Beauty

cropped-cropped-cropped-gods-sunset.jpgI have been stumped on this one for days. My commitment to clarity has found fault in every attempt at bringing forward a response to the private sadness-es extended to me, the brokenness, and the unbearable burden of living in the skin that they’re in. Be it stress, self loathing, anxiety about the future, never fitting in…the list goes on and goes deep. I could write about societies skewed views on beauty, weight, identity, intelligence, gender, etc. but so many have done a better job at it…and I continued to feel like there was an idea, a word, a first step just outside my consciousness that others hadn’t addressed, that I could create a different context for. Then, this morning it came to me…Job.

While perusing the news and social media, I came across a post that made my blood boil about defining “who and what” is made in God’s eyes. In general, a pastor went on about who God intended men and women to be, which seemed completely contrary to everything I have ever understood about God. It was that moment when Job, in the Wisdom books of  the Old Testament, popped into my head. Here is a primer: Job has a wonderful life in every respect. God is reveling in how faithful he is, and the Devil speaks up and says, “well, sure he is…he has everything. Take it all away and he won’t be so faithful.” To which God replies emphatically, “Go ahead, take away all that he has, but do not harm him” The devil takes up this wager and takes everything and makes his life unbearable. Horrors unimaginable happen to him and throughout the story, Job’s friends and even his wife try to convince him that he had to have done something wrong to have received God’s wrath. Job wishes he had never been born, demanding answers from God. Then a man who claims to know God’s mind instructs Job in what he should do to get back in God’s graces. God has finally enough of people bombarding Job their opinions and claiming to know his mind. He goes on a long diatribe that begins like this:

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance? Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers! Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding? Who determined its size, do you know? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone?  While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the children of God shouted for joy? And who shut within the doors, the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, And said “Thus far shall you come, but no further, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!” Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown dawn its place? For taking hold of the ends of the earth, till the wicked are taken from its surface?…….

 

God goes on for pages asking questions that no one could know the answer to until Job finally responds:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you? I put my hand over my mouth…I know you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I have heard you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.

God then sees that Job has learned and repented, and restores all his blessings.

What strikes me most in this time, with this old and wise story is how often I hear men and women preach about what is in the mind of God. I wish God would come down and say to them as clearly as he did in that ancient story, that unless you can answer the litany of questions that I posed to Job, don’t speak as an authority of what is in my mind! At 56 years old, I am still trying to figure that out, through many trials and errors. The arrogance of the judgments made in the name of God make me physically ill. But that doesn’t mean we can have no understanding at all, we have a history of faith to pull from. First and foremost, though, I think the place to start is to learn to see and appreciate the beauty that he created, including the beauty that is each and every one of us. If we can’t start there, with what is right in front of our eyes, then we can’t begin to understand the masterful construction of God in anything else. Seeing beauty as God does, counter intuitively must begin through our own eyes, the created, at our own reflection. Until that happens, any beauty we think we see or strive for out in the world is nothing but an illusion to try to become something other than what we are at this moment, which is loved by an omnipotent and magnificent God. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take care of and nurture the beauty that we are, it just means we accept and celebrate the blueprint…which can include any amount of differentiation, like being born with the brain of one gender into the body of another gender. It is expressing that blueprint with each individual’s best effort and not defaming it in any way, regardless of the challenges, that we acknowledge the brilliance of God. Imagine how wonderful the world would be if each of us could just accept that God made us exactly the way we are for a reason and trusted us to do the best we can with what we have.

When an individual or group condemns one of God’s creations, be it gender, or size, or ethnicity, or class, it is also how we can know with surety that someone does indeed NOT speak God’s mind. There are no mistakes. When anyone says, “this creation is an abomination”, or denies the beauty of it, they move further away from understanding God. The New Testament is full of opportunities to see and hear things in a new way, the way God intended. When any person tried to trap Jesus into condemning anyone, he refused and usually threw the judgement back at the accuser, because all are welcome into God’s kingdom.. We need to be more like Job, recognizing our smallness compared to God, and admit that there is just too much out there that we cannot know, and most importantly humbly trust in God even though it might be beyond our understanding.

 

Taking Umbrage…for and at Women

um·brage

noun \ˈəm-brij\

: a feeling of being offended by what someone has said or done

I started this post several times, wanting to be positive, a bit less controversal, and with propriety.  I couldn’t do it because I did promise a sense of wild abandon, so here goes.  I seem to take umbrage with almost every angle of the state of women in our world today.  I am sickened by movements to censure, mutilate, deny education, control and retract any advances made through history.  And yet, I take as much umbrage with a culture that objectifies, sexualizes, and at the opposite end values a woman based on some prudish matronly definition of goodness.  Seriously people, what in the sam hill is going on?

Jesus set the standard so clearly in his ministry.  Women were of great value to him; especially women who chose his instruction over what culture restricted them to, check out the Mary and Martha story…( I blogged about it here, maryfrancesflood.com/2012/06/18/im-a-mary-and-not-a-martha/.  I think women owe Jesus a great deal for the place that he brought us to…and with that comes responsibility.  We, as women, must take a stand against those who would force us to lose the sacred ground that many fought so hard to attain.  So where the hell do I stand?

While I am plagued with fear when I hear most men speak of rape, whether on a college campus, foreign soil, a military base or from the mouth of a politician, I have to admit that I am plagued with as much fear at the cavalier attitude and sexually charged culture in this country.  While I think we should celebrate our physical bodies, I am tired of how sex inundates our culture.  I don’t want to see young women run around in their underwear, or clothing designed to cradle a man’s package.  While I am not a prude…I say EEEWWWWW!  The pervasiveness of sex in just about everything is a problem for me. Being a good lover by today’s standards is understood by sexual prowess and not in the way the gospel intended.  Getting better at sex will never help us get better at love…PERIOD.  And it won’t help us reclaim our power either.

I have thought long and hard about whether or not my attitude is based on my aging form and diminishing beauty…and then that very thought even pissed me off!  Who defined aging and beauty anyway?  Well, I include myself when I say we all had a hand in that too.  With age, I’ve gained great experience and education and was for a moment ready to hold those accomplishments at a lesser value than my aging appearance…and yet, in all truthfulness I understand why. We live in a culture that worships youth and marginalizes maturity.  Look at the amount of money that goes into physical beauty; the money women spend on achieving some skewed idea of youthful perfection is tragic.  We could save all the starving children in the world many times over, if we allowed ourselves to age naturally and dump our obsession with beauty regimens.

I’m not saying as women, we can’t try to be beautiful and celebrate our sexuality.  But if we aren’t working as hard for the standard the Jesus set, i.e. we are as valuable as any man, and are offered the same gift of grace, with the same expectations for our behavior…then we’ve failed on a massive level.  Let’s be better at loving, starting with ourselves.

The Comforts of Home

comfort of homeThis has been an overwhelming week.  Tragedy strikes, the kind that one wonders if its possible to come back from…and then, small miracles happen that renew hope.  I have to say what an honor it has been to work together with amazing people in this small little hamlet who have responded with no less love and compassion than heavenly angels.  The effortless ease with which we pulled together to help our friends, our neighbors, attend to whatever needs there may be, is indeed inspiring.  In the lull of day-to-day, it’s easy to isolate in our own personal dramas and let the negativity of the world overwhelm and discourage us.  Then, by no small miracle we are given an opportunity to pull together and bestow the kind of loving embrace that soothes the wounded soul.  Broken hearts of a few are augmented by the functioning hearts of the many.  We are the body of Christ as we pull together and carry our friends in their need.  From a simple desire to sooth and help, to comfort and to heal, to mourn innocence gone too soon, connections happen that strengthen us all.  I feel in this moment the magic of my simple yet extraordinary community.  Regardless of position or politics, we are a community to be proud of, the best that America has to offer, and proof that in even in the darkest moment our hope will prevail.

In the Quiet, Her Melody Sounds

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????There is so much noise in the world… voices that breed chaos and fear, that drown out hope’s melody.  Then, there are the voices that still the noise and soothe the heart.  The simple beauty of innocence, in which the melody of hope bares the true litmus test of God’s presence and reign over this world.  Sadly,one of those voices in full swing of transforming the world, moved to join the choir of heaven to magnify the purity of her singular sound.  Our human ears may not have the physical ability to hear the fullness of that heavenly choir, but in stillness I hear Sarah’s simple voice and know that she is here, her melody continuing in the day-to-day.  Once created in the image of God and sanctified by Him, her melody will continue for ever more helping heaven quell the tide that evil brings.  She will forever sing for her family, for friends for those who have lost the ability to hear the song of hope.  Through her melody I pray that loved ones can find comfort as they miss her physical presence.  In remembering her, I will try even harder to listen and to hear the unique song of all of God’s children and celebrate that through them, hope will reign.

To See or Not to See

ireland-crossHere is something that must be said.  Simply stated, my faith in God is central to the way in which I observe the world—but that is just me.  Although devout, I wouldn’t describe my faith as typical.  I know I’ve said this before, but as a theology student I was given an assignment to find a biblical passage to represent my faith…my choice?: King David dancing naked before the Ark of the Covenant—draw your own conclusions.  In the rash of religious fundamentalism that has taken hold of many in today’s world, I am almost a bit embarrassed to share my passion and devotion to God for fear of being pigeon-holed as an advocate for some of the idiocy that has come out of some religious fundamentalists.  However, this post can be helpful to anyone regardless of where they are in life’s great journey or what philosophy or theology they embrace.  My purpose here is to simply help people  reflect on, and have a stake in how they choose to observe the ordinary things in this world because it matters more than you may realize.  The many Christian and other spiritual images I use serve to illustrate what I have learned, and they just seem to make a lot of sense to me.  More than anything, it is faith that God is behind me at all times that gives me the strength of this conviction: All things, are indeed possible.

Let me say this: the connections I’ve made based on how I observe the world have led me to new ideas which have resulted in becoming an effective force for change (or a force to be reckoned with depending on the day).  Simply put, I found that most of the materials necessary to live out the movie in my head and the answers to my life’s questions came wrapped in ordinary brown paper, free for the taking.   As much fun as it is to believe that a secret society, centuries ago, has buried the secret to happiness in countless riddles all over the globe, the truth is that it has been right in front of us all along.

The key lies in how to observe the ordinary: using ones own cosmic imagination to see everyday raw materials as essential ingredients in creating something greater, to achieve ones dream.  I may just be stating the obvious, but I’m amazed at how many people don’t even begin to use the simple things that are right in front of them.  They look, but do not really see.  The growing sense of fear and despair in the world is all the proof that I need to bring a message of hope.  Observing the world as one that is evolving into greatness shapes the very way one moves and creates in it.   This is not just another take on “attitude is everything.”  When I use the word “observation,” I’m not speaking about a passive action, rather, one that is the root of all creation and growth.  I, in my ordinary-ness, am as essential a factor in the world’s equation for success as any president or king, because my observations are unique to me alone.  And because they are unique to me alone, they can be the exact ingredient necessary for my greatness somewhere else.

Another observation I’ve made is that too many people want to bypass the middle of any process.  We live in a day and age where the easiest route is always the best route, regardless of the cost.  Having status is far more important than the process by which one attains it.  What happens when one is given something too easily, without the opportunity to earn it?  In an age where technology has made all our lives so much easier, perhaps we have lost the motivation to work hard…for anything.  That may be a hard bit to swallow, but there is evidence out there to prove my point.  I find the amount of money that goes into gambling and lottery pots around the world staggering.  It is certainly more than the GNP of many third world countries in the world.  What really is the end result for bypassing the middle where all the hard work is and jumping to the end?  I think part of the reason that we want to bypass the middle is that there is a subtle underlying message today that tempts us into believing that life shouldn’t be hard, that there are ways to bypass any difficulty and that if you can’t fix it within a moment’s time, throw it away and buy something better.  Sadly enough, there are more than enough individuals out there who have, to put it bluntly, just stopped moving period, forcing the rest of us to find our way around them.

I would also venture to say that most people out there have, at times, considered themselves to be inconsequential when it comes to making an impact on the world. They don’t see themselves as an essential element in something much greater.  It is this belief that has created the grey cloud that is obstructing clear sight.  I am here to say this: the roots of colossal change lie in the smallest and simplest things which often go unnoticed by the naked eye.  When you bypass the middle of any process, you miss all the important stuff.  It is the mustard seed approach that Jesus spoke about: taking something small and seemingly insignificant and learning to have faith in its potential, to put forth the effort to nurture it and see its place in the distant future, far after it has left my circle of influence.  Like the beauty of our DNA’s double helix, every single element is essential in creating the blueprint that becomes a human being.  It is the compilation of many different elements that expresses our potential.  Why not look at our human family the same way?

Being in the middle of a process can also be, at times, tedious, hard work, full of uncertainty, and time-consuming.  It also demands a great deal of humility and faith in the work being done and the process as a whole.  It is my hope to give credit and encouragement to anyone in that middle place, where the effort is not glamorous, but is no less essential than finishing the job.  All of us, at one time or another has had the tedious job of passing a bucket.  Columbus may have been credited for discovering America, but when it came to the discovery of chocolate he was just a middle man

Back to Observation

eyes of graceFrom my unrecognizable place in the world, I’ve seen a lot.   Being in the middle has had its advantages.  I’ve learned a lot from being a middle child, living in the Midwest, graduating several times in the middle of my class, having a middle-income, juggling the challenges of the middle class etc.  Far from being mediocre, though, being in the middle has offered me an equidistant view to the world. From the thick of it, I see an increasing sense of discontentment, anxiety, stress and a loss of hope.  It seems that my penchant for average has kept me, sometimes against my will in a position of observation.  There seems to be a ubiquitous grey cloud that hangs over society today, even a midst the plethora of groups who have laid claim to the key to happiness or in the alternative try to isolate the exact source of our discontent and eradicate it.  In all honesty, most of those groups on high who offer solutions to any and all problems if I would just surrender my control and give into “the right way of thinking” are never all that hopeful or happy, which truly doesn’t inspire much credibility on their part.

And yet, I’m not offering any magical solution either.  However, it doesn’t mean that a solution isn’t there, just waiting to be recognized.  After years of honing my observation skills, I think I understand why we aren’t necessarily in a better place. It all lies in our perception and our ability to see the solution.  No solution to any problem is helpful if you can’t see it.  So let me use another sense to focus on the problem.  Focus on your hearing for a moment: I cannot sing.  I’m not being modest.  I really can’t sing.  But, just because I’m aware of my own limitations vocally doesn’t mean that I also forgo the ability to make a decision about whether someone else can sing or not.  Pretend you’re on a variation of the show American Idol.  Now, instead of it being your job to listen to potential singers, focus on the contestant’s perception of their singing.  The truth, or proof of talent, is what comes out of their mouths, not from voicing the opinion that they are the one you are looking for.  Very often, you respond with incredulity, because it is painfully obvious that many of the contestants are delusional.  Then, just when it feels like there is no hope, and you’re ready to accept anybody that may have only a glimmer of talent, a pure tone and melody presents itself often from the least likely contestant. It is keeping alive the hope, like a beautiful song, that an answer to a prayer exists out there for each one of us. All of us ordinary folk have been inundated with really bad singers for too long now.  The negativity of the information we receive from almost every angle, like nails on a blackboard, is making my head hurt.  Like those terrible singers on American Idol, some people are just plain off-key and should be told so.  When truth becomes buried so deeply under the screeching of the tone-deaf, it does have an effect on the rest of the world, making it harder for the rest of us to hear the clear tones of truth.

Bad things happen, to be sure.  The cure, though, is much more basic and a lot more boring, which may, to many people, make it far less interesting than being delusional.  Truth is often the bitterest of pills and it is indeed a challenge to encourage consumption in a way that is palatable…but I do feel obligated to try.  The answer lies in not what one sees, but how one sees it: the process of observation.  For example, take something simple like the cacao bean, cane sugar, and cow’s milk.   Looking at these raw materials singularly one may not see anything remarkable, but who could have guessed that, as an addendum to a long and adventurous journey of discovering a new world, these ordinary elements would work in concert together to become one of the great culinary discoveries of all time: chocolate.

The fact that chocolate has been a delicacy and has delighted our taste buds for centuries isn’t at all surprising.  What may be surprising, though, are recent scientific studies that have also shown the impact that the properties of the cocoa bean has on our health.  Many of you are probably aware that consuming chocolate releases endorphins : a natural morphine like substance that your body produces that inspires well-being.  Were you aware that chocolate may also improve cognitive function and make your heart healthier also?  Had the cocoa bean been left in its natural and bitter state, perhaps we wouldn’t have been so willing to include it as practically its own food group.  Again, so there is a great food that is good for you, not such a big deal.  The biggest miracle of chocolate though, doesn’t lie in our taste buds or sense of well-being, but how it came about in the first place.

The truly amazing part about the interactions between the Mayans, Aztecs, Columbus, Cortez, and some Spanish monks, is that individually they never intended to discover a new food.  The creation of chocolate is only one example of what can happen when simple elements of different worlds unwittingly merge and then emerge into something entirely new and different.  Like children do, the key is to observe the world in a way that is teeming full of potential.  Perhaps it is God’s intent to present us the necessary raw materials and let our hearts be the source of seeing what ordinary elements mixed together can do to transform the bitter into the delightful.  It also took time, some failures and a host of different players to find the perfect recipe.  The creation of chocolate is the perfect metaphor for the plot of the movie in my head: there is always something great that can come out of any journey, even if it is unintentional.  The challenge is to believe that any road can lead to chocolate by learning to see the infinite potential in ourselves, and the ordinary things and people one sees along the way.  My entire life thus far is a living testimony to this truth.

In a general sense, the purpose of these post’s on observation is to create a cosmic sort of chocolate, so to speak: to create a process by which one can see the world in a way that looks as good as chocolate tastes…and is still healthy for you. It just doesn’t make sense that from this world of amazing raw materials God would give any of us great visuals without also setting us in the right direction and providing means necessary to be a part of bringing them to fruition.   It’s simply a question of being able to see and then bring together the right ingredients. I’ve also learned not to be too rigid about what the final result will look like, to limit the number of roads necessary to get there or even stay around long enough to actually see the fruits of my labor.  And I can say with confidence that I have never been disappointed. Confused at times, perhaps, but never disappointed.

That being said, because each of our lives are different I wouldn’t necessarily expect anyone else to fully understand or appreciate the movie in my head, like I probably wouldn’t fully appreciate what is going on in anybody else’s either.  It’s important to preserve subjectivity.  Not only are we all predisposed genetically to certain traits, we all have accumulated millions of different experiences, resulting in millions of unique personal dioramas.  So really, no one individual will ever see the world in the same way any other does.   This also means that no one else can give you an instruction book on how to live out the movie in your own head.  What I’ve observed is that too many people rely on others to tell them how they must see the world to find success which is one of the causes of the world’s deluded thinking.

The whole point here is not to have you embrace the movie in my head, but to embrace the movie in your own head and learn to observe the world in such a way so that it can happen.  Figuring out what ones uniqueness is and putting it out there in the world to mix with others is the first step.  This is not without challenges, especially in this day and age, because being a totally different and unique individual often runs contrary to societies’ push to be defined by and live within specific cultural rules created by bigger and seemingly more powerful people than us ordinary folk.  It is easy to succumb to the pressure to allow an external standard to tell you what to think and define who you are and your place of importance in this world.  If we all saw the world the same way, there would never be growth, which depends on a myriad of different perspectives, from the grandest to the simplest.  As an ingredient, my addition to the mix might be the most basic, but essential nonetheless.  Like chocolate, it’s the different ingredients coming together that can bring a dream to life.

Because each of us is different, the need to have outside acceptance or approval can be fatal when striving to live one’s dream.  Understanding what goes on in one’s head is central to the individual only.   Don’t get me wrong, acceptance and approval is nice, but it isn’t a requirement.  When I think of some of human histories greatest thinkers, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Galileo, Shakespeare, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Susan B. Anthony, Einstein, to a personal favorite of mine, Teilhard De Chardin, they were far more familiar with condemnation than acceptance.  Where would we be if they hadn’t persisted in the face of societies’ disapproval?  The simple reality is that no one else can live my life or fulfill my dreams, but me.   Most of the things that I’ve accomplished in my life never would have happened had I waited for permission, approval, or enough of an understanding by other people of what goes on in my head for anyone to give me support in the first place.

While approval isn’t essential, it is also impossible to achieve one’s dream in a vacuum.  We are all dependent on ordinary elements to make the movie in our heads a reality, whether it comes in the form of a person, an idea, or a simple experience.  And it is being able to see the importance of those simple things and have faith in their potential in whatever guise they are presented to us that will determine one’s failure or success.   Expecting that someone else can give you all the answers will almost guarantee failure, and rarely are they packaged with a bow and flashy wrapping.  Although acceptance by others is never necessary in bringing a dream to life, the knowledge that each individual out there may be essentially the exact ingredient necessary for a dream is reason enough to encourage everyone to “be all that they can be.”  The more I actualize my own dreams, the better chance, even if unwittingly, I can help actualize someone else’s.  How often does that thought come into your heads?  How often to do you start your day with this thought:  I may be the exact ingredient necessary to help someone’s dream come true?  Even if it is in the subtlest way, that thought should change everything about how you observe the world…when was the last time anyone told you that you were essential to success of the world…to the success of building the Kingdom of God?  I thought so.  So, let it start now.  Be cosmic chocolate to someone.  They don’t even need to be aware of it…only you do.

Taming

the little prince

“What is essential is invisible to the eye; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly”   Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

 

The above quote, from “The Little Prince,” is where I root the fundamentals of friendship and has helped me harness love, especially in regard to the fragile nature of the human heart these days.  The gist of the tale is this: the wood fox leads the little prince on a journey of establishing ties (friendships, the true essence of taming) which makes the prince’s ordinary rose “unique in all the world.”  In the end, after the wood fox tamed the little prince and it came time for the prince’s departure, the fox was sad.  The little prince could not understand the benefit of establishing ties if the result was to end in possible sadness.  To help him appreciate taming despite the sadness, the fox sends the little prince back to a rose garden to try to understand how all the roses there were different from his solitary rose on his own little planet.  It is in the presence of all these other roses that the little prince realizes that his rose matters more than any of the others because of the time he has spent caring for her, watering her and protecting her.  It is the ties that he established with his rose that has made her so important.

The fox makes it clear to the prince that in order for taming to be successful one must observe the proper rites.  In all it’s beautiful simplicity it means that taming takes time and patience.  At first the fox told the little prince to sit at a distance and do nothing except to allow the fox to see him out of the corner of his eye.  He explains that during this initial phase the prince should say nothing at all because words are the source of misunderstanding.  Everyday the little prince was to sit a bit closer.  He also told the little prince to come back at the same time everyday so that he would begin to know at which hour his heart should be ready to greet him; consistency is everything when it comes to taming.

The wood fox explains that the process of taming causes the world to appear completely different.  For example, the fox had no use for the wheat field but after the prince had tamed him, the golden color of the wheat will always bring him the thought of the prince and give him joy.  The fox will never see the wheat field in the same way again.  It will be larger and more powerful all because he allowed himself to be tamed.  The fox also can live happily because there is at least one person who truly understands him, for one can only understand someone after they’ve been tamed.  After all is said and done and the little prince understands the essence of taming, the wood fox goes on to share a secret.  The first part is the quote cited above, and then he continues with “it is the time you have wasted for your rose which makes her so important…you become responsible forever for what you tame.”

What is particularly poignant about this story, in this fast and furious age in which we live, is that it is the time and effort put forth that makes taming successful.  The nature of today’s world certainly doesn’t endorse wasting time for anything.  The wood fox in The Little Prince believed that humans didn’t understand anything anymore because they tried to buy everything ready-made at stores.  However, there was no store anywhere where one could buy a true friend: friendship demands that we waste the necessary time and observe the proper rites to establish ties.  As an observer, it is those that I have established ties with in this world that have helped transform how I see it.   The world becomes infused with special meaning.  All of us can rework the rules we choose to abide by and focus on our inner rhythm, but ultimately it is the process of being tamed and taming others that put those rules and cosmic music to practical use.

Loss, as foreshadowed in The Little Prince, is a common element in establishing tiesBecause all of us are on different roads, with varied dreams, relationships often change or end.  The up side to this kind of loss challenges us to spend more time reflecting on how the relationships in our lives have affected how we see a wheat field.  Whenever the inevitable happens and those people I’ve established ties with begin a different journey, I’ve learned to look at it as just an opportunity for them to transform a wheat field somewhere else.  Distance can’t ruin ties, only complacency does.  True taming doesn’t rely on proximity.

Taming need not be complicated, but it may seem risky at first.  When you put yourself out there to tame and be tamed you may be rejected.  But just like the little prince did, I’ve found that if you let your heart guide you and observe the proper rites, the chances are that rejection is just an unrealized fear.  Establishing ties with someone practically demands that you put the other person first.  Taming someone for the sole benefit of my own needs almost guarantees failure.   It should come from a place of empowering, rather than having power over.  Trustworthiness is essential.   Remember the last part of the wood fox’s secret: you are responsible, forever, for what you tame.  Although being responsible for what you tame may seem daunting, try to see it for a moment as a beautiful consequence of the process.

Unfortunately taming, like the middle of many processes, is an often passed over step, because it takes time, it takes commitment and it takes patience.  We live in an electronic age that makes everything quick, easy and often anonymous.  Anonymity voids the element of responsibility, and I think it is why the ties of today are so flimsy.  How we establish ties may differ with every thing, person, place in the world, but it still demands those essential rites.  Regardless of the uniqueness of the method, the challenge remains: to reflect on who we have tamed in our lives and more importantly how we handle the responsibility.  It is a powerful thing, this taming process, especially when it commands us to rely on our hearts more than our eyes, for eyes can play tricks whereas the heart does not (contrary to popular opinion that love is blind).

You see the thing about taming is that it is subtle, and it usually occurs over a long period of time.  Those who have truly tamed me acted so subtly and consistently that I wasn’t even really conscious of it at the time, leaving me no time to run in fear.   It need not be complicated and dramatic.  Even though I’m just as big a fan of the being swept away themes in movies, I do realize they are only two hours long.  The rest of us have lifetimes to contend with, we have to go beyond the “and they lived happily ever after” line.  The work is worth it though.  I feel so much better about myself and my world knowing that the relationships I’ve established (and it doesn’t have to be many) are transforming the way others see the world.  I tame because I love; the responsibility then becomes a bonus and not a burden.  It’s not even fathomable to me to imagine what life would be like without them.  Given that life is unpredictable, I do know that even in the face of loss, life will never appear the same again.   I wear them proudly like a seal on my heart.  Now, before I get too verklempt, let me stop now so you may talk among yourselves.

Chillin

It’s been busy, and hardchillin by the pool…all the more reason to slow down and take a moment to breathe on this memorial weekend.  Although there is so much to be done, as you can see by the sagging door by our pool, a casualty of a felled tree struck by lightning, it is important to stop every once in a while and breathe in and out and relax.  The world will continue to spin on its’ axis even if we don’t finish every chore.  The world does go on, even after loved ones have passed.  This weekend I resolve to only let positive memories guide and sustain me.  Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

Time

winterspringAs reflected by the weather…time seems to be at a standstill for me, leaving me with a bit of whiplash since it usually speeds by so fast I never seem to be able to keep up…even with good shoes.  When a particular moment in history is difficult, it feels like the clock will never move again.  I am stuck at an impasse.  Mother Nature shares my sympathies, given the late April snow storm we had yesterday and oddly, it gives me comfort, allowing me to stand still for a moment and try to catch my breath.  As I stood in my yard yesterday morning at the crack of dawn, I tried to recognize the beauty and peace of the moment and stifle the growing frustration at the circumstances of my life right now.  Even in the cold, when the exit of winter is long over due and stubbornly forces the entrance of spring into stasis, I find peace in the stalemate.  While I am anxious for new life to begin in the resurrection of spring, I pause to reflect on springs past and pull out memories that have given me strength to move ahead into the warmth of spring.

Step by Step

my shoesThese are my shoes…kind of quirky, kind of fun.  You can design your own on the Adidas website.  I had my name added, not because I was living in fear that someone would steal them, (although they are cool), but as a reminder that it is my feet that are walking this path.  I am the one putting one foot in front of the other, or standing still, or even on the occasion walking backward.  These are my shoes, no one else’s.  Only I can get myself where I need to go.  It’s true that at times, others have given me direction, cleared obstacles and smoothed the way and some have even put obstacles in my path to trip me up…but I am responsible for how I move forward.  Regardless of what is ahead, I can choose to dance or drag my feet.  I can stomp my feet in a tantrum at the unfairness of it all or simply let it go and run forward as fast as I can.  I am the only thing that can stop me.  When I allow chatter like “You can’t do that”, or “You’re not worthy” to impede my steps, I can’t blame anyone but me.  No one can limit me, but me.  The intent of the universe is for each of us to achieve our highest purpose.

This is underlined even more for me as a woman of faith.  When God is for me, who can be against me?  The boon of spiritual assistance gives me no excuse.  As I look to my future and I walk in my shoes, I remember that blame will stop me in my tracks, and will never get me where I need to go, as will lending an ear to those who want me to fail.  I walk in my shoes…no one else.  While my journey may be a singular affair, the upswing is that I don’t have to walk alone.   I can choose companions to walk along side me, which does abate the loneliness of my life’s adventure.  I’m better now than when I was younger at avoiding those who slowed me down or confused my sense of direction, yet I still have to remind myself once in a while when it is time to move out of a crowd and forge ahead on my own.   And while my journey may include walking in step with fools at times, there are many times in hindsight where I realize that I myself was the fool.  I am thankful for those angels God put in my path when it was most needed, and I hope I’ve been an angel to others in their time of need too.

My steps may not be as quick as they used to be and my shoes have taken on a more practical nature, but I embrace the adventure of every new day…I forge on happily, just me and my shoes.