Surprises at my door ...
I brought them inside. One was a priority mail package, and the handwriting tipped me off. It was from a very special friend, and contained something I desperately needed, but for which I had not asked. It was another mark of our friendship, and of a connection that continues to amaze and move me. I stood there for a moment, grateful for the presence in my life of such a friend, of a relationship that has endured for more than 45 years, which gives me both a sense of continuity and continually renews and refreshes my heart.
The larger package, light for its size, came with a printed label, and no return address. It was clearly in a re-used box. I had no idea what it might hold as I carefully cut through the packing tape.
Inside was a note, which, while it shed some light on the source, still did not fully prepare me for the contents I would find beneath the wadded packing paper. When I first saw this item, it was in a preview of items being auctioned to benefit Friends of Pets in Anchorage, Ak. I fell in love with it, but declined to bid on it due to some financial pressures. But there it was on the preview page, and though I would not be bidding for it, I kept going back to look at it over and over again, enchanted by its whimsy, and, of course, delighted that it depicted a crow.
While I know who sent this to me, I don't know specifically everyone who was involved. I am the co-owner of a computer mailing list, and a bunch of the folks on the list saw my comment on this item on Facebook, and got together and made pledges toward the winning bid for it. I'm moved and amazed that they did this, and I love this little piece of folkart.
I sat at the kitchen table for a long time, with the contents of these two surprise packages in front of me. I felt stunned. And humbled. And, oddly, a little guilty, as I almost always do when someone gives me something. I kept touching the gifts. I picked them up, and put them back down. I stroked them and turned them over in my hands. I wondered what I had done to deserve such unexpected and generous demonstrations of friendship. Further, I wondered if, in fact, I did deserve them at all.
My tea grew cold as I sat there. And while I sat there, Crow came over to me and interrupted my thoughts by poking her head under my hand. I looked down at her and saw again the age on her dear face, right alongside the always-present, and ageless brightness in her eye. She was not, as one might expect, asking for me to pet her and bestow my affection upon her. She was, as I knew, asking me to take a moment to make space to allow her to give me hers - her regard, her friendship, her joy in our relationship. My hand remained resting on her head while I lowered my face to hers so she could, as was her desire, lick me. It would crush her to have me deny her this frequent ritual. I have learned, whether I am busy or not, to take that moment she's requesting, that it isn't about her wanting something from me, but instead, about what she wants to give to me. I never occurs to me to ask if I deserve it. I simply accept it. It is resident in our regard for one another. It is something that she wants to do, maybe even needs to do, and clearly something that pleases her in the doing.
Once again it is Crow who leads me to a deeper understanding. As I cleared away the packing materials, and picked up my lovely surprises to put them in a safer place, the gratitude I felt was clean. Instead of asking why, I simply bow my head and am grateful for the kindness in people, and for the wonderful, always slightly surprising, gift of friendship in my life.