The old Rambler had grown absent-minded, senile — hard to start, likely to veer off the road as if it no longer cared. If cars have souls (of course they do) this one was ready to drop its body — and not, I hoped, on a rainy day on the way to the printer.

So I ran an ad in last month’s SUN, offering a lifetime subscription in exchange for a car. In the past week, we’ve been given two of them.

“We receive all we venture to give,” St. Francis said. THE SUN is our gift to you. You give to us, too: outright, with a car or a donation, or by attention to these words, a telepathic surge of appreciation, a life subtly or profoundly altered by the ideas put forth here — it all comes back.

One is tempted to gush — but the fountain of love isn’t a picture postcard, pretty children in the park, dogs running free; the cracked heads and broken hearts, the boredom, cars breaking down — they’re a gift too. The Buddha smile isn’t the smile on the smile button.

The life we turn into a name, a husk of self, is a nameless experience of many selves — the seeming opposites within us, facets of the soul, gifts. If there’s a name for this — for you, or me — it has as many syllables as the body has gestures, the mind thoughts; there’s a syllable for childhood joy and another for fear of the dark, a syllable for hours wasted in meaningless work and another for the first apprehension of death and the first triumph over senseless death.

I’m told the Chinese don’t say thank you; to them it’s important the favor be returned. I hope a lifetime of SUNs is proper thanks to David and Cynthia Hughey of Durham and Jim Healy of Chapel Hill.

When I’m feeling most thankful — for this magazine, for the richness in my life — I don’t know who to thank. Does the right hand thank the left? Do we thank love? Sometimes I lose myself in the mirror, smiling through the tears, thanking God for the love I see, realizing I’m the One being thanked. My real name is there, moving like a tiny ship across my eyes, lost beyond the horizon.

— Sy