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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom in unexpected places’

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

A limping dog blocks traffic as he fights to get to roadkill, the dead animal no longer recognizable. At an exercise class two people share difficult places in their lives with me. The news blasts one horror story after another.

The May sun shines on all. I just had another birthday. Another beginning. A step forward.

My glasses are adequate, barely, during the daytime. At least until after cataract surgery I avoid driving at night. Hearing aids help if I want to hear the phone, a conversation, opportunities to learn or give.

However, sweet, bitter, and sour affect everyone—and everything. All I need to do is listen to other people’s stories. And see their sharing as a gift.

One step, to embrace this moment. The whole staircase? Mine is cluttered now. No way can I clear it all at once.

May there be adventure and serendipity along the way. May we find peace together. By seeing one another as individuals, by listening. Heart and ears wide open.

 

 

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Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. (Sigmund Freud)

“Hey, let’s take her shopping for Mother’s Day?” A suggestion made by a super-special, many-years-younger person.

My husband thinks it’s a great idea. We have the time. Rare.

I am not a shopper. I’m a get-what-is-needed-and-run kind of individual. However, since Jay is recovering from knee surgery, I figure we won’t have time for extensive searches. Point out something good enough and I’m fine.

After all, no one can tell Arthur Ritis to take a hike. For good. They can’t buy me a few extra years to change choices I made in the past or wash away memories. Time can’t be extended. Magic wands to heal the ills of my friends exist in unwritten fairy tales.

We arrive and I hold my breath. More clothes? Very few items come in chihuahua-length leg sizes. Moreover, department-store mirrors are entirely too honest. They exaggerate wrinkles and add inches to my waist. (I have a vivid imagination.)

“Purses!” my aware friend calls. She points out the worn corners in mine.

“Nothing to try on.” I smile.

She leads the way, asks a few questions and leads the way through the aisles.

“Buying a purse?” a customer asks. She hands me a coupon.

“Even better.” Mission accomplished.

“Next time you need a wallet.” My friend leads the way toward the mall where Jay waits.

Next time. Yes! I am grateful to take reality in small portions.

 

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Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey.
At other times, it is allowing another to take yours. (
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration)

A fall at some unknown moment severed Hummel boy-doctor’s hand. A Hummel girl has dropped her prize flower, a similar injury since all parts of the artwork are made as one. I am not experienced in ceramic or porcelain surgery. Boy and Girl are permanently scarred by amateur super-glue procedures. A lot of warm, soapy water keep my fingers from bonding together faster than my patients can.

Neither figure complains. Inside they are hollow. Most Internet searches refer to a Hummel’s monetary value. They don’t mention their history.

Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel’s 1930’s drawings were the inspiration for the porcelain art, postcard drawings of children in Germany and Switzerland. A simple beginning for beautiful, innocent designs.

Franz Goebel acquired rites to make the figurines in 1935. World War II made them popular exports.

The pictured cracked pieces belonged to my husband’s grandmother. While I am pleased to own them, they are things. Relationships are far more valuable.

People scars may or may not show. When someone is willing to share with me a significant hurt or loss, I feel honored. That person trusts me. My ears may need battery-operated amplification to work, but my heart works fine—provided I keep it open long enough.

In casual meetings folk ask one another, how are you? They answer, “Hanging in there.” Then they walk away. A single-phrase answer is enough. Taking another’s hand asks more, even if a situation can never be healed.

I don’t know enough to fix my own problems much less someone else’s life. However, a smile into the soul verifies worthiness. At one time or another, we all seem to need to be reassured!

I am thinking about changing my how-are-you to good-to-see-you, or a simple smile and wave. Hanging-in-there answers leave too much unsaid.  

Peace, and may broken and glued places sparkle in sunlight.

 

 

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The large cat doesn’t deter one small robin.

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer. (Douglas Adams, author Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)

I am at a small prayer gathering. Something hits the window behind me. I can’t see it but know what is happening. My friend, Pat, has already warned me not to jump, startled. Kamikaze Robin has returned.

This is one determined bird, admirable if he weren’t shortening his lifespan with each strike. Is he developing internal bleeding? Is this how the term bird-brain began? Studies have shown birds know more than their brain size would suggest. However, birds fight one another in a mismatched fight. More bravado than self-protection.

“What is he doing?” I turn around after his next strike.

Our small group has no idea. There is no point in asking. None of us speak robin.

Robin, pausing between strikes

One article, researched later, gives me a notion. However, I can’t always understand my own motivation much less the plant-loving, territorial drive of the avian population. (The highlighted link provides a few suggestions.)

For me, I refuse to answer a question about someone else’s behavior because I don’t live inside that person’s skull. After learning a few traits, past experiences, present habits, I get a clue. Not X-ray vision into complicated brain structure and memories.

A few days after the bird incident, at the Y, a young woman doesn’t answer when I talk to her. She isn’t aloof; she’s legally deaf. “I read lips well,” she tells me. We speak, and I feel blessed to learn more about her life. She lost her hearing in the navy. She served twelve years.

The class begins. I smile as I watch her follow the instructor.  She is a survivor.

I don’t know what has happened to the robin. He hasn’t penetrated the window. But then, I haven’t accomplished any of my impossible dreams either.

 

 

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The wisest mind has something yet to learn. (George Santayana)

 I’m trying to understand that nitty-gritty inside place most people have experienced but don’t define. Oh, I suspect vague words come up: tired, not-up-to-it, lack of energy. A glass of water waits on the TV stand four steps away and yet it takes me fifteen minutes to rise and grab it.

I’m referring to lost, static moments of staring into space. Not in a depressive way, more in a state of physical weakness. Recovery takes time.

Imagination. Come on. I know you are in there. Let’s play a simple game. How many gratitude connections can I celebrate in this room? From this beige square of couch.

First, I see a photo of my grandson. He raked leaves in our driveway before the predicted snow, but he had wanted me with him. He is eager to help but only seven-years old. He set up a chair in the garage and asked if I needed a blanket, too. My shoulders may have needed one; my heart did not. And the warmth lingers.

Among a stack of magazines are gifts. My brother sends me a subscription to the New Yorker. A long-time friend blesses me with Guideposts. Food for the mind. Food for the spirit. This same spiritual friend sends quotes I save and use often in my blogs.

My son scrubbed the rug and daughter-in-law helped with organization too heavy for me until my stitches heal. Steve and Cece’s love appears fresh, spontaneous. It remains in the air.

A sunburst. It doesn’t last long. They never do. However, it reminds me that aches don’t remain forever either. I haven’t reached a state of wisdom to be grateful for pain yet. I am up, with more strength than expected.

 

 

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Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Six-thirty AM. Election Day, November 6, 2018. My husband and I are newbie volunteers outside the polls. Time to make our first mistakes. We have no idea where the entry for voting could be in this huge building. No flag. No signs. A long-time voter at this location, leads the way. We park our chairs 98 feet too close to the site. A poll worker points out the 100-foot mark. We move. Quickly.

No light in the sky and we are in the dark as well. Temporarily.

We meet Duane Morgan. She is the third part of our team, the all-day volunteer. She is new at this work, too. However, she transforms the parallel don’t-know-what-to-do lines Jay and I bring, into a workable triangle. She delivers the inspiration.

In the past few weeks I spent entirely too much time worrying about cold, wind, rain, storm. Duane is a two-time cancer survivor. Her son was murdered. Nevertheless, her eyes sparkle with an inner glow; the predawn darkness can’t diminish her spirit or faith. The rich brown of her skin is beautiful. It hides her age. She is six years older than I am. Yet, her energy exceeds mine. Perhaps she has overcome useless worry as well.

Today’s forecast included thunder and lightning. The oh-so-important plastic poncho I had to buy waits in the car. An unexpected gift of sun alternates with wind. An even greater gift appears as Red and Blue speak, human to human.

Lonnie is a young, well-educated Republican. We talk to one another, civilly. As friends. I don’t know his last name. Yet. I learn that he, like Duane, is a survivor. He was born with a heart defect. Recently, he had heart surgery. It has not stopped him from running, not only for office, but on the streets.

My stand on human rights, the need for accessible health care, and recognizing skin color as a human accessory hasn’t changed. If only…if only…we could work in peace.

 

 

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“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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