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Recently, I’ve had the great pleasure of gathering with others–both friends and strangers–for three occasions. I participated in a lovely wedding, I was celebrated (grandly) for my 70th birthday, and then I was lucky enough to attend a marvelous music festival. It all felt so remarkable! And in a couple of days I will be driving across the country to gather with my two New York sons. I’ve had my Covid-19 booster shot and somehow I suddenly feel quite confident about the future.

This is certainly a change from even a few weeks ago. My organizing partner and I had just cancelled our annual November art show (again), due to concerns about Covid. I have not even considered participating in any indoor shows or events, going to a movie or the gym or an indoor concert. I probably will not do any of those things for awhile longer. But these recent gatherings have so lifted my spirit.

I won a weekend pass to our big local music festival, Roots ‘n’ Blues in a random drawing. It’s expensive and I never feel like it’s something I can afford. Everyone was required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. The rule gave me a feeling of ahhh, I have to say. The weekend was beautiful and it was a pleasure to be there with good friends. We reveled. This was shortly after gathering at a lake house for my birthday, where we ate and drank merrily, played games, sang songs, and lolled on our private dock gazing at the stars until long after my bedtime. My family had made a touching video for my birthday, with lots of old and new photos and video contributions from faraway friends, siblings, and family. It is a thing I will treasure forever and watch again and again. They went through great machinations to get it sent along with one of my friends and it was so much better that I watched it surrounded by friends.

Gathering. Feeling comfortable. Enjoying the company of our beloveds. What a luxury! I suppose none of us ever imagined that these simple things would feel so absolutely extravagant, but they sure do.

At Roots ‘n’ Blues, every single performer expressed their gratitude and delight at being able to do the thing they love, once again. For many of them, it was their first performance, especially to an audience of our size, in a very long time. They were in their element. And we were the lucky recipients of their all-out joy.

There were just so many memorable moments during all of these gatherings, all of them the kind of soft moments that warm the heart. They weren’t skydiving or hot air balloon moments or thrills of a lifetime. They were just pockets of loveliness that make your soul thrive.

I see many more of these gatherings and moments on the horizon. I do. I feel very open and hopeful right now that we are coming to the end of all the sickness and death and entering into a light-filled era of gratitude. I know I am feeling very grateful for all I have right now. I am totting up a list and letting it build a blanket fort in my heart.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ― A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Later on, when they had all said “Good-bye” and “Thank-you” to Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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