Saturday, October 20, 2007

Aaaaah, A Day Away... (and Annie Dillard)

A day off on my own is a rarity. Especially on a Saturday, on which I usually sleep in until 11-12 and rest most of the day. However, this Saturday I was up and out of the door by 7:15 as E needed to be in Clairemont Mesa (45 miles away) by 8:15 for our school's PSAT testing. I dropped her off, paid the $20 fee, and after a quick stop at WalMart (where I bought nothing), I found a Starbucks, bought an apple fritter and popped one of my own English Breakfast with Pomegranite teabags into a free vente hot water (I know, CHEAP! CHEAP! CHEAP!). I relaxed first over my prayer book while the tea cooled, praying and reading the appointed Psalms for the twentieth morning (Psalms 102 and 103).

Then I had two and a half hours until I had to pick E up again from the church where the PSAT was being held. So I graded one set of papers for my Advanced (honors) writing class and also read the first chapter of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard which I am discussing with our literary group at Lake Murray Community Church next Sunday (28th). I so enjoy her writing -- it's so densely written, so richly expressed -- she explores nature in a way that's sacramental without being religious. Know what I mean? Dillard easily sees "otherness" in all that she observes so minutely, and she considers what she sees do deeply that her writing feels like a psalm of praise without being sappy or sentimental in the least -- not at all! I can tell that Thoreau is her hero; she mentioned him twice in the first chapter, and from works of his that I read in grad school. Dillard truly is a modern-day Thoreau in her attention to detail and in her willingness to learn of nature, to not just admire and enjoy it but to allow nature to take her beyond what she observes into a metaphysical universe. I thought it extremely interesting that in the first chapter, Dillard used the word "mystery" seven times, four times on a single page. And that's what her writing is about -- it stretches past blackbirds and creeks and sunsets to a sense of mystery and otherness. I admire Dillard's attention to detail and her deep thinking, and I'm truly looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

So I enjoyed my three hours at Starbuck's, quietly considering and thinking, praying and reading, grading and encouraging. After I picked up E, we did some thrift store shopping and made a couple of stops at different WalMarts as I tried to find a knee-length black skirt -- with no luck! But we had a nice time together, and that's not something we girls get to do often.

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