This room will be my new office after one more coat of paint on the walls. It had been painted in primary colors. The ceilings were yellow with red stripes. The wall you see was green.
13 August, 2000

Dear Friend,
. . . Tomorrow is my last day as managing editor of Image Journal. The publisher, his wife, the four children, and the journal's offices will soon be in a 21-foot U-Haul truck traveling cross country from the small town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania to the bustling city of Seattle, Washington.
. . . I have no immediate plans for steady work. There are five different websites on which I may be working. That, I hope, will pay the bills and leave time enough for me to work on the house we just bought here in Delaware and to start writing in earnest.
. . . I have several writing projects in mind but find it difficult to mention any particular project. They are all in the formative phase when commitment is sought but not yet found. It's like love; eventually commitment blossoms or not at all. Right now I'm just fooling around. If you want to know about any of these projects, all I'll tell you is, "We're just friends."
. . . What I want immediately is a place to work. For eighteen years I've had my own place to work, either a business location or a home office. As I compose this letter, I'm sitting in our guest room. My computer sets on a small folding table; I sit on metal folding chair. This, I tell myself, is a temporary situation. In a week, I tell you, I'll be set up in my newly painted office.
. . . Once that happens, you'll see some truly marvelous observations flying across the Internet. Once I'm settled in my nest, surrounded by my books, the tools of my trade within easy reach, a cat sleeping in the sun, then, I tell you, you'll see some memorable prose jumping off these keys into the heart of America, with a paragraph or two left over for the Bahamas. Just you wait!
. . . While you're waiting, tell me this. I want to know what you think about some questions to which I'd like better answers than I've heard so far.
First off, will it make much difference whether Bush or Gore is elected? Ann Richards, a fire-breathing Democrat, was followed by George W. Bush as governor of Texas. George, you may have noticed, is the Republican nominee for President of the United States.
. . . While living in the great state of Texas ("bigger than France"), I failed to notice any great difference between Ann's governorship and George's. Ann was more flamboyant -- not a word easily stuck on George -- but otherwise executions, for example, seemed just as plentiful under one regime as another.
. . . Secondly, tell me this. Last night a friend suggested that some people keep their neighborhoods trashy to keep them affordable. I've been known to make a similar observation: if you want affordable housing, bring in drugs and crime.
. . . My question to you is this: if the price of housing is skyrocketing through the roof (leaving a hole for a new skylight), where can those people of moderate means afford to live? If we're giving tax breaks, shouldn't it be to folks twenty to thirty years old just starting a family and just starting a career?
. . . Finally, tell me this. Is there a moral obligation to enjoy what is good? Last year, at a retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, the pastor sitting next to me wondered out loud about a member of her church who she just learned had been hospitalized. As a pastor and a friend, she wanted to be at the hospital hundreds of miles away rather than enjoying the beautiful morning on the mesa. Still, it seemed to me at the time that, aside from prayer, her obligation was with the beautiful morning and not with her congregation.
. . . In an early song, Bob Dylan sang about the pointlessness of climbing down into someone else's hole, of just being one more person crying. Is it our duty to celebrate our blessings, to enjoy them to their fullest? How is that different from selfish indulgence?
. . . I look forward to your responses. In the meantime, there's many a wall to paint.


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