Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Startling realities

There is a two-dog chorus outside my window this morning.  Actually, there is a two mutt serenade outside my window most mornings at five-thirty.  Their long howls and quick yaps flurry into darkness and startle even the stars.

What life experiences have startled you into reality, friend?  Perhaps they are beautiful moments, like standing on a precipice that overlooks cascades of mountains or roaring waves slapping against a rocky shore.  Or, perhaps, the reflection of a great monument like the Parthenon wavered in a puddle on a rainy day and reminded you of the thin gossamer of time that seemed to fill the air thick with history.  Or...

After one short month of living in Athens, Greece, I recall the first time black-tinged-snot filled my tissues.  It was quite startling.  Upon coming home to the rolling mountains of the Shenandoah Valley before venturing back to Wayne County in Ohio, the water washing my clothing was so black that I thought I would never get those cuts of cloth clean.

Another startling reality is gas.  Pumping gas in my car is one of the guiltiest feelings I have.  For now it's a necessity, I know, but I sorely miss the walking lifestyle I had in Wooster, Athens, and when I visit my friend Jenny in New York City.  And, I'm thankful for brilliant minds working hard - and dare I say in spite of the lack of our government's more discerning hand - to make a difference by slashing the amount of emissions our often one-passenger vehicles are creating.

So as our family saves to buy a more environmentally-friendly car, perhaps I should learn to ride a cow.  My mother did once, but most people think of raging rodeos instead of peacefully-plodding herbivores.  I'm convinced farmers are far more environmentally-friendly than most people claim to be themselves.  So, what do you think, friend?  Do you believe cars are ready to make way for cows?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beautiful creation

Friend, why do weight issues bother us so?  Perhaps it has something to do with our cultural preferences for skinny chicks and buff dudes.  Or, maybe it's closer to home: for me, I have a tendency to be over-self-critical.  So, my propensity for comparing myself with others, whether I'm cognizant of the fact or not, gives me a poor personal image.  Past criticisms reverberate from the torrents of my mind when I least expect, let alone want, them.  And those never help.

It shouldn't be this way.  We all have talents and traits that make us beautiful creations!  You, friend, have the ability to do good, to help those in need, and to share a selfless smile or restorative encouragement to those God situates in your life.

A wide smile consistently spread across his face, Joey said to me: "Mommy, I think you're just the right size for you."  Regardless of the physical changes that happen throughout my lifetime, I know that my son will love me.  His smile radiates from his soul, not his face.  Friend, are there people like this in your life?  Those are the people who matter - those are the people who really care about you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Merry memories

Blue and white splotches spread across the smooth, enamel bucket, filled with crayons of every color.  Joey carefully selects one wax stick at a time and smears strokes of green, orange, indigo, yellow, torquoise, and red across plain newsprint.  Folding the paper just so and snipping here, then there, I unfold a long paper chain of angels and trace the outline in bold black marker.

The chain still hangs along the ceiling and whispers merry memories about the room: times spent savoring the true gifts of Christmas - love, joy, peace, and hope - with someone you love, whether its baking and building gingerbread houses, dipping pretzel rods in melted chocolate and crushed candy canes, winding fragrant evergreen branches into wreaths for welcome-doors, decorating gingerbread men with white icing and rainbow nonpareils and gumdrops, wrapping presents for children in need of a reminder that someone loves them, ...

Can you add to that list, friend?  Does the season's beauty still linger in your soul, if not in your home?  May today bring you an opportunity to share that beauty with someone in need of a smile.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Howling balloon

Soft lighting indoors and rosy tendrils of dawn outside provide a mood of quietude.  I anticipate a cup of smooth tea - the necessary water not yet boiling in the shiny kettle.  Sleepiness still settles on my sons, whose wide eyes peer up at their papa, fidgeting with a straw and a long balloon.

Suddenly, a high-pitched howling slashes the serenity even as the now-colossal balloon hurtles about the room.  I duck!  Just in time.  The balloon rockets past my head and careens about a corner where wall meets ceiling meets wall.  Like a dog, head to the ground and dodging here then there, intent on sniffing out an interesting smell, pressure from releasing air bobs the balloon about until the howling ceases and the bit of rubber drops.

Joey, having hid himself in the kitchen, peeks warily around the door jamb.  Pointing to the deflated balloon, Ezra emits an "uh, uh, uh" as if to query what just happened.  I, on the other had, liberate my bottled-up breath in a long sigh.

Are you familiar with that moment when you realize you're on a wave's crest, friend, distanced from a painful past experience so much so that you did not ascertain the pressure built up inside you?  It's uncanny how that release comes so suddenly - not necessarily changing everything, but making you more aware and amenable to personal growth that will keep such pressure-cooker tension from forming.

It's uncomfortable to experience those howling balloon moments when they conflict with our own, idiomatic status quo.  But, it also might be exactly what we need.  If life persists in calming undulation, it will not require the courage that accompanies every great discovery.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Squishy pea

Finger shoved far up his nose, Ezra said, "pea."

"Um.  Ezra, did you stick a pea up your nose?"  My interrogative was insufficient for a response I did not want to hear.  And, the smile spreading between my twenty-month-old's cheerful cheeks brought me dismay.

A cooked pea connotes squishiness.  Consider the softness of pea soup, for example.  But, I have learned that a cooked pea shoved relentlessly up a nose by a toddler intent on discovery does not imply friability.  Instead, that pea was like a hard pebble lodged perfectly just out of reach to everyone but a trained specialist, who swaddled my son and hooked it out whole.

Stubborn pea!  But, then I'm reminded of stubborn me.  How often do I intentionally exert my own preferences over the benefit or desires of others?  Do you empathize, friend?  Do you, too, want to peel away that sticky layer of pertinacity?

Admission is a good first step.  Perhaps these need to be baby steps to learn that we shouldn't stick our own assumptions into everyone else's estimations.  I guess my toddler and I have a lot in common, but that doesn't mean I plan on sticking a pea up my nose anytime soon.