Serendipitous Wisdom

Years ago I attended a conference workshop led by the author of Forgive For Good.  Dr. Fred Luskin had what I considered a reasonable approach to forgiveness.  But I have been reading Home by Marilynne Robinson.  In the context of her novel, I came across some powerful words about forgiveness that seem worth passing on.

            The narrator in Home is Glory, the daughter of her retired pastor father and the sister to Jack, the n’ere do well sibling who unexpectedly returns home after a 20-year absence.  Father and son have struggled with their relationship.  Glory, as she observes them now, recalls her pastor father’s words over the years about forgiveness:

            “You must forgive in order to understand.  Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding…If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand and that is the posture of grace.” 

            In sorting through accumulated cards and letters saved over the years I came across a card filled with kudos to Terry and me for being so kind and helpful to her during a difficult year.  She said she did not know how she would have gotten through without us.  Was this from a former client? Nope.  It was from the business “manager” who ultimately defrauded us, resulting in the loss of our longtime business.  Given how slow we were to catch on, she may have been defrauding us even then.  She had been with us from the beginning and we trusted her implicitly. 

            To refuse to forgive would seem to tie up a lot of energy.  Sometimes there is the implicit expectation that holding on to one’s anger punishes the offender.  She had already taken so much from us.  I did not want to allow her to sap my energy with anger or to take up any space in my life at all.  I remember I prayed for her everyday for a year because that act seemed to keep me in a better space.  I forgave her for my own peace of mind. 

            I appreciate those bits of wisdom that come across our path in serendipitous fashion—the line in a poem….song….novel…a bit of conversation.  And I ponder the words of the fictious pastor:  “….you may indeed still not understand.  But you will be ready to understand and that is the posture of grace.”

 May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus: “Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace.”—Najwa Zebian


As we have been sheltering in place, I have been especially grateful to live in the midst of trees; not just any trees, but the trees that have surrounded us for nearly 30 years.  They feel like old friends, knowing family stories, holding our history in their roots.   Terry grew up on this land.  I can close my eyes and imagine him scampering around the woods, doing chores on the farm, hiking White Oak Mountain up against which our home is built.

These sturdy companions harbor so many memories:

Arbor Day in 1991, daughter Jenna brought home an Ash tree seedling when we were just in the process of building our home here.  Terry showed her how to plant the tree and she followed the instructions with the result that the tree has matured over the years.  Other Ashes have been birthed from the seedlings of her Ash. 

When we built the house, Terry was adamant that we preserve the trees, taking down only those absolutely necessary for the construction of our home.  I have a memory of walking with him in the woods when he pointed out a particular tree (out of hundreds on the property) and said with such devotion and in absolute sincerity, “This is my favorite tree.” He seems to know them intimately.

Years ago, with our woods as witness, Terry and I stood surrounded by friends and celebrated our tenth anniversary with a ceremony renewing our vows.

These staunch sentinels also stand as the silent caretakers of the pets who have crossed “the rainbow bridge,” sheltering the animals laid to rest beneath their protective branches.

So embedded were our woods in Jenna’s consciousness that when she went off to college in Texas, she called home a bit distressed: “They don’t have any trees here!”  Indeed, they do seem to invade our spirits, even inspiring poets.

Here is a favorite I discovered by Michael S. Glaser*, titled “The Presence of Trees”:

I have always felt the living presence
of trees

the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,

as though the woods were marrow of my bone
as though

I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy

beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one

deep in these woods,
that calls

that whispers home

*Glaser was Poet Laureate of Maryland 2004-2009

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

          Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus: Take a picnic out amongst some trees.  For an easy and elegant dessert, cut the top off a strawberry, put it on a skewer, add a bite size brownie, a marshmallow and a second strawberry with the top cut off.  Repeat for the number of skewers you want to take to the picnic.  Lightly drizzle with chocolate or take some chocolate dip to the picnic if you like.  Enjoy the trees and the treats!