In the way that the inn, set up on a slight incline, was surrounded by woods, so were Mrs. Parsons' guests, gathered in the sitting room, surrounded by a fine and very old library of books. Because there was not much else to do in the evenings, except to sip brandies and watch the fire, Mrs. Parsons, in the tradition in which she had been raised, would hobble over to a stately chair and, in a voice that was remarkably strong and in a manner that was theatrical, read aloud selections from certain volumes.
Annie and Ives travel to the British Isles late in their lives. After years of struggle and sadness, Ives finally makes an effort to rekindle his earlier passions for his wife, works of art, and the world. He and Annie stay for several days at a bed a breakfast located near Sherwood Forest (yes, that Sherwood Forest) in England. Mrs. Parsons, the proprietor, entertains her guests nightly by reading selections from the likes of Charles Dickens. And it is there that Ives and Annie fall in love again.
Tomorrow afternoon, at the Carnegie Library in my home town, I will be reading a couple Christmas essays. It's part of an event to celebrate the release of the Christmas CDs that I recorded with my band. Charles Dickens will figure prominently in one of the essays I plan to share. Jimmy Stewart appears in the other. And, of course, there will be lots of good music, from "Silent Night" to Irving Berlin.
Tomorrow is also the day that my sister and her six kids travel back to their home in the state of Washington. They came at the end of last May and extended their visit due to my other sister's terminal illness. So, tomorrow morning, there will be a parting. It will be difficult for everyone. My kids will certainly take it very hard, and this just days before Christmas.
This time of year is full of contradictions. Happiness and sadness. Coming together. Moving away. Holding on. Letting go. As the song says, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Yet, for all the twinkling lights and baking cookies, there are also moments of darkness and hunger. Dreaming of Christmases past. Yearning for them.
That's what Saint Marty hopes his readings tomorrow are going to conjure up. The yearning and dreaming for yuletides lost and found. Beginnings and ends. Alphas and omegas.
from Teaching a Stone to Talk
by: Annie Dillard
The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega. It's is God's brooding over the face of the waters. It is the blended note of the ten thousand things, the whine of wings. You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to "World." Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing.
It's the most wonderful time...