A book of hope
“Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom…possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.” ― Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The past few weeks have been so hectic with the details of moving that I’ve scarcely noticed the summer, except as an occasional annoyance when the heat became intense. There have been a few magical evenings in the York back yard, tending plants and generally soaking up the greenery, but they have been all too rare this year.
Just a little over one year ago, when the grief of losing Jeff was raw and fresh, I kept a long-planned commitment to travel to Oxford, England to study C. S. Lewis. I remember being wracked with anxiety about going overseas, wondering whether I could handle so much travel alone (I was only with classmates for part of my two weeks away) and doubtful of whether I could manage the work load of my summer courses.
As it turned out, the trip to England was a jewel that glimmered in the darkness of a very dark night. The coursework was a fascinating and absorbing distraction, and by sheer coincidence (or maybe not?) two of my fellow students in the class of about 20 were recent widows very close to the same age as me. I will always treasure the memories of our walks and talks, finding understanding with each other that was all too rare in our everyday worlds. Even the subject of our study, C. S. Lewis, was famously bereaved, writing words that have become classics of comfort for people blindsided by the loss of someone very dear.
But above and beyond all of these consolations, the legendary beauty of the English countryside in summer was as therapeutic for me as any remedy could possibly have been. Indeed, I came home with starry-eyed plans of leasing a cottage in the Cotswolds for a few months in the not-too-distant future. Buying a new home has postponed that dream, but I’m still hanging onto it. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I am determined to find some time to get out and enjoy the flowering beauty of midsummer evenings, just before dark, or mornings before the heat has a chance to take hold. If you’ve been able to garden, or travel, or otherwise appreciate the summer, send me some inspiration! The past few years have given me a bit of a love/hate relationship with hope, but like Sáenz, I still want to believe. I’ll keep reading that book of hope, and I’ll welcome your comments on the chapters that mean the most to you.