Winters

“Wisdom comes with winters” 

Oscar Wilde

Aging is an interesting thing. I’m beginning to see this getting older stuff provides me with challenges and opportunities which may or may not help me gain some wisdom along the way. Some of my lessons are definitely easier to accept than others.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve observed over the past few years is how I’ve become invisible. I’m not sure exactly when that happened. I began to notice it took much longer for people to notice me–whether I’m at the store waiting for someone to ring up my items or walking down the street–the steady stream of people around me seemed to simply glide right by me.  A less pleasant awareness occurred last week when my femininity took a reality check square on the nose. As I sat in a lecture I began to notice the person presenting the talk scanned the room very nicely and had great audience connection EXCEPT he never once made eye contact with me. I have to tell you this took some time to accept and I had to mentally brush off my pride. As I thought about the last few lectures I’d attended, I realized this was not the first time I’d been “looked over” both literally and figuratively. I was not at all impressed with this latest bit of aging insights.

I may be less visible but my new awareness has helped me see others who are in need. At the store this past weekend I noticed a little man with a cane trying to push his grocery cart, a woman with a walking cast struggling to open a heavy door, and a man in an electric cart struggling to make it around all the aisle displays. These proud souls are the true invisible ones.

It only took a minute of my time to help them. It’s something we can all do and it certainly made me feel better afterwards. After all, believe it or not, in the not so distant future, that may be one of us in need of a helping hand. What a nice way to continue to observe Lent–helping our fellow invisible people.

Oh, yes, I’ve reached those golden days

You hear so much about;

I don’t feel any older yet, 

But will one day, no doubt.

The sky is still a lovely blue, 

The rose is just as sweet. 

Each day is like another chance

To make my life complete.

Sure, there is hardship, sorrow, and pain,

Who thought there wouldn’t be? 

But now I know it’s just a test

To find the worth in me. 

~Betty Irean Loeb

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Worry

“..when someone says “please pray for me,” they are not just saying “let’s have lunch sometime.” They are issuing an invitation into the depths of their lives and their humanity- and often with some urgency. And worry is not a substitute for prayer. Worry is a starting place, but not a staying place. Worry invites me into prayer. As a staying place, worry can be self-indulgent, paralyzing, draining, and controlling. When I take worry into prayer, it doesn’t disappear, but it becomes smaller.” 

Sybil MacBeth, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God

I am a champion worrier. I doubt that surprises anyone.

I worry about every single thing.

Michael does what he can to lighten my mood and lessen my worries. Today he brought me in the cutest little bouquet from whatever was blooming in our yard. I have no idea what these little gems are–doesn’t matter to me–to me it helped me see someone I love was thinking about me.

As suggested yesterday when I talked about what to do for Lent, I’m working on myself. There is no better place to start than with worry habits.

So–I did another little experiment. Not to worry all of you who are not science people–this is the Barbara Burton method of testing which has extremely broad, non-specific perimeters.

Right now there are several people who have me very worried for various reasons. So I took a few moments this morning to think about them, said a little prayer, and released my angst to God/the Universe–poof–gone—done.

As the morning went on I realized I hadn’t thought about that particular situation at all. I had gone about my day efficiently, easily accomplishing all I needed to get done before my morning appointment.

Okay–it was only one “experiment” with many other concerns sitting on the worry shelves. That’s okay in my data analysis book. It’s a strong start and one powerful enough to get my attention and keep the trial running.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

– Matthew 6:25-34” 

The Holy Bible: King James Version

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

The Backseat Driver

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer”

Mark Twain

Looking over my bookshelf, my little red book, Unconventional Prayers, caught my attention.

I opened the book to the prayer “For a Back Seat Driver.”

Interesting.

I am a classic example of a back seat driver so it’s appropriate for me to share  Dr. Allen Stockdale’s prayer.

A reminder–1955 is the copyright date of this book.

Dear safety-minded Guardian Angel, I am a driver of an automobile. The traffic is severe and driving is dangerous. I have a wife who rides on the back seat, opposite side from the wheel; her angle of vision is different from mine, for she does not drive at the wheel, but continually tells me what to do while I’m driving. maybe in heaven there are no automobiles and no back seat drivers and you don’t have to meet the problem. I am not ready for heaven yet and still must meet these earthly irritations. I pray thee, good Angel, look down upon me in divine pity and tell me clearly what to do. Religion is a life as well as a belief, but I have more trouble with the life part of it.  

Maybe it’s only me but I think most my fellow backseat drivers have much shorter and more intense prayers as we sit in the passenger seat. I think most of our prayers are more in the Mark Twain style.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

Little Brown-eyed Doe

“I love mockingbirds, but I cannot rehab them because they imprint, or bond, or whatever you choose to call it. Young ravens and crows are worse. In their quest for attention and affection, they are akin to domestic dogs. And when you placate young wild animals with a tender human touch, it changes them forever. So rehabbers have to reject the overtures of creatures who attempt to bond, to ensure they retain their wild nature. Some people are good at this. I am not. I have too much of what John Keats called negative capability as well as a close corollary, empathy. When birds arrive at my door lost, broken, and terrified, the distinctions between us fall away, and they are no longer wild animals separate from my humanity. Instead, I am right there with them, sharing their troubles, fear, and pain. I see myself in them and want to protect, love, and reassure them.” 

Terry Masear, Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood

I’m a city girl living in the country for the first time in my life. Sooner or later I was going to see the not so kind side of Mother Nature.

About two weeks ago, we were watching a small herd of deer meander across the empty lot behind our house. As they spread out and went their different ways, we noticed one little doe bringing up the rear. I pointed her out to Michael because her gait was so unusual–like someone had released a rocking horse out into the wild.

As she made her way around the cacti, we realized why she was moving in such an unnatural way. She was not bearing any weight on her left front leg. We were shocked at how badly her leg was injured and heartbroken to see her struggle in order to keep up with her herd. Sadly, we gave her our blessing and watched as she bobbled away. Neither one of thought we’d see her again.

To our amazement our amazing brown-eyed doe has proven us wrong. I’m still unsure if that is a good or a bad thing. Today as I walked to the office to write, she was in the back moseying around with the rest our deer friends. She’s become a teacher as well as an example of pure determination as she makes her way over the very uneven, rocky terrain. I am learning there’s not much I can do for her other than include her in my conversations with God.

Which, when I stop to think about it, is all I can do about just about anything.

Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is wonderful and special gift from You. We now ask You to grant our special animal companions your Fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of Yours. They have trust in us as we have in You; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring. Take our heartfelt prayers and fill Your ill or suffering animals with healing Light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have.

Your goodness is turned upon every living thing and Your grace flows to all Your creatures. From our souls to theirs goodness flows, touching each of us with the reflection of Your love. Grant to our special animal companions long and healthy lives. Give them good relationships with us, and if You see fit to take them from us, help us to understand that they are not gone from us, but only drawing closer to You. Grant our prayer through the intercession of good St. Francis of Assisi, who honored You through all Your creatures. Give him the power to watch over our animal friends until they are safely with You in eternity, where we someday hope to join them in giving You honor forever. Amen.                          Saint Francis of Assisi, for our Animal Friends

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

A Local Treasure Trove

“It was like walking into a treasure trove of books, hoarded by pirate librarians.” 

Pseudonymous Bosch, The Name of This Book Is Secret

I’ve been needing some kind of boost but, for the life of me, I have not been able to figure out what I needed.

Then I remembered my little local used bookstore.

Perfect.

Since it is only a block from the grocery store–my main mission of the day–I thought it was a perfect time to pay a return visit.

I knew I’d found my recharging spot the moment I walked into this little space. Every single room had walls covered with shelves that were completely filled with books–from the floor to the ceiling with stacks of books standing in front of each group of shelves. Subjects ranged from Texas history to religion to self-help to hobbies and cookbooks. I was completely frozen in place for a few seconds.

The first book I found was this little red book titled, Unconventional Prayers, by Dr. Allen A. Stockdale. Date of publication was 1955. The list of prayers made me smile. A few examples:

  • About My Conduct At A Baseball Game
  • By A Young Lady on a Small Salary
  • Anvils Wear Out Hammers
  • A Secretary Who Has A Selfish Boss
  • My Grumbling And Complaining Tongue

I knew immediately I had to get the book so I could share.

The first prayer I read was titled “Getting My Strength Renewed”–a message not lost on me.

Let me share that with you today.

True Guardian Angel, of the springs of living water, meet me when I am weary and even discouraged, and lead me to the eternal springs of living water. Help me to find quickly God’s way of renewed strength; may I never think that I have enough power of my own. As the servant of the living God, lead me to the divine sources of fresh and abundant strength. Keep me from wilting in the valley of duty when there are refreshing springs of life and vigor in the hills of God nearby. 

Thank you, Dr. Stockdale, for your very special book. I am so thankful I found it today. It was incredibly appropriate and an amazing gift.

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

Expectations

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.” 

Margaret Mitchell

For many, this week has been a nightmare. The stories that continue to emerge are heartbreaking.

As I sat down at my desk this afternoon, it was raining–hard. Each drop dulls my mind and weighs down my heart.

There is something different about this rain now. It makes things feel unfamiliar and uncertain–no longer stable or safe.

We’ve watched our community and our neighbors lose so much in a matter of hours. We gather in groups at the store to talk about what we saw and how the entire landscape around us has changed. Our tears flow–as does the rain.

Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” 

José N. Harris, MI VIDA: A Story of Faith, Hope and Love

Many tears have been shed all across our country for years. For me, the things I’ve witnessed this week have added a much deeper understanding of natural disasters. It reminded of when I lived in Colorado and saw wildfires explode, taking all that was in its path. All in Colorado cried as we helplessly watched walls of fire destroy the homes of neighbors and friends.

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life. 

” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.” 

Alexandre Dumas

Our world seems to be filled with much misery. I don’t know–do you think maybe we are given these experiences as some last-ditch effort to help us find some common ground in order to understand each other better?

A prayer for the weekend with my thanks to St. John Fisher Catholic Church:

God of compassion,

You created a world for us

To know your love and peace

Yet amidst the beauty of creation

We encounter pain and hurt

And forces beyond our control.

At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow.

At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods.

Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods

And for all those working

To bring relief and fresh hope.

Amen  

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

 

 

Please Start Stopping

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.” 

Dr. Seuss

I hope the storms start stopping soon.

The forecast is not encouraging.

It’s time to put an official call out to all my prayer warriors out there.

Please join me in prayer for all struggling to recover from the natural disasters that have besieged our world.

The following prayer was composed by the Diocese of Austin for those affected by the recent storms in Central Texas. 

 God of majesty and compassion, 

You set the earth on its foundation 

and all elements of nature obey your command. 

You created us and know the fragility of human life. 

Help us [or our sisters and brothers] 

in our time of trouble; 

hold back the damaging winds 

and contain the waters that threaten our community 

so our fears may turn into praise of your goodness. 

  

Have mercy on those who have died in the flood waters. 

Welcome them into your Kingdom of peace and joy. 

Bring consolation 

to those who have lost loved ones and friends. 

  

In your compassion look upon us 

and give us tears to mourn their loss 

and strength to assist in the needed rebuilding. 

Protects us and help us to live for you. 

We ask this through Christ our Lord. 

Amen. 

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

The Unexpected

“The expected always happens” 

Benjamin Disraeli

It was the coolest morning we’d had in weeks. A great day to take the dogs for a walk.

All of us were excited–it’s been hard on us–we all LOVE our daily walks.

The five of us are quite a sight, meandering back and forth across the narrow streets of our subdivision. This morning in particular we were all looking around at the changes that’d happened since we’d walked last–all those new smells had three canine noses pinned to the ground.

We’d gone about half a block when I noticed our Tibetan Terrier, Ruby, was on the trail of something especially interesting. Her nose was quickly scanning the area but came to an abrupt stop. She cocked her head to the side and shook it back and forth rapidly–then trotted off giving out a sharp cry. Her trot was awkward because she was favoring her right front paw. Something was wrong–

The reason became clear as Michael lifted her paw. As he brought up it up off the ground, a large black bumble bee fell to the ground.

Oh boy–she’d been stung and she was in pain.

Luckily, Michael was there to carry her home. Once we checked her out, we soaked her paw, iced it, and gave her Benadryl and pain meds. She’s definitely more comfortable but not quite okay–yet.

So, we’ve been on Ruby watch today. Not a bad assignment and one that could have resulted in some extra reading time. Honestly, all I’ve done is watch her and attempt to write a word or two.

I did find a prayer to share, though, and I think it is lovely.

Master of the Universe,

grant me the ability o be alone;

may it be my custom to go outdoors each day

among the trees and grass, among all growing things, 

and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, 

to talk with the One that I belong to. 

May I express there everything in my heart,

and may all the foliage of the field, 

all grasses, trees, and plants,

may they all awake at my coming,

to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer

so that my prayer and speech are made whole

through the life and spirit of all growing things,

which are made as one by their transcendent Source.

(Translated by Rabbi Shamai Kanter)

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Information Overload

“Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me me . It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. I have an organic life, finally, not necessarily the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have. I have the life I longed for. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I would be.”

Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

I talked with my insurance broker today about Medicare and supplimental insurance.

My-oh-my!

She was excellent, sharing stories while giving me so much information filled with sound advice. To say my mind is on overload is an understatement.

One this cloudy Friday afternoon, I want to share a prayer by Rabbi Levy. I love reading her words. Whatever is going on in my life, she finds a way to speak to my soul. I hope you find solace as well.

God, I need to know that You are with me; that You hear my cry. I long to feel Your presence not just this day but every day. When I am week and in pain, I need to know You are beside me. That in itself is often comfort enough. I do not pretend to know Your ways, to know why this world You have created can be so beautiful, so magnificent, and yet so harsh, ugly, and so full of hate. The lot you have bestowed on my is a heavy one. I am angry. I want to know why; why the innocent must suffer, why life is do full of grief. There are times when I want to have nothing to do with You. When to think of You brings nothing but confusion and ambivalence. And there are times, like this time, when I seek to return to You, when I feel the emptiness that comes when I am far from You. Watch over me and my loved ones. Forgive me for all that I have not been. Help me to appreciate all that I have, and to realize all that I have to offer. Help me to find a way back to You, so that I may never be alone.   Amen 

Rabbi Naomi Levy, To Begin Again

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

~Peace~

Unexpected Treasures

“Sometimes the best books are hidden gems that you didn’t even know were out there!”
― Carmela Dutra

Saturday, after working on my gardens for the past two days, I decided I needed a reward.

Deciding what it would be was easy.

I was going to check out the used book store I’d been driving by for the past few months.

“It was like walking into a treasure trove of books, hoarded by pirate librarians.” 

Pseudonymous Bosch, The Name of This Book Is Secret

I was really psyched to explore this place.

From the outside, it seemed very small. In fact, as I parked my car–one of two in the parking lot–I began to wonder if it was worth my time.

As I walked through the door, I felt I’d entered another dimension. I was completely engulfed by books. All around me were rooms and rooms filled with books. Each space labeled with handwritten signs–Westerns, Romance, Horror, Mysteries, Self-Help, New Age, Religion, Cooking, Reference…shelves covered every wall from floor to ceiling with over flow books standing in stacks on the floor.

I had found the mother lode of books.

In this amazing place I found two little books sitting in spots where they seemed to call out to me–like they’d been waiting for me a very long time.

The first book is pictured above.

The cover is worn and heavily creased, the original price clearly visible, $1.65. The date of publication noted as November 20, 1975.

The pages are brittle and yellowed without any inside wear or markings. The most surprising part of this little book was it was filled with its own treasures.

Pressed between pages were several prayer cards, a Christmas card from Rome signed by Father John wishing the recipient a Happy New Year and telling them they’d been remembered in his Christmas Midnight Mass, a book mark from the March of Dimes, a tiny drawing of a curly-haired girl dressed in brown button dress, wearing a straw hat, holding a bouquet of yellow and blue flowers, and two beautiful prayers written by Helen Steiner Rice.

I’d like to share one of those prayers with you today:

Often we pause and wonder

    When we kneel down to pray—

Can God really hear

    The prayers that we have to say…

But if we keep praying

    And talking to HIM, 

He’ll brighten the soul

    That was clouded and dim, 

And as we continue

    Our burden seems lighter, 

Our sorrow is softened

    And our outlook is brighter

For though we feel helpless

    And alone when we start, 

Our prayer is the key

    That opens the heart, 

And as our heart opens

    The dear Lord comes in

 And the prayer that we felt

    We could never begin

Is so easy to say

    For the Lord understands 

And gives us the new strength

    By the touch of His hands.

~Helen Steiner Rice

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you and may you find treasures of your own.

~Peace~