Find love. Hold onto it.

image retrieved from http://www.hortondoors.com

We were walking out behind them as they sauntered along ahead of us, traveling through the automatic sliding hospital doors, into the mid-day sunlight. He was holding her arm with the left hand, her black and white toile purse snugly tucked underneath his right. She had a cane, but he had her. He stopped to look for traffic, gently fielding the view. She stood by his side, a pillar of strength, in spite of her limp. And while it was easy to see that they were certainly on in years, as evidenced by their grey hairs and weathered skin, their love told a story that transcended time. It was timeless, that story.

There was just something about those two that caught my eye.

Dear Daughters, while you are all still so young, with so much of life ahead of you waiting to be discovered, there is still something you must consider in the prime of your youth. Something that must be contemplated and then carefully taken into account. Please don’t get me wrong: I am not there yet, not ready for you to fly the nest. Not ready for the surge of emotion that accompanies young love. For I am still so protective of my babies and their naive innocence. Still so protective of you, my girls, so much so that I need to find just the right words to say this to you now.

Girls, find someone who will cherish you.

Make the love of your life the one who seeks to live his life with you as his love. Don’t settle for halfway, second best, good enough. Set your standards high. Make him reach for you.  Reach back to him, but be sure you are looking at one another eye-to-eye.

Make the love of your life the one who listens to you with his whole heart, with all his love. Don’t tell yourself that this is a negotiable. Believe that you are worth it. See yourself as someone of superb value, someone worth listening to.

And make the love of your life the one who shares with you his love. Shares his dreams and hopes, along with his sorrows and disappointment. Regard yourself as the complementary piece that balances his life. And see that he regards in you the very same ideals.

The wisdom of established love is exquisite. It is a rare and beautiful thing to find that kind of love and keep it until death parts. A rare and beautiful thing to actually cherish that love, even in the living years. These years of life are hard and they will try you. Find first the One who will cherish you above all others, and in doing so, finding love that will last your whole life long will be that much easier.

Find love. Hold onto it. And never let it go.

My wish as your mother is that you Three one day find yourselves standing hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm with the Love of your life. Maybe you will be at the curb supporting yourself with a cane, while he tenderly cradles your purse under one arm. Maybe your story has a different ending. Whatever the outcome, may you always find yourself together.

Holding onto each other.

Advertisements

Wonderings

I wonder—what the world would be like if we were only able to see the best in the people around us. If we could just see through to the good that lies within.

Wonder what it would be like if we were truly able to forgive. Truly able to let go. Able to release and then move on.

I would love to understand what it means to really love someone— love done flawlessly. Perfectly and whole.

I wonder— what it feels like to live life free of resentment. Free of offense and insult.

Wonder what it would be like to have no enemies, no rivals, opponents or adversaries.

What would my life be like if I was able to deeply understand other people and their story? Able to know why they are the way they are, know what makes them tick. Would it make me a more caring, compassionate person?

I wonder what it feels like to desire nothing. To feel secure, content and grateful for exactly what I have been given.

I wonder what it feels like to be free from pride, arrogance, anger, rage, disappointment, fear.

I wonder.
******************************************************************************
Recently, I witnessed a breakdown in a relationship that brought pain to those involved. Someone had been emotionally hurt and wounded within a circle of connection due to an offense instigated by another individual, a transgression which occurred many years previous. That one injury, when spoken of, led to confession of many more offenses felt by those involved, all serving to complicate things by bringing extraneous issues and ‘wrongs done’ into the story not connected to the original problem.

Things quickly became very messy, and the ripple effect of this experience was quite troubling. Not only were the individuals directly involved affronted; many others not even connected to the original problem quickly began to take sides. This sadly is so typical of the human experience—in our fragility, we are so easily wounded. So easily are we divided.

Vanier (1998) suggests another way, a path journeyed with consciousness, if you will. He maintains that we have freedom to orientate our lives in one direction or another. He states that “this freedom can lead us into anguish and a fear of becoming, or it can lead us into growth and new life” (Vanier , 1998, p. 3). For me, the new life Vanier speaks of has been a way of seeing differently. A way of understanding differently. Of knowing differently. Of experiencing differently. It is thus a spiritual awareness of who I am in relation to God and the various others that come across my path. For in becoming human, and recognizing both my weaknesses as well as my strengths, I am coming to see that I am not the only one entitled to care. There are people with whom I share this human experience, for whom I must care; further, these fellow beings I exist and grow alongside in this process of becoming are deserving of my care by virtue of their own humanness. Understanding this enables me to consciously see that this way of living is the only way for me, in which to grow and become all I was meant to be.

Vanier (1998) puts it another way, stating that becoming human implies that we must both “be someone, to have cultivated our gifts, and also (to) be open to others, to look at them not with a feeling of superiority but with eyes of respect” (p. 3). Becoming human, for Vanier (1998), is a process of becoming wise with love. I too desire this form of compassionate wisdom.

Personally, I have come to this juncture in my life with great difficulty, traveling paths both tenderly and (at times) abrasively cultivated by the many supports which lift and hold me. A steadfast faith in God, the good parents given to me, my loving husband, dearly cherished family, those wise mentors who have nurtured me, good literature, steady, caring relationships, my professional work, an education founded in the liberal arts—all these have been among the guiding lights in my life leading me forward on a path of understanding, pointing me to an understanding knowledge of why care is essential to the human experience. Include with this, the unique set of circumstances, preferences, traits and beliefs that make me uniquely who I am: this is why I care. I care because I am human. And I am coming to care more even as I become who I was humanly meant to be, a process realized through living out each of life’s little and monumental moments. I now comprehend: becoming human is all I have ever wanted to be.

I am becoming human in my interactions with my own person-hood, making gains at understanding myself better and caring for myself in more intentional ways. I am becoming human in my interactions with my family, seeing the value in each person I have always loved, whom I love a little more deeply each day I am given breath and life to experience. I am coming to see the joy in sacrifice, the value in surrender. This is part of my calling, part of loving another human being. I am becoming human in my interactions with my students—seeing the meaning in instilling an ethic of care in both my classroom and places of influence. I am becoming human in the ways in which I perceive the world. In the ways in which I understand the human beings with whom I share this planet. I am becoming human in the ways in which I care about both the material and non-material world of which I inhabit.

I am becoming human through my understanding and appreciation of difference, of ideas, of values, of morality, of spirituality. Becoming human through cultivating an appreciation of all that contributes to my human experience.

I am becoming human. And this aspiration is what I believe I have always hoped to be. A person who is living her life to the fullest. A person caring for those around her with joy and passion, maintaining an inner peace and fulfillment from a life of service that defies finite understanding. A person at peace with who she was, who she is and who she eventually will be. A person anticipating her future becoming—even while she appreciates the person she is today.

Vanier’s (1998) words provide a closing thought: “peace will come through dialogue, through trust and respect for others who are different, through inner strength and a spirituality of love, patience, humility, and forgiveness” (p. 4). This kind of peace surrounds those who know what it is they desire to become in this life. It is the very air they breathe.

In this great adventure of becoming human, I am finding peace through caring. In the process, I am becoming all I was ever meant to be.

All is Grace

2015-02-03 16.47.45

The sun beckons through the glass of my kitchen windows. We are now on Daylight Savings time and the possibilities seem endless for a low-key Monday evening. I suggest a walk through the field by snowshoe and then call for the girls to resume their igloo building while I finish up a few last-minute errands. I slip on my snowshoes and climb the steep incline to the field where the girls are forming a play-fire from some branches and small evergreens twigs. It is just one of those perfect evenings made for play and whimsy.
Husband and I set out through the field with the sun behind us, the effect of which makes the landscape a tableau of brilliant white as far as the eye can see. The contours of the land are increasingly difficult to navigate and predict, and I find myself catching a snowshoe here and there, nearly tumbling face-first in a less than glamorous free-fall. I steady myself and stay the course, sinking more and more the further we advance with the softer snow drifts.
We walk back to the old tree that marks the land. It has been a marker of the passage of time, but time does take its toll. A large branch has been whiplashed by our fierce winter winds and now lies perpendicular to the stately boughs that still stretch up to the sky. I rest over the branch for a while and gaze pensively off into the distance. Husband stands beside me and we pass the moments in silence.
I find myself thinking more and more about the moments and days and months and years that are quickly passing us by. It seems like five minutes ago that Husband and I first laid eyes on one another. In truth- that moment was 23 years ago. And with two decades and a bit under our belts, you would think we must have found the secret that happy couples ascribe to so as to keep the tenderness alive, keep the fires burning. Think we’d know the answers.
In truth, marriage is hard. It doesn’t get any easier either. But then again, so is life and it doesn’t get easier either.
I read tonight of Kara Tippetts, a beautiful mama and wife who is fighting cancer- but claiming that every day is grace. I think of my own dear warrior friend Wendy Gallant who lost her battle to cancer but has left behind her incredible legacy as a wife, mama, friend, community member and influence. I feel tears fall as I think that the world will be/is emptier for the loss of women like these two. I grieve the change that the passage of seasons brings.
Kara describes death as leaving the party too early. She talks about feeling like a little girl whose Daddy has come to pick her up before the birthday party has officially ended. She says it is not that she is afraid to die- she just isn’t wanting to leave yet. I wonder if this is how my dear Wendy felt. I’m sure she would have asked for just one more day if the suggestion had been offered.
Life is so difficult to comprehend even in its raw, jagged beauty.
I turn to Husband and I wrap my arms around his solid frame. I feel that this is where I need to be right now. Right here. We embrace in the quiet solitude. All is peace. All is grace.
We fight continually for that peace and grace to hold us even as the storms of life rage around our fragile vulnerability. We are so weak- so frail. And yet there is a strength that sustains even in the midst of life’s uncertainties. There is always enough grace for the day.
Grace holds tenderly.
And that is what knits me together in this fading light of the day. That Grace. Felt in a Husband’s embrace. Whispered on the evening breeze- I will always love you- for I always have. And I always will. A Father’s grace- eternal, sustaining and unending.
And it is enough. It is more than enough.

Satisfied

I am running up the uneven and worn sidewalk blocks, grass growing up between them. Frost from past winter’s freeze has shifted and changed their original direction. Water soaks the ground beneath my feet, splashing up and over the sides of a rather closely situated water slide. I run towards the entry point high above so that I too might ride, running towards the staircase as if I am ten years old again. Ten years old: just like my Sarah who made this milestone today at exactly 6:26 p.m. this very evening. I race up the slope towards the inclined steps that lead to two rather small and well-used waterslides. Small but perfect- that’s my view. These waterslides: ‘just right’ for the forty-year old woman who believes she just might have a ten-year old heart. Perfect for me.

And oh! the exhilaration. To stretch one’s body in pike position and feel the speed. The water beneath and the wind above. Yes, for some it might be a small thrill. But for me, I am just satisfied. Satisfied! With this. All of this. This day and the juxtaposition of special and mundane. This weather, a mix of rain and sun. This park, this place, these people.

I’m satisfied.

Satisfaction. It’s a form of contentment. A feeling of being fulfilled. It is an experience of pleasure, happiness and joy. A state of being gratified. Grateful for what one has, whatever that “what’ might happen to be. Grateful for the small- grateful for the vast. It is a sentiment that calls one to give thanks for the gifts ones has been given, seeing the gift in the ordinary simplicity of everyday life. Feeling satisfied with commonplace, everyday pleasures. Commonplace, everyday blessings. When we are no longer able to feel satisfied, something happens. We start feeling ungrateful. Unappreciative. We start looking around, noticing that what we have is less than what others might have- not as special and unique as what someone else has in their possession beside us or next to us. We start evaluating our stuff, our things, our situation, our people- on the basis of what we see around us. We place unfair expectations on the gifts we’ve been given, unwisely wanting them to be something they were never meant to be. And then, there is a feeling of desire that ensues. Desire that craves something more, something bigger, brighter, better, bolder. Something beyond.

It’s a nasty cycle. And it can lead to darker places by the name of Greed and Envy and Jealousy and Dissatisfaction. Trust me, I’ve been there. They are not places you’d wish to visit.

We all know our vulnerabilities. Our area of weakness. It’s how we shift our thinking so as to make our response one of satisfaction, one of sweet contentment rather than one of discontentment and irritation. This is what that determines our joy.

And what a difference a day can make.

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling frustrated. I was not happy with anything- the state of my house, the state of the day’s affairs, the people around me, the fact that it was August. I mean August: the summer might as well just end RIGHT NOW, now that August has arrived. Am I right?

And no. Nothing made any difference. I was just miserable. The more I thought about how miserable I was, the more miserable things were. I found bugs in the beds (seriously? Gross me out the door), dirt on the floors (okay, so this is every day, all day), clutter on every conceivable living space in my house (ditto). I couldn’t seem to get out of the kitchen for the life of me, one project led to another and then to another and so on. By noon, I was hot, sweaty and tired. I felt a headache coming on. And I was just ready to throw in the towel.

I might have thrown in the towel. There have been a lot of towels going through my washing machine lately. But at the end of the day, I went to bed, only to wake up again this morning. And I discovered something. I have a lot to be thankful for in this little house of mine. This little world I call my own.

What a difference a day makes.

Nothing in my environment really changed with the dawning of this new day. Same house, same mess, same people. It’s just that here we are together again- in this brand new beautiful day. We are alive, we are together…and we’re here. And what’s not to love about a fresh start? This is not to say that feeling frustrated and discouraged is wrong or shameful. It’s just to say that it is not really much fun. It’s actually depressing. And so I choose today- joy. Joy, and peace and contentment. I choose to see all that I have as the gift it is, rather than as the burden it might seem to be. I choose to see what I have been given as delight rather than trouble. And in so doing, I find myself feeling more and more content.

In so doing, I find myself satisfied.

So today, I am satisfied for the fact that I found no bugs in my bed. Score. Satisfied again because I wasn’t baking anything today- I bought a store-bought cake for precious Sarah- and she loved every bite of it. Score again. And I got to race my Husband and beat him FOUR TIMES ON THE WATERSLIDES. Score, score score. And they say that three times is a charm.

It all is- it’s all a gift. And for all this and so much more- I’m satisfied

Counting blessings…

The journey to peace comes by way of blessings.  Counting blessings.  Those little and big reminders given to us so that we can remember this: life is good.  That life is more than good- it is stellar.  Even in the moments we oft would erase.  For those moments build character and endurance.  They make us stronger.  They perfect us from the inside out.

We initiated our oldest into his freshman year of junior high school (by way of a back-to-school party).  It was a painful night in some ways, exciting in others.  There were some very obvious signs being sent my way that Son was not interested in being seen with us, his family.  Nor did he appreciate his mama asking any questions or volunteering any information. Painful.  Searing pain, both physical and emotional.   Am I ready for this?  Is he?

But it was exciting nonetheless to see him amongst his peers, to meet with his teachers and to see what his school environment would look like for the upcoming school year.  To see the apprehension and fear mixed with curiosity and delight.  To know for myself where he will be even as I am teaching my own little class in another classroom, in another school.   All this emotion.   Enough to bust a mother’s heart.

And tonight, it is tempting to sit and think sad thoughts.  About fleeting time and changing seasons and growing up.  It is tempting to will time to stand still.  Or to wish hard enough that clocks would turn back to sweeter days when a mother’s arms were enough.  To want to return to bygone days that have become sanctified in the memory, bathed in the glorious, reflective light of a twilight reminiscence.  How we tend to remember everything as though viewing through that lens of rose-colored glasses.

But time grows fuller still as we lean into the seconds, minutes, hours and days.  It becomes richer more with life and experience than it ever could by standing constant.  So I’ll not wish and waste precious moments of today.  Time is fleeting.

I count blessings instead.  I am blessed because I have been endowed with the treasure of him.  Who is…

…a child healthy, bright and able to perform and complete the necessary tasks set before him

…whom is willing to push himself outside his comfort zone

…who has consented to music classes this school year, in spite of the stigma

…who is organized (his backpack for school neatly packed and arranged just so)

…who appreciates where he came from and knows where he is going

…whose soul knows deeper things than those thoughts that merely scratch the surface

…and who has faith in God while yet unseen.

It is hard to sometimes count blessings.  This evening was more difficult than the words can share.  And some things are better left unsaid.  There are ways in which a mother’s heart sears with pain, and only another soul could understand who has but felt it through their own experience in mothering a child.  It is hard to move from safe harbours into deeper, more turbulent waters.  As are those I’m wading in.

But I will try to move forward, keeping with the current.  And will doubtless count the blessings as I go.