30 May 2009

to notice

Lauren, Lisa and Juli,

You are three of the unexpected gifts I was telling you about yesterday. I am blessed and humbled to have you in my life, and I am grateful for the fabric and thread that bind us in friendship. Thank you for sharing life and dinner and tea (and perhaps someday, cookies, paint and wine) with me. My life is warmer because of you. I thank you.

I wrote this back in January. I wasn't sure what it was for back then, but now I see that it was for the three of you and for today. Happy Birthday, Sister...

To Notice.

Cutting wind blows just outside my window. Although bricks and glass and drywall and paint stand between us – although I can’t see it – I am certain it is there. It needs and wants to be known, to be heard. It interrupts. It howls. It unearths groans and creaks. Even from the warmth of inside, I can feel it. Outside, a lone tree stripped of its leaves, its life and its color shutters in its wake and speaks of its presence. A distant chime sings of its existence. Just outside my window, the air is frigid and cold.

I just returned from its grip in a bitter, face-to-face exchange. I left the warmth of within and ventured outside on a trek from chair to mailbox back to chair. The wind pierced me, and quickly cut to my core - deeper and still deeper, with each step. Ordinarily, I would have been undone by now. But I am not.

I am back inside, and I feel warm.

Last week, my friend, Lisa made me a pillow. It is simple and lovely - covered in floral fabric and neatly stitched. I love this pillow. I really love it. I love it because my friend made it for me. She thought of me, and as far as I can tell, for no reason in particular, she made it for me.

My pillow is covered in flowers and filled with rice. It holds heat. Lisa instructed me to put my pillow in the microwave, to heat it for a few minutes and then to bring it with me to bed. “It will keep you warm,” she explained.

Like most people with whom I have spent more than a few minutes, Lisa knows that I often feel cold. Fair enough; Lisa has noted the obvious about me. But the truth is, she doesn’t know me all that well. We have only been friends for a short time. Nonetheless, Lisa made me a lovely pillow filled with rice. She made me a microwavable pillow that holds heat and smells good – like home-cookin’ and sweet spices. Lisa noted, and she notice. She noticed that I wear sweaters in the summer time. She noticed that sometimes I wear gloves inside. She noticed that I come alive when I am wrapped in a blanket or I am parked in front of a fire or a space heater, or when I am sipping a cup of tea. So she stitched two pieces of fabric together, filled the pocket with rice and the contents of a Good Earth teabag, she sealed it shut and for no reason in particular, she gave it to me. In the simplest of gestures, she moved me and schooled me on the substance of love.

To see. To notice. To care, and then to act; that is love.

What Lisa doesn’t know is that sometimes the cold is debilitating. There have been days in the last year – especially at this time of year – that I am unable to function or even to move because I feel so damn cold. I go to bed cold, and I wake up cold, but I have learned to adjust – I wear socks and sweaters. I take extra showers and sleep with extra blankets. I sip soup, and I sip tea. I cope.

Lisa couldn’t have known of the cold I would face last night and today, when she acted in love on the thought of me that came to her mind. She gave me more than she will ever realize in a simple, intentional act of kindness. She gave me my first night of absolutely contented sleep in the last year, last night. She brought sweetness to my sleep in the faint aroma of Good Earth tea – my absolute favorite – that emanates from my pillow. The warmth and beauty and peace of the pause that comes in sipping a cup of hot tea – the precious respite from the worry and noise and stress and chaos of life that comes with a cup of tea – she unknowingly brought that peace into my sleep last night.

And now, as I sit here – sweater-less and sockless – secure from the unforgiving wind that howls just outside my window, I feel warm. The pillow that now rests at my feet radiates warmth that penetrates every fiber in the fabric of my soul. It smells hearty and sweet. I am utterly and totally moved by fabric, rice, tea and thread.

My friend noticed, and I feel loved.

1 comment:

Bil said...

Abi, That was so sweet. Moved me to tears this morning, and I am touched by your words. Thank you. I'm happy to know a small thing has changed something hard for you. I am so thankful for our friendship.

The other night was a blast. I'm still laughing at Lauren weeding on the streets of Louisville. I love you girls!