My Mom turned 97 this year and her memory for daily interactions is tenuous. Sometimes when I visit, she asks me five times about something I brought. We write our comings and goings in her guest book as a memory tool. But here’s the thing: when I walk in the door her face lights up. When she speaks of my dad, her voice is full of gratitude even when it holds some grief. When she mentions my sisters or my aunt, she is quick to say how much she appreciates their care. The other day, she told me that she woke during the night and could not go back to sleep, so she decided to count her blessings. She had a long list. Her life has been lived with an emphasis on relationship. She consistently chooses the path of love. Rules are important, but love comes first. If you don’t deeply love, you don’t have the authority to impose a rule. It’s not a Pollyanna view. She has buried two husbands – one when she was 27, one last year. She always believed that it was best to face things head on and to talk about them, truthfully, quietly and with grace. Hers has been a life of determined joyful gratitude. This is not an accident. It is a practiced pattern. So well-practiced, that she doesn’t forget it.
Tag Archives: gift
the hound of heaven returns
Fear keeps me from you, my holy friend Not fear of you but fear of you seeing me, knowing me Fear of your disappointment and your deep sigh Fear of the recognition of myself within your eyes Ashamed and sad. How can I flee the love that would bring me to life? Why turn my heart from dear embrace? Like a small child, covering my eyes so you can’t see me I plug my ears and hum, forgetting that every molecule is sourced by you. Oh, hound of heaven, chase me down Until I turn at last to find you dancing in delight Until you lick my face in joy Willing, again, to humble yourself in incarnation Whatever form it takes to free my love.
I receive the blessings of October • The birthday gift of presence from my family, willing to join me outdoors despite the wind and unexpected heat • The whimsy of encounters with armadillos and cows • The crunch of leaves underfoot I offer this blessing in response • May you catch the eyes of a friend, this day, and see within in them a reflection of your worth to them – and give in jubilant response, the confirmation of their worth to you.
I am grateful for today
For the sun upon the leaves
For the breeze upon my cheek
For the yellow of the flower
For the soft sigh of my love.
These gifts offer
Small, sweet flavor
For my day.
I am grateful.
[photo by Abdillah Wicaksono per cc 2.0]
It’s not fair.
Thankfully … it’s not fair.
Fairness can be boring
An even exchange with no sense
Of enduring obligation.
It is like a contract,
Formed to make sure all are satisfied in the end,
Satisfied enough to pay no attention to each other
Satisfied enough to leave and never look back.
But when you have been given a gracious gift
You are connected to the giver.
There is a tie that a grateful heart maintains.
It brings a sense that you must give, as well.
Often, I struggle
Under that sense of obligation.
But reciprocity is the first step toward love.
Would that I could but see that cycle of giving
As a bond of mutual care.
Then, I might learn to join that dance with a sense of joy,
Both giving and receiving with an open heart,
Grateful for the dance, itself.
The focus, when you sign a contract,
Is on what is exchanged.
The focus, when a gift is given,
Is on the relationship.
And that is a true gift.
[My thanks to Raymond Boisvert for this insight.]
[photos of the Reciprocity Collective at Tedx Providence 2018 per cc 2.0]
sometimes, words won’t do
they are just too tiny
just too constrained
but the absence of words
can leave an awkward emptiness
a sense of isolation
so let us build
a tiny bridge,
a fragile conduit
with our words
let us reach
with faltering hands
to touch the cheek of hope –
the hope that we all share
the hope that we might be
both truly ourselves
and truly one
with all that is
such is the gift of God
selfhood and community
a mystery to be honored
with our tiny, hopeful words
[photo by Jennifer Fred Merchán per cc 2.0]
it’s not the turning of a clock
but the turning of my heart
that makes for a new year
some days are just one more
of the days that went before
until I stop to notice
so, this year
is less about resolutions to break
and more about attention and appreciation
the nice thing about this frame
is that as soon as I remember my intention
it’s already accomplished
What a delight
to face the new year
without anticipated guilt
I’m smiling when write ’19’
[photo by jesuscm_Huawei P20 series per cc 2.0]
When you remember
That whatever you do to others
You do to God, herself,
You see an even deeper reality to
Refusing to listen to words of truth
Is a refusal to listen to God
And a denial of the very heart of the relationship
That holds the world together.
Nevertheless, She persisted.
[photo by John Mavroudis from the cover of Time Magazine, 10/18]
[My gratitude to joekay617 for this reminder]
a good day
A good day
Is one in which you dance the dance you were born to,
And hear your own heart cheerfully applaud
Even as the world sighs with deep gratitude
And the Holy One nods and winks in your direction.
It is a gift to give your gift.
[photo by John Getchel per cc 2.0]
[Kudos to On Being’s newsletter – The Pause – for the reminder about what makes a good day.]
the moonbeam’s box
At the end of the day (or the beginning)
The heart of my faith rests in my heart.
It’s not the creeds or doctrines.
It’s not the smells and bells.
It is the hope (and sometimes realization)
Of the touch of the Holy on my soul.
That hope and promise of relationship,
My hope – our hope together –
Is what has held me firm,
Even as I question and struggle
With the forms and frames that have been dictated to me.
The path is not the destination.
“Spirituality is the moonbeam.
Religion is the box we try to catch it in.”
We need the box,
Else the real is too elusive for beginners.
And we are all beginners, to the end.
But the box is not a substitute for what gives life.
A God who loves me:
That is the source and joy of life.
An invitation to reciprocate that love,
(For love is full only when it is freely returned)
That is the mystery.
That holy circle of grace is all in all.
[The quotation about the moonbeam is from DR. KWEETHAI NEILL, PHD]
[Thanks to Timothy Luke Johnson for the insight that it is the experience of God, not correct doctrine, that is the abiding power of Christianity.]
[photo by Judy van der Velden per cc 2.0]