“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal — that is your success.” -Henry David Thoreau
I opened the used book store this morning. I work there once a week. I work for free. I spend my time greeting a few customers each day. I browse the shelves. I sweep the floor. I huddle by the radiator when the heating gets temperamental.
I drive to pick up Boo from school and I have no heat in the car, but the engine gives off plenty of warmth on its own. I never turn the radio on…I like hearing the rumbling of the road and I notice more around me that way too.
It’s so cold here today that the iciness hangs in the air. It feels like it might snow. The bitter weather makes the indoors so cozy and nestlike:
I set my timer and write without stopping for 30 minutes, even if it makes no sense. And when the timer goes off I find my heart wanting to write more. And I sit here wondering how I ended up in such a place. How watching the clouds roll in and out can be enough to fill the soul. How living so close to nature took away my fear of the dark and things unknown.
In the book Dakota, Kathleen Norris describes how the Great Plains became her monastery:
“…my place set apart, where I thrive and grow. It surprises me also to find that I no longer need to visit the city – any city – to obtain what I am missing, because I don’t feel deprived.
Both Plains and monastery are places where distractions are at a minimum and you must rely on your own resources, only to find yourself utterly dependent on forces beyond your control; where time seems to stand still, as it does in the liturgy; where your life is defined by waiting.”
Yes. These mountains have become my monastery. A place where I thrive and grow.
Everything that seems empty is full of the angels of God. – St. Hilary
Find your monastery.
Jane Basehoar says
Ashley – I am glad you got the note I left the day I visited the bookstore and I can picture your drive and the mountains and the little shops and the train station in Bryson City. I still keep going back to the painting of the cardinal in the shop across the street. It spoke to me when I kept looking at it in the shop and I am still reflecting on that painting. You are brave to drive those roads if it is snowing, but that is my monastery, looking outside my window on a snowy blizzardy day and seeing the trees caked with snow and just feeling the tranquility of being warm and toasty inside and knowing I don’t have to do anything but sip a warm beverage and enjoy the flakes coming down in abundance at a slant and filling up the deck and all the trees outside my window. It can become hypnotic after awhile but the beauty stays with you. The cardinal painting spoke to me I think because I have several of them that love to spend their days in those trees. I purchased a cardinal that you can press and it makes the sounds that cardinals sing and sometimes they respond to it on a summer evening. Their song is also part of my monastery in the summer.
Oh my goodness, but you are a writer. I first heard of you when I attended the first SNAP conference a couple of years ago. I didn’t know your story but my roommate told me to check out your blog. I did and read about your garment industry business. I operated a small factory making beachwear when I was in my 20’s so I could relate to what you were doing.
But now…your writing. And this move to this small town…you have become a writer.
I hope you publish a memoir one day. I’ll be the first to buy it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.