Slice of life

by Meg Heiman

I’m thankful for the wood burner tonight. I’m up late, which is rare for me. But I need to sit by the fire tonight. The rocking chair is upside down, used earlier in the day as an entrance to a blanket fort. I turn the chair upright and drag it near the fire. I grab the poker and disrupt the log on top to encourage flame. And I rock. <BR><BR>The tragedy occurring on the other side of the world is beyond comprehension. Daily the death toll climbs. I try to calculate all the people I ever came in contact with over the course of my life - friends, relatives, acquaintances, the lady behind the counter at the custard shop, the substitute teachers I had in fourth grade, the man who cashed my first paycheck, and such. I estimate that number to be a few thousand. Then I realize that fifteen - more likely twenty - times that number lost their lives in the span of a day. My mind reels. I add two more logs to the fire. <BR><BR>I stare into the flames and put my thoughts on auto pilot. Interestingly, an image of a rhubarb patch in the alleyway beside a neighbor’s garage surfaces. How odd. I must have been eight or nine when that image left its imprint. Perhaps this is how the mind works. When its system is overloaded, it reverts back to the trivial, everyday, mundane. <BR><BR>I recall earlier in the day telling my children about what was happening on the other side of the world. They paused momentarily to listen to what I had to say, asked a question or two, then went back to their blanket forts and snow ball caches and wooden block mazes for the hamster. <BR><BR>Cognitively, children’s minds aren’t developed enough to process such information. I question whether or not my own mind is. Through television, internet, newspapers, magazines we are connected to the other side of the world. Their tragedy is ours. We mourn the loss of so many and feel sorrow for the survivors. Yet my emotions feel a little flat. Theirs seems a two dimensional world. Am I or the media to blame? Am I expecting too much? I stop wrestling with my thoughts and focus on the fire. It’s hissing now.<BR><BR>I close my eyes. My mind, unable to process the present and experiencing a swing and a miss with the past, shifts to the future. I’ll spend a couple days soon with some old friends, and this thought and a song run simultaneously through my head. Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? I lean forward to adjust the air flow to the fire; the hissing stops. <BR><BR>Now I rock in time to the song running through my head. When I get to the words ‘we’ll drink a cup of kindness, yet’ I stop rocking. These beautiful words become a prayer. To the survivors and the helpers on the other side of the world, may they drink a cup of kindness, yet. <BR><BR>And we on this side of the world, what are we to do? So connected yet disconnected to insurmountable tragedy - what are we to do but pray and tend to our fire, and share a cup of kindness, yet.<BR><BR>A CUP OF KINDNESS<BR><BR>This recipe is a variation of Laurie Calwin’s recipe found in More Home Cooking.<BR><BR>Into the bottom of a large mug, put one large spoonful of honey and one cinnamon stick. Slice half a lemon into thin slices and put those in. Do the same with half an orange. Now squeeze in the remaining lemon; add the juice from one more lemon. Fill mug with hot water and stir. <BR><BR>