To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord,
that he might be glorified. — Isaiah, 61 3
The cardboard box is open on the floor. Olive the editor cat investigates it as cats do. Around the box, her many simple furred, feathered and belled gifts are strewn like a child’s on Christmas morning. Olive still looks in the box as if it is, as boxes often are, a favorite cat toy.
On the couch to my left are my gifts from the box. A new bible and the means to read and remember it. A box of “Texas Chewie Pecan Praline.” Other items of the gift are small and beautiful; all of the season. Then there is the mother’s long and heartfelt letter telling of how she took her daughters out of school to watch the funeral train of GHWB pass by them in their Texas town; a day that will make a memory to last a lifetime, and not a trivial one.
Then, enclosed, but not least, is a letter from her youngest daughter, written in that freely formed printing that we learn to write in and sadly forget, “Hello my name is Isabel and my mommy, sister, and I want to get you and your kitty some things. down below I will list the things we got you. PS. God bless you *” A note in the upper left corner as an afterthought reads, in smaller print, “I am sorry if I didn’t get every thing.”
But it, the letter itself, is itself every thing; every needful thing. It stands, in its simple elegant beauty, for all the things you have all given to me over the last few weeks. Your gifts, here and in the mail and elsewhere, have been such a waterfall of blessings, such a rainstorm of revelation about all of you and the humanity your gifts represent that should I work from dawn to dusk for years I will never be able to thank all of you, known and unknown, enough to be equal to it. But I will, in my halting way, try to do so.
In the meantime, I will, as I did in these last few moments, weep with gratitude and feel overwhelmed by these unexpected and unbidden blessings that have rained over me. I did not know this sort of love existed. I did not know.