Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Edith Wharton Morning, a post by Nancy L. Agneberg

Reading and writing in bed on a cold, cold morning is the height of luxury as far as I am concerned. I gather my journal and the book I am currently reading as part of my meditation and reflection time, along with a letter or two to write and maybe, if the day ahead is really spacious, also the book I am reading for pleasure. In this case, that book is the amazing The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. 
     I call this time an Edith Wharton Morning. 
     Edith Wharton was a prize winning American novelist, short story writer and designer who lived from 1862 to 1937, a time of graciousness for those who could afford it. When I visited her home The Mount, an open to the public museum, in Lenox, Massachusetts, I stood in her bedroom and imagined breakfast being delivered to her in the morning by a maid who obviously didn't have quite the same gracious life. Edith, no doubt, was wearing some sort of frilly bed jacket (Do they even exist any more?) and asked the maid to bring her her writing and reading materials after she had opened the heavy drapes, giving Edith a view of her famous gardens. One of Edith's good friends was the equally famous American writer, Henry James, and they wrote to each other faithfully over the years. I imagine her also responding to written invitations to tea or a dinner party and in turn inviting others to dine. Perhaps she wrote a thank you note or two, for one did that promptly and diligently in those days. 
     If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, and I certainly hope you are, you will no doubt envision Lady Grantham in bed in the mornings while the rest of the family, dressed and ready for the day, is served breakfast in a dining room.  
     My Edith Wharton Mornings are not quite the same as what I have described. No one brings me a breakfast tray or opens heavy drapes. I am in flannel pajamas and later will have to make the bed myself. However, like Edith, before entering the day, the world, I spend quiet time connecting both with myself and with others in my world. A birthday card here, a note in response to a Christmas letter there, a word of sympathy and love to another. I don't know if Edith used that quiet time for prayer, but my Edith Wharton Mornings are also for prayer. Prayers rise from my heart as I lean back into my pillow. 
     I first named these favorite "slow to enter the day" mornings as Edith Wharton Mornings after my cancer surgery 10 years ago. We lived at Sweetwater Farm then and the view from bed was of our gardens and the back pasture.  Sometimes the goats or llamas or even Asa the donkey would be in view. My bedside table contained all I needed--the books and journal and writing materials. All my thank you notes for the many kindnesses shown during that time were written during those easy mornings. A slow morning was part of the healing. I measured my strength by the length of the time in bed, eventually returning to the former routines of getting up and dressing right away and leaving the bedroom, bed made, laundry in my arms for the washer. 
     Current Edith Wharton Mornings are a matter of choice--a choice that was not in the viewfinder when I was in the midst of raising a family and working full time. Most mornings now I am at Curves by 6 and have already made the bed, but sometimes a slower pace is desired or perhaps even needed. I am grateful for the privilege of choice in my life and realize that I don't exercise it as often as I could. I often move through my days as if I was still in those crazy, busy, and yes, special days of my life. This is a new and yes, a special time of my life; a time when "shoulds" are not as dominant and a time that allows for spaciousness, for choice of how I want to enjoy my time, for Edith Wharton Mornings. 
     What new choices are possible in your life now? In what ways are you living the way you have always lived? Is it time to consider new choices?    


  1. This post has perfect timing. Thanks, Nancy!

    1. I'm so glad. How lovely to see your name!! Nancy


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