The One About Shopping Carts and This Season I’m In

I am in a new season of life it would seem.  The one where I am called out on my assumptions and the conclusions I’ve jumped to.  I am fascinated and intrigued by it, because the message to “chill” and “give things a second or third glance” continues to come from the strangest and most unusual of places.

This time it was a parking lot.

And a story.

Yesterday, my sweet friend Miss Carolyn shared about her trip to take some items to our local Hospice Thrift Shop.  She was loaded down, and when she got there she was grateful to find a shopping cart that someone had left in the parking lot.  She started unloading her car and putting things in the shopping cart when someone came up and asked if she needed help.  He not only finished loading the cart, but also helped her get it all inside.  A blessing for sure.

Huh.  How many times have I pulled into a parking lot and seen a stray cart and had some seriously unkind thoughts about the person who made the decision to leave it there?

And here was just such a cart blessing my sweet friend.

Well there you go.

I thought about sharing that story last night, but I didn’t feel like it was quite time.  That happens with the stories sometimes.  They have to ripen, so to speak, so I was content to let it sit.

This evening Cooter and I were on the way home from meeting the Fella at our Princess’ swim practice.  We made a quick stop at the Mart for broccoli and the new Star Wars movie.  You know, the important things.  (I’ll let you guess who was wanting which item.)  It was starting to rain as we pulled into the parking lot.  The closest spot was desirable, seeing as we did not have any rain gear with us.  The only problem was that it was near the Garden Center entrance, and they don’t usually have carts available in that area.  (And yes, it’s the Mart, I was going in for two things, but we all know how that goes in such a situation. I would definitely be needing a cart.)

As I pulled into the very first spot in front of the Garden Center, I saw a break in the clouds to the west on the horizon, and tiny bit of sunlight shone through despite the rain that was starting.  And that was when I noticed my own little blessing.  Two of them.

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And I laughed.  Remembering Miss Carolyn’s angel, I was glad that the angel had visited the Mart parking lot as well.  That cart let us dash in the closest door and not have to go back to the front to get a cart.

I am thankful.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at and judge a stray cart again.

I guess that’s the point though, right?

Tonight I’m thankful for a world of beautiful people sharing stories that can enlighten us and help our eyes be open to so much more good that what is readily apparent at first glance.  Thank you, Miss Carolyn, for letting me tell your story and for helping me to see Good and Light in a misplaced shopping cart.

Love to all.

 

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This evening as my Aub and I gathered together in a circle of 100 or more people gathered at the Vigil, I looked down in the midst of the singing, and I saw this leaf there on the ground in front of me.  It intrigued me and comforted me.  As prayers were said for the one inside the building hidden by the woods, awaiting to know if her life was about to end or not, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.  As prayers were said for the ones who know and love her and would grieve for her both inside and outside of the building with the bars, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.

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At first I thought it was a cross, but as I looked a little longer, I realized it was a dove.  Of peace.

And my heart and soul breathed a sigh of release.

And a prayer for grace and mercy.

Tonight I am thankful for a life that is still being lived, a story still being told, and for the souls who shared their stories and hopes with us as we stood in the cold and hoped and prayed and laughed and cried together.  I am thankful for weather delays and cloudy medicines and the chance that hearts could still be changed and justice and mercy can go hand in hand to continue the life of one who cares, who has saved lives herself, and who has told folks they were better than their circumstances.  Of one who loves.

As for what tomorrow will bring, I focus my heart on the prayers and my eyes on the dove.  On peace.  And grace.  And mercy.

And I know that whatever story comes next, in the end, Love Wins.  It just has to.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Other Thoughts:  The Sanctity of Life and the Miracle of Grace

 

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Letting Feathers Fly

The day after I shared with y’all the video of the beautiful Thai commercial and challenged us all to “be the feathers” who look after and over each other with compassionate hearts and tender hands, my friend shared this quote with me.

 

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Oh my.

She shared it with me as a different way of thinking about “being the feather.”  I really appreciate her taking the time and effort to make sure I saw it.

But I also kind of wanted to run away from her.  (and maybe stick my fingers in my ears too?)

Because, Monday, you see, was one of those days.  A day I would have run away from if I could have.

In hindsight I realize it wasn’t nearly as big as my heart thought it was at the time.  Ah, the clarity of hindsight, right?

But there in the middle of it…..

I had a call from an attorney I’d never met regarding business with my Mama’s and my Great Aunt’s estates.  He needed some documentation from me ASAP and suggested I “just fax it” to him.

*sigh*

If you have a fax machine in your home, more power to you.  I did not mean to misrepresent you when I replied to his request.  However, I have been asked so many times in the course of handling estate matters “Do you have a fax machine?”

No.  I do not.

I thought about what to tell this gentleman–the one who answers the phone by saying his name, and then “Attorney at Law” immediately following.  Oh dear.  I much prefer “my” attorney who has walked this journey with me and been so wonderful–he almost sounds distracted when he answers “Law Office.”  I’m really good with that.

“Sir, what I need for you to know is that most folks just don’t have a fax machine in their homes. And I’m one of them.”

Okay, I was frustrated.  I have a lot buzzing this week and driving paperwork down to him 45 minutes one way was not on my list.  Not until we were scheduled to meet anyway.  Which we were.

And I told him just that.  I asked him why it wouldn’t work for me to bring the papers with me as I had initially been told to do.

And then he said it.

“Well, how do I even know she’s dead?”

 

 

It was so silent, there weren’t even crickets.

I held the phone out away from my ear and stared for a second.  I could not have just heard what I thought I did.

“Ummm, sir, I can assure you she is. I’m not just taking all this on for the fun of it or for my health or anything like that.”

Yep, by now I was crying.  But I didn’t want Mr. Attorney at Law to know.

He suggested I call my attorney and have him find it in his files and fax it to his office.

All I could think of was if one more person said the word “fax” in my presence……

I called my “Law office” good guy who immediately set to work finding and fa—sending over the phone line copies of the required documents.  He wouldn’t even bill me for his time.  (Note to self–need to do some baking.)

The Attorney at Law called me back, this time saying that the documents were not sufficient for me to be able to handle the aforementioned business.

What?!

I was starting to get a bad taste in my mouth with this guy.  Then he made a condescending comment that let me know he didn’t think very highly of my Mama’s business acumen, her planning, or her intellect.

WHOA.  BACK. THE. TRUCK. UP.  NOW.

My Mama and I didn’t always agree.  I’m not perfect.  (Well there’s a surprise folks.)  And neither was she.  But she was one of the smartest and most ingenious, creative people I knew.  She could make something out of nothing, whether it was clothes or a meal or a craft or book report project. She had skills.  But if she didn’t know how to do something, she either researched it or she found someone else to handle it.  She didn’t do anything half way.

I was seeing RED.  Don’t ever disparage my Mama.

And oh help him, I knew right then and there he had never heard of my Great Aunt.  She was known in his same small town, and she was respected.  Her Daddy had been a farmer and the probate judge and she worked for him at the courthouse before marrying.  She was a class act right up to the end, but she would not have hesitated to have this boy for lunch.

And this apple doesn’t fall far from that tree.

I’m not proud of what I said next, but it happened.  I guess so far you might think I’m sharing this story with you because Mr. A.A. Law didn’t think through what he was saying before he said it.  He didn’t guard his words.  And okay, that’s where I was heading if I’d written this Monday night, but I didn’t.  I’ve had time to cool off and put it all into perspective.  At least somewhat.

So yeah, as he was explaining the “problems” with the legal document, I snapped back, “Well at least now you know she’s dead.”

Oh my.  The only sound was the sound of him sputtering. And then, “Well, I didn’t say that.”

I won’t go into details, but suffice to say I assured him he did, and then I started crying.  This time he knew about the tears.  I told him that, for whatever reason, it was just as fresh as if it had happened the day before.  He said IF he offended me he was sorry.

Well he did.

But I guess my lesson in all of this, and why I wanted to run from my friend’s quote she lovingly shared, is that I wasn’t any better than Mr. A.A. Law.  I spouted off without thinking about where my words would land, but even more importantly, HOW they would land.  I let my emotions take control, just as he had let the business at hand take control.

We both forgot one important thing.  There was a human being on the other end of that phone line.  One with a whole life full of stories leading to that moment, and with thoughts and feelings filtering what was actually being said.  Was he out of line?  Sure he was.  But was I any better for throwing it back at him later?

I can’t be sure.  My heart tonight says No.

Part of me hopes my Mama and my Great Aunt are proud that I didn’t just roll over and take what was being said without calling him on it, but part of me wonders…..no, part of me wishes I had handled it a little better.  (And I swanee I can hear my Mama calling out from the Other Room, as she often did, “Y’all play nice.”)

Later when I called Mr. Law’s secretary to relay more requested information, I’m afraid I was snappy with her too.

Feathers flying.  Words going out of my mouth wreaking havoc on hearts.

Not feathers where they should be.  Tucked in close around the heart of another –a shield and a refuge.

Shoot.

A mere day after I stood and encouraged and pleaded with folks to #bethefeather

Oh.

It’s almost more than I can bear.

This life is hard.  I so want to be somebody who makes an impact on the world one minute, and then the very next moment, I am flying off the handle and making an impact all right–a negative one.  Not what I was hoping for.  At all.

Tonight I’m thankful for the difference that a day makes.  The clarity that can come from walking away.  And for a message that, if I’m about to open my mouth, maybe I shouldn’t–thank you gnats for that one.  I am thankful for good guy attorneys and for folks that have my back.  And I’m trying to be grateful that I get a chance to meet Mr. A.A. Law in person, in his office, and look him in the eye.  It won’t be easy, but I think I have to apologize for my mouth, for my snarky words–to him and to his secretary, who was only caught in the crossfire, bless her.

Actually, I’m not telling the truth.  I know I have to apologize.  Because I can hear my Mama as clear as if she’s sitting right here next to me.  And who knows, she probably is.

“Act like you are somebody.”

Yes ma’am.

I hear you.  That’s what being the feather looks like sometimes, isn’t it?

Love and hope for a chance at do-overs for all.

 

 

 

 

Scars and Second Chances

I find the most amazing life-changing thoughts and wisdom in some of the craziest places.

Remember when I told you about finding Henry Van Dyke (prolific author, clergyman, and educator) through watching a Christmas episode of Ally McBeal?  I started watching the series all over again on Netflix when Mama was in the hospital in August of 2012.  While she rested, I plugged in my headphones and zoned out, escaping the reality that I didn’t want to accept.  And revisited an old friend, Ally McBeal.

Recently I was strongly encouraged to try watching a new show.  I don’t get a lot of TV time that is unsupervised by the six to nine age group, so Netflix is a nice way, a la headphones, for me to catch a show here and there, sometimes just a few minutes at a times.

The show is “Parks and Recreation.”  I literally laugh out loud at least once during every episode.  Which makes watching it under the covers after everyone is asleep a little counterproductive–trying not to wake anyone else up while you are holding back a full snort laugh–yeah.  Hard to do.

But I digress.

Let’s see.  Parks and Rec.  Life-changing thoughts.

Ah yes.

In season three, the main character Leslie Knope quotes Mary Pickford.  I’ve heard the name, but thank you Leslie for introducing me to her and her wisdom.  Mary Pickford, born in 1892, was a silent film star known as “America’s Sweetheart.”  She felt that adding sound to film “was like putting rouge on the Venus de Milo.”  She helped establish United Artists along with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith.  Amazing.  She was the first actress to get a percentage of a film’s revenue, AND she was the first to have her name in marquee lights.  This woman paved the way, didn’t she?

And she had some sense.

She once said, “If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, there is always
another chance for you. And supposing you have tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

The quote I first heard on "Parks and Recreation."  Wisdom can come from the strangest of places, if only we are ready to hear.

The quote I first heard on “Parks and Recreation.” Wisdom can come from the strangest of places, if only we are ready to hear.

What beautiful truth and grace I hear in these words.

Tonight I’m thankful for the winding down time and the goofy shows that accompany me there.  I am especially grateful that these words caught my ear, so I would look them up and learn about a very strong woman who also believed in second and third and twelfth chances.  I needed her encouraging words tonight.

Reminds me of a song from my past written over a hundred years after Miss Pickford was born.  “Get Back Up” by Toby Mac.  I think she would have recognized the message as something she once said and loved it too.  “Get up, get up, You gonna shine again.”

For those in my life who have been knocked down and are hurting, I share this song tonight.  There’s bound to be scars “when you fall that far,” but I found this quote from a character on Criminal Minds and I like it.  (No, I don’t watch that one, but the internet is a wealth of information, isn’t it?)

“Scars show us where we have been, they do not dictate where we are going.”

–David Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna, Criminal Minds

Amen.

Keep the faith, my friends.  Call me if you need help getting back up.  I’ve got experience.  And the scars to prove it.  Love to all.

Ending a Chapter in My Story

I just closed the door on a chapter of my life.  A very long chapter.  The why’s and wherefore’s really aren’t important, but here’s what is.

I’m a scriptwriter from way back.  I like to “write out” how something will go down, who will say what, where they will go, and how all of this will affect me oh so wonderfully.  Ahem.  We all know how that kind of thing can turn out.  Or not.  Even if you send a memo letting folks know how they should act, it doesn’t always go the way you plan.  Or I plan.  And so on.

The thing is that even though this chapter is closed, I don’t trust that it really and truly has.  It has been a part of my story for such a long time.  And I can’t let it go.

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But I have to.  This chapter will always be a part of my story.  It will always be a part of how my character developed and continues to develop.  However, this now closed chapter does not have to be the ending of my story.  I can choose better over bitter, joy over fear, forgiveness over anger, grace over revenge (and all of the related clichés).  In other words, I can choose to MOVE ON.

I have friends who are in the midst of closing chapters or starting their next ones.  I wish for them the resources to do what must be done to get them back to a safe place–mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Safety and well-being.  And trust.  Trusting the old chapter really is over.  Trusting that if characters or the hard emotions come back around from that chapter that she can handle it.  Trusting that the people around her can handle hearing her story.  Trusting that she is enough and that she will always be loved by those in her life whom she values the most.  That’s what I wish for them.  And for me.  And I think in a nutshell all those things add up to peace.   That’s really what we all need the most I think.  Peace, inside and out.

And one more thing.  I did not see this ending coming.  And even though the chapter that so needed to be closed didn’t have the ending I thought it would or could or wanted it to have, it did end.  It is over.  That’s what I really want to share.  If you are in a situation and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, turn to those you love and let them love you through it.  More than likely they will.  I bet you will be surprised.  And my other point is this–it may not end the way you imagined or hoped but the end of this hard chapter will eventually come, and then you will have a fresh sheet of paper and you can begin again.  You will need to call on every resource you have–especially loving friends and family, but you can do it.

I loved this.  Please ignore the clearance sticker.  I left it on there and took my picture.  Might put this on a canvas around here one day.

I loved this. Please ignore the clearance sticker. I left it on there and took my picture. Might put this on a canvas around here one day.

I saw this sign in Target.  (so just ignore the clearance sticker and focus on the sentiment, please) I thought on this a lot.  Is it true?   As I walked away from the sign, I thought, “Well if it said, every day you get a second chance, then I could argue with that.  There are just some things you don’t get second chances at.”

But as I read it again tonight, I love what it says.  Every day is a second chance.  And I think it’s true.  Every day is a second chance to rewrite our own stories.  To have them make a difference.  To close the chapters that need closing or get help so that we can.  Every single day is a second chance to seek and to do.  And I think that is the best thing I’ve heard all day.

Here’s to closing chapters that need closing and the folks that love us through that journey.  You can do it, as hard as it may be.  Just know the next chapter will be that much more beautiful because you did.  Love to all.