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Posts Tagged ‘respect for all people’

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. (Albert Einstein)

Ella leads our play and I follow: trick or treat, hide and seek, happy birthday in multiple forms—bunny’s fifth birthday and mine. Ella plays the role of Daddy; I am Daughter. I ask how old I am today. The reply? Seventy. In the make-believe world, the next obvious question has an unknown answer. It doesn’t matter.

While my spirit keeps up with the imagination of my granddaughter, my bones don’t. My lower back aches. But, I don’t tell Ella. Later, when her daddy and Grandpa come back from their errands I will put heat on the complaining area. For now, I will move a tad slower.

Then, I notice the microwave announcing my food is ready. I didn’t put anything in it. My bed buddy is warm.

Ella admits she did it. She shows me how she placed the fabric-covered bag of rice inside and hit Express. “For your back.”

How did she know? And get this warmed for me so quickly? During hide and seek?

Ella goes to the toy room and grabs the box of bandages. She places a strip inches from the most annoying area. Comforting heat relieves the discomfort in my back. I sit leaned against the chalkboard on the floor in the room with the toys as we play.

“You are amazing, Ella. How did you know my back hurt?”

“And your throat, too.”

My hiatal hernia has enlarged and burned the inside of my throat. Not a problem I would share with a child of any age.

Ella’s Down syndrome may have affected her muscle tone and other areas of her development. However, she has been reading phonetically for several years. Her intuition is beyond exceptional. She is a blessing in my life.

I’m not sure she knows how to explain how she understands what most people of any age would never recognize. To me, the answer is a mystery. For her, she is simply being Ella.

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Change yourself to change the world. Keep it personal today. (Horoscope for Taurus, February 25)

I usually read my horoscope in the daily newspaper, not because it rules my day. I’m curious. Sometimes the advice is so vague it could fit any situation; other times it fits in an odd serendipitous way—like accidentally opening a how-to book to the right page—without effort.

Last night my husband and I went to a fun, well-attended family wedding. I noticed we were seated at a table with relatives who have polar political views. Yet, we did not discuss them. We shared our love for one another. Our lives as they are. I felt blessed. When we separated, I experienced a sense of loss, a longing to see these good people again as soon as possible.

If we had delved into our differences, I suspect the bond could have been tested. The differences need mending. Among families and in the world. However, the breaks can’t be healed in a single discussion. They can’t be adjusted within the us-versus-them void.

Have I changed my mind about laws that affect the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized? Absolutely not. That does not mean I need to react with name-calling. What I say reflects who I am. May the power of the written and spoken word add healing, not pain. Eventually…

can-we-risk-peace

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Right now, I am trying to be in a place of calm, a place where I can chill out and then handle the chaos of life better. You don’t just get it overnight; you have to work at it. It’s a daily struggle. (Jackée Harry)

I have a bookcase, better described as cheap than inexpensive. It is a strictly functional piece. The back is as thin as a pizza box and leaves some shelves open, vulnerable. Perhaps, a dark wall showing through would make a nice decorative touch. However, my office also serves as a toy room. (Stuffed cow, twin watering cans, and children’s books get the sturdier case.) The room’s ambience has a more turned-over toy box look than showroom feel.

Items from my shelf frequently fall out against the wall. However, an old phone book has dropped from the top and set off an avalanche. Books, papers, and notebooks followed like sheep to slaughter.

Okay, I guess it’s time to organize. Not reorganize. Most of my life is filed under miscellaneous.

First, I empty the bookcase and place it against the desk instead of the wall. If my system doesn’t work, escaped items can be retrieved under the desk. As backup I have a stack of magazines in the way—to protect computer wires. Yes, someday I’ll get a nicer bookshelf. For now, I’ll deal with what I have. I’m satisfied with functional.

Each stack of items becomes less defined in the small area. How did all this fit in one bookcase to begin with? Ooh!  Sun Magazine. Did I finish reading this July article? I am hesitant to throw away my favorite periodicals. Focus, Terry, focus.

Somewhere in the chaos I find the manuscript for an unpublished story I wrote fourteen years ago, not bad, but it needs editing and development. Time to keep on trucking—continue to steps two and three. In the present, possibilities to follow.

I think about real life, how much I’d like to tackle the whole of a world situation, settle it. Now. I can only send out a pebble onto the water and let the ripples flow. Toward justice, peace, recognition of all people.  I pick up one item in my mess and face my limits as well as my strengths. The existence of a flaw does not deny a talent. For anyone.

The three photos of my mundane work space below combine to show art coming from chaos. In this picture, a MiFrame program did most of the work. In the everyday, it isn’t as easy.

I see you; you see me. As we are. We grow from there.

organizing

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Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. (Albert Einstein)

My sacred agenda is being tested. The sky is blue and the outside temperature holds in the low sixties—for a few hours anyway. My husband and I plan to explore a new subdivision in the neighborhood, to see how many new homes have sprung-up, while we enjoy spring in February.

And my mate is taking a lot longer to get ready than I expected. I tend to take on a little too much and move as if I were rushing out of a burning building. He enjoys the spontaneity possible in retirement.

Finally…finally we set out—at least an hour later than I wanted. However, he must have been listening to angel time. I was deifying my plans.

In the new development, Jay and I meet an incredible couple who are also walking along a cul-de-sac toward the back of the newer section. Three lots display sold signs; each area has not yet been excavated.

M and D will be moving into the neighborhood next week. They are much younger than we are. Nevertheless, we share common interests with them. I am buoyed by their capacity to actively care for others. Their church, close to the poorest areas of the city, assists the homeless.

“What items do you need most?” I ask.

“Socks and gloves,” M answers.

I remember a pair of socks we received in the mail as a gift after donating to an Indian foundation. I have never worn the socks because they don’t match anything I own.  A thought crosses my mind. Obviously, I have more than I need.

I have two more pair of socks that have never been worn, as well as red gloves I’ve been saving for that day when one of my old-faithful-pink-knitted-bargain-store specials, falls from my pocket and finds its way under the tires of a truck in a parking lot. 

The items are not as thick as I would like them to be. Maybe they would be useful in layers. I suspect the church will accept cash for whatever their ministry needs.

“I’ll drop some things off at your house after you move in,” I say. “And just leave a bag outside.”

Perhaps we will see M and D again after I drop off a bag or two. Maybe not. Either way, these two people were blessings.

I forgot about all the miscellaneous chores that were so essential a few hours earlier, and I focused on ways I could help someone else. Sure, the laundry can’t wait forever, but a rinse cycle that begins a few hours late won’t delay the world’s spin on its axis.

Something or someone? I’m grateful for the difference.

socks-and-gloves_li

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We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. (Anais Nin)

I am at the funeral of a man whose name I have heard for more years than I can count. Yet, I have never met G. He could have had brown, blue, or green eyes, been tall or short, had red hair or none.

Sure, I have created a picture of him in my mind. However, I have met people after hearing only their voices and my predictions have had a zero percent accuracy rate. Chances are, the image I’ve summoned keeps my prediction skills in the same nonexistent category.

I have come to support friends who knew G.

He had a mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia. Yet, he was not his diagnosis. When the people at his church came to know him, they recognized his unique sense of humor. The church members accepted G—as he was. He liked coming to services and being part of something important.

Smoking comforted his symptoms until that comfort turned on him and destroyed his body. One incredible day, with the prayer support of his friends, he gave up a three-packs-a-day habit within twenty-four hours. Too late, but nevertheless a miraculous change had occurred. He knew he had done something for himself.

As buoyed as I am by the beauty of the funeral service, I realize I missed something. I missed knowing G. The casket is closed. If I speak to the man inside, only his spirit may hear. I will not get a response, except in my thoughts and imagination.

I think about the anonymity of the casket. Those who mourn see inside with their memories. I need to listen even closer, and catch opportunities to recognize truth beyond the obvious, the judgments people make without even realizing they are making them.

Sure, a talkative lady with a quick smile is easy to approach. A child next to her who appears to have multiple disabilities may seem to disappear in the crowd—even though the child’s presence is like the ignored elephant-in-the-room. He is not his disabilities.

Sometimes I have no problem saying hello to people with obvious difficulties. Then, at other times I have felt every intelligent thought I have ever had drop away. Opportunities to make connections evaporate, especially when I feel anger in the air.

All of us are of infinite value. I pray to recognize that worth—even in the wrinkled face I see in the mirror. I can be hardest on me.

you are of infinite worth

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Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave and it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way. (Alice Childress)

The media broadcasts a different spin on the same violence and shock-value stories, day and night, and calls them news. Naivety is not a virtue; responding with further ugliness isn’t helpful either.

Someone with a lot more wisdom than I have will need to find balance among the warring forces. In the meantime, can it hurt to spread kindness? The results may not be immediate, but the possibilities reach in a more hopeful direction.

I have two examples.

Recently, my husband and I made friends with A. She has a rich sense of humor and she loves 50’s and 60’s music as much as my husband does. She knows the names of bands and their songs.

When we met, I thought we were helping her because she needed rides to senior functions; she is blind. However, I soon learned that she not only discerns voices well, she listens, with sincere compassion. “I’ll be your friend for life,” she tells me. And I believe it.

As she gets into the car she talks about all her activities, and I wonder how she manages. “Okay if I drive home?” she asks. It is okay to laugh. She sings “Jingle Bells” in an elf character voice. She pulls it off.

The pain in my neck and shoulders relaxes. By evening the blessings grow when I learn about the second example of kindness.

My son’s girlfriend was with her son, Dakota, at a store. Next to the checkout were some too-expensive-to-buy-on-a-whim toy cars. The boy is five, and into action. His big brown eyes grew big when he saw the treasures.

This little guy has had some rough moments in his young life, but he is one-hundred percent charmer. That does not mean Mommy had the money.

I was not present, but I suspect Dakota’s interest was more in-awe than demanding because an older couple in the line behind Mommy bought the gift for Dakota.

The car is more than a toy; it is a symbol for the fact that kindness exists in the world, and it can continue to grow.

Do two examples of kindness, one friend with an open heart plus one generous stranger, obliterate hate? Of course not. Should we all stand in a circle and chant platitudes as if huge world problems didn’t exist? Would be nice if that worked. I suspect each person plays a different role. Some people may need to be in-your-face active, others subtle yet constant in integrity.

In the meantime, I thank a woman who taught me to feel the subtleties of warmth and chill in the air. She also taught me to appreciate seeing skies as blue or gray palettes, always changing, sometimes swirled with white, or edged in pink.

I thank an older couple who may never read these words.

Perhaps a greater handicap than blindness is not being able to care.

I open the door into whatever happens.

gift-car-nov-16-2016

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Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. (Jonathan Swift)

“How nice to see you, Terry,” A. says. “But she recognizes my voice as I talk to another Y member, not my short stature and senior version of what was once strawberry-blond hair. A. is blind.

I have met her several times. Each time I get to know her a tad better.

I call her later because I finally figured out the right date for a senior social event. Jay and I will be bringing her home. She expresses concern for the pain in my back.

When she says she will pray for me I believe her, and ask her to add someone else to her list, a young friend who lives out of state. S. will be having surgery at the end of September. I don’t give A. full details, only an overview of a nightmare that began with a bout of pancreatitis.

And I realize the larger story is stuck in the back of my throat, in a huge wad of emotion that won’t be swallowed. A. seems to understand. But I don’t know why this woman I barely know has brought this out in me. Through some intangible connection. Beyond the visual.

“Your husband refuses payment for the ride home,” she says.

“And so do I.”

“Maybe you can come to my house for dinner sometime.”

I pause before suggesting she come to my house instead, after I’ve finished physical therapy. And that will happen by the time of the social event. “I should be just fine by then. Besides, I love to cook.”

But, I think about how A. sees with her hearing and memory—and how I don’t. I have no clue how many steps there are from the table to the bathroom. There is a narrow space between the couch and the television. Jay and I leave our shoes in the middle of the floor. Sure, on that day we would be wearing them, but I take sight for granted.

“You can bring a friend,” I say, more for me than for her. Someone who already knows what she can maneuver on her own. And what she can’t.

She isn’t sure whether she can arrange an escort or not. She hasn’t read my mind. And that is probably a good thing. I will take the leap. Learn. Make a new friend, who will become more than an acquaintance with a keen sense of voice recognition.  Then perhaps, I shall see gifts, once invisible, yet present all along.

just once understand

 

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