At my desk here in the basement, beneath the window that looks out at the eastern hemlock, I have a Ball Jar filled with old Berol pencils that I found last summer at a thrift store in Nova Scotia. Next to the jar there is a pink eraser and a small manual sharpener that I use to scrape pencils to a point after they’re worn down.
There is also a clay dish on my desk, just the right size to hold a week’s worth of pencil shavings. The dish is etched with words that Barak Obama used in his acceptance speech in 2008: “While we breathe, we hope.”
The whittling away at pencils corresponds with the time that I spend whittling away at my thoughts. The grain of the wood corresponds with the life of the tree. The clay of the dish gives form to the memory of words spoken to inspire hope.
This morning I read the news of the dozens of Muslims in New Zealand who were murdered while they gathered to pray, and it broke my heart to be so helplessly aware of the unnatural violence made possible by the collision between hatred, ignorance, and envy.
May our thoughts today press into our relationships at hand as marks of love. And may our breaths today be counted as hope for those suffering beneath the same sky in other places.