The first hard frost. I can see it this morning. It’s there on the path as I head out to turn on the heater in the cabin and then back in for the feeding of the cats and the coffee and, this morning, for peanut butter. Just now I realize I didn’t put the cat dishes up and that Sam will have at it already – no use running back inside now. That’s one of those mindful things I wish I’d remember.  But I did make it through a whole day yesterday without fully closing the door that sticks and having to climb through the cabin’s window!

The stars are more magnificent than the other day. Just stunning. The moon looks like a new moon but I don’t think it is. It’s there in that crescent shape, surrounded by stars. I mean they’re everywhere this morning. It’s the clearest morning ever.

Angie walked her friend George out to meet me yesterday and we talked about the stars and how he was out evening and me morning just glorying in them. He said the time he spent beneath them made him want to put a message on Facebook that everyone needed to get out and look at them. He’s Angie’s guy “friend” and I hope it lasts. He seemed perceptive. He looked at the cabin as if it held clues and asked me about my painting.

I don’t understand people who don’t do that – don’t look for clues to knowing a person, don’t get elated by discovering some small treasure in another human being, don’t delight in idiosyncrasies. I know my dad taught me that through his own sheer enjoyment of odd characters. Maybe some people were taught reserve and to respect privacy, or maybe it’s just hard to retain our curiosity about people and life as we age.

I just heard from one of the young women from the Institute.  She’s a fellow writer and I was taken by her right away. We didn’t have a single big conversation or anything like that, but she was called to read a bit of her writing and it let me in. I guess that’s what I’m talking about…the ways people let us in even when they might not know it. How people can speak to us in all kinds of ways if we’re paying attention, or are curious.

I was so appreciative of being let in by this young writer that on the last day I gave her a copy of The Given Self. She wrote to tell me that it was just what she needed, that in her spiritual inquiry she’d felt subtly discouraged from what was unique in her. She said I had given her permission to be herself.  She is such a beautiful young woman that it is hard to conceive of anyone believing that God or the world would want anything else from her; that she’d think something else was required. But I understand how this happens. I think we all do. We can probably all remember the wonder of taking in that stunning message in A Course of Love, the permission giving, that invitation to be who we are and share who we are.

I’m writing this as I work my way up to responding to her without gushing. Reading what she wrote I had one of those moments…a moment akin to when I read Elliott Robertson’s poetry and felt that if I’d truly encouraged him toward it, as he said I did, I could die happy. Sometimes in the incredible gift of such a moment, it all feels too good to be true. And I get reminded that what is true for this person whom I have somehow had the grace to encourage is true for me too. And that I can’t forget, for a moment, the bravery it often takes to “be who you are.”

I think this necessary courage (which we all must have until we no longer need it) may be the reason why, when we meet a “real” person, someone who lets us in, or someone who invites us to let them in, we feel humbled.