White Bird Flying by Bess Streeter Aldrich – Susan’s Newsletter August 2016

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Susan's Thursday Note August 4, 2016 - Greatest Treasures in Life (each other) 
Followed by Thursday Note November 12, 2015 - Death of oldest settler in a community

Good morning!  Long shadows designing my yard this morning.  The dark outline of my little bird sits on the lower branch moving gracefully every few minutes.  What does my little bird think when she looks into my window?  Does she watch my angel of dawn peer in?  Are they friends?  Does my angel of dawn visit her little birdhouse with a worm to welcome her to the day?  What other stops does my angel make?  Does she give my spider friend a little fly?  Does she peer in the squirrel home I would love to look into and hold out an acorn to help them greet the day?  Regardless of her other tasks, she again peers into my window, smiling quietly and encouraging me to enter this day.  To look upward to the heavens.  To notice the beauty of the shadows almost leaving the stage.  To realize what a gift I’ve been given.  Night and day meeting each other for only a few moments, letting me watch them cross paths again.  Life.  Our gift.  Sands today passing our timers.  Will we be able to mentally capture moments that are God’s bread to us for today?  My little shadow friend bird is now showing me her colors.  My flowers are being cued that it is their turn to open on the stage.  The backdrop of my stage of life.  The constants.  Birds.  Flowers.  Spider web patterns.  Shadow designs.  Lower branch friend.  Constants in our songs.

I reread an excerpt this last week from one of my favorite authors, Bess Streeter Aldrich. The author that I read myself to sleep with over and over again, the same stories. The author I read in the middle of the night when I was up with babies, the author that just “gets it” – on all facets of life. She wrote during the war, so she states that her aim is to give all of us stories that are true to life, but not that we have to think too much over – for reality is already harsh enough. One of my favorites is A White Bird Flying. This is a sequel to A Lantern in Her Hand where the granddaughter of Abby (the settler from A Lantern) sits with her grandmother the week before she dies, and then goes into her home the day she dies, and then her thoughts as she observes the home of her beloved grandmother being disassembled in one day.  The thoughts and emotions from that chapter are exactly what I felt the week my mom died and her home was cleared. Characters that are parallel to our experiences – when we can’t put into words our thoughts and emotions, but then later see ourselves in a book; for some reason I just love that – for I am able to see me, to process what I didn’t even know I was thinking.

The end of this book has one of my favorite paragraphs that I think about quite a bit. The main character makes serious choices throughout the book to pursue life in a city doing what her family wants her to do (career) vs. settling in the Midwest, quietly, without a lot of money. The book ends with Connie receiving $1.00 as an inheritance from her uncle – still angry with her. After her shock, she stands up straight and proud with determination in her step, takes her three children to the country with a picnic, and then proceeds with this scene speaking to her children:

“I have a new game for you. All turn your backs and shut your eyes.” She then tosses the silver dollar as far out into the alfalfa field as she could. “Open your eyes…Now this is the game. Out in the pasture is one of the most valuable things in the world. The game is to find it. Whatever seems most valuable to you, bring it in to me.” All the afternoon the children play and search for their treasure. When the sun was slipping she called, “Time’s up. Come in to base.” The children then proceeded to show what they found the most valuable. Edward said, “I couldn’t bring in the thing that I thought was the most valuable. It’s the elm in the middle of the pasture. It stands there so pretty, bowing, and waving. It made me think of the verses Father reads to us: “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.” “Think of never having a nodding tree, Mother!” “I couldn’t bring mine, either,” Ruth admitted. “Oh, I could have, but I didn’t want to scare it. It’s a little meadow lark in a nest on the ground. Think of never hearing a meadow lark sing, Mother!” Little Marian threw back her head and let out a rippling crescendo of laughter. “I could bring mine,” she chuckled. “It’s Baby. It’s fair too, isn’t it, Mother; because he was out there and I think he’s the most valuable thing in the world.” They all laughed with her, but there were tears in mother’s eyes. “Well, well! Trees! Birds! Babies! What lovely, lovely things you found.”

“…After a season the alfalfa was cut and dried and hauled to the barn. The field was plowed, and the legacy (the silver dollar) was turned under the sod. But even though the rain fell and the sun shone on it, nothing ever came of it.  Not a green thing – nor a singing thing – nor a human soul.”

Words from someone else that are words we are changed by.  Words that stay in our minds. Words that get us through our story called life.  If you have not yet found words in books that have changed your way of handling life, always know there are words in a binding somewhere that will.  That will be there to speak what you haven’t had the ability to formulate yourself.  I so hope you can walk into our store again soon.  And, if not our bookstore, any bookstore.  To spend time looking and feeling and walking out with words under your hands what will change you.  Have a beautiful weekend.  Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday again.  As we look into the meadow to find what is precious will we not notice the coin and be able to see as the children are able?  To see the birds, the trees, and the little ones?  To see life as being what is valuable?  Our gift from our angel of dawn.  Susan


Latin for this week:
pretiosus - dear, valuable, precious
carus – dear, beloved, endearing
dilectus – dear, favorite, precious
karus – valued

Work Cited:
Aldrich, Bess S.  A White Bird Flying.  New York.  University of Nebraska Press.  1988.