A thing of beauty is a joy forever

We talk on the phone for hours, usually, and this time just 15 minutes. But this dear, far-away friend passed on the name of a little book - 31 Days of Praise - that is reshaping my winter. It does for your soul what the wheel blocks in the car wash do for your car: locks you into place, a certain trajectory, so that you can be scrubbed clean again. Praise is the scrub brush.

For rashy pink cheeks in afternoon sun, for a boy still sleeping after I sneak my arm out from under his blond head, I praise you.

For cousin's hands aching for his own baby, filled for the moment with a new nephew. For the soft texture of a baby's sweater and the glow of Christmas trees still lit in late January, I praise you.

For yellow frosting and the small motor skills to frost cookies, I praise you.

For buns in little girl hair, and white afternoon light, I praise you.

For Grandma and uncles and cousins, all happy at the frosting table. For family Christmases, even if they're late, I praise you.

For the teeniest of little mouths, resting in mother's arms. For a mother healed of the worst possible pregnancy complications, still here to hold this babe, I praise you.

For little boy blue with his frosting fingers, I praise you.

For sweet seven year old grins and piles of cookies, I praise you.

For brave babies in helmets on big icy sledding hills, I praise you.

For tentative toddlers who wait at the top and keep their photography-crazed aunt company, I praise you.

For 40 some years of bliss on hills, I praise you.

For first lost teeth, and fairy dreams, and brown-eyed grins, I praise you.

A good day, beginning, middle and end. A rarity. For this, I praise you.