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Hello Beauty

25 Sep

My title suggests I’m writing about something good. Well, I’m sorry to report this story is wrought with humanity, and more specifically, my humanity.

First let me begin with the scripture that challenges all justice, human justice and my own justifications:

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36 New International Version (NIV)

So for a few weeks now I have really been struggling with a particular person. It doesn’t really matter the who of this equation, though I will shed light that this person has caused me a great deal of pain in one way or another for several years now. But most recently the irritation scale has hit new limits as I have been made the object of their angst. As such, I’ve had to endure harsh words, harsh tones, and a few accusations in between–not fun, I can assure you. And though I found myself wrestling with this circumstance for quite a bit, I have since been able to release it…or so I thought. The other day I saw this person approaching my direction and in the most sarcastic tone I could muster (insert your own audible sarcasm to get full effect), I uttered under my breath, “hello beauty.” Now for just one second I felt empowered over their perspective of me, but only for one second. In that second I had the fantasy of being superior and felt my quick-wit well played. But then my heart (or spirit) caught hold my humanity and the next second I felt small. Small minded and small hearted. In that moment of “next” I was offered a turn, a merciful turn and a loving turn. Essentially I was offered the chance to see beauty, real beauty like from G-d the Father of all. The spirit voice inside me asked if I was interested in remaining “small” or if I’d like to partake in the solution of good. I took the latter and this is what came forth:

Hello beauty, welcome
Hello to the beautiful morning.
Hello beauty, welcome
Hello to a new opportunity.
Hello beauty, I feel you
Hello to the fresh air.
Hello beauty, I see you
Hello to the sun and living things.
Hello beauty, thank you
Hello to love around me.

It is really a small and quick moment, the mental/spiritual exchange I had, but it was powerful. It moved me closer to love and further away from the ugly side of my humanity. Hello beauty, welcome–welcome back to me, my heart and where I want to live.

Today hanging on the wall in the office of my colleague I read the following quote by Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Only Love Today. I think it the perfect compliment to my own desire.

Today I will choose love. If I mistakenly choose distraction, perfection, or negativity over love, I will not wallow in regret. I will choose love next. I will choose love until it becomes my first response…my gut instinct…my natural reaction. I will choose love until it becomes who I am.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read and partake. #onlylovetoday

Grace, she is my Mercy

28 Sep

**I wrote this piece a while back. And now, amidst the global natural disasters we are under, I am feeling as if this piece is a bit too selfish. But I share it anyway, because the sentiments were (and are), legitimate. The Medical Board of CA called today because they are reviewing a doctor who treated Cole, they are concerned his care was unethical…

I’ve been using the phrase “I need grace and mercy,” this past year more than ever! It is not that I didn’t have use or previous need of the extension of that which grace bestows, but I am recognizing the consistent failings of my humanity and the longing therein for compassion’s salve. Honestly, I have my “shit together.” That just means I am of sound mind and physical ability and utilize these tools as I carry on in life. Beyond that, I am damaged goods bouncing along this road of life and hoping to not hurt others as result of my own struggles. Of course grace is a divine assistance and not really a human trait, but it is the foundation of mercy; compassion or forgiveness shown to someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

The above statements aren’t necessarily illuminating. They aren’t meant to be. To me they are just facts I am sharing. Really what I want to focus on in this post is the reality of sorrows imposition upon the soul; and the tangible need for grace from above and mercy here below. How I see it (visually) is much like bowling with a child, when the bumpers are up on the sides so the ball can safely bounce back and forth down the lane in order to accomplish the intended goal of knocking down some pins. I see the extension of grace as the bumpers, and the hurt person the ball aggressively moving from side to side until the bumpers have absorbed enough friction to calm it down, and set it straight. Of course the knocked pins are the victory, the accomplishment of the goal through much aid, protection and mercy. Funny I should use a bowling analogy…not really a game I play, ever. Perhaps its a subliminal homage to my grams–now she was a bowler!

Here’s the thing, if you don’t know or fathom rather, the need for compassion’s touch–bless you and my sincere prayer is you remain in the good favor of the almighty. But if you do, if you are someone who has suffered a sorrow that is debilitating and you have to find somehow, someway to keep on living, then you understand the profound need for compassion from others whether in small or large doses.

The reason for this is simple, it really does take a great deal of energy to usurp the pain of loss. To daily strive to allow joy to be present, and to even be an active participant in life’s activities such as grabbing a cup o’ joe (coffee), can consume a days worth of effort. This doesn’t leave much energy left for superficiality, self centered choices, inconsiderate behaviors, and intolerable acts. And because those, too, exist within the daily walk of humanity the energy left at the end of the day is most often only enough for “a little bit more.” This my friends is where the gift of mercy is most appreciated…

It is here, at this point, at the exhaustion from living-in-pain point, where you will find the newly, unimproved, Rivka. The Rivka who gives an answer with a sharp tongue (ok, that’s always been my strong point!). The Rivka who hasn’t much to talk about (new found trait). The Rivka who doesn’t want to go to social events (ever). The Rivka who uses the F-word to get a point across or when stubbing a toe (learned in the hospital alongside my paralyzed son). The Rivka who doesn’t call (because she’s out of words). The Rivka who falls short on birthday celebrations (birthdays are overrated, are they not?). The Rivka who has no patience for people’s judgement (of myself or others). The Rivka who doesn’t get excited when things go wrong (I live daily in the “wrong” of my son’s death). The Rivka who wants to annihilate inconsiderate drivers (move them off the road). The Rivka who might not seem burdened by heartbreak (but is). The Rivka who is struggling just to connect to this world (but thankfully does). And, it is at this point you will find the Rivka who is desperately in need of compassion or forgiveness when it is (justifiably) within one’s power to punish or harm her.

Knowing this about myself allows me to don a cloak of empathy most of the time, which has just about shut out my ability to cast judgement (still in me are ill thoughts toward those that callously hurt others, and cars that don’t let me merge onto the freeway). In practical terms, I recognize I am overusing the grace of G-d and the mercy of humans on an ongoing basis. And as such, am using some of my depleted energy bank to ensure I am not stingy in considering whom else might be traveling down life’s lane with the bumpers up.

And if I’m real here in this post, I can confess I hope this writing will challenge each of us to consider further the grumpy person in line at a store and the fact that their story might be wearing them down. Or the aloof individual who doesn’t reciprocate a friendly smile, who might just be making it under the weight of loss. Of course none of this encouragement is new, there are scriptures and proverbs that guide in this wisdom. But in our humanity we forget and so a reminder is not such a bad idea.

 

The Disney Way

29 Mar

This morning I took some time to cut my hair.  Yes, I do cut and color my own hair.  And when I’m too tired to invest in the effort it takes to transform my brown into black and cover the albino intruders, I pluck  the most prominent of the alien class to buy a little time before hitting the bottle (the dye bottle that is).  Well this morning I had to invest in me a bit, as my hair was so long it had lost all opportunity for style.  My husband and daughter went off for a coffee adventure (down to their local favorite spot) and I proceeded to machete my locks.  For my Sunday ambiance and mood, I put Pandora Radio on to the Sister Rosetta Tharpe station–gospel music at its finest!  As I was chop, chop, chopping, a song came on that was new to my ear.  I have since lost the tune, but the chorus went something like this: “…anything you want, ask Jesus and he’ll give it to you.”  I think it was Mahlia Jackson.  Anyway, tonight as I write this, I honestly don’t remember the exact words, I just remember my response to the notion of them.  My response, this morning while listening was, “I want a happy ending.”  And that thought was followed by a deep sigh.  A sigh because my request is unfounded.

I want a happy ending so badly.  But I want “my” happy ending.  Not having our son (my daughter’s brother) in our little nuclear unit has robbed me (us) of our expected output.  Someone just the other day asked me a simple question, “are you happy?”  Unfortunately I let the truth of my puzzlement slip off of my tongue before I could wrangle the best substitute for the job.  I said, “happiness…I don’t even know what that looks like any more.”  No explanation point needed, it is just a stated fact.  This notion really struck me a few days ago, while I was conversing with our Creator in my think tank of prayer–my car.  As I was asking for help and strength for the day awaiting me, I realized I was also simultaneously complaining about the day awaiting me.  Complaining about my dissatisfaction with an obscure something.  Then the spiritual lightbulb within went on–how do I even know what it is that satisfies me?  The question is a very raw one because it cuts to my core.  When facing the question honestly, I find I have no answer because my soul satisfaction has been tied to my happy ending notion.  Without that in view, I’m still living in the obfuscated survival mode.  Now can you imagine your child asking for a chocolate ice-cream cone, you fulfilling their request, and them (in-between licks) rattling off laments of an ungratified nature?  Well that was me in the car.  I was the child with the proverbial cone and the light bulb that shone illuminated my condition.

Now I have to say, just because I have had this new awareness provided for me, doesn’t mean I am “arrived” at a presence of integrating its message.  I think this will take time for me to apply and/or learn.  After all, I daily face the fact that my fairytale is more Grimm than Disney and this truth bears with it an insurmountable amount of pain.  Yet somehow I get a sense that even just the small step of awareness will help inch me ever closer to healing in this area, and with healing can come an openness (perhaps) to…whatever it is that is now different than I expected it should be.  Which is truly the crux of the matter.  My “should be” is being cramped by my “is.”  And I need to watch-it for that vantage point will disallow for satisfaction to reside, not comfortability, but satisfaction.  Without satisfaction, the soul will be nomadic–ever searching, ever lost in the desert.  The Bent 3 (myself included) are trying.  We are doing our best to navigate our loss, but gosh it is so darned painful and everywhere we turn the unhappy ending of our story is revealed.  But we are faith filled human beings, so we simultaneously realize our unhappy ending isn’t the end all and be all of the story, there is still more yet to write.  Though I would be lying if I pretended this chapter had our seal of approval, it doesn’t.  But at least now I know how to maneuver in my prayer life.  I will stop asking for the chocolate ice cream as I swallow another bite.  I will seek to recognize that my fairy tale ending–or my expectations in life really–aren’t the only link to my happiness.  Even if in this moment they truly are.  That is the best I can do for now.

I have come across many people who, much like myself, have had their expectations in life thwarted.  Some of them have carried on with grace and purpose.  Some have allowed the dissatisfaction of their condition to sour their temperament.  I can say that I do see the warning in the latter…”there but for the grace of God go I.”  Seeing the world through my sorrowful lens of dissatisfied results is not good measure for purposeful intent.  I am thinking willingness just might be a good place to start.  A small step to be sure, though when one is carrying the heavy weight of sorrow upon them, even a tiny fissure can appear to be a monumental chasm.

“Lord please give me patience for others whose own pain might be cause for a surly remark.  May others be courteous with me as I process my own dissatisfied results.  Amen.”

 

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The Empty Room

 

 

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