The winter darkness closes in, earlier and earlier; a friend lies sick in the hospital, a relative with no health coverage and little income works at a lonely job. My mind is not on small blessings - I am so conscious of the great web of civilization that protects me and provides for me. I am thinking of all the farmers, the truckers, the miners, the electricians and plumbers, the doctors, the sanitation workers... Help! this is too much to comprehend, let alone name. And yet there are those in darkness and uncared for.
It has been a good thing to focus on the small, like beginning a journey with a step. I have less than two weeks more to write, until I will have fulfilled my original intention. What then?
Drawing back from the early darkness of deep winter, I will write a few words about glass. Glass may be a window, through which we see but are protected from the cold and wind. It may be silvered on the back to become a mirror, or beautifully colored to delight our minds, or frosted to transmit light only. It may form a vase or a drinking glass, holding liquids, or be fused and formed into fine art, or made into beads. Precisely curved, it forms lenses. It is used for LEDs and optical fibers and a host of specialized scientific applications. This wonderful substance has been made since the third millennium BC. At its heart, glass is merely melted sand, cooled quickly, but learning to make it clear, flat, and distortion-free was a great undertaking of human technology. What was once a rare and precious substance is now something we take for granted - one of the untold number of small blessings that surround us.