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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

 

Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied. (Pearl Buck)

More than a half-century ago I remember walking home from a day of bullying in fourth grade. I silently prayed to become a saint, the only survival-answer possible to a child born in an ultra-Catholic environment.

Saints fit so ego-free into pages of old books. Little dialogue necessary. No smiles or frowns. They wore halos without alterations. I remembered a story about St. Lawrence, burned on something like a barbecue grill. “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.”

Darn. I wondered what I was going to have to do. With my red-hair, sunburn had caused enough suffering.

Perfection never arrived. Yet, somehow on those book-laden, ego-smashed walks I found beauty in the clouds, the shapes of rocks. Words to describe nature appeared, stories, a rich imagination, a gift given instead of some lofty grownup concept.

The next day always appeared in full ugliness. My parents expected me to combat the world with the ten commandments; the advice remained in sterile print with no feedback. I was on my own.

One day a neighbor on a parallel street smiled at me. She knew who I was. “You have a long way to walk,” she told me. “You can cut through my yard.”

A small gift. The neighbor across the street from my house saw me crossing his yard and called out a hello. “Hello,” I called back, my grin causing his to grow larger.

Two syllables. They beat burning on a barbecue grill any day. I could do that. Maybe not at school. But, I could in my own neighborhood. A beginning…

 

 

 

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I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. (Edgar Guest, poet)

My husband and I received two plants. As living, growing, loving gifts from our church family. Neither Jay nor I garden or know the difference between a weed and a rare flower, a mushroom and a toadstool. He takes care of watering indoor plants. Mother Nature tends to the outdoors.

These two plants belong outdoors. I assumed that after a few days, my husband had taken both small green pots from the screened-in back porch to their home outside. Only one made it. The other isn’t dead, but it is malnourished, waiting to be rescued. Drooping, brown-edged leaves fall from the side.

I watered the plant and placed it next to its healthier peer.

Peer? Yes. Planted at the same time. One starving, the other well-fed.

The individual who blasts views different than mine may look like the failing plant to me; he or she may think I am in the dying pot. Either way, negative judgment leads nowhere.

The man begging at the corner may be an alcoholic and drug addict; he may be a veteran with PTSD, or someone who lost everything from inadequate health insurance or despair. Appearances don’t tell the whole.

A storm last night watered both plants. No change in the flowerless pot yet. I want instant results. Real life rarely works that way. Next step—I must check with the person who gave us the greenery and get a hint or two. My plant knowledge may remain in the pre-kindergarten stage, but, any level of increased caring can help.

In the meantime, my seven-year-old grandson and I tinker with my failing printer. He is fascinated with the parts, with anything mechanical. The copy of his sight-words homework appears. The printer has come to life; he is ecstatic. I don’t know much about anything mechanical, like a printer. He doesn’t know much about printers or words.

We have no idea what we did right, but our work together has succeeded. Peers in a different sense. Okay, I did the work until my son came and finalized the original problem. (The machine was trying to send a non-existent fax.) My grandson brought the enthusiasm. The mix worked.

May people with differing points of view find the best in one another. Someday. Rich and poor, conservative and liberal, as equals. It may be the only way.

 

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Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (John Barrymore)

My grandson, Dakota, and I explore our backyard with his new red plastic truck. It’s large enough for him to sit on it. I’m grateful he realizes I would crush it. A septuagenarian squatting that low and then maneuvering the toy from a bug’s height, would be a sight for the neighbors. I wouldn’t want them to anticipate a 911-call.

“You know you won’t live forever,” he says.

“Yes, I do. That’s why I celebrate time with you, give to others, and love as much as I can.”

He doesn’t answer and continues playing with the truck. We create ramps from National Geographic Magazines. He rolls construction paper and tapes it with heavy tape. My granddaughters’ baby doll bottles in the center maintain firmness.

We let the moments speak for themselves, the challenge to roll or unroll. To go over the ramp with the truck or bypass it. If one tactic doesn’t work, Dakota tries another. My little buddy doesn’t give up easily.

I consider how quickly the notion, not-good-enough, flashes into my mind. I know it was taught to me in childhood. What isn’t good enough? The statement is too generic to be true. Nevertheless, the temptation to just-forget-it rises far too often. For most human critters, both young and old.

My friend, Cathie, calls. She hasn’t seen me at the Y for a while. Either I have been entertaining grandkids or working on my book. She has something to give me.

“When I saw this, all the bright colors,” she says, “I thought of you and just had to get it.”

I plan to meet Cathie. On Friday morning. At ten AM.

She has made a pillow. Cathie is a seamstress. She uses her gift to celebrate other people.

“It’s pre-hugged,” she says, holding the pillow through the plastic bag against her chest.

Since we have both been in the pool, we are soaking wet. A chlorine hug doesn’t negate the love attached to her or her work.

Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. However, with grandchildren like Dakota and friends like Cathie, sweetness is easier to find.

 

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As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. We realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. (Richard Rohr)

Can time be weighed?

Does night and day,

progress, failure

illness, health,

compassion, and greed fit

into the final figure?

History. Is each page unbiased?

I wait, and watch as unnamed birds

fly and hide into deciduous branches

where leaves will fall, allow

trees to stand bare, and perhaps,

begin a new cycle.

Life changes

and yet remains unchanged.

 

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There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met. William Butler Yeats



When some people hear the word travel, their eyes light up Christmas-tree bright. Mishaps slow eager travelers’ tales long enough for a comma’s breath. These individuals could spend a week in an airport, then fall off a camel unharmed. They have the stamina of a million-year-old rock.

I scarcely know my right from my left and have turned the wrong way inside a restroom. Airport Terminals One and Two could be different continents. I would rather be in a guillotine line than a queue for customs.

Once I enter the plane, I see the goal with reasonable clarity. However, getting that far doesn’t always seem worth it.

For me the possibility of meeting friends makes the decision a worthwhile gamble.

The Best of Ireland Tour, sponsored by Trafalgar, could turn me into one of those irritating globe travelers. Okay, once I get beyond the irritating places. Maybe. No one can claim a win from the starting line.

Our tour guide acts as an expert social catalyst. She has a sense of humor. I laugh. And sing. With ease. The song doesn’t need to have Irish roots; it needs to be sincere and come from my heart. This group knows the difference.

The history of Ireland suddenly becomes mine even though my ancestors came from Alsace-Lorraine. Irish history is human. The story of oppression. The story of one ruling group taking over another as if farmers and their families were things and potatoes were commodities, instead of the only food the people had.

Beautiful land and impressive castles seem to sanitize the past. Yet, memory and memorials hold the truth.

In Dublin the colors of the doors stand out: blue, red, yellow, or white. Our tour guide explains. When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria declared that all the doors of the kingdom be painted black in mourning. The Irish rebelled. The brightness remains.

Time to leave. My husband and I pack our bags, larger now with gifts for our family. I struggle, but not for long. Both fellow coach travelers and world travelers help me lift my load.

I pray kind action be contagious. Simple, yet powerful. One gesture to help rather than center on self, me-only. Peace. A long-term goal. Yes. Yet worth the effort.

 

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Serendipity always rewards the prepared. (Katori Hall)

I stand on our partially wet, partially dry sidewalk and wave to our neighbor as he leaves his house. He waves back. During that short pause, the daily newspaper lands at my feet. The delivery man’s arm and back of his head are all I can see as he continues on his rounds.

To the right of the newspaper are damp yellow daylilies. A perennial that returns and blooms even though passing deer often choose the bright blossoms as a part of our neighborhood’s buffet.

Ah, I’ve heard of door-to-door delivery, but never six-inches-from-your-right-toe service. An accident maybe, but I’ll take it.

Inside the paper will be a comic page, death notices, and stories that could cause me to wince. Another layer of everyday life wrapped in an orange plastic tube. The completed package.

Completion. I wonder if there is a certain misunderstanding of the notion. Sure, I can complete a single chore. All that is expected of me on this journey? I may not be the final judge. All I can do is I watch for the serendipities, the blessings inside dark and light. They appear along the way.

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You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, “Am I having fun?” (Christopher Meloni)

I watched as my beloved Toyota was being towed away. Her replacement existed. Among a few possibilities. Nevertheless, Little Beige and I had seen many miles together. We fit old-sneaker comfortably; until that last crashing moment I knew what to expect. She didn’t complain when one of the kids spilled drinks on her back seat. I knew how her few buttons worked.

Now, I wait as my husband and the used car salesman work out the final details. Jay has a business degree, as well as a knack for checking out the facts. I listen, unaware that my granddaughter, Ella, has also been listening.

As Jay and the dealer leave the building for some checks on his car, Ella takes over the salesman’s chair.

“What kind of car do you want?” she asks.

“Green with an orange steering wheel.”

“We can do that.” She pauses. “I will have to make it.”

After a few arm swirls, she hands me the invisible product. “Do you need anything else?”

“How about a truck? Purple.”

Once again, the request is no problem. One item costs me $54.56. The other costs $56.56.

She laughs when I ask for a tractor complete with farmer. So does a fellow customer at the next desk.

Before Jay and the salesman return I am also the proud owner of a motorcycle and yellow school bus. Fortunately, the imagination doesn’t limit size. It doesn’t care about the age of user or seller either.

“We can go home and play now, Ella,” I tell her.

The day lilies by our driveway have dried by afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated. Each hour has its cost and its gift. I’d like to say I have forgotten about the fearful moment when I knew my 2005 Toyota had breathed its last breath.

Yet, somehow, I survived. Each minute brings something different—both pleasant and miserable.

Ella and I play. The sun rises and sets. We are part of a larger whole. A whole I may never understand until my life is completed, and perhaps not by then. After all, knowledge isn’t my goal; love is.

 

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