Are you familiar with the life and work of Ralph Waldo Emerson? I met Emerson some years ago when I lived in Boston. Because I’ve always loved old houses and historic towns I spent a lot of time in Concord where Emerson lived. Concord is a charming town just outside of Boston proper. I’d pop over to Emerson’s house often, stroll through his rooms, look over his books – why I even was in his bedroom many times where I saw quite a few of his personal things, like the actual dressing gown he wore most evenings. I’d walk around his garden and spend time with him, pondering his shrewd observations and penetrating perceptions.
Now you may wonder how I could do that. After all, Emerson was born in 1803 and I’m not 210 years old as Emerson is. Well, if you know me at all you know I have lots of friends – some local, some letter friends far away, some living and some who are what I call “dead friends”. “Dead friends” are people from the past who I get to know through their writings, accomplishments and other work. Emerson is one of those “dead friends”.
Emerson was not only a fine and popular lecturer in his day, but lucky for us he was also a writer, capturing his thoughts on paper. It’s so important we all do this, write, or how will people of the future know we ever existed, not yet understand what we were all about?
We should all keep journals and write letters. I write one letter every morning. This morning’s letter went to my good friend Evelyna.
Though Evelyna lives nearby allowing us the pleasure of in-person get-togethers our letters provide us with extra opportunities to share, and this sharing is lasting. My great grandchildren will be able to get to know me and my friendship with Evelyna some day thanks to those letters – just as I have gotten to know Emerson thanks to his writing.
By the way, Emerson thought letter writing was a very good thing as I do for he felt it helped people communicate gentle thoughts to each other. In his essay on friendship he wrote: “Our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection. The scholar sits down to write, and all his years of meditation do not furnish him with one good thought or happy expression; but it is necessary to write a letter to a friend, — and, forthwith, troops of gentle thoughts invest themselves, on every hand, with chosen words.”
Then there’s the subject of nature. I love nature! Emerson loved nature too. How about you? Do you take the time to wander fields and streams, hill and dale? I do hope so. Nature is so refreshing. Though my friend Emerson values friendship as I do, we both have felt the need to escape from society at times and enjoy the solitude and beauty that nature provides. Emerson put it this way: “Society (sometimes) seems noxious. I believe that against these baleful influences Nature is the antidote. The man comes out of the wrangle of the shop and office, and sees the sky and woods, and is a man again … But how few men see the sky and woods!”
A walk in nature can refresh us like nothing else. To focus on the details we see, like a patch of pretty daffodils… improves us somehow.
Perhaps this is because, as Emerson states in his essay on nature: “Every moment (in nature) instructs, and every object: for wisdom is infused in every form.”
Instruction can be had at tea time too. If I pull up a chair, open a book ( maybe one of Emerson’s books) light a candle and pour a cup of tea, new ideas come forth. So many ideas – for so many wonderful “dead friends” are there for us to enjoy. They have so much to share with us. But living, breathing friends make wonderful tea guests too, sharing their ideas.
I prepare a tray of goodies, invite a friend or two, and we take a break from our busy lives. Just as a stroll through nature can relax and refresh, so too can in-person sharing , especially if the setting is calm and peaceful.
I was pleased that the day of my last tea was cool and rainy for I was able to light a fire and fill the room with the twinkle of candlelight. In this setting time seemed to slow down and my friends and I could enjoy each other’s company – talk of our current interests and inspire each other with our joys.
Joni spoke of her love of baking, and in fact she brought me a beautiful box of her homemade cupcakes and fudge. She’s such a wonderful friend and such a culinary artist, not only whipping up luscious goodies in her kitchen, but packaging them so beautifully and sharing them with others – others like ME!
My other guest was someone new to me, Mary. I love to invite new people to tea, people I like but don’t know very well – YET! Tea can help transform acquaintances into friends and who doesn’t enjoy having lots of wonderful friends?
Mary spoke of her love for tennis and her work for our community foundation. She was a lovely guest – and not only because she also brought me homemade goodies, goodies that she baked just for me. Sweet, sweet, sweet!
Mary gave me lemon bread which I promptly wrapped in freezer paper so it will be fresh and ready for Sunday brunch. Yum! Oh to know ladies who have domestic skill and a generous spirit.
Another “dead friend” , Robert Louis Stevenson, said “The world is so full of a number of things I think we should all be as happy as kings”. I’m happy. You happy?
There’s tea. There’s nature. There are new, old, living and “dead friends to keep us company… and there’s so much more. I hope you are focusing on all that good, and I hope you’re sharing your joy. Why? You know.
Sharing Doubles the Joy
Till next time then.