There are few greater things in life than the simplest of things. Listening to the rain beat on the roof as you sit warmly and safely tucked inside- good conversation-laughing...
That's where I'm at right now. Listening to a good storm as I sit cozy in bed in Florence Alabama- suitcase looking much neater than it did earlier today as I get packed up again to move on to Birmingham tomorrow. I have spent the past three nights with a widowed woman by the name of Carolyn- upon hearing it was my day off today she quickly could not stop laughing in excitement. That is the way that Carolyn approaches everything- something so simple as fixing us breakfast in the morning finds her laughing, driving us to the church for the day, hugging us goodnight- her genuine joy for life has grabbed hold of me and touched me.
Smiling- this morning she pulls herself a cup of coffee and sits down to keep me company as I eat breakfast. She asks me lots of questions about my family, myself, my life- not because she has too fill space or silence, but because she genuinely wants to know me. We continue to talk and she tells me about how she fills her time now that she is retired. Carolyn is a very active woman. She fills her time with being a spokesperson for the Breast cancer society, after battling breast cancer herself and loosing her husband who was terminally ill and whose life was taken by the struggles of cancer. She tells me that she cannot be sad or worried that she is not cancer free, but happy for what it has given her- for the speaker she now is to encourage many, and for the friends she has been blessed with who share a similar story as herself. "It is the only thing to do- to be positive" she tells me happily- "that's all there is to it!" She knows that an attitude like that will serve her well to battle through any struggles, and I can only imagine how many more lives she has touched because of her outlook- beyond the life of her husband and my own.
I leave here now encouraged. It has been so wonderful- if only for a mere couple days to be truly included and feel so apart of her family. Her friends, who knew only of my work with the choir and that I am Canadian fought over who would pay for my lunch, and then when Carolyn found out I needed new concert shoes, she sent her daughter shopping with me tonight to find some. Her daughter bought me new shoes for concerts (whoever is reading this from my team I know you are very happy indeed!) and another just for fun because she "wanted to help me out!"
I just finished reading the book "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (go read it! It's one of my favourites now. But I will warn you that if you read it you will often find yourself laughing outloud, so I caution reading in public) At the end of the book she concludes by saying that too often we try to excuse the blessings of other people- we try not to take them, that we feel guilty- and instead we should learn to accept and just be so grateful and thankful in moments of blessing." Today these people who had just started to come to know me hugged me at the end of the day- thanking me, asking if they could call me from time to time, telling me that I was inspiring, and hugged me saying they loved me. Those are powerful words. Hosts often tell me that because of what I've done I will indeed be richly blessed at the end of the journey and in the future...the thing is? I already have. Many, many times over- and in trying to heed Elizabeth Gilbert's advice tonight I just want to share with you that I am so thankful.