Different fridge, but if you come to my house, you can see ours.
I’ve been noticing that a kind word seems to go a long way these days. Maybe more than usual. When I give people affirmations, or when I see a person do a kind act for someone else, there seems to be a bigger reaction as if people are genuinely surprised. I wonder if a backdrop of harsh news and disconnection is impacting our expectations. I’m not sure, but a kind word or loving action is unquestionably a breath of fresh air. May we hold onto such moments.
My favorite blogger, David Smith, has written an essay every single Monday morning since 1999. His very aptly titled blog is Monday Moanin‘. This week, Monday Moanin’ subscribers woke up to a deeply touching post in which David lovingly described his son-in-law — a term, by the way, he says he resents a little, “as if that defined it, or as if a law could ever prevent him from being my son.”
In one sense, the piece is a tribute, but it is built upon a description. It is a compilation of attributes, simply but meaningfully experienced and noticed in every day life, and it becomes a tribute, not on the occasion of having accomplished some great feat (though he has them — I mean, ultramarathons!) but on the occasion of just being himself. How wonderful. It’s genuinely so refreshing.
David Smith ends his piece by saying, “You might have read all the way to this point wondering why I am telling you all this, and it’s simple. Because today people are going to send you pictures of what they ate, or memes of dogs, or political positions, and an array of stuff that will make you cringe. To balance that I wanted you to have an example of what I care most about, a person who makes my life richer. And maybe remind you about what you care most about.”
Last week, our friend Tim Lum (different Tim than son-in-law Tim) stayed with us for a few days. Tim and my husband were best friends during college, and he was the best man in our wedding. Tim lives just outside of London, so we only get to see him in person once every couple of years. We love him deeply. It was also refreshing to have him stay in our house for the first time.
Like everyone who stays in our house, Tim encountered our refrigerator. It’s just plastered with faces of people. There are photos of 27 very beloved people. (I just went and counted). A little more than a year ago, a made a photo album on my phone with these very pictures, so I could scroll through and pray regularly for these folks. Then, when Canterbury House had a special All Saints service inviting us to bring photos of loved ones, I made prints of that album and brought my people along. Afterward, I asked myself, “So what should I do with these prints now?” That’s when I decided to assemble them all on the fridge. After all, I consider every single one of these people to be a part of our family, and I hope that this house, and certainly these relationships, provide a sense of home.
Upon encountering all of these photos, Tim said something wonderful to me: “Tell me about every single person on this fridge.” What a lovely request.
So I did.
I told him all of the obvious things — names, where people live, what they’re interested in, and what they’re doing now. But then, I noticed I naturally gravitated to telling stories too, often naming what these people have given me and what they’ve taught me.
And I just delighted in it all. And Tim clearly delighted in seeing me delight in it all. “I love feeling connected to people you love,” he said. I love that too.
How wonderful it is to rehearse our loves, naming the big themes and stories, of course, but also the small noticings — the daily gifts, attributes, quirks, and very particular connections that make life richer.