I am writing in bed in a Super 8 Motel in Amsterdam, New York. This town has a road system that feels too complex for its size, all the 21st century American retailers just outside of the historic town, and rows of beautiful old, and well-kept, Victorians. It also has tonight plenty of silence and dark spaces and pouring rain. Returning from a simple evening meal at Panera I got out of the car to the unmistakable smell of cow dung. Bovine excrement. Call it what you want and it smells just as . . . [fill-in-the-blank]. The thing about it is this (which I share at the risk of offending everyone I know and don't know), is that I love that smell. Oh my God I am serious. I do. It brings me back to my uncle's farm in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, Eire. It somehow reminds me powerfully that I am part of this earthly reality, and that that fact, and that reality itself, are very good things indeed. It reminds that all of this is God-honest, dirt-rockin' real. This planet smells, and therefore it is alive.
I began this day in New York and end it now in New York. The day began in Shoreham on the north shore of Long Island. The ferry from nearby Port Jefferson carried the dog and I to Bridgeport, Connecticut. From there I drove to Somerville, Massachusetts, to visit my mother who is recovering from a recent fall. My brother Terry and I had lunch with her. It felt good. Then off to my friends in Arlington and to the barber and into the car with my traveling companion, and westward ho!
One thought beams brightly clear from this day: from the sky, so various in its aspects, cloud shapes changing, light pouring down followed by rain. Myriad greens blooming either side of the road on superhighways and little byways. Human faces of every age and background at rest stops. Smiles and tears. Conversation waxing and waning. Recollections of the past and hints of possible futures. The one thought is this: how stunningly beautiful is creation. All of it and everything in it. What gifts God gives us. How do we even come to terms with it? How do we forget its forever-newness? How do I cry out with joy every time I step outside? How?
Thank you Lord.
Tomorrow: from Amsterdam to . . . .
[Below; Mary and John McGinty today at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville MA; and below below Mary and Terence McGinty at the same locale].