Wednesday, February 26, 2014

one small thing

A friend sent the following poem to me today.  It lists many of the labels we use to introduce ourselves. I began listing mine but stopped counting at around twenty.  The poet asks us to consider suspending usage of the labels in order to focus on the beauty of the present moment.
And just now, looking out the window I saw my son-in-law and grandson digging for worms in the vegetable patch.  As I watched the father and child feed worms to the chickens I knew that this was what Susan Glassmeyer is guiding me toward as the  "one small thing that cost us nothing but our attention."  
The photos capture the "something simple that nourished my soul"  today. 
Fredrick showing me the worm his dad  has unearthed.
Let's not say our names
or what we do for a living.
If we are married
and how many times.
Single, gay, or vegan.
Let's not mention
how far we got in school.
Who we know,
what we're good at
or no good at, at all.
Let's not hint at
how much money we have
or how little.
  Where we go to church
or that we don't.
What our Sun Sign is
our Enneagram number
our personality type according to Jung
or whether we've ever been
Rolfed, arrested, psychoanalyzed,
or artificially suntanned.
Let's refrain, too, from stating any ills.
What meds we're on
including probiotics.
How many surgeries we've survived
or our children’s children's problems.
And, please—
let's not mention
who we voted for
in the last election.
Let's do this instead:
Let's start by telling
just one small thing
that costs us nothing
but our attention.
Something simple
that nourishes
the soul of our bones.
How it was this morning
stooping to pet the sleeping dog's muzzle
before going off to work.
walking in the woods
spotting that fungus on the stump
of a maple
so astonishingly orange
it glowed like a lamp.
Or just now,
the sound
of your
own breath
or sinking
at the end
of this

-- Susan Glassmeyer

action shot of Fredrick offering the worm.
Chickens and small boys move fast!
happy chickens

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Forgive More

Have you ever attended a seminar or conference and been inundated with information to the point that by the time you leave you can’t remember much of anything that you heard, even though you took copious notes?  That is a common occurrence and one that I had this past weekend at this year's Seattle University’s "Search for Meaning" book fair.  This event brings together authors whose works focus on our never-ending search for meaning in such arenas as spirituality, diversity, and social justice. After spending the day listening to amazing speakers I walked away struck by just 2 words that I heard in one of the sessions.  These 2 words weren’t an integral part of the presentation but they wouldn't leave me.

The two words that stayed with me?  Forgive More…I don’t know why but they resonated somewhere deep inside.  I struggle with forgiveness – of others and of myself.  I know the importance of forgiveness but more forgiveness?  I’m pretty happy with Forgive Just Enough.   

Many years ago I was walking thru a grocery store and said hello to a woman I knew from church.  She looked surprised and said, “Oh, so you’re talking to me now?”  I was confused.  “What do you mean by that? Why wouldn’t I be talking to you?” “Well Roberta,” she replied, “You've been ignoring me for awhile now, but I'm not surprised because everyone knows that you can hold a grudge for a very long time.”  Ouch….I felt defensive and my ego’s first response was “No I don’t do that, it’s just not true!” but after really thinking about it I realized there was truth in what she had said.  It doesn’t help that holding grudges is part of my DNA.  I come from Northern Ireland, a country that has raised the level of holding grudges into an art form.  It was common in my family of origin to cut people off for years after an offense or a perceived offense.  But that is no excuse.  Good grief, I wasn’t even aware that I wasn’t talking to this woman!  And there are those two words again:  Forgive More.

In my work as a hospice chaplain one of the prayers that people love to hear and recite is The Lord’s Prayer.  You know how it starts:  "Our Father, who does art in Heaven, Harold be your name."  Are you familiar with that version?  No?  Well children are! Probably because they haven’t learned all the rules about the “right way” to pray and they have the wonderful ability to hear and interpret words they don't understand in their own way.

There is another line in that prayer that is my favorite interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. It was written by a 4 year old – and we all know how wise a 4 year old can be. In Jesus’ version the line says “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  What is a trespass?  An offense, sin, wrong, transgression, or debt.  Here’s the 4 year old version of that verse:  “Forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”

Forgive more.  Maybe it means to empty my trash basket.  Maybe it means to think about what trash I'm putting in others’ baskets.   And maybe it means to just Forgive More. 
photo from here

Monday, February 10, 2014

Letter from the Wise Ones

Greetings Dear Landlady,

We have had yet another delightful Epiphany season. We knew you would want to know that we arrived safely (though Herod tried to fool us yet again.)  The toddler is a wonder to behold and I think he loved his gifts - though his mother took them away from him for safekeeping -  but we completely understand.  We hope he can use them later in life. 

We are heading back now but are taking our time as we've met so many other wise ones on our journey . Tell the leprechaun that we will probably miss him this year as we probably won't return before his big day in March.

Please enjoy the photos we've enclosed of our compadres.  What a joy to travel!

Epiphany Blessings!

The Wise Men

P.S.  The camel is doing splendidly...what a help he has been!

Toddler Christ: A Collect
"Toddler Christ,
before whom Wise Men knelt,
after they had foolishly aided a tyrant
who wanted to destroy you:
Make us, in the face of dangerous power,
as crafty as snakes and as harmless as doves,
so that we know when to be silent,
when and how to speak,
and when to take another road,
in your name.  Amen"
from Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany:
Liturgies and Prayers for Public Worship
by Brian A. Wren
p. 199