Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘experience’

 

open door

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. (Ernest Hemingway

In 2012 I wrote a journal during Lent when memories of trauma ate through the present. Today I survive, as imperfectly as everyone else. I decided to reread an entry or two. This story appeared on an ordinary Wednesday when I was babysitting two of my granddaughters. Rebe was four and Ella was a toddler:  

I’m rinsing breakfast dishes as the doorbell rings. Jay is busy with Ella, so I answer. Outside a young girl stands sobbing. She asks to use our phone.

     “Who are you?” I ask.

     She doesn’t answer. Instead she tells me her boyfriend beat her up, and she wants to call the police.

     Jay is standing behind me by now. He holds Ella. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want this girl standing out in the cold. I let her in and get her a glass of water, then finish the dishes as she calls from our living room.

     When I get back, Ella blows kisses to her and the girl smiles and tells me she has a one-year-old child.

     “How old are you?”

     “Eighteen.”

     The girl’s skin is a flawless ebony. I would have guessed she was much younger.

     While I don’t watch the clock, it seems like a long time until two policewomen arrive in two separate cars.

     We leave the room. I need to change Ella’s diaper anyway. On our way into the bedroom we hear one of the officers ask, “So why do you stay with him?”

     Apparently this is not a first-time event.

     After the girl leaves with bus money we provide, one of the policewomen comes back into the house and chides us for our kindness. This girl’s live-in is trouble. It is her choice to remain in jeopardy. Drugs are an issue.

       We should have called the police and made her stay on the porch. Twenty-twenty hindsight. (Although, an addition added to this entry in 2020, I doubt I would have followed her advice. After all, an abused eighteen-year-old girl is a child in need.)

Ella as a baby

       I am relieved later while Ella and Rebe watch Caillou, a children’s cartoon show, where a lost toy dinosaur is the only problem. Two little girls wrapped in the discovery of a stuffed toy and the loving concern of Caillou’s father.

     Real life isn’t always that sweet. I have been fortunate. My flaw today was trust. Yet, I pray that our little Ella’s blown kisses can be a blessing into the soul of this lost girl. A seed, perhaps. One that can grow someday, even if I never see it blossom.

Read Full Post »

She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it.) Lewis Carroll

Take one opinion.

Call it the whole.

Shout your words

with venom if necessary.

Cover your home,

your car, every space you touch

with bumper stickers, clever words,

succinct, biting,

so simple and transparent

an ostrich could strut

your message across a zoo.

Then flick on the television,

curl up in your favorite chair,

or lie on a distant beach,

and revel in the comfort of your truth.

Relax, with food and wine within reach,

your part completed.

 

(originally published in For A Better World)

Read Full Post »

Hygge is about having less, enjoying more; the pleasure of simply being… Louisa Thomsen Brits, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

Hygge time. A Danish concept. Moments when we are grateful and aware of the now. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Snow falls while Jay and I sip coffee.

He tells me about someone he met at the pool. “I killed two kids,” the man told him.

My first thoughts are DUI or an accident, but this is my time to listen. The man is a veteran. He followed the command to shoot. Children sometimes carried explosives. The dead are not people; they are the enemy. Saved by the military.

Jay tells him it wasn’t his fault. He did what he was told to do. The man answered, “But I pulled the trigger.”

Now that moment explodes through the man’s head. A mantra called PTSD, created by the battlefield. Guilt with no place to go. He wants someone to apologize for the command. Jay can only listen, a powerful tool for the moment. Not an immediate answer.

The man left the pool.

I had been looking out our front window and watching the lines formed by the houses in our neighborhood. The homes. I look for the focal point I have been discovering in art class. As a student at age 73.

Even a simple line remains true and honest, then easily misunderstood by point of view. A tilted camera. An I-already-know attitude. In the photo I didn’t want a picture of my car, the house across the street. I didn’t want the half-iced street. This tilt is obvious. Not every slant is.

In the picture I know the difference. In real life, perception can be blurry in ways that have nothing to do with eyesight.

The whiteness won’t stay. Neither will ten o’clock on a February Saturday morning. However, I hope the integrity inherent in a few moments on an ordinary couch, remains and grows into whatever I need to be now. Into tomorrow. Into each giving opportunity as it opens.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life. (Shannon L. Alder)

The summer of 1963. I’m at a journalism workshop in Detroit to prepare for a position on my high school magazine. And I have a date. Other pre-seniors, a group of at least six, give advice about makeup.

“More eyebrow pencil. They look pale. Lost.”

A description of how I felt. Strange. I had a date. With a guy I’d just met. Not the love of my life, but someone who would introduce me to a fancy restaurant and frog legs. Yet my memory of the moment says I wasn’t enough.

Today I look in the mirror and see one red, irritated eye. The itching is a unique form of torture and I am grateful for antibiotic drops. Pink eye is temporary. Human frailties are not.

I have survived adolescence by now. However, what is this thing in me that says rest must be limited? Does laundry really need to be done, now? I need to type even when the letters could be more fog than print. I take a break, a short one. Maybe not-good-enough has morphed through the years. Soothed with action.

The new year begins. May I remain open to change, especially if it doesn’t seem easy. Time to focus on the real. And grow inside both joy and turmoil.

 

Read Full Post »

 

Men are not moved by things but by the views which they take of them. (Epictetus)

ICED WINDOWS, FROSTED VISION

 

White sky and ground

blend into a seamless horizon

where snow-encased branches dominate

as threat or as beauty,

whether the scene is viewed

from a ditch or a window.

 

December, January, February,

eased into March,

the months where

six-pointed flakes commune,

 

fragile alone, yet bound gaining

the power of a frozen battlefield

or the awe of nature’s art.

 

a bond for better or worse

solid, white yet susceptible

to dirt, ugliness, separation.

 

Which moment, light or dark,

will settle in the spirit when

ice succumbs to bright sky again

and tree buds loosen their grip?

 

I kick off my boots

and let them dry in a warm house.

I allow my toes to find feeling again,

then embrace soot, crystal beauty,

and battlefield.

 

Life belongs to the whole.

Read Full Post »

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. (John F. Kennedy)

One dollar. I want to keep this one separate from the others in my wallet. Long enough to celebrate the moment. When I told my friend Ann that my sister-in-law needed serious surgery, she asked me to get a card and sign it for her. Ann is blind. She doesn’t know my family. She gives out of kindness.

Her dollar is a symbol. When I see it, I think of a simple woman’s generosity. Her borderless love. I could resemble a worn scarecrow or discarded carved pumpkin; she wouldn’t care. Our house could have dirty windows with bedsheet drapes. It wouldn’t matter. (Our windows are properly clothed. I can’t make false claims about their condition.)

I made a card for my sister-in-law. I will give it to her, signed with Ann’s full name. Ann can have the dollar back. Of course, I won’t be surprised if I see it again. Marked to be given for someone else. I suspect this is what real-world love is all about.

Read Full Post »

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward)

A friend died. Minutes before I leave for my book signing, his wife asks my husband to be one of the pallbearers. Grief and relief take turns in my heart. This man’s suffering has been unbearable to watch much less endure.

Sun replaces yesterday’s rain. Both belong to nature. Necessary to life’s balance.

My simple camera can’t photograph intense sun. It translates bright rays into the red light that shines through closed eyelids. I recognize my limitations and know I am neither imperfection nor success. There are more roads to explore, continued opportunities to give and forgive, moments to live and celebrate.

Thanksgiving, the official national holiday, appears this week. I pray to be more than pumpkin pie and a stack of dishes in the sink. These memories fade into previous years like dreams lost before waking. As I get older, I notice life sends more intense challenges—with incredible blessings attached. I pray to stay longer with the blessings than the pain.

Peace to all.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: