People say that a good seat in the backyard affords as accurate and inspiring a vantage point on the planet earth as any observation tower on Alpha Centauri. They are wrong. We see through a glass darkly. We find ourselves in the middle of a movie, or, God help us, a take for a movie, and we don't know what's on the rest of the film.
Dillard is an observer. She watches the way waters flow and snakes shed skins. The seasons change. Ice melts, Grass sprouts. Monarchs flock. Leaves turn gold. Pumpkins fatten. Frost thickens. And snow flies. And Dillard is there with her pen and journal to capture it all, through a glass darkly.
I am very familiar with that dark glass. But I have been challenged to write at least one completely positive post a week. As my two Constant Readers know, I have a tendency to dwell on the darker elements of the universe. It's who I am. One of my favorite Christmas gifts last year was a copy of Anthony Doerr's Four Seasons in Rome which describes, among other things, the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Happiness and sorrow. That's the way things are.
However, I accept this challenge of positivity. Tonight's post will contain nothing about the death of my Ford Freestyle or my fears of parental inadequacy. I won't dwell on black mold or my need for a haircut. Nope, nothing but happiness tonight.
I have a best friend who has been keeping a gratitude journal since January 1st of this year. Every day, she writes about three things for which she gives thanks. Recently, she told me that sometimes the only thing she is grateful for is her bed. Yet, she claims that this little exercise has changed her life. (A long time ago, my wife did a similar exercise in gratitude, and she, also, says it was a life-changing practice.)
So, tonight, I am an observer, like Dillard. However, I'm not looking for wreckage and apocalypse. I'm going to write about a good evening with my daughter. A few years ago, we had a Harry Potter movie marathon. For many nights, we spent a few hours at Hogwarts. It was a really happy time. Tonight, we have started another movie marathon. This time, my daughter has chosen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm watching the first film with her right now. There have been no tears or meltdowns or raised voices tonight. Instead, it's all about Frodo and Gandalf and the One Ring.
So, that's what Saint Marty is grateful for tonight: the start of a movie marathon with his daughter.