On Sunday we carried our ceramic Christmas tree–the one Barry’s mom crafted for us many years ago–upstairs from the basement. I discovered some of your hand-crocheted snowflakes and sprinkled them beneath the green tree.
You’ve been my friend since 2009, a blog reader extraordinaire, devouring my stories about trees, nature and our Little House in the Big Woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
At first I knew practically nothing about you. You seemed like you shared of yourself with invisible ink. You gave, gave, gave with your commenting, your support, your encouragement. But when I asked anything about YOU–anything vaguely personal–you deferred. Demurred. Gestured toward something else, anything else. Your message seemed clear: I’m not going to tell you anything about myself.
You sent gifts via snail mail: homemade note cards galore, tea bags, a cinnamon-infused whisk created from tiny branches. You asked to use a few of my photos on your cards. You sent more note cards in the mail. After my 365-day outdoor blog you traveled back through every month and made cards from one photograph each month. I wrote a blog to thank you called Ode to Fountainpen. You gave, gave, gave, didn’t you, dear woman?
As we exchanged notes and letters, you opened the door slightly and shared your real name on the return envelope. Fountainpen lived in the world as a woman named Mary Lou Knapke of Norwood, Ohio. Wrong move, my friend, if you hoped to remain anonymous! I turned to Google to discover the scoop. Who was Fountainpen really?
Turns out you were a Catholic nun in the order of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. I was delighted to discover this. I felt we had a spiritual bond–even though I often called God “The Universe” in my blogs. Apparently that was not enough to turn you off. You never seemed mired in fundamentalism or rigid dogma. Instead, you seemed to be an agent of love, of ministry, of giving, of charity. You often sent out email messages with prayers for the poor, the sick, the trampled, the disenfranchised. You were a missionary of Jesus sending out love with every note card, gift and comment. And you were a missionary for nature, loving the earth with a passion.
Once, during one of my several blogging breaks, you sighed and asked, “Why can’t you see your writing and photography as your calling, Kathy?” I keep coming back to your question as the years pass, thinking about this. Pondering what a calling might be. Wondering more about you and your calling to serve God.
This past Sunday I dug out scraps of paper stock and pictures and started making homemade Christmas cards. What card shall I send you this year, dear Fountainpen? For some reason, I did not create one–nothing seemed quite right.
On Monday morning realized I hadn’t heard from you in about a month. Your last email dated November 2nd expressed delight in my post Breathing with Trees. You included this quote:
Fountainpen, I will miss you.
With love and admiration, Kathy