upon encountering a frog on a mid-winter evening

walking along on this winter evening that has dressed up like spring
meandering really, not counting steps or time or headed anywhere
in particular
just giving her a moment to sniff and smell and do
all the dog things she does
it’s different somehow in the dark
the world seems quieter
calmer
and while there’s so much I cannot see,
somehow it all seems clearer

and that’s when out of nowhere really
the little frog hopped in our path
and surprised both of us

where on earth has he been?
a week ago the earth was frozen
frigid temperatures closed everything
the cold and bitter winds called for hunkering down,
preparation and survival were the code words for the day

and where were you then, little one?
had you yet grown your legs a week ago?
where were you hiding when the world said
there is no life left here, nothing growing
only this harsh world suitable for no man nor beast,
how did you survive the freeze when all else was lost?

and yet you show up
as if you are not the most amazing thing in this world
something that should not be, that logic cannot fathom how–
there you are
hopping across my path
unafraid, not to be veered from your destination
by person or dog

intent on doing what you do

a small miracle, defying all reason

much like the hope that comes out of the blue
when least expected
during the dark and coldest of times
surfacing just in time to tie the knot at the end of the rope
and whisper
“hold on”
and carry us through the dark, cold night
to witness the glory of a new day

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Always

The world has lost another beautiful soul.

Tonight I give thanks for this talented actor whose portrayal of Severus Snape as written by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter novels taught some, reminded others, that there is more to people than what meets the eye.  Professor Snape reaffirmed for us the truth in Mary Lou Kownacki’s words:

Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.

Many of us spent years until the release of the seventh book in the summer of 2007 disliking this man and his ways, distrusting him.   And then, in that book, the details of his loyalties are revealed, and we learn the story of who he was and how he was treated before and whom he really loved, and what he did for that love. And then…..we realized…..

this is not a world of easy black and white.  There is no all good or all bad.

It’s all grey.  The good with the bad.  The broken with the beautiful.  The light and the dark.

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So can a talented artist like yourself.  Well done, sir.  

Thank you, Alan Rickman, for bringing this to life for us–for your part in teaching us to look beyond the story we see–to listen and hear what is not always easily seen or shared.  You shall be missed.

Always.

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The One About Learning to Get Along

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This is Luvvy.  As in Mrs. Howell.  See her fur muff?  So yes, Luvvy.  And she can be a love.  As much as any cat can, I guess.  She came to live with us the third week in August.  She enjoys her outdoor adventures, but she likes coming in out of the weather when it gets cold.  Because of our allergies, she has a special warm spot in the garage.  She is quite happy with it too.  She comes in when she’s ready, and she can check out first thing in the morning.  Or not.  She’s pretty set with all the amenities right there in her cozy home.

Miss Sophie is not quite sure what to do with Mrs. Howell.  She has gone from straining to run after her to barking at her to merely sniffing around her and timidly getting closer and closer each time they are around each other.  It is sweet to see.  Miss Sophie has reached a level of comfort and trust over time. She no longer thinks that this creature who is so different from her and who moved into her “neighborhood” is a threat.  It took time and curiosity and a sweet spirit and, let’s face it, much encouragement for her to accept this feline companion, but it has happened.

Every night, Miss Sophie curls up on the couch against my right thigh–the same one she waddled over to and dropped her head on when I first met her.  She sits and snoozes a little and sometimes watches TV or “helps” me write.  But she is always waiting.  She is the one who lets me know when her friend is ready to come inside.  Luvvy will climb up onto the windowsill outside and wait.  I can’t see her out there in the dark, and I can’t hear her meows.

But Miss Sophie can.

And she won’t settle down her barking and worrying about her friend until I open the door for Luvvy to come in and get in her bed.  Sometimes they even have a moment together at the door–a greeting of sorts with noses and sniffing and and somehow conveying how much they care about each other.  It’s precious.

And it gives me so much hope.  Because if a dog and cat can learn to get past their differences and welcome each other with open…..paws, then maybe just maybe…..

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Mrs. Howell joins us on our evening constitutionals some nights.

I’m hopeful.

Love to all.

Hope in the Woods

Last week after I got some hard news, I wrote the poem, “over.”  I was hurting, and I remembered all of the times when I hurt like this–when I had to say goodbyes that I didn’t want to say.  When I had to close the door and not turn back.  Ever.

It was pointed out to me first by someone I know and admire and have grown to care about (though we’ve never met) that in the poem I shared that I had tossed an acorn into an open grave, and that told him something.  Later, another sweet soul pointed it out as well and said she agreed.  For me to keep tossing acorns.

Wow.

Keep tossing acorns.  

Hope.

I hadn’t looked at it like that.

This afternoon I took a few minutes to wander off by myself.  It was a lovely afternoon, just right for a walk.  I went down near the edge of the woods in search of a treasure.  I wasn’t sure if they would be there or not, but when I got there and they were–I was elated.

It was peaceful there, squatting by myself at the edge of the woods, pushing back the tendrils of grass that didn’t die off in the frost a couple of weeks ago, searching for the gifts from the trees there.

Acorns.

I gently picked up each one.  For whatever reason, the caps fell off of many of them, but I tucked each one and its cap in my jar.  I needed them, you see.  It was as though each one I picked up fed my soul a little bit more.  When I rose from the ground, I headed home toting my jar of acorns with a little more peace than I had when I began.

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And I give thanks for that.

I look at these little amazing things, and I wonder if anyone ever told them that simply dropping to the ground and waiting in one place would not get them anywhere.  I wonder if anyone ever told them about gravity and how something that falls to the ground can never really reach the skies again.  I wonder if anyone ever told them that it was all over.  Done.

No.  Of course not.

And even if someone had, it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference because an acorn defies gravity and proves that sometimes good things can come from sitting still, from waiting.  Just simply by being.  By the way it lives out its story.

Tonight I’m thankful for the peace that can be found by sitting in a patch of grass at the edge of the woods.  And for the hope that can be found in a little acorn.

Wishing you all a healthy dose of hope and peace and a little patch of grass to squat in and find it.

Love to all.

 

Joy After the Door is Closed

Today I found unexpected joy in rebirth and re-creating.  Thanks to an event shared on Facebook by a friend, we were able to see a play today.

I love plays.  I love live theater.

I absolutely adore holiday plays.

We attended a revision of “White Christmas,” performed by young people in our community.

It was different and well-done and completely fabulous.

Looking at all of those faces and their eagerness and thinking about how much of their wonderful lives they have ahead of them, I got teary-eyed.  When I saw a young teenage girl at the curtain call eyeing her parents who were sitting behind us and noticed that she was getting teary-eyed, I started to lose it.  When I leaned over and hugged my dear One who had joined us, I was undone.  The tears came, and I didn’t care.

Sheer joy.

The way the play was worked, all of the children who wanted to participate were able to.  They danced and they laughed and they delivered their lines and they told a story.  An important one about holding others above self.

The whole afternoon was joy-filled.

It was held in  a building that used to house a Family Dollar.  Since this was our first time attending a play there (not my first time in the building), I didn’t know what to expect.

What a lovely surprise!

New life was breathed back into that building and a theater was born.

From Family Dollar’s ending, something truly beautiful came to be.

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, change is very, very hard for me.  I do not like it at all, it’s not my friend, and it will never be on my birthday list.

And yet–

I think there was a lesson in what I felt today.

Things can end.  The darkness can come.  And yet,

joy shall rise again.  New life will come.

The light will shine again.

And I give thanks for that–for all of the lights that shine, from spotlights to tree lights to the bright, warm sun that kissed our faces as we left with our souls touched and spirits lifted.

A day of merry and magnificent memory-making!  I’m thankful.

Love to all.

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The Family Dollar never looked so lovely…..

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so homey…..

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or so completely wonderful.  Scenes from the back of the theater.  

 

Hope

So something pretty amazing happened in the middle of a day that followed a night of feeling drained and a bit lost and discombobulated and sad and all the things that go with the word forlorn.

Hope-less.

I got off the interstate and was driving down Vineville towards my appointment, and there right in front of me was this.

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Just when you think you threw it out with all of the hard and broken stuff that you didn’t want to hold on to anymore because it hurts too bad…..

it shows up.

Just when you least expect it to.

And just when you need it the most.

It was after my appointment that I stopped and pulled in so I could take a picture of this sign that was hanging there just for me.  (Well, okay, maybe not, but it certainly was a timely coincidence.)

The parking lot was completely empty as I circled behind the church building so I could turn around.  And because I paused for hope, I found all kinds of little treasures back there.

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Tonight I’m thankful for the way I’m looked after and given more grace than I could possibly ever deserve.  By the One who created me and the ones who love me.  I give thanks for quiet moments of finding little treasures that I might not have noticed on a day that the parking lot was full.

Sometimes it is good to have some down time and open ourselves to what is right in front of our eyes.  To see and breathe and imagine and find something we thought was lost.

Hope.

Love to all.

Goodness…..one Cup at a Time

You might remember me sharing about a coffee shop in our community where all kinds of good things are happening.  This is where my children have grown up playing and laughing and making good friends.  We have met some of our best friends in that space.  At one time or another I and my oldest have sought and found sanctuary there.  It’s a place of peace and a community of bright, vivid lives whose stories become intertwined once they walk through the door.

It’s a little bigger than most coffee shops, because it was never meant to be just a coffee shop.  It was designed to be a meeting place, a place to form and build relationships–ones that would celebrate your joys with you and hold you in times of sorrow.  I have experienced all of that with the people of Bare Bulb Coffee.

This past week the Board of Bare Bulb Coffee made a difficult decision.  If the folks who love and support this coffee shop are not able to raise $60,000 by January 31, the shop will close.

The expenses for running a coffee shop like this, with the missions and focus on relationships are a little higher than usual, because of the larger space.  Not everyone who enters its doors purchases a menu item, which is okay.  Some come to be with friends, study, learn to knit, play a game with their daughter, or just sit in the place that so many of us call home.  Some days the cash register reflects the good that has gone on.  Other days not so much. But good has happened nonetheless. The money that all are hoping to raise will go towards operating funds for the coming year and to hire a top-notch manager who will take the shop to another level businesswise.

This has been a big part of my week.  Working with other folks for whom this matters greatly.  Inviting our community into this project of saving the shop from closing.  Listening to precious stories of people who met their spouses at the shop, children who leave Mom a note thanking her for taking them to Bare Bulb, folks who have written or studied or created while sitting in the little shop on the corner.  Every one has been dear to me and has been imprinted on my heart.  My favorite little place is loved by so many for so many different reasons.

My Mama used to say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t know.”

And so we asked.  We told the story of our hardship to the Bare Bulb and local communities.  And we asked for help.

And oh my heart.

People have jumped to act.  So many have said NO, not on my watch–the light will not end.  People are offering to have benefit concerts, to donate portions of their sales towards keeping Bare Bulb open, to donating to a shop-saving fund, to giving items and services for a Silent Auction to raise money for the Bulb.

And we only announced this three days ago.

Incredible.

We’ve even had folks emailing us, offering their hearts and time to do whatever is necessary to keep the light of Bare Bulb Coffee open.

Y’all.  For the love.

In the midst of another hard week filled with hard stories, I have been amazed and thankful beyond words for the compassion and encouragement and unwavering faith of people I’ve never met for whom this place is just as important as it is to me.  The light of Bare Bulb Coffee has shone brightly and lives have been changed by the relationships and community there.

It’s a new model–this blend of mission and business and community and space and selling and making of the coffee and pastries and frozen hot chocolate.  We have learned as we have gone along.  There are things we can look back and say we should’ve or shouldn’t have and in the end, one thing stands–this place matters, it matters to a whole lot of folks.  And if the ones who are speaking up now with love and generosity and kindness and faith have anything to say about it, it will continue to touch and change lives for many more years to come.

If you are interested in following along, you can like our Save the Bulb page on Facebook or follow us on Instagram at savethebulb.  We have a Generosity.com crowdfunding campaign here.  There’s a great video there that tells more about all the light that shines out of our non-profit, missional coffeehouse…..one cup at a time.

Wishing you all a wonderful place to call home with a community who believes and empowers and loves.

Love to all.

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http://www.barebulbcoffee.org Great Coffee, Cool Mission