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Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

On my way to work this morning. Absent from this vision is the chatter of the laughing gulls overhead, the intoxicating aroma of the sea blending with the morning mist rising over the field and the cool of the morning about to give way to the heat of day. And the burn of the coffee that spilled as I yanked over and out of the traffic to savor this moment…

Thank you, God, for a new day, every day!

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No, not I…the 2, about-to-be 3 year old. He graciously reminded me tonight of the importance of unwinding. Really unwinding. He reminds me that we must perpetually turn to children, the older we get, for advice on how to live. Really live. With the first child, scolding was the parenting du jour should he have attempted such a feat…with child #4…..well…I learned to take heed. You know, step back and contemplate….hmmm…well, isn’t kind of, er, funny? Go ahead, break into the chase, let him go squealing with delight, buck naked, round and round, catching him with laughter and direction to get into jammies….silly boy. I love you.

But I really wish you hadn’t have put four toothbrushes and one Mardi Gras cup in the toilet today. Luv ya anyway. Say, what happened when you tried to flush? Sorry I wasn’t there to find out with you. Bless Daddy.

Sometimes it takes a child to hold our hand and lead us precisely where we need to be. Children know freedom.

It was what our very country was founded upon.

We must constantly question and examine our beliefs, as the development of beliefs can be a fluid process throughout each life phase. A good, hard look at why we believe what we believe is good for the soul, and keeps us fresh. We become stagnant if we can no longer embrace the merits of our beliefs. Yet we cling so tightly sometimes to things that no longer make sense…

A conversation with “Common Sense:”

“He should not be allowed to run naked through the house. This is wrong.”

“And what could happen?

“Why, it’s not proper. It might make others want to run naked through the house.”

“And then what?”

“Well, then things would be out of control. They’d get the wrong message. One thing leads to another”

“What’s the wrong message?”

“That you can’t think that you can run naked through the house and it’s okay. There must be consequences.”

“And then what,? if not?”

“Ummmm… I dunno. It’s just wrong.”

“With whom? How?”

“Ummmmm..I dunno.”‘

“What harm does it do? I mean, does it serve a purpose for the runner? Do they get some benefit from it, something out of their system, sow their wild oats, then want to conform, or what? What’s going to happen if a little off-kilter happens? Doesn’t off-kilter behavior serve an ultimate purpose?”

“Well, I never thought about it.”

“Well, think about it. Is it so bad? You ever been off-kilter? What did you need to do to get right?”

‘Nuff said.

Sometimes, in all our adult wisdom, we completely miss the point of living.

When was the last time you ran naked through the house? Would the sky fall? Is it so bad?

Thanks, God, for freedom and laughter and children. It figures only the serpent could have made it so we had to wear fig leaves and toil, instead of having the childlike freedom of running naked through the house.

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Hey, God…

That a child brought me to You this morning was humbling. He had asked with such hope, as best as his broken speech could muster, to go to church. The squeaky creaks of the kneelers echoed in the old nineteenth century chapel. Departing from our usual place of attendance, he did not know what to do with the kneeler until he saw the rest of us kneel and pray. He eventually decided the long padded rail at our feet made for a far better place to sit down than in the pew, as this afforded him a more advantageous perspective of the stained glass windows and of the sensible shoes of the elderly lady kneeling in the pew in front of ours.

He did not mind that he could not take communion because he cannot digest solids; he was grateful to receive a special blessing at the railing instead. He was not disappointed to miss out on the regulation tea and crumpets later in the reception hall; he rather basked in the attention of the new people we met. It was always I who had to be the one to manage my sympathetic disappointments felt on his behalf, and in the end I realized that they were entirely mine, not his – he did not know disappointment of any sort very well. Once disappointments were properly attributed, owned and subsequently discarded on my behalf, it became so much easier to join him in his joy.

I remember the first time I felt the two, distinct and simultaneously contradicting anguishes, felt as a mother of a child with Down syndrome. He was only four days old, but already society by me was damned if they did, damned if they didn’t.

If people offered awkward pity, the urge was to blurt out, “Can’t you see we are the proud, happy parents of a healthy baby? He’s no different…he eats, sleeps and poops right on schedule with the rest of them! Why can’t you congratulate us and be joyful with us?”

If people offered standard congratulations and completely avoided acknowledging his diagnosis, the temptation was to say, “Do you have any idea what we’re going through? Our child is different! Why can’t you offer condolences and join us in our grief?”

It would be years later that I realized people were dealing with it in the various ways they knew best. And so was I, as I began to digest what it meant to be raising a child with special needs.

So it was through life, times when we tried in vain to squeeze the square peg into the round hole…it just never quite fit. And yet it was well worth trying, because we all learned things along the way, and it enriched him in ways he would not have experienced, had we not tried.

There were heartaches and joys in trying, but it was the trying that sharpened us all. There are no baseball pants that quite work for his build, but we got creative and he played…for part of a season, until he decided the outfield was meant for chasing his teammates to steal their ball caps to try to get them to chase him. I wept when we had to make the decision to bench him because he just didn’t get it.

The basketball hoop was a bit too high and he had to play on his little brother’s team with second graders, but the week before the end of the season, he sank his first hoop, unassisted. And I wept when the entire crowd erupted into cheers and gave him a standing ovation.

But the look of joy in his eyes was exactly the same whether he was bench-warming or ovation-bowing. He was happy just to be included, even though he knew he was different and couldn’t quite master it like his peers did. He took joy in the process, not in the outcome. Perhaps it is us who, at times, just don’t get it.

He knows how to smell the roses along the way. Those joyful eyes see things differently.

So when society wonders if a challenged person should be treated differently or the same, the answer is, some of each…the same, as much as they are capable of; differently, to accommodate and adapt as much as needed to allow them to experience at least part of the process. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, and they understand more than we think. They have learned to be flexible and patient with others, out of necessity.

What kind of world would this be if we all saw life through those joyful eyes?

God, why do they say that 90% of all babies who test positive for Down syndrome in that new, first blood test, are aborted?

Let us not fear the salty tears of anguish which lead to the sweetest tears of joy!

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Clouds Dancing

Hey, God…

So the tiny child stopped me in my mental tracks, as I was wandering in the wilderness of busy-ness, with one, simple observation: “Clouds dancing! See? Clouds dancing!” He pointed excitedly to the sky, where my eyes were drawn by his little finger, and I beheld the world through his eyes for a moment, echoing his mirthful wonder.

What priceless delight and repose can be found by pausing from our busy schedule to catch a slice of the busy schedule of the universe! Indeed, like graceful dancers with flowing robes skimming across the sky, the clouds did dance, and we got to watch. Blowing, wisping, merging, billowing, parting. They invite the mind to wander…to imagine…to marvel. It must be like Heaven, to know our seemingly small but important part in the grand scheme of things, but to be invited to fully enjoy the beauty and majesty of things greater than us.

Why does it always seem to take one who is smaller, younger, weaker or somehow lesser than we, to humble us in our tracks and draw our attention to where it should have been all along? Only You could be behind such a feat, Lord!

Come sit with me here by the sea and lets watch the clouds dancing!

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Hey, God….

So what’s up with dreams? Do You control the programming on those channels, or when You designed our brains, You just sort of set things in motion and let ’em spin? What a mystery.

Moments ago I was in some surreal world…a freeflowing puppet starring in some other-planetary production in which I was among the cast of characters. I evidently knew all my lines, but it wasn’t me knowing them. I was both audience and thespian, simultaneously. What marvelous capacities You designed us with…and with such limitations, all the necessary harnesses built in. I awake and cannot grasp the fading dreamscape; it haunts and teases me, making sure I remember it’s there somewhere within my being, yet I cannot access it at will. You remind me that You have made us with things even we cannot comprehend and control. That in the end, it really does boil down to You and Your will. So why do we fight that most of our lives, even when we think we’re being or acting close to You, and why do we not just succumb to Your will sooner? How can we ever think we can know all things, when there are things we cannot know (and deep down, we know that we cannot know)?

Why isn’t it easier to choose Your will?

Stubborn, foolish little creatures we are!

So here I sit with You and my coffee on the beach chair, watching the sun rise, hoping the humidity isn’t frying the laptop. What a glorious day You have made. Awesome birds chirping and singing, Lord. Do birds have dreams, too? I love the mix of cicadas and crickets, too. The crickets, wrapping up their nighttime symphony and fading into to rising light of day…the regular cicadas, slowly warming up their chorus and reaching a feverish crescendo up in the trees, and then their relatives, the other group which prides itself on rhythm, the steady bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz-bzz that lends itself to comfortable predictability and reminding me what part of the planet I currently occupy.

And the rest of this part of the planet is sitting in church just about now, and derelict me sitting here (as I cannot hear You as well when I’m surrounded by man-made noise), enjoying You all to myself (and all You have made). Thank You for the serenity of this morning. Thank You for answering some of my questions, and allowing me to wonder about others. For if there was no wonder, to whom would we turn? Some questions demand to remain unanswered and unknown, for they are usually spoiled in one way or another when we try to ascribe our version of an answer to them.

I do not know why I am drawn to the seashore, but You have provided the elements with which I can joyfully dig in the sand, get my hands all goopy and messy, and fill that pail with my little shovel. I don’t understand why this is the sequence of things,but it is right and good, and one’s soul knows it. I might get biffed by a wave as the tide rises, but this just adds to the elements going into my pail and makes it a better sand castle when I dump the whole thing upside down. I am only vaguely aware of the fresh scent of the sea breeze giving life to my endeavors in the pail, but it fuels me along with the happy sun, and all is well.

It is then good, I conclude, to remain as a child: perceiving the world as a dreamscape (with dreams as real and true as waking moments), taking innocent comfort in blurred realities, doing what a child is supposed to do without adopting unnecessary worries…and ever remaining filled with wonder.

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15 Ways to a Half-Full Day

Hey, God…

Thanks for a great day. There was so much good about it, yet it was “just” another day! And, too, there was so much that I could have chosen to perceive as negative, inconvenient, frustrating, terrifying and even a little bad news thrown in. There was physical blood, emotional gore, and plenty of general unrest.

So how do we get to the end of the day and decide it’s been a good day? Do You do that, or do we? How was the glass not half-empty, what with all those “bads” swirling about all day?

Hmmm…let’s see… there was:

Faith: Trusting in One bigger than ourselves to handle the details, and the big picture;

Busyness: Having enough obligations, which keeps us from having enough idle time to dwell on the negatives;

Wisdom: Knowing that time solves most problems;

Love: Recognizing that there are other people needier than we, and acting on it by putting them first;

Trust: Believing that negatives will eventually turn out to be positives, even if today we can’t see how;

Laughter: Finding the humor in there somewhere, if only just to laugh;

Gratitude: Thanking others;

Responsibility: Understanding that we have purpose which others rely upon, whether we realize it or not;

Selective Focus: Choosing to attend to those things that strengthen or were meaningful in positive ways, and choosing to turn away from negativity;

Care: Making ourselves rest, eat, exercise properly so that we can properly care for others;

Hope: Keeping one eye to the future, since we know that circumstances always eventually change, and valleys yield to peaks;

Flexibility: The willingness to bend, cheerfully, with the winds of change;

Honesty: Having the courage to speak truth, for the purpose of integrity;

Respect: For both self and others, which often involves self-control, empathy and submission; and

Joy: Knowing that goodness abounds in all places and people, if we just look.

Thanks again, and also for bringing me safely back to the beach chair so we can take inventory like this. Like the memory of a peaceful vacation, may we remember these every day!

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