out I was new to town to seek my life as an artist, he told me to use his office as my studio. For free. For as long as I’d like.

He barely new me. He wouldn’t accept anything in return. It was simply a desire to give me the space (literally and figuratively) to be able to make art. To help me to gain momentum in this thing I’m trying to do. From this selfless act of generosity I was reminded of the human need to serve and let ourselves be served. To recognize our need and our smallness and accept it. To be vulnerable in letting others share in our need. And in turn, we can stand next to someone else and offer our strength to their need. Giving and receiving, living the seasons.

The transition here continues to be a beautiful challenge. Just like winter. But I’m hanging the lights in my house and in my heart and letting God teach me (and reteach me) to be small, to be still, to be grateful. And to rejoice!

Thank you for your generosity, my friends.


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