Dear Reader

There are some things I want you to know.

1. While it is true that the mornings are dark these days, if you time things just right, when you are driving from Manchester to White River Junction on a chilly November morning, you can arrive at the foot of Bromley Mountain and get to see snow on the ski hill on your left and the early light of the morning sun filling the immense sky in the valley and just beyond all the hills on your right. There is a good chance that the sunlight in those moments will be several brilliant shades of orange and yellow. And even though it's early and it's cold, there is a chance that all that mountain and snow and light will make your heart expand quite rapidly with joy.

2. If you want to know how to make me cry, come up to me after church on a rough Sunday morning and ask me for a minute of my time. Sit with me in the front of the empty church, on the step, and tell me that you would like to plan some sort of celebration to honor me when I finish getting relicensed early next year. Talk with me for a few minutes about what we have created as a church, how new people have come and stayed, how we are growing when other churches are shrinking. How we are a beautiful group of humans, bound by our love of a mystery and our desire to take good care of each other and by how much we love our little town. 

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3. There is a customer service representative working for Jet Blue who has a very big heart. I hope she answers the phone the next time you call. If you call to tell her that you needed to cancel your flight recently and you can't find the refund information, she will help you track it down, even though your son in Montana has the credit card you used to purchase the flight and even though you can't remember the exact dates you were going to fly. She will be patient with you and use all of her customer service superpowers to find the information you need. She will ask you why you needed to cancel the flight and when you tell her that you were planning to see a friend who is no longer taking visitors because she is too sick and very close to dying, she will tell you the story of how she was with her grandmother when she took her very last breath a few weeks ago. She will make you laugh through your tears while she tells you stories about that grandmother, Roberta, who got that name because her father had had three girls and really wanted a boy and didn't get one and named her Roberta, his name with an a on the end. She will tell you about Roberta's empty seat at Thanksgiving and how she lived her life fully and is probably now very busy in heaven and you will talk about your lives for so long that you will forget that you called to track down a plane ticket refund. "I am going to waive the fee for rebooking and give you back the full amount," she will tell you, "it's the right thing to do." And neither one of you will want to hang up because you were strangers a few minutes ago and now you've bonded over death and sorrow and hope and kindness and generosity.

4. There are people who work every day in office buildings, all day. It's real, I have been living it for the past few days. Every day, at the same time, they arrive at a building and go inside. For the most part it seems they sit in a chair at a desk in front of a computer screen. All day long. They're nice people, well-dressed, accommodating They will point you to the kitchen and the bathroom and the stairway when you get lost. A lot of them have candy on their desk. Some seem more antsy than others. I wonder who came up with this idea, the people in office buildings all day every day all week. As pleasant as the people are, as clean and well-lit as the building, as sweet as the candy, I cannot say I would recommend this as a way to spend the days of a life.

5. If you talk with your children about death and what they might want for their memorial service often enough, there is a chance that after a while they may get creative. They might come up with something as clever as Nate's most recent plan: Cremate me and put my ashes in little containers and give some to everyone who comes to the service and then give them a challenge: I want a little of me to go in each of the fifty states.

6. There is a sweet little song called Our Love by a band with a funny name, Judah & the Lion. The one who I think is called Judah sings this: Like the trees wait for the rains to come, I feel hope in the strength of our love.

I do too. Amen.