November Letter: Cardinals & Cool Skies

12 Beautiful Autumn Scenes — Google Arts & Culture
The garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (‘Leaf-Fall’) by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Dear friends,

Rest has arrived at last.

After three and a half months of school with no breaks, it’s strange (and lovely) to revel in the repose this fall break provides. On the evening of my first day of break, I kneeled by my window, letting my soul drink in the beauty of the setting dusk. Relief, gratitude flooded my heart. As my weary eyes roved over the yard, their gaze caught sight of a wisp of scarlet. Perched on a bare tree, stripped of its autumnal glory, was a little bird decked in crimson robes. A cardinal. Something stirred within me – awe, fear, perhaps. I’d seen a cardinal, several weeks before, on that very branch. On a day when I craved a reminder of life’s goodness, I saw it. Birds have held, for a while, a tender space in my heart. Different birds have symbolized different things at different points in my life.

In that moment, as I gazed at the cardinal, shivering with life, its sharp beauty smote my heart. Yet, at the same time, I felt a prick of loss.

If I had not been still in that moment, if I had chosen to sit before the window, if I had not slowed my breath and my mind, I would have missed the sighting.

While I cherished the ability to slow down, I grieved how difficult it was to be still in the throes of everyday life. How the overwhelm, the immediate tasks captivated my full attention, leaving me feeling varying scales of accomplishment, fatigue, and overwhelm. Rarely present.

On evenings while working as a courtesy clerk, helping escort customers to their car, I possess the agency to view many stunning sunsets. While my body is nipped by the wind, my eyes feast on the sky’s luminescent glory. The colors remind me I have sight. The icy wind reminds me I am alive.

“Walk slowly,” an elderly woman had urged me, after I’d helped her to her car, “Enjoy it.”

I walk slowly. And, oh, my friends, it has made all the difference.

Today, I cry for a more profound integration of beauty and stillness into our daily life. I cry for a sight we have lost for this beauty. I cry for our inability to walk slow.

Beloved soul, live like a cardinal. Cultivate an eye for beauty, feel the grass, feel the wind, feel the air.

Shiver with life.

from the journal

  • I made carrot cake for the first time (and it turned out beautifully!). ‘Twas a delightful way to celebrate the break.

  • November has always been my favorite month (just as Thursday is my favorite day). Cloudy, cosy, oh so lovely…


Famous Autumn Paintings Created by Famous Artists | DailyArt Magazine
Childe Hassam, Autumn Boulevard, Paris, private collection. Christie’s.

Lyrics of May You Find a Light

Lost and weary traveler
Searching for the way to go
Stranger, heavy-hearted
Longing for someone to known

May you find a light
May you find a light
May you find a light to guide you home

There are weary travelers
Searching everywhere you go
Strangers who are searching
Longing deeply to be known

May you find a light
May you find a light
May you find a light to guide you home

May you find a light
May you find a light
May you find a light to guide you home


  • Dead Poets Society (also, my favorite movie on earth). This deeply moving film tells the story of several boys at a rigid prep school and the way in which a renewed view of poetry, efforted by a new English teacher, alters their perspectives and their lives. Poignant, joyful, touching… I wrote about it last year, if you’d like to learn more. 🙂

  • Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping. Two well-beloved romantic comedies which offer a fun way to de-stress.

*Hint: The viewing pleasure is increased with the addition of apple cider/hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies.

poem of the month

Wisdom 7:15-22, 8: 1, from the Wisdom Book 

[F]or wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
mobile, clear, unpolluted,
distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen,
irresistible, beneficent, humane,
steadfast, sure, free from anxiety,
all-powerful, overseeing all,
and penetrating through all spirits
that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.
For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
For she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
She is more beautiful than the sun,
and excels every constellation of the stars.
Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail.

She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she orders all things well.

Pre-Raphaelite art in London: Where to see paintings in the capital |  London Evening Standard | Evening Standard
The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse, 1888.

How has your November been? Have you found repose amidst this busy season? What do you do (or plant to do) to practice stillness and look for beauty?

Comment on the blog or email me your thoughts. I love to hear from you.

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  • Reply Aunt Judy

    Does the painting below the poem have a name?

    November 29, 2021 at 10:11 pm
    • Reply abigailblessing

      Yes! It’s The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse. 🙂

      November 30, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    Leave a Reply to abigailblessing Cancel Reply

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