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Posts Tagged ‘intangible gifts’

“Okay, my pen was here a minute ago.”

Life is an irritation. (Anatoly Karpov, chess master)

Our tech-friendly, easy-clean, comfortable recliner couch has found a way to annoy my husband and me.

It grabs cell phones, the remote control, important papers, and occasionally a container of dental floss. It slides them into cushion crevices or onto the floor, preferably inside well-shaded, flashlight-shy areas.

As we pull out the couch to retrieve the stolen items, plugs to the mechanical parts pull out from the wall.

As we sit, the comfy cushions caress us and widen the spaces between one beige square and another. The furniture isn’t prepared for two adults and an avalanche of items operated by arthritic fingers.

How easily I get stuck in broken places and forget the beauty of what I have—forget sun and crawl into shadow. In today’s argumentative atmosphere, anxiety fills the air like dust particles.

No perfect answer. Real life refuses to fit inside a fortune cookie. It refuses to see what is good, sincere, truthful.

I think I’ll check one more time and see if I can find perspective. In a moment of meditation, in intentionally focusing on large and small examples of kindness. Balance is rarely obvious but present. I wouldn’t know what goodness and truth were if I hadn’t experienced it. Touched it. Shared it. With someone who cared about integrity.

In this incredibly imperfect world, peace to all.

 

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To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship. (Thomas Moore)

Hey, worn lock! Come on. Open.

This gosh-darned door won’t budge without a fight. The wood is old and swollen. The screws wobble like poor-fitting dentures. This door probably has been locked and unlocked, opened and closed, since the house was built, nineteen years before we made it our family home in 1976.

I anthropomorphize the door’s response as I push. It answers, No. Enough. I’m on strike.

My husband has more muscle. The door opens with a low, ouch.

A temporary fix now holds the assembly together—with a less-than-professional-but-works repair.

I think about my own that-is-enough responses. Turn off disturbing world news chatter. Take a break from speed editing marred with self-criticism. Slow down on the marathon cleaning. Pause the fear button. Begin again. And again. And again.

So often I think perfect is expected. Even though it doesn’t last longer than a sneeze. A friend’s smile keeps me trying longer for more important goals. The goodness of others also triggers gratitude.

How many wonderful people have been welcomed at my front door? I’ve lost count. Because the number doesn’t matter. The ages of entranceway guests don’t matter either. Friendship heals.

May my door continue to open to what can be. No matter how old its hinges may be. (Mine either.)

 

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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 have come to believe that giving and receiving are really the same. Giving and receiving—not giving and taking. (Joyce Grenfell)

“Do pebbles grow into rocks?” my young step-grandson asks as he gathers odd-shaped stones and places them inside a cardboard treasure box. The box rides inside a red wagon.

I smile and tell him rocks are more likely to break into pebbles. I smile, but don’t laugh. His innocence warms me. He finds a tiny lock on the side of the road and adds it to his collection. Then, he puts it inside his pocket, to take home.

For him, all of life is a collection of serendipitous learning experiences. The tracks left by a bulldozer, a dusty trail made by the thin wheels of the collapsible, fabric wagon. The dusty wheels create mud after the wheels travel through a deep puddle.

The thought strikes me that rocks and keys may not be the unique metaphors I imagined them to be in my series, The Star League Chronicles. Black rocks act as weapons for the Malefics, the evil League. Chase Powers, the main character, operates an ancient, rusty, magical key. Sometimes, the key knows more than he does.

Sometimes play teaches me. And I haven’t been a child in a long time. My teacher-key contains no magic. Often its key is no more than a realization, a prod to notice a beauty I hadn’t noticed because I’d been stuck inside ubiquitous bad news forecasts.

This little boy trusts me. A breeze cuts through the afternoon heat. I am at peace despite that fact that I have an approaching deadline—and more words to write and edit than I want to think about. Right now, I could be pecking away at the non-magical keyboard-keys (pun semi-intended.) With the hope of creating magical scenes.

Instead, I follow a red wagon into a child’s imagination and allow my love for this boy to expand.

Work challenges will continue tonight…and tomorrow…weeks after. Until the story fits into a whole.

For now, I give and receive experience. And hope to remember this beautiful day in the middle of July.

 

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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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