Imprints on a Day – December 13, 2015

On the Reading Table

Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

 

Ambient Noise

Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour

 

Contemplation

Honey of My Failures

Last night, as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvelous error! –

That I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

Were making white combs

and sweet honey

From my old failures.

Antonio Machado

My first name means “honeybee” in Greek, so anything that references bees or honey gets my attention.  And my thought/prayer/musing this morning upon reading this poem is:  May it be so.  God, let it be so. 

No matter how we express it…

          rising from the ashes

          joy comes in the morning

          this, too, shall pass

          hang tough

          why, why, why???

…we must believe something better, something of value, something that makes the sometimes extraordinary pain of life bearable, is coming.  May it be so.  God, let it be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imprints on a Day – November 18, 2015

On the Reading Table

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

 

Ambient Noise

NPR’s Morning Edition

The space heater

 

Contemplation

In the November 18 entry in Mark Nepo’s powerful The Book of Awakening, he offers this instruction:

     Center yourself and bring to mind a time you felt the need to be accepted.

And upon doing that, my response was “every day of my life!”  It brought to mind how much of our energy is devoted to seeking and finding acceptance, belonging, being-wanted-ness.  More for some of us than others, of course.  But no matter…there it is, integral to our experience of life.  The magic lies in finding that acceptance and belonging for our whole selves, not just the parts of us we believe are appropriate for public display, or most desirable for this person or that, or that best support our vision of self, however accurate or healthy that vision may be.

Isn’t that authenticity?  The release from expectations of perfection and an embracing of our whole selves?   It’s my goal…and my struggle…and my goal.

 

Imprints on a Day – November 14, 2015

On the Reading Table

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Ambient Noise

MSNBC

 

Contemplation

As I prayed this morning, all I could come up with was, “Oh God, our world. Our world.” I am so grateful for all of the goodness and beauty that we see in our world, even in the days and weeks that it seems like hate and ugliness are so strong.

I stand with love. I will continue to stand with love…for Paris, for the girl who uses a blanket because she has no coat, for the trafficked person with very little hope, for the family and friends who have lost a young man too soon, for all of us. My heart is heavy, but I stand with love.

Rules, Side Effects, and the Human Will

At 63, my father had an abundance of silver hair that he was very proud of. He also had cancer. Awaiting the start of chemo, he was very worried about his beautiful hair falling out; the specter of his naked head on public view was unsettling for him. We sat together near the window in his hospital room, warmed by the muted light of an early fall afternoon.  He asked me if I thought it would be acceptable for him to wear a beret indoors once his hair fell out. He was unsure and insecure, fretting so much over a “correct” way to hide his exposed scalp, but his concern was more than vanity. And the seemingly easy solution of simply wearing a hat all the time presented a new challenge.

A dapper Southern gentleman, that Southern style presented a dilemma for him, since it was a faux pas of significant note for a man to wear a hat indoors. He felt strongly about this; a judge, on any number of occasions he had stopped legal proceedings to bark at some unsuspecting male to “approach the bench,” at which time Daddy explained the perils of wearing a hat indoors in his courtroom. (The offending headgear was either removed from the head of its owner or the owner left the courtroom.)

So when Dad asked me about wearing a beret, I answered that frankly, considering the circumstances, I felt like he could make his own damn rules. It was a simple answer, but inside I was staggered. He put on such a brave front – “all I need is a fighting chance” – but that day I saw a man different from the father I knew.

That man could bring over-exuberant behavior to a screeching halt with a single no-nonsense glance. That man never backed down from any critic; he successfully weathered a vicious professional crucifixion. But this man felt powerless to cope with an ultimately inconsequential aspect of his illness. This man, unlike the young lawyer who defiantly wore a black armband to protest the death penalty, was worried that someone might not approve if he wore a beret to cover his chemotherapy-scourged head!

I understand that when life has become devastatingly overwhelming, we sometimes focus on a smaller, more manageable issue as a coping mechanism. But still…if his vulnerability made me reel, what must it have been doing to him?

I leaned down, hugged him, mussed his hair and gave him a kiss. Close to his ear, I told him softly that everything would be all right. We stayed where we were for a while, my fingers absently twining through his hair as I looked out the window at the pines standing straight and strong and he stared down the long, empty hospital corridor.

As it turned out, Daddy was one of those people whose hair does not fall out after chemo. His hair remained planted firmly in his head, just the way he liked it. His doctor said something about the side effects of chemo not being as bad as they’d once been. Maybe so.

But maybe not. The human will can pack a punch. I can see my dad’s will being enough to keep his hair in place.

I wish it had been enough to keep him alive.

Imprints on a Day – February 8, 2015

On the Reading Table

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

Ambient Noise

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday

Contemplation

I’m thinking about who my female role models were when I was a child.  I remember a vivid fascination with and a longing to be like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nellie Bly, and Annie Oakley, as well as an uneasy sense of doomed requirement with Dean Martin’s Golddiggers, Goldie Hawn on Laugh In, assorted Bond girls, and other expressions of airheaded and/or overtly sexual femaleness.

I’m going to find some biographies about Laura, Nellie, and Annie and revisit them as an adult woman. What can I see and learn from them now?

And as for the other female role models I mentioned, well, one can only hope that a combination of therapy and maturation has resolved THOSE issues.