Tonight I went for a walk as the sun was going down and hitting the brightly colored leaves up on the ridge that I can see from my window.
Several threads came together and exploded with wonder in my thoughts while I was walking. I’m going to try to express some of those.
It started with thinking about a Project 52 post I wrote last night. I had reflected on the year I was 20 years old and started dating my husband-to-be.
This morning I remembered something I’d forgotten to write about. We used to hide pennies for each other. It came from an Annie Dillard quote that I’d read that summer from A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek:
But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.
I had included in the Project 52 post lots of pictures of my friends in the S.I.K. Club, a club about not being afraid to be silly and about embracing joys. This morning my friend Jovial Gina, one of the S.I.K.s, indicated on Facebook that she really enjoyed remembering back to those silly days.
Gina has recently written a book called Camino Divina, a book about taking meditative walks. In each chapter she highlights a different “saint” and looks at their inspirational writings. For several months now, I’ve been reading a short section of Gina’s book right before I go on my walks, to give me something to think about.
Tonight I started a new chapter. I was in a hurry because the sun was getting lower in the sky. And guess who the saint of the new chapter was? Annie Dillard!
I was in a hurry, so I’m afraid I read Gina’s thoughts on Annie Dillard’s writings hastily. But she did get me thinking about finding pennies, and how they represent finding small joys.
I started reciting in my mind the passage I quoted above.
Another thread: On Saturday, I did the same walk among the trees. (Though they weren’t quite as bright yet.) As I was leaving and the sun had stopped lighting them up, a couple passed and told me I should go to Skyline Drive if I really want to see beautiful leaves.
Now, I’ve been to Skyline Drive in the past, and it is indeed beautiful. But I’m not going to ignore the gorgeous beauty lit up outside my window just because there’s a more spectacular place an hour away!
Tonight I decided that each bright leaf is like a copper penny.
A lot of people don’t think a penny is worth picking up.
It’s really easy to just drive by and not notice how beautiful the leaves are.
(Though my growing up in southern California helps me to be amazed every year. The leaves all turning at the same time always seems miraculous.)
And I decided that taking pictures of the leaves was a little like picking up the pennies.
Only this way, I could pick up a million pennies, a million little miracles, all at the same time.
It’s that simple. What you see is what you get.