In Leo Lionni’s children’s book Frederick a family of mice prepare for winter. The mice work all summer to store seeds and nuts and straw while Frederick stares out at the meadow feeling the sunlight, taking in the colors. The mice family enters their hovel as snow begins to fall. Deep in winter, after most of the food is eaten, the mice sit in the cold and dark. Here is where Frederick’s gifts shine. He alights their imagination. He sings songs and tells stories to help his family feel the sun, see the textures of summer, remember the beauty of the world in a way that sustains hope.
In my book tour travels I’m hearing the same story over and over: we are overwhelmed, we are scared, we are tired, and the future looks bleak. This is a dark time. This is the season of Frederick. This is the season when we need to listen to what the soul has gathered. One of the great contemplative monks, Brother Lawrence once said, “If you were to tilt your ear and listen to your own soul, you would be surprised!” Part of the despair of this time is that we believe our fears to be substantive and logical while our hopes ridiculous and unserious. But the truth is the future is uncertain. Life is full of surprises. And if you would only tilt your ear, and listen to what you have lived, listen to what you know, you might be surprised and enheartened by the songs and stories that ring within the darkness of your own being. It only takes a little silence or even better, a good question and a listening ear. In gathering after gathering in universities, book stores, churches, and libraries I ask those gathered to share stories from their lives. When we come to the end of our time I ask, “So after listening and sharing stories, what are human beings?” Loveable. Courageous. Curious. Complicated. Creative. Silly. Resilient. Deep. Interesting. Hopeful. And after everyone has given their one word summary there is a quiet. And in that quiet there is gratitude and rest and food for the journey.
I hope you will join us in an upcoming book tour event or sign-up for one of our online trainings. And if you can’t make one of our programs, then find time to gather with friends and share the stories that bring joy.