My mama once told me of a place
With waterfalls and unicorns flying
Where there was no suffering, no pain
Where there was laughter instead of dying
I always thought she’d made it up
To comfort me in times of pain
But now I know that place is real
Now I know its name

Lyrics to “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (Salt Lake City), Book of Mormon


        How mortified my children would be to see me taking a picture from my airplane leaving Salt lake City today.  (We laugh at “those” people – yikes.  Shame on us.)

        I woke early this morning, after far too little sleep, and dressed in the dark. Last minute, I grabbed my newly acquired yellow cashmere sweater off the shelf, one of many I have accumulated from my mother’s closet. It was handy, and I thought of Raelynn, half-thinking I would wear it just in case I got to see her.

        As luck would have it, I did.  My flight landed early and my layover in Salt Lake was long enough to run by the “Express Spa” for her amazing work, the best upper neck and shoulder chair massage ever. As always, she said, “It’s good to see you.”

        I saw her a few weeks ago, again passing through. She complimented my orange cable knit sweater and told me how much she loved it. It was particularly soft and she relished the feel of it. I told her it had been my mother’s and was one of about a hundred my sister and I were sorting through. I explained that, at the end of my mom’s life, with so much closing in on her, she continued to enjoy beautiful things and had acquired an almost obscene collection of cashmere. “I understand,” she explained.  “I would like one for every day of the year.”

        Raelynn clearly recognizes the beauty that surrounds her. She spoke today about the mountains, the trees in bloom, and spring weather in the air.

        Here’s the thing. Raelynn is blind. 

        At first, I was uncomfortable: how to greet her, whether to explain who I am. Now, I am simply inspired.  Her love of nature, her uplifting exchanges with strangers, the good work she does on sore travelers’ muscles. I am inspired by her vision of beauty, described with conviction but mostly imagined. 

       As my plane left Salt Lake, I found myself glued to the window, awed by the beauty of the magnificent landscape. Jagged white peaks meet the edge of the sun-drenched high desert landscape and the city below. The great salt lake, still, aqua, and blue. It’s hard to imagine such beauty only a short flight from the dank Chicago dawn I left behind.

        Thinking about Raelynn 10,000 feet below, I pulled out my phone and took the picture. A big fat tourist seeing it for the first time because, in many ways, I was. 

 “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” ― Helen Keller 

Today’s practice: Pause. Breathe. And make this a mantra of sorts.  Remember the word sankalpa, the  “I am” intention:

 “I am facing the sun…”  (if I cannot see the sun, I imagine it as beautiful!)

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Paula


  2. Jen Pen

    I. Take. So. Many. Photos.
    Your kids would be aghast.

    I have one cashmere sweater. It’s gray. It was my dad’s when he was about 60 years younger and many sizes smaller. It had been shrunk in the wash by accident. I love it for the warmth, softness, and cuz it was his. He is alive and I usually tell him the days I am taking “him” with me. Since I also live in cold Chicago you’ll probably see me wearing the sweater this summer.

  3. Jay Sidebotham


    Thanks, Elinor.

    Keep up the good work

  4. Molly Flavin

    keep it up! wonderful post.

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