Archives for category: Consideration

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Photo of “small pebble” courtesy of K. Farwell

 

I think it is time to write again. My emotions have been dashed about by forceful waves of fate these days. There have been almost constant reminders of suicide and the importance of reaching out with compassion to each other. Yet, at the same time there have been acts of violence, fear, and frustration erupting in my own state and all over the world. My spiritual studies have told me to hang on—-to “rejoice” in the moment , to go within to reach God’s peace and sanctuary so that I can, hopefully, share that with those who inhabit the world around me near and far.  Wisdom through the ages has taught “as it is within, so it is without.” It makes sense, then, that I must focus on creating a “within” that is worth sharing and then find ways to share it so that it can influence my outer world.

I must admit at times, this seems like an impossible task. At others, it feels like a “pacifist cop out”—-it seems too easy to “hide within” when part of me wants to actively fight for what is right and good. But, you see, that is what most people spreading violence and hatred among one another believe they are doing—-fighting for what is good and right. At times like this I find solace in words of wisdom I find in the Psalms and in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Both focus on harboring and reverencing a “God within”—-and using that “Higher Power” to direct one’s efforts in working on improving one’s own character defects and bad habits so that one can be aware of, willing,  and able to carry out God’s will. There are strong messages of reconciliation in both books—-an emphasis on the need change our own behavior and to make amends for our own wrongs before we judge others or lash out against others.

So, today I must remember that I am a small pebble in a big ocean and that my mission, today and always, is to focus on improving my relationship with God and so I can radiate love, compassion, and peace to help build God’s kingdom on earth one molecule at a time. May God bless and keep you.

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Photograph courtesy of K. Farwell

This past week has been, well, different. A couple of days ago my dogs woke me up barking, and as I was letting them out the back door I noticed my backyard gate was open. I stopped the dogs from going out, and as I started out to close the gate I saw a little boy standing just to the right of my gate. I asked him if he’d opened it. He said, “Yes, I want to see the dogs.” He was very small, very vulnerable, and very, very, alone—–so I told him to meet me at my front door and I’d bring out one dog for him to play with. He tried to close my gate but couldn’t figure out how to get the latch to work.

Of course, he repeatedly rang my doorbell before I could get the gate closed and make it to my front door. On the way I quickly picked up Gus, my Maltipoo who has never met a stranger, and took him out with me to meet our guest. Then began one of the strangest encounters I have ever had. The boy was able to tell me he was five years old, but he would not tell me his name. He did not know his address, his phone number, or what his mother’s name was. He said he’d been walking a long ways, and indeed there was a lot of grass stuck to his bare feet. He had evidently been walking through dew-covered cut grass.

He picked some of my flowers and brought them to me. If you look at the photo published with today’s blog you will be able to see they were past their prime and needed picked.  He was dressed in Spider Man shorts and a Rocky Raccoon long sleeve t-shirt.  The only useful information I was able to get out of him was that he went to day care at the school across the street from my house.

I called 911, and the police finally came to help. The officer who showed up said his name was “Zach, ” and he did a very good job of talking to the child. However,  he was also unable to get any useful information out of the child. The child would point to the right and say his house was that way. Then he would point to the left and say his house was that way. He was adamant about wanting to go to the water park, that he was not running away, and would we please give him a ride to his house.

After about 45 minutes the officer’s radio let us know a mother two to three streets over had called to report that when she woke up this morning her little boy was not there. That was enough for the officer to call for backup to accompany him as he drove the child to this woman’s address. I patted the boy on the back told him to have a good day, and thanked him for stopping and talking to me.

I suppose the whole incident was a karma type “payback” for when I was about five years old and tried to run away from home. I was in the middle of the country, and a car drove by and stopped. An older man was driving the car, and he talked me into going back home and into getting in his car so he could give me a ride home. He actually took me home. He did not know me or my parents. He was kind. I was lucky. My encounter gave me a chance to “payback” the man’s kindness. This time I got to be kind and help a small child stay safe.

For some reason, I keep noticing little boys now. Yesterday, I gave away my king-sized bed—–and as my friends were loading it into the back of their pickup my two neighbor boys came over and asked me if I was moving. They couldn’t understand why I’d be giving a bed a way. These kids are my “buds”—-they stop by to visit whenever they see me out in my yard.

But then I noticed a little boy in church today. At my church it is our practice to anoint small children with oil during communion rather than serving them communion. Our priest got down at the little boy’s level and smiled and talked to him as she made the sign of the cross on his forehead with the anointing oil.  After she was finished,  the little boy  turned around and started walking back to his pew—–and started jumping for joy.

What’s the message in all this? I guess it is simply to be aware of what is going on around you and to do the next right thing—————–even if it is not what you’d planned on doing. I would like to have the innocent joy of the one young boy—–and the absolute trust of the boy who showed up at my backyard gate.  I feel like Wendy in Peter Pan, I’ve grown up.  However,  I can still  be happy; I can be “present” in the moment; and I can trust others although my trust is no longer so freely given. God bless and keep you.

 

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Image courtesy of  graur razvan ionut/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recycling Eccentricity

This morning I got totally immersed in reading Facebook. Before I knew it (or without knowing it?) I was enmeshed in reading  copious “conversations” about the town I grew up in. The conversation that jumped out at me was about  “Lena, the Garbage Lady.” She was a woman with a college education who, though once a teacher, had decided to live alone with her dogs and cats and to drive a horse drawn cart through the streets of Eureka Springs picking up people’s garbage. Rumor has it she lived in a cave in the summers and a cabin in the winters. Some thought her crazy. Some thought her a witch. Some thought her a silly old “hillbilly woman.” I remember her and her cart from the time when I was a young child about 60 years ago. GTO immortalized her in their 1969 “Permanent Damage” album  in their song entitled: “The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady”(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW7d5IfEz3M).

Why bring all this up? Well, Lena has become an important symbol to me of qualities I admire in a woman. She was strong, intelligent,  and independent,  and she dared to think/live  by her own values rather than those of society. She was years before her time; she pre-dated the feminist movement by at least a couple of decades. She “dropped out of society and lived on the land” years before all of us old “hippies” aspired to doing so. She was doing recycling before the word was invented. I wish I could turn the clock of time back and have a conversation with her. I would love to know her thoughts and to be introduced to the truths her life had taught her. Maybe I would find out the folks who called her crazy had been right. Maybe I’d find out the people who said she abandoned “society” due to a love affair having gone bad  were right. Perhaps, I would find those who said she “lost her mind” because she was unable to rescue all the children from a burning school building  were right. As far as I know, she never presented a danger to herself or others, and, therefore, I do not think she could legally be considered insane (crazy). However, in small rural  towns being different can be enough to get you labeled crazy. I think she was an intelligent woman who was brave enough to choose to be different, regardless of what motivated her to become a recluse garbage collector.

I hope I can allow this woman’s legacy to help me have the courage to be different and live according to what I consider to be important rather than what society considers important.  I always assumed Ms. Lena had a very active spiritual life filled with prayer and meditation. Maybe I have her mixed up with the Dalai Lama, but that does not really  matter. What matters is how I live my life. You see, I want to be independent and to march to my own drummer, but I want to do it within the context of relationships with people and my God. I want to be immersed in spirituality, but I want to do it amidst my fellow humans rather than while being a recluse. Don’t get me wrong, I highly respect those who devote their lives to being in constant contact with a spiritual being on a spiritual plane rather than in the context of our world’s shared reality.  I need others to teach me, to show me, to inspire me, to let me feel the God within them,  and to let me hear the God within them. Otherwise, I would not be challenged to grow. I would become complacent. I would go to sleep.

So, the message from today’s blog is to immerse yourself in the world that surrounds you and relate to the people you encounter. Take time to think about what your observations have to teach you. Take these observations and interpretations inward where one can discover the spiritual truths imbedded in daily existence. May God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I was reminded  I could be happier in the present moment if I quit focusing on the way I think things should be. I know this is true, but something has been eating at me ever since I got home from visiting my father over Christmas. I have a dear friend who explained to me  holidays are like exclamation points—–they call attention to aspects of our reality that don’t match the way our culture says they are “supposed to be.” Many face Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or New Years Day without a significant other(s) present. Every time a thoughtless person asks, with all good intentions, “How was your Christmas?” that person may be reminding someone of how painful and different his or her experience of Christmas was in comparison to the special shared time our culture expects it to be.

Yes, it helps to know that Christmas is really about celebrating Christ’s birth. I have often sat alone in my home reading the Christmas Story from my bible on Christmas day. Calls to my father and sisters help at those times, but it is still not what anyone would call a “traditional Christmas” experience.

My experience of Christmas has not been traditional for quite some time. It stopped being what television told me it should be when my mother and father divorced. Somehow having to “go home” to two separate homes at Christmas time at that point in my life took much of the magic out of Christmas. No matter how hard people tried, I always felt like a guest in both homes and did not feel as if I belonged in either one of them.

I like to think I have come a long ways since those days. I have learned Christmas is not all about “me”—-or my expectation that it be like it was, or I thought it was, when I was a child. The magic returns when I can let go of those old expectations and focus instead on making it better for others. I was lucky this Christmas. I got to spend it with my elderly father and youngest sister. It was special. I will always cherish the memory of the time we spent with each other. However, I still need to be careful not to automatically ask everyone I meet how their Christmas went. It may seem a bit strange, but I am trying to learn to ask people how they have been rather than how their experience of a specific event was.

Well, that is my rant for this afternoon. I am hoping all of us can experience a pleasant “now” in the present moment, moment by moment, as we travel through the day.  May God bless and keep you.