Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ethan's Treasure

The door opened and closed so quietly that I wasn't even certain someone had entered the house.

Eight year old Ethan sat on the couch mesmerized by something in his hand. I paused, surprised, not because he was on my couch, but because he usually comes to me in a run, with a bang and a shout.

Life is an ongoing party for Ethan and it's one of my favorite things about him, but this time he was very still. When he looked up, his eyes were full of joy and wonder.

"Oh, Nana," he tells me, opening his hand to reveal a shiny black arrowhead. "Look what Carolanne gave me!"

I am amazed by the magnitude of Carolanne's generosity, wondering if it really should be seen as a gift. Ethan immediately senses my question.

"Really. She gave it to me. She said I will keep it," he whispers. "I need to draw it."

Working methodically through the disappointment and pain of my life with rheumatoid arthritis, a new appreciation is unfolding. I find myself awestruck with wonder at this gift, this treasure, this opportunity held in my hands. God is listening to me just as I listened to Ethan.

"Oh, Father. Look what You have given me. You said I will keep it. I need to capture my gift on paper, study it from different angles, appreciate it with gratitude.

"You can have the drawing, Nana," Ethan said, hanging it on the refrigerator. "I don't need it. I have my treasure."

He tucked the arrowhead in his pocket and hugged me even tighter and faster than usual. "Bye, Nana! Thanks!" he yelled, leaving the door to bang loudly behind him.

And I have a treasure, too. I have been given an opportunity to live fully awake to God's presence in every moment, every circumstance, to discover grace even in disappointment, even in pain.

It makes my life an ongoing party. I have a treasure that makes me want to create something colorful to give away...and maybe hang on the world's refrigerator.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the Whole World

Delicate toddler arms reach wide. Maisy's hands open and close as if to grasp the whole wonderful world in her arms.

"I love you in the WHOLE WORLD!" She laughs as she runs and jumps into my hug, giving me a tight squeeze.

Maisy lives life wide awake to the joy of being in the world.

With little girl innocence, she expects goodness and generosity, beauty and happiness. Having the freedom to simply be who she is in the moment gives her a delight in life that is fresh, enchanting and original.

She is neither too busy nor too insecure to seize new opportunities to learn and express herself. There is always enough time to offer a hug, a helping hand, a pat of encouragement.

She needs no permission to be herself. She needs no self-promoting. Nobody has to convince her she is wonderfully made. She simply shows up for life hopeful, grateful and joyful.

Why do we think we need permission or approval to simply be ourselves, alive in His grace?

I'm an original and I get one chance at life in the whole world. No one can show up to live it but me.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Let's Sing Loud!

Elyce Feliz Photo
"Let's sing loud," Katherynn, age four, whispers passionately.  "Let's sing really REALLY LOUD!"

She is learning to weed in my flower bed. Since not even the flowers are asleep, we sing so loudly that we are soon laughing and working harder.

We are still sweaty, blistered, hot and tired, but we are refreshed. Singing loudly has brought the joy necessary for motivation and strength to finish our work.

What does your life song sing? Is it a joyous melody? An encouraging song? What are you singing into a world of turmoil, grief and disappointment?

During the last three days I have heard life songs that say: "I'm so bored." "My life is falling apart."  "I hate Mondays." "The President is a Joke." "Look how gorgeous I am!"

We need to wake up! If you sing louder you will hear what your life song is saying. It helps to drown out the voices that distract, the words that discourage and the songs that speak weariness.

 "Anyone can sing when the sun is shining bright," the old hymn promises, "But you can have a song in your heart at night." 

How lovely on the mountains are the songs of those who sing good news, who announce peace and proclaim joy! Awake, my soul, and sing! For Christ has died for me!

Let's sing loud. Let's sing really REALLY LOUD!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Look! A Hero!

"You're one of my heroes," I say, knowing Marjorie will burst into loud, infectious laughter.

She's a plain woman, stooped from nearly a century of hard work and disappointment. Though sometimes she appears at my doorstep looking a bit odd,  gray hair straggling about,  sans glasses and teeth she often misplaces, she is always a welcome sight.

"Good morning, my dear one. How are you today?" she always greets me, collapsing  into a chair, ready for her piano lesson.  She hands me her books and begins to play an old hymn. Arthritis and age have twisted and gnarled her hands, but the music comes from her heart.  Her fingers become a part of the instrument as sweet music fills my home..

"I love those old hymns. Never forget them." she laughs, after a hymn or two played by ear. "Alright, Girl! Now, teach me how to play this piano right. I've spent hours in practice. You're going to be so very proud of me."  

She studies diligently, learning  the names of the notes she has been playing by ear for well over half a century. It's her way to rest from work. For a couple of hours each afternoon she plays her assignments over and over again.

Most of her days are spent raising a grandson and caring for an elderly neighbor who is twenty years younger than Marjorie. She studies the Word of God long past midnight, preparing sermons for her church on Sunday.  Besides cleaning her house, mowing her yard and working with people who live in poverty and weariness, she visits a prison every week.

"I don't have a real big ministry," she explains. "I just go around seeking out the lost and seems like I always find some. I just encourage folks. That's all."

It is common to believe we must have an opinion on every issue and tragedy in our news focused world. People complain about the world around us, about the weather, the cost of food and gas, or how often we all complain rather than give thanks. 

When we stop wasting time wondering where the heroes have all gone, we find them. And, more importantly, we are inspired and motivated by them.