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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient.
It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear. (A. A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh)

Sometimes a sigh says more than a paragraph can. Kim, a YMCA employee, tells Jay and me not to give up. We’ve come this far. I can’t speak for my husband, but I have more than fluff in my ear. Both ears, my knees, back, and hair follicles feel impaired. How long have Jay and I been on the phone with our insurance company anyway? Trying to get some number-code, one we didn’t know we needed for a new benefit. Exercise for older folk.

Jay says we have been in limbo for an hour. Including transfers, wrong departments, and a disconnected line. We can join the Silvers Sneakers Program, for free. However, we have only been given partial information regarding the how-to. Not enough to get us started.

I am ready to bolt. Go home. Clean the toilet. Scrub the trash can with an old toothbrush. Empty the leaves from the yard, one at a time. Anything would be a better use of the day.

Then Niecey appears. A tall, attractive, dark woman who doesn’t look old enough to be eligible for Silver Sneakers. She has just finished her registration. She offers to help. We abandon the phone for the Internet. Within minutes the task is completed. *

Kim appears ecstatic, as if we had joined her family. Personally. “See. It was worth it. Thank God!” We join in a half-sung halleluiah.

Patience. Thy name is not Terry. Irritation could fit better. An overall distrust for systems, of almost any kind. Time to choose a different perspective. Not simply because a problem has been solved, but because good people in the world exist. I have a choice—to celebrate the presence of angels or get lost in memories of miscommunications. A sure slide into bitterness.

Kim’s smile reveals an inner glow. Her tight black curls seem to dance as she hugs me.

How long can I hold onto the kindness of cherubs—envision it with the same eyes that view continuous, ugly news events? I don’t know. But kindness is worth the brain cell use. For as long as I keep the fluff out of my ears.

 

*Maybe this help link could be beneficial for general information about the insurance benefit. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. (Lily Tomlin)

I perform everyday chores as if they were time tests. As soon as I sweep crumbs, more arrive. My frustration mounts. Time to delve into writing or art appears, and an emergency barges through.

Visits to a nursing home and a funeral change my course, speed, and perspective.

A friend suffers from a disease that stole his mind and body. He was a kind professor who taught English and speech. Now he writhes in torment. I want to help his wife and can only offer my arms and ears. Another friend died after fighting cancer. I hear her voice in my head and don’t want it to fade.

Marie and I sit together at the funeral. We observe both past and present. Long-term friendship with divine influence appears as we share. Now. Then. The confusing interim.

On the way home my phone’s directional app leads us south via a shorter route than the one we took north. We laugh as Marie drives through unfamiliar territory. An adventure based on trust. Eventually we will know where we are.

She knows my strengths and weaknesses. Directions fit into the latter. She smiles and assures me I can go anywhere. I have the tools. Her voice is soft yet reassuring.

Extending boundaries. A non-rat-race possibility. November has passed the center line. Both December and old age appear as expected. I see a reflection in the mirror that doesn’t match the one I recognize in my spirit. The person who dominates my dreams, day or night, doesn’t have an age. Sun fades in and out. Kindness exists in both.

I pray to respond to negative growls with prayer, to misunderstanding with patience. To ignorance with acceptance. As autumn fades into winter, may I find gifts inside chills. May all those who suffer find peace—through as many free-to-be-kind people as possible.

(Illustration is a water color painted at least twenty years ago.)

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Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in steering others. (Jacob M. Braude)

I have no idea how much my husband and I spent trying to save the blue spruce in our front yard. A service came regularly with botanical anti-fungal treatment until the cost of the treatment could have paid for the creation of a national park.

Needles turned brown and fell from branch to branch to ground. Huge gaps appeared as limbs died and were severed. The birds no longer had a place to hide and send out their morning songs.

The tree couldn’t maintain its status anymore. The sapling had been planted for our first son. He is now an adult, married with two daughters. The spruce had become part of our home and its past. Part of our sons’ history.

When asked which house we lived in, the answer came easily. “The one with the tree that is the front yard.”

I can’t control the life of a tree, the decisions of another person, or the whims of Mother Nature. Directing me is difficult enough. What I desire for the whole doesn’t happen by wishing, demanding, or sacrificing more than this old body has.

Hatred. Prejudice. The notion of us versus them. If only I could uproot these creature killers. Tear up the roots. Open eyes to see hearts, not superficial differences.

Peace. Planted one kind seed at a time. Without judgment. I pray that I can say to the angry, No, I don’t believe some people are better than others. But, since you also happen to be human, you are deserving of love. Now.

No, I can’t forgive with ease. Not yet. Still working on it.

Trees don’t reappear from stumps. Nevertheless, fresh planting creates possibilities. May good-will seeds create hope.

 

 

 

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We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. (Winston Churchill

Paying to borrow a grocery cart. Seems as if it would be an inconvenience. Strange, how many times that locked corral has brought blessings.

A young woman is returning a cart. I offer her my quarter. “Never mind,” she says. “I didn’t pay for this one.”

The coin waits in my pocket as I approach the fresh fruits and vegetable. Another shopper and I help one another find the best organic strawberries. The kindness spirit has begun. No problem letting a man with two items step in front of me in line. This is common at the Aldi’s where I shop.

As I return to the parking lot I give my cart to a lady with a smoker’s cough. She snubs out her cigarette. I attempt to snub out my judgment. Nicotine addiction isn’t unfamiliar to me; I quit years ago.

She smiles. “That’s what I always do. Pass it on.”

“Thanks,” I answer. “Yes, pass it on.”

And a short trip to the store has been more than another errand in an ordinary day.

Sun fills the sky. The brightness won’t stay. However, the blessings born of kindness don’t need an expiration date.

 

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