bike taxi in Tumen (Laura's favorite)
raft ride on the Tumen river
And it seemed beautiful to me. It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till you're done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent.
Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave - that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful. It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying the same thing.
(My last quotes, I promise, from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.)
There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me. The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn't. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don't know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.
(again, from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson)
Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is that you take care not to trample on it. And that was such a quiet day, rain on the roof, rain against the windows, and everyone grateful, sinceit seems we never do have quite enough rain. At times like that I might not care particularly whether people are listening to whatever I have to say, because I know what their thoughts are. Then if some stranger comes in, that very same place can seem like somnolence and like dull habit, because that is how you're afraid it seems to her.
(another quote from Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson)
My mom sent me this book. I finished it quickly in between grading finals a few weeks ago. It's a plain book about a plain life, but the language in it makes me want to drink it in slowly like a warm cup of milk tea on a cold day. It's just good and satisfying. There's a sticker on the front that says "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize" so I guess that other people agree. Thanks, Mom!