I have a chestnut in my jeans pocket. I will transfer it to whatever I wear tomorrow. When I put my hand in my pocket (a habit) the chestnut reminds me to pray.
I know. You’re thinking, a chestnut?
My friend Marge and I gathered chestnuts under her trees one morning and a poem came to mind, Luci Shaw’s “To A Winter Chestnut: Five Haiku.” Shaw shows her friendship with Madeleine L’Engle by using the image of a chestnut: ….you/ride my pocket–Christ’s coal for/my five cold fingers.”
Friends are “Christ’s coal” to me. When I’m lost, wandering, and casting about for a landing place, they give warmth and safety. They accept me and give me the space to find my way.
This past summer was not a kind one. I had lost, or given up, major places in my identity. I was edgy, anxious, and needy. I didn’t like myself much. Two friends asked, “What can we do for you?” I said, “Laugh at me and laugh with me.” They did, over a long weekend carved out of busy professional lives. They gave me a gift. They reminded me of who I am.
So I carry this chestnut in their honor, and for others with good hearts, who show up in times of trouble.
Remember “Christ’s coal.” I do. You’re in a spiritual place, this chestnut riding my pocket, warming my cold fingers.