Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honey Coats

Yesterday I worked in my garden most of the day planning ahead for the predicted rain that arrived this morning. I replanted the window boxes, put bone meal on the daffodil beds, pulled out the begonias and cut back perennials. I tell myself that if I would devote one hour each day, the garden would greatly benefit. My mind would benefit as well. It seems as I pull and prune and plant, my attitude and thoughts get sorted and pruned as well for another new season of growth.

Like the rain that was predicted, colder temperatures can’t be far behind. Most of us don’t think too much about the coat we will need – we’ll simply go to the closet and grab one of our choices – fleece today, wool tomorrow. But some people do not have a choice– they might not have the money to buy even one coat. I am thankful I had the privilege of delivering a car full of small coats to an elementary school recently. The principal was thrilled, saying there was much need and each coat would soon find proud, new owners. As I drove away from the school, I gratefully remembered my friends who organized the annual coat drive “Megan’s Closet” in memory of my daughter Megan. The coat drive is held the first of October and in the last two years has collected over 400 little coats along with hats, scarves and mittens for school children in Atlanta and other parts of the world.

My friend knew Megan. She had invited her to visit her classroom to observe her teaching and gather experienced ideas for taking back to her new classroom. She remembered Megan’s joy and enthusiasm for the children. She remembered her love of teaching. She remembered and she did something with those memories that would help someone else. She planned for winter with a child in mind. Oh, it took some work on her part. She wrote the parents. She gathered and sorted the coats. She arranged for delivery. And now, she knows that a group of children will be warmer this winter because of an idea born from sorrow – the honey that transforms into joy in the shape of little coats and gloves for cold days.

I see that transformation again and again and marvel at the continuous mystery of it. Touched by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the coat drive, I joined the effort and wrote my first children’s story Coats for Winter. It’s about three children who visit their grandparents and gather coats for their school. It teaches compassion and generosity and working together. It is the first in a series (I hope) based on my own childhood on a rural farm in Kentucky. More honey.

And now as I write and watch the pouring rain outside my window, I remember yesterday – so sunny, so beautiful, so perfect for planting, fertilizing, and pruning –all planning ahead for this very soggy day. I am so thankful I heeded the forecast and working my hour this morning in the garden, finished the things necessary before the weather changed. And the weather always changes. Every day is not sunny and bright. Unlike the song on Sesame Street, the sunny days don’t keep the clouds away. But we can prepare for the cold days of winter. We can gather coats like my friend. We can plan ahead. We can work hard. We can prune our thought process. We can even pull out and replant unhealthy thoughts with new, stronger ones. We can gather and give. We can find meaning and purpose in our daily efforts at life – no matter what the forecast.

I am not thinking about the coat I will need to put on in just a few minutes. I am thinking instead about lots of little coats being pulled on and zipped up at the end of a school day – all colors and sizes, warm and dry for winter. And I am grateful for the honey. I am thinking of the Psalmist who said, “If my people would listen, if they would walk in my paths, I would satisfy them with honey from the rock”(Psalm 81:14,17)