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Posts Tagged ‘intangible gifts’

rose in frameAppreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. (Voltaire)

I’m struck by two profoundly different moments. The first, an original drawing received on a Christmas card, two months late. The artist died fifteen days before the holiday. The second, a red fabric rose given by my friend Cathy as a Valentine. She told me it was a thank-you for my ready smile.

Cathy’s welcoming approach to everyone results in a sunshine response. However, I’ll accept her gift and hug. Who started our friendship? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Living that friendship does matter.

The Christmas card has found a quiet display in the bedroom. The artist’s picture with his birth and death date appear on the back. I hear his voice in my memory. See you later. A wave and laugh. Not enough time for one more thank you, acknowledgement of his gifts for humor, art, affability.

I talk to him in the silence of my thoughts. About the nuances of art that appear simple, yet come with quick, aptly applied brush strokes. Then, I switch to travel stories and ask what it was like to ride a camel. No response from the other side; I would believe my mind had cracked if I caught his voice in the lamp or mirror.

Then, I realize the gifts of this day bring enough gratitude. One rose, Cathy. Three granddaughters. One almost-grandson and a simple wedding between his mom and my son is in the future. A tiny affair with a big impact—at least in my family’s life.

What is excellent in others belongs to us as well. May that excellence continue to grow because of the next step I take. May we meet in that space…

 

 

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angels three-dimensionI trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we’re not wise enough to see it. (Oprah Winfrey)

The same oh-so-bright Christmas song I heard ten minutes ago, plays on my car’s radio. In that recent-past moment I experienced gratitude—for my grandchildren, for a best friend 41-years-younger than I am, for a slowly healing foot. Long drives are uncomfortable, but the pain isn’t too bad on short sprints. I can and will accelerate as needed.

Now, I watch as a turkey vulture flees from an oncoming car, his carrion meal oozing red on the side of the road. His prey is no longer recognizable. While the bird waits to feast again, one Christmas song eases into another, no pause for outside world experiences. An ambulance passes through a busy intersection. A firetruck follows. A fender-bender a few blocks away stops traffic.

My life is not made of intangible sunshine and sweet carols. It isn’t eaten-up by darkness either. I meet a human angel now and then, generally when least expected.

Balance. Easy to say, not as simple to achieve. If I celebrated something else, Hanukkah, Kwanza, nothing, or another day alive, the challenges would be the same.

Peace upon all. Through all.

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ice storm January 20, 2012 (2)_LIWhatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Sunday morning. My husband and I celebrate at a different church. With special friends. The minister’s topic for the day combines science with awe. He speaks about the universe. In context with spirituality.

The back row, where we placed ourselves, has little significance compared to the vastness of space, the alignment of the planets, the statistical possibilities for life to exist. Yet, I embrace the moment. Beauty lives immersed in the ugly, the grand, and the ordinary.

This church community is friendly and welcoming. “Hi, I think I saw you here once before,” a woman says, “a while back.” Wow, what a memory. I came last year, maybe. And I will return. On another special day.

Bare trees display the uneven shapes of their branches, while the seasons shift in the same semi-predicted pattern. Known. Unknown. Meshing together.

I notice the shadow

of a branch on brown grass

as if bright-sun shadows

on ground were brand new.

Both spine and chin

live in the same body

yet never face one another.

One planted seed and one kindness

grow in time and

belong to another universe.

 

 

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both books (2)_LI

I’m growing older, but not up. (Jimmy Buffett)

The tension in my neck tells me I am not in synch with the world as it is. Mass natural disasters are difficult enough to understand; mass hatred is another. I don’t need to delineate any of it. The blind can hear about it, and the deaf can read closed-caption. The unaffected remain in a narrow, wire-thin margin.

Pain begins before the first commercial on any news channel. Gentle heat helps my muscles. Distraction, blended with love, helps my spirit.

My husband and I take Dakota to afternoon kindergarten on Thursdays. Dakota asks me to sit in the back seat with him. We discuss the six-year-old boy world and his unique observations along the familiar route.

This young man notices details: The recycling truck has two steering wheels and two sets of brakes… He discerns how a toy train track fits together. His mechanical expertise will probably surpass mine before he reaches third grade!

During a rare pause Dakota notices the back cover of my second book, Stinky Rotten Threats. It is on the back seat between us.

“Isn’t that your picture? Why is it there?”

I smile. When I am with this young man, my intention is to focus on him. My successes, failures, and mundane trips to the doctor or post office don’t come up. He probably assumes I don’t pretend to pilot a plane without knowing what an instrument panel is. However, other than stocking the refrigerator with his favorite cheese and hot sauce, he wouldn’t know what else fills my day.

“This is what I do, buddy. I write. This is my second book.” (The first was The Curse Under the Freckles.)

“Wow,” he says flipping through the pages without looking at them. “It must have taken you more than an hour and a half.”

Dakota’s notion of numbers and time hasn’t developed yet. I realize I want world change overnight, in my spirit, even if my head knows a sudden transformation is as impossible as writing a middle-grade fantasy adventure in an hour and a half. The Star League Chronicles fights evil—not with fists and swords, but with truth. Even in make-believe, a story takes more than one page for goodness to win.

“Two years,” I answer. “It took me two years.”

He doesn’t say anything, but I suspect he thinks I must be mighty slow.

I don’t mind. Slow is the general idea. My neck thanks me. Growing up all the way isn’t recommended anyway.

 

 

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We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A friend is doing me a favor. My right hand has limited strength. A fractured metacarpal, age, and arthritis have limited my joint flexibility. Maneuvering a Lovenox injection into my belly prior to a diagnostic procedure would be like repairing eyeglass screws with vise grips. Who knows what I would stick with the needle? A thumb, wrist, or table top in a bizarre flip move—if I managed to remove the tricky cap.

Not only does J. arrive to help me at 7:30 in the morning on five consecutive days, she brings in the newspaper—and one morning she delivers a bag of apples. Farmers’ market fresh. The photo below is no longer accurate. I had two ripe red beauties for lunch today. Four have been baked, cinnamon sweet. Yum, maybe one more now.

A pre-school neighbor has an EpiPen dependent peanut allergy. Even so, for the experience, her parents took her door-to-door to greet neighbors on Halloween. I gave the little girl two dollars to spend on a treat for herself earlier Tuesday morning. However, the snacks we shared with visiting princesses and superheroes were not safe for her.

I offered her an apple. She was thrilled. J.’s gift expanded. Something as simple as a piece of fruit has made a child happy.

The apple has further symbolism for me. I belong to a spiritual group that is, yes, named after a fruit. Many years ago, before I joined, a young woman read a Scripture quote, “You are the apple of my eye.” Several members were pregnant, and round as apples. They laughed. The name stuck, long after the developing children were born, and became parents.

Now, we are grandparents. Ephemeral fruit, hoping to nurture life in a different way. Acceptance of ourselves and others, the ability to listen, change at any age, live and not simply exist—no matter how ugly the world may become.

Once fresh fruit rots it can become compost. It nourishes the soil. Rotten places inside me, any human, can disappear into the past…if I let go. And accept a humility that wasn’t in my agenda.

An apple seed. A thank you. A belief that grows through kindness, yet never calls itself perfect. Gratitude, renewed each day…

Thanks, J.

 

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Life is always bringing unexpected gifts. (May Sarton)

Perhaps I’m reaching into my ancient ape ancestry; I crave bananas. Since they are good for digestion, my body may be telling me I need them after my illness. My husband and I split the last banana yesterday.

I’m taking my blind friend to the doctor today. I’ll stop at the store before I pick my comrade up. The time will be tight, but it’s possible.

However, someone calls from one of my doctor’s offices—about my Friday appointment. She has questions, enough to take up my shopping time. I have a few minutes to fill my gas tank. The minutes can’t be stretched for price-check-on-lane-two or a cashier who needs to change receipt paper.

My potassium craving will need to wait. I sate my car’s appetite instead, park along the side of the lot and pull out my cell phone. “Hey, girlfriend, are you ready? I’m on my way.”

“I’m just finishing breakfast, then I’ll meet you downstairs. By the way, could you use a couple of bananas?”

“You bet. I’ll tell you about it when I get there.”

Hmm, does my buddy have incredible intuition or do angels run fruit deliveries? Sure, serendipity happens. Then again, unexpected gifts happen, too.

My friend appreciates the ride. She thanks me. Now, I can let her know how much I appreciate her. I enjoy the fruit; she is the gift.

photo:  Photo Booth, Kaleidoscope

 

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Sometimes the best wisdom and advice comes through the simple purity of a child. They don’t see the world as complicated as adults do. (Nishan Panwar)

Dakota and I set up a ramp for his cars in the living room. Since the action tends to include a lot of collision and upside-down accidents, an on-site mechanic becomes necessary. I have the six-year old man for the job.

While his work is magically quick, he doesn’t have a concept of money yet. His bill for removing a nail in my vehicle’s tire is $300. True, the bill includes a heart and secret code, DN. Dependable NASCAR grease monkey? I don’t ask. The F and heart placed together definitely don’t require mentioning. Besides, Dakota accepts invisible cash.

Later, we take turns as airplane pilot. The plane is the couch. Take-off begins in recliner mode. Believable or not, I’ll take it.

“How far are we going this trip, captain?” I ask.

“Twenty miles,” he answers. “And it will take twenty hours.”

“Okay,” I reply, then call back to our ever-changing number of passengers to buckle their seatbelts. My belly laugh remains inside, saved for later. For now, levity heals any lingering abdominal pain.

“I love you, little buddy,” I finally get a chance to say. He doesn’t need to answer back. His grin is enough response. I’ll go back to grownup mode in a few hours—with just a little bit more energy to face the ugly places.

 

 

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