Something funny happened yesterday. The events themselves weren't funny at all, but I found something funny in there before I went to sleep last night.
I have been getting bad news about my car for the past several weeks, but yesterday I got really bad news about my Passat wagon. I had to go pick her up from the guys who were trying to fix her because her most recent ailment is out of their range of work, so I brought her home and parked her out front. "I'm sorry, Velma," I told her, "I'm sorry you've been so sick."
We named her Velma when we got her two years ago. Our last car was Patsy, a white TDI wagon. Velma, of course, because she is the brains behind the Scooby-Doo gang. Patsy was white and reminded us of white patent leather shoes. We named her Patsy for Patsy Cline. We didn't go out driving after midnight very often, but we sang the song a lot when we were tooting around in Patsy.
Next came Velma, who has not been well.
Last night I received a message from Sam in Lake Tahoe. He told me that his good buddy had taken a terrible fall at the mountain during the day and was on his way to the hospital in Reno. "My friend Shaggy fell really really hard skiing today," he said.
It was a bad day for Shaggy and Velma.
Shaggy is doing better and will be OK. Velma's repairs will be very expensive, but she'll be back on the road eventually, too.
The funny thing is that I was already thinking about writing about a weird little name thing that happened last week.
When I looked back over the week, I realized that I had received help, in unexpected ways from three friends. I thought about how they had shown up in my life with messages I needed at precisely the right time. Their names: Polly, Molly and Dolly.
I truly am not making this up.
Polly sent me a photo of the ocean from her home on Martha's Vineyard on a day when she wasn't feeling all that great. It spurned me to think about bodies of water and my life and where things are headed these days. Polly's love and the image were just what I needed to realign my heart and head that day.
Molly is someone I met through Polly. She sent me a message last week about what's happening in her life and she said some very kind words about my book, which she had just finished reading. Molly is going through some things I went through not that many years ago, and I felt grateful that my experience could be useful for her. And I was deeply grateful for her benevolent message about my writing. I needed that reminder because...
Folks have been asking when I am going to write another book, and the truth is that it's already under formation in my head, but I don't wish to create another book on my own, so I have been hoping an agent or a publisher would knock on my door one day, and I could invite him or her in for tea. It hasn't happened though I feel I have been patient, albeit frustrated. When I spoke with my friend, Dolly, last week, she suggested I get in touch with the folks who own the local bookstore, for guidance.
Which I did, which resulted in a very nice lunch with the owner of the local bookstore which resulted in some very good ideas about how to proceed toward Book Number Two. And a connection with an agent, which could be a long shot. Or maybe not.
Velma and Shaggy. Both in for repairs.
Polly, Molly and Dolly. All three, in one week, watching over me and guiding me where I need to go.
I don't think that I'm the only one whose life is punctuated by humorous vignettes, by delightful coincidences and enchanting surprises. Keep a close watch for these things; they tend to sneak in when you're focused on the stuff that's not going very well.
I encountered the most beautiful poem recently, by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It's a thick one and requires several reads in order that it settle into your bones, but the last line leaves me in tears every time. Hang in there.
Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
The rains came. They come, they do. Just not always in ways you thought they would. Amen.