Watch the skies, check your watch, and watch out!

by | Aug 7, 2023 | Faith, Nature, Writing and Reading | 6 comments |

Today, Keith and I watch the skies with caution, waiting for possible severe weather due about mid-afternoon. “Watch” can be a noun, too, as in the act of observing or keeping watch. I am checking my watch, also a noun, to keep track of time, so I don’t miss my chance to walk the dogs or pull weeds.


Watch, a timepiece

I often wear an everyday watch when I’m out and about. Nothing fancy, no miracle of technology. If I want to be connected, I take my phone. The gold watch in this picture is a treasure Keith gave me for Christmas years ago when we were newly engaged. Material things are helpful and nice to own, but for me, keeping watch is more fulfilling. As I wrote last week: “Now well into retirement, I watch the sunset at Vanaprastha. Action has shifted more towards contemplation. I have time to pursue my curiosities and write. It is a mission that not only nurtures me but also nurtures others when I publish—at least that’s my goal.”

Watch out for the quiet ones

Perhaps you’ll remember this picture and story from last year about my mother warning me to “watch out for the quiet ones, they’ll surprise you.” In fourth grade, a tall, quiet, redheaded boy gave me a homemade Paper Mache heart for Valentine’s Day, followed by a green, faux alligator-skin purse with gold clasp and dark brown lanyard string carefully laced around the edges. We didn’t share the same fifth grade class, or any other class thereafter, and drifted apart. In high school, he left to sail the Caribbean. 

quiet ones

A few years ago, while cleaning closets, I came upon the little green purse. Out of curiosity, I searched Facebook and found my fourth-grade sweetheart. His picture showed a lean man with short, graying red hair, beard and wire-rimmed glasses. According to his profile, he had settled in upper state New York after his Caribbean years and returned to school. He listed a degree in Intercultural Communications and his family: a married son, grandson, married daughter, and two sisters.

I didn’t leave a friend request. But part of me wanted to tell him that I’d kept the green, faux alligator-skin purse he made for me and that my mother was right. You have to watch out for the quiet ones, because they give you a heart you’ll never forget.

Watch out for fakes

Earlier this year, I wrote about a fake or faux-fur throw I’d received as a Christmas gift. I love it. Unlike many items, it doesn’t try to pass itself off as the real thing. But we do have to watch out for people—and I certainly include myself here—because people can be fake, sometimes without even knowing it.

As Richard Rohr states, the task in the first half of life is to establish “an identity, a home, relationships, friends, community, security, and building a proper platform for our only life.” In some ways, our external “container” is fake, a copy, an imitation, a lookalike, a likeness based on what we see in others and incorporate into ourselves. In the second half of life, we have the opportunity to watch out for that counterfeit, in others and ourselves, and to stretch or even replace the fake with something better. To keep watch so as to discover our grace gifts and put them to use for the benefit of others.

Linkup with Five Minute Friday:


  1. Sandra K Stein

    Loved this post and the 4th grade memory.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Kristy Horine

    I really like this post. Great story wisdom here and I am thankful you shared.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for reading!

  3. dawnfanshawe

    I particularly enjoyed the memory you shared. I’ve also discovered many memories recently with my unpacking. Interesting to contemplate!
    I’m curious as to what/where Vanaprastha is?

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for asking, Dawn. Vanaprastha is the name we chose for our home here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The term refers to the third stage of life in Hindu culture, the period of time after work/family life ends and before the final stage: letting go and death. It means retreat to the forest, a time of contemplation. I’ve written more about the third stage of life on my blog, if you’d like to read more.


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