Monday, July 28, 2014

Synergy and Diversity


The Mystery within...
My granddaughter Hailey was a part of the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center (LOMC) for her second summer camp.  Like last year, I went along to pick her up at her group’s Swing Choir final performance in the tenth, and last city of their tour, this year in Rock Island, IL.  They put on another terrific show, regretted parting company with their choir mates, and started looking forward to returning next year.  As I watched their last performance at St. John’s Lutheran Church I was struck by the tremendous coordination and cooperation that goes into this worthwhile experience. I felt the synergy of the community that made it all possible.  Working together, so much more can be accomplished.  I glanced over and saw the pastor of St. John’s standing in the doorway wearing her clerical collar watching the youth perform.  It was a stunning reminder of why I left the church of my birth at age 60.  Afterwards, I spoke briefly with her.  There was so much I wanted to ask her but instead just inquired how long she has been a pastor and she said 14 years.  I imagined it wasn’t easy but admired her and the church that ordained her.

What if honoring diversity creates the synergy to do things better for everyone?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Scanty Gratitude

The Mystery within...

I became aware of my scanty gratitude this past week.  It was humbling.  Losing sight of all I have to be grateful for tipped the scale toward heightening my frustration for all the distractions in this past week, namely dog sitting for my son’s three month old Boarder Collie/Shepherd puppy, Moxie, who is no where near house trained, along with my four month old Lab, Oliver, who, I think, has finally got it.  When they weren’t wrestling and play biting they were out in the yard digging holes in the mud and destroying my plants; or Moxie was in the house peeing.  I’d crate her for an hour or two but that just recharged both of their batteries and then they we at it again.  It was draining.

During a crate time out I went to the grocery store.  My feet ached and I was feeling sorry for myself.  In the parking lot I saw an elderly man bent over and pushing his walker with a few groceries in a small attached basket.  His legs were hugely swollen and bright red.  He’d walk ten feet and then had to stop and catch his breadth.  It didn’t look like he’d make another ten feet, but then he pushed on.  I felt a surge of gratitude for all the progress I’ve made with my knee therapy lately and for all I am capable of doing.  I was embarrassed for my pity party.  And then there was the news of the commercial airliner being shot down with the horrific loss of life and the tragic repercussions that follow.  It’s been quite awhile since such tragedy has visited me, and I was truly grateful.  And what about the living conditions in the Middle East and the men, women, and children losing their life in that conflict? 

What if every time we felt frustration, we’d counter balance that feeling with gratitude for our many blessings?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Grace and Nature


The Mystery within...

Last weekend my daughter and I watched the movie The Tree of Life.  It was an unusual movie with family members reliving flashbacks from their life surrounding memories of their recently deceased son and brother.  My daughter had seen the movie before and it was very helpful to have her explain to me that the mother represented grace and the father nature.  Knowing this, I became intent on the mother’s responses to life as it had unfolded around her, which was mostly one of quiet observer, definitely not reactionary.  She modeled, without words, grace.  So this past week I took the opportunity to practice more observation of the life going on around me.  As a conscious observer of others I became aware of times when it would have been so easy to get sucked in and react, but I felt little inclination to do so.  It was life giving.

What if we could all practice being more observant of the life going on around us and let Grace bridge the gap in our nature?        

Monday, July 7, 2014

Help


The Mystery within...
It’s hard for one who is accustomed to being the helper to ask for help.  I know this because I am coming to understand there are some things I can no longer do anymore.  Bending, kneeling, weeding, moving the stones
out of my rock garden, laying down a weed barrier, and putting the stones back is just one example.  That space looked so ratty with weeds totally obscuring the stones I gathered on healing walks with my late beach buddy Bear.  Restoring my rock garden felt to be an overwhelming task.

But then my daughter offered to help and I got the bright idea to phone and ask if my three grandchildren would to come and help her.  I could hear grumbling in the background when their father said they would come.  But I didn’t cave.  And they came.  I told them why those stones were important to me and their enthusiasm grew for the task.  Their math skills were employed in measuring and cutting the weed barrier, and they felt great pride in a hard job well done and looking great!  
Well done!


They moved all the stones, twice, that once helped me know there were limits to my helping and that I was worthy of good self-care as I struggled with my aging parents care needs.

I know I still have a lot more to learn about asking for help.

What if we could learn the right balance between being a helper and asking for help?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Affinity


The Mystery within...

I met a woman very briefly this past weekend.  I don’t even know her name and spoke little to her, but it was like looking in a mirror and knowing her.  I was up to my elbows in dishwater, helping a friend with a big party, when she came up to me and said, “I’ve been watching you work and I know your are enjoying yourself.”  She told me she too would much rather be on the periphery of a party than in the middle of it.  It was a brief, good vibration to feel our alikeness, to have someone admit to me that she too would rather be helping, listening, and observing the goings on rather than being in the thick of things.

And last night and this morning I continued to think about her and suspect that she too can overdo a good thing and work herself into exhaustion.  It made me aware that on the flip side of whatever our affinities are lies our challenge to become more balanced.  What if we all had someone to mirror us? 

Rumi knew the value of a mirror:

Needing a Mirror

Your eye is so wise,
it keeps turning,
turning,
needing to touch beauty.

It keeps turning,
needing to find a mirror
that will caress you as I.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Different Worlds

The Mystery Within

I found myself getting stressed this past week over obtaining some quotes on needed home repairs, and also realizing I can’t keep putting off the dreaded car shopping to replace my almost 12 year old vehicle.  And I was feeling pressured for time because of a luncheon date I made with a friend a couple of weeks earlier.  It then occurred to me this friend has no home of her own, or car, or much of anything else.  The timing of our meeting was revelatory.  Then on a trip to the library to pick up Consumer Reports car buying issues I encounter three severely handicapped individuals truly enjoying their outing there.  Awareness of these individuals’ different worlds touched me and put my stress in perspective.  And I felt the world to be briefly absent of stress when my three and a half month old Yellow Lab Oliver and I took our walk in the woods not far from my home.  There a rust-colored deer crossed my path and then stood watching me for a few seconds not twenty feet away.

What if we all could be aware of empathy, compassion and gratitude to relieve our stress? 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Apologies

The Mystery within

I owed an apology for a curt phone message I left in exasperation because a message I left the previous evening wasn’t returned by the following morning.  I then continued to stew about that while taking my puppy Oliver for a quick walk and found myself exceedingly impatient with his antics.  And then I suddenly felt and saw the ugly in me.  I did not want to be ugly, but there it was.  It was an uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding revelation.

And when Oliver and I came in the door my phone message light was flashing and the caller left a lengthy list of reasons she why she did not return my call sooner.   I called her back, left a third message; now contrite, with a brief explanation that I am having twelve people for dinner tonight and that it has me anxious and pressed for time.  And then she called me back, I apologized again and she said, “Don’t worry about it, we’ve all been there.”  He words transformed my ugly into connection and communion.

A Richard Rohr daily meditation excerpt titled “Becoming Who You Are, A Riverbed of Mercy” helped me appreciate my caller’s and my interaction.  

…”There is a part of you that is patient with both goodness and evil, exactly as God is.  There is a part of you that does not rush to judgment or demand closure now.  Rather, it stands vigilant and patient in the tragic gap that almost every moment offers. …It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgment itself), and awareness is not, as such, “thinking.”

What if, when we really need it, we could all hear, “Don’t worry about it, we’ve all been there.”