Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let me get all Thoreau on you....

Henry David Thoreau was the most famous disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the father of American Transcendentalism. Those wacky 19th century people LOVED to use their three names.

Anyway, as most people who have dozed through American Literature know, Thoreau spent 2 years (and 2 months and 2 days for you trivia junkies) in a rented cabin near Walden Pond outside of Concord, Massachusetts. His aim was to live out the principles to which he ascribed. He had quite a time.

Never a hermit but certainly ok with internal dialogue, he entertained visitors when they trekked the 2 miles out to see him. At other times, he slept when the sun went down, rose when it came up, farmed, fished, and lived a simple life. AND he journaled extensively, creating WALDEN, his best known work.

More than once, I’m sure, someone asked him what the heck he thought he was doing. I’m guessing they phrased it better as a study of their writings would uncover. Perhaps he needed to mull it a bit himself. He had the time and lacked distractions to formulate a great answer. At any rate, this is what he came to: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

What is it with the woods, with its sights, sounds and aromas that draw modern day seekers to find some part of themselves?

At this house, we all find a walk in the woods to be a therapeutic exercise. If you can get so far in that you can’t hear motors, you can hear the chirps, crunches, trills, clicks, and other tones that combine into a most soothing melody. We have a place nearby that we often have to ourselves: no matter what time of day or night, nature sings in waves as the wind rustles through tree limbs and along the grassy ground.

I was raised in the suburbs so I’ve come to this outside thing lately. The hub, however, has sought the great outdoors for most of his life. He and his siblings have taken various camping trips and even hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. Mike said just the other day that he wished he had taken the time to hike the whole route.

(I’m thinking the idea of Hiking the Trail is much better than the actual trek.)

He has tried to engage me in ‘real camping.’ That means outside, rain or shine (and why does it aways rain?) sleeping on the ground, cooking over a fire that you start from wood that you gather. I must say, my definition of ‘roughing it’ means a motel with only basic cable.

At any rate, as we are savoring our gift of extra time, Mike and I have are filling our days with novel experiences. He will not come to die and discover that he has not lived. Not if I can help it.
Thoreau also said that, in his opinion, most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

It is our goal to sing that song, loud and as long as God gives us breath. Sometimes it sounds like a guitar. Sometimes it sounds like a table saw as it zips through timber. And sometimes, it’s the sweet whispers that we share, just the two of us, with each other.

We’ve passed Thanksgiving 2009. It was one of the best celebrations of our marriage. We have much to be thankful for.

Friends are wishing us a happy holiday as we head into Christmas. We had not believed that we’d spend these holidays with each other and with family and friends. What a wonder. What a gift. What a special joy for us all.

Please join us in singing:

Glory to God in the highest
And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be:
World without end.

Amen Amen.

1 comment: