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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom in unexpected places’

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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It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home. (Aaron Lauritsen, 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road)

She hands me a five-dollar bill and I can’t think of any reason to refuse. The giver’s name isn’t necessary. She lives among the many who have more health-need expenses than income. “For Jay’s birthday present.”

I’ll think of some way to get the money back to her. In another form maybe. Although I need to admit the cash-concern is my problem, not hers. She gives because she is my friend. The salt-of-the-earth kind of acquaintance. The Matthew 5:13 variety. The kind who is entertained with a cup of coffee and background oldies music. And asks no more. “I’ll be your friend forever,” she says. I believe it.

Later that afternoon I glance around the neighborhood. The gentle couple next door. He cuts our grass and trims the edges. Both husband and wife watch our house when we aren’t home. Another couple, their friendly house on the corner—these two young persons have saved us more than they know.

Our little town. Inside a hostile world. Government crime and greed remain. I continue to work toward a better world for all. Yet, I’m not sure I would have the energy without companions who care on an everyday level. Thanks. May karma, the good kind, embrace you.

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From discord, find Harmony. (Albert Einstein)

An Old Man’s Final Wish

Along a back window

at a huge family gathering

at a rented hall

the oldest uncle sat in his wheelchair

with the youngest child curled in his lap.

 

In the center

long tables covered with

gold, red, or blue

painted signs demanded isolation.

They claimed truth, whole

perfect, beyond criticism.

 

The families divided the space

into zones, while ugly words

stung the air—

How can you say that?

I can’t forgive you . . .

You are a fool.

 

While the family members argued,

the elderly gentleman and the tiny girl

met with approving eyes,

a twining of fingers, a gesture, a smile.

 

He celebrated the exquisite fit of

her name to her personality,

despite the hardened hearts

that fed her and his inabilities

to respond beyond a crooked grin

and speech delayed by multiple strokes

and advanced age.

 

She giggled, tugging gently

at the sagging folds in his face.

Then, as the toddler grew tired

and slept in his arms,

the man’s wife, gone twenty years,

appeared, clothed in soft light.

 

She called to him.

 

Before he allowed his spirit

to separate from his body,

he whispered his final wish

into the girl’s small ear.

 

The buffet opened as

the child’s mother noticed

her waking in the lap

of the dead man.

 

Unwilling to touch cold flesh,

several family members

abandoned their divisions,

at least for that moment,

and called to the girl,

 

Please, Hope, come to us.

 

They didn’t know they were

echoing the gentle man’s

deepest desire for his family.

 

poem previously published in For a Better World and in Piker Press

 

 

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hospital bed in intense color with parking lot below

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. (John Lennon)

Spaghetti with homemade sauce, salad, a special bread, and tapioca for dinner. The pudding is the kind that sticks to the bottom of the pan, not the pre-packaged stuff that requires no more than the opening of a plastic lid. I wanted to make something special for my husband. A just because.

My timing could have been better.

“I’m feeling a little queasy,” he says after eating a much smaller quantity than usual.

Somehow queasy is understated. By the next day he is dehydrated enough to pass out at the emergency room entrance. As his inadequate support I go down with him.

The crisis ends. One healed moment at a time.

And I sit at the computer knowing life is not mine to control. I can give. I can look a homeless person in the face and offer food or money, listen to a friend when I would rather open a book or take a nap. Act or React.

Perhaps all I can do sometimes is have a vague outline for the week and an open heart.

Right now, I have plans to learn to be more flexible, “with a little help from my friends.”

Thanks to all my friends who gave more than a little help.

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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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