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"Sharing colors" from Frederick, by Leo Lionni
A friend reminded me of a delightful children's book yesterday. Frederick, written by Leo Lionni, tells the story of a mouse who, while the rest of the mice gather seeds for the winter, sits by himself in the sun. Accused of daydreaming, he informs the other mice that he is gathering sun rays for the cold, dark days. And that's not all. As the harvesting continues, the little mouse adds words and colors to his store. And in the long, dark months underground, it is Frederic with his endless stories and vibrant memories who offers nourishment for the other mice until winter is finally at an end.

My friend is like Frederick. She notices and collects experiences and images, making sense of them, and, much like Mary, the mother of Jesus, ponders them in her heart. There they rest until, engaging in conversations with her friends or spiritual directees, she brings those ponderings out from her treasure chest, nurturing the souls of those she is with.

The process of gathering and storing is also present when I read When On a Summer's Morn, by William Davies, a Welsh poet who spent a significant part of his life as a hobo. It is birdsong that awakens his senses on a summer morning, the "clear, born-singing rills" invite his bird-like spirit out into the sunlit day. Here is a largesses of sound; some of it, like the common leaves humming all day, may even require a different sort of listening. As the day ends, the author returns, heart full of music. I wonder if, like Frederick, the memory of this day, the theme of his own composition, will continue to gladden his heart (perhaps the hearts of others) when the summer has faded.

When on a Summer's Morn
William Henry Davies

When on a summer's morn I wake,
And open my two eyes,
Out to the clear, born-singing rills
My bird-like spirit flies.

To hear the Blackbird, Cuckoo, Thrush,
Or any bird in song;
And common leaves that hum all day 
Without a throat or tongue.

And when Time strikes the hour for sleep, 
Back in my room alone,
My heart has many a sweet bird's song -
And one that's all my own.


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