agnestirrito

"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


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Friday’s Five: December

Today I left the house wearing a Santa hat. Last minute decision, but it is December and it was a bone chilling 27 degrees.

I think it changed my interactions with people because after all… red velvet with huge white pompom is a distraction.

I was able to continue a gift giving tradition Sam started years ago. Today wasn’t the day I planned to do it, but the opportunity came and I was quite happy knowing this took place with me wearing Santa gear. People were inconvenienced for a moment because this impromptu event took place on a country road and cars were delayed momentarily, but not one person honked. And the recipient…delighted. Hat, perhaps??

Onward to a rosary group. Lots of prayers said for lots of people with women who are deeply different but connected in prayer. While there, cardinals kept coming to the feeder. Brilliant reds.

Then, a low tire pressure stop at a garage. The attendant wished me Merry Christmas as I left…I am positive it was the hat. Positive. Makes people feel happier. Joyful. Merry. Isn’t that a great word?

The lights of the season are everywhere. Store windows, interstate tree groupings, hotel reception areas. So welcoming.

The little things that invite us to be better versions of ourselves. December, you delight.

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Friday’s Five

4:30am. Still dark out. Wide awake after five hours of good sleep. Sometimes we need more, sometimes less. Happy to awaken early on this Black Friday. Lots to do. On the list:

Put all the random buttons I find today in a glass jar I saved. When will I use said buttons? Maybe this will be the year. All sorts of random things reside here with me: bits of paper, keys to long abandoned locks…maybe they will find their rightful places today.

Take a 30-gallon trash bag to the end of the driveway and fill it up with all the litter people insist on discarding: ice bags, beer cans, cigarette packaging, plastic bottles…

…there is a danger for that to sour my spirit, so while I’m out there, I will hang wreaths at the edge of the drive. Collect nandinas and holly. Cut pine and cedar and arrange a bucket or two of fresh cuttings to welcome this most beautiful time of year. Do you hear it? The whisper of Christmas coming. The preparation that involves no shopping today.

Of course I am a consumer. Too much so, in fact. But not today. Today I hope to exist in silence and solitude. My lists are in progress. I will likely add to them throughout the day. Little things.

The woodstove needs cleaning. A fire burned bright the last couple of evenings, but Texas being what it is, we might hit 80 next week. So, time to clean and stack and lay kindling for the future. Notice the oak and pecan. Discern the colors as I place each piece. Feel the weight of it. The beauty waiting to explode with the scratch of a match sometime down the road.

The dogs will want to play. And eat extra treats. They will be happy I am not leaving on any errands today. They always hear when I open any door. They never fail to greet me.

Somewhere there is a container of ornaments I have lost. Maybe today will be the day I find them. And as I search, I will pay attention to the many things I have too many of, and I will share. I will line up little cardboard boxes and begin.

I look at the calendar and see that in three short weeks, I’ll get to greet my daughter home for the holidays. The thought of that moment motivates me today. The getting ready. The paying attention to little details. The creating of a space so that when she arrives she feels it, too–the “it” that costs nothing, involves no shopping, the “it” that we do to welcome that feeling that has no price.


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In Lieu of Friday’s Five–Random Strangers Sharing their Lives in the Checkout Line Today

Today there was a man a couple of customers ahead of me in line at a local store. He was placing a cartload of hangers– 70 or 80 plastic aqua ones– on the conveyer belt. A stranger behind him made a comment I couldn’t hear, but he answered Yeah, my wife wants to change out  all the hangers. Here I am. The things we do for love. 

I can imagine his wife standing in front of her closet, waiting for him to come back home. Banishing those plain white hangers. Lining every garment up just so. Are  the clothes laid out on the bed? Has she counted to make sure she has the right amount? Why aqua? Why today?

I cannot imagine why he is the one sent to get them. Maybe she was at a critical point in the purging process. Maybe they argued. Maybe this was a set-things-right trip. Maybe he’s a good guy and offered. Maybe he was out and she called and said Bring me 80 aqua hangers. Aqua. You know like blue or green but not. K. Love u. 

This was all he had in his cart. Hangers. And then he reached over and threw in a candy bar for good measure. He’ll eat that before he gets out of the parking lot. Secret reward. 

Are the hangers just for her clothes? Do they share a closet? Why aqua? Why now? Why am I writing about this? 

My turn comes. How are you? I ask the cashier. 

She answers, Well, I hate when people ask me that because they don’t really want to know.

Well, lay it on me, I tell her. 

My back hurts…I think I screwed it up nine years ago when I fell on some ice. 

 We get interrupted for a second. She calls another clerk over to help her colleague in the next aisle. 

Can you believe this? He is leaving here to go in the Marines in two weeks, but he can’t ring up wine and beer. He’s only 19. I sure would buy him a beer if he wanted one. My son was in the Army. He died in 2011.

Ma’am. I cannot imagine. 

Honey, I would not want you to.

She’s wiping away tears. Looks me in the eye. Shrugs. Rings my remaining items. 

Yeah, I fell down on some ice. Hurts worse when I sit down. Glad to be standing up. You have a good weekend now. 

Yes ma’am. You too. You, too.

Stories and strangers and seconds long conversations every shift. Every day. 

I keep thinking about those aqua hangers though. And now that image is connected with a kid I never knew who never came home. And he won’t be buying aqua hangers for any woman. And his mama will  tell a story about him that maybe she didn’t expect to tell. And now you’ll know it too. And I’ll wish I could have bought that man a beer. 

And on it goes. 


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Friday’s Five

It is four months until Christmas. Yes, I keep track. 

Kisses from an eleven month old who lavishes them on demand. 

A two year old’s outstretched hand…and little voice saying, C’mon Loulou.

Knit blanket almost ready to send to #welcomeblanket project for immigrants.

Netflix nights.

And, while I sit in a comfortable spot writing tonight, my prayers are with the folks across southeast Texas who are bracing for Hurricane Harvey. Latest tracking shows it’s a Category 4. Pray for Texas. 


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Friday’s Five

This past week I sat with my friend D who reminded me yet again that it is time to write the book. The book she told me I needed to write when she found out I was getting ready to walk a terrible and tragic path. The book she brings up from time to time, but never more forcefully than this past week. You have the time now, friend. 

And, as most true friends have the tendency to be, she is right. So, in the spirit of internet accountability, I share my intention here. I also ask a favor of whatever  group of humans might read this post: pray for me, please. Pray that I will discipline myself to write daily, that I will write clearly and true, and that one day my words will find the right people and help them.

I know that God has a way of making the most amazing things happen, and I know He has set me up with time to write this year. He continues to put people in my path who show me this book is needed. He is persistent. 🙂

He has shown me that I have a tendency   to sabatoge my plans by letting myself get too busy. He gave me the gift of realizing that, and He keeps showing me in ways that only He can that now is the time. So, I humbly began writing out the first pages of thoughts and outlines and notes. 

I have a long way to go. A lot of word counts to meet. A lot of pages to turn. And rewrites. And edits. I am pretty sure this is not going to come easily. I am almost positive some of the remembering and reconstructing is going to be hard. 

But I am beginning in faith. I know if God intends for this book to be written, it will be written. I have committed to meet Him halfway in this and show up with the pencil. He has been patient on His end, but I know He has a sense of humor. Lately He’s been whispering the reminder that Look, we don’t have forever for this. Get on with it. 

He is the centerpiece of my story, my life, my “one day to be” book. 

I ask Him every day to let others see Him in me. He gave me a love for writing and words a long time ago. It seems He is going to let me use something I love to tell about what He can do for all of us. 

So, I still hope to post my weekly reasons for gratitude (probably the short form–unlike tonight’s bolded words), and I’ll of course let this page take whatever twist and turn seems fitting. One day, God willing, I’ll show up here to tell you the manuscript is ready. Then we’ll pray for a publisher. 

On second thought, go ahead and get busy on that prayer, too: agent/editor/publisher and anybody else I’m going to need. As God reminds me, it’s time to get this show on the road. 

Peace. Love. Action. Amen. 


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Sunday’s Song: Silence

I’m sitting in a favorite spot tonight–home–on my back porch. We have had a ton of rain and the frogs and crickets are competing. There’s a concert happening. 


Just a few seconds of Sunday silence and nature’s song from a TX backyard. 

How can such peace carry with it a sadness? Tonight, it does. 

I think of people who woke a day ago and called a friend or two, gathered some dollar store torches, spewed hate onto the streets of Charlottesville. They are responsible for the loss of life. Humans who won’t get to hear the sweet sounds I’m hearing tonight.

I struggle with the hate some people carry inside themselves. I feel it myself because I want to grab these extremists and shake them, slap them, scream at them. 

How can a human being go so far down a wrong path? How can anyone stand by and let them continue?

My heart is heavy tonight, and that is rare for me. I truly feel the hate in our world. I feel it like a weight upon my soul. 

I think of the innocents who will never enjoy the freedom I enjoy tonight. I think of the ones who hate so soundly they have never been truly free– and will never be. 

Hate is poison. We cannot be silent in the face of it.

My words are not eloquent tonight. I am tired. Hate wounds us all, even when we are far from it. It changes us, and we must fight against it at every opportunity.

No more hate. 


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Friday’s Five

Five little things from the past few days that remind me I am a human on this earth:

babies’ laughter…

my daughter’s text from 5,000 miles away…

my son’s hugs…

a sacred medal mailed from a beautiful friend named (appropriately) Care…

a late night phone call from a friend decades younger in real years, but our soul years are sort of the same…

…our connections sustain us. They are the most beautiful and treasured gifts we have on this earth. Cherish your people.