That’s Hilarious…..and Important

A few days ago I had the privilege of speaking with a most delightful fellow on the phone.  My little nephew, who just turned four, woke up from his nap and came in the room where my brother was on the phone with me.  The miles divide, but the heart does not.  Thankfully so.  When his Papa told him who he was talking to, the little guy got on the phone and said hello.

My brother was suffering with a pretty bad cold.  After we said our hey, how are you’s I asked my little friend about his father.  “So are you taking good care of Papa?  Since he’s sick?”

“Uh huh,” he said.  I could almost see his head nodding over the phone.

“Oh good,” I replied.  “I need you to take very good care of him, because I love him.  He’s my baby brother.”

“What?!” he exclaimed in disbelief.  He turned to my brother. “Papa, Aunt Tara says you are her baby brother!” He giggled as he relayed this silly idea.

“That’s right.  I am.  She’s my big sister,” I heard my brother say on the other end of the phone.

“What?!” my nephew repeated through his giggles.  “THAT’S HILARIOUS!!!!!”

Oh, the joy in hearing him erupt with laughter on the other end of the line!  Bless him, I miss my brother and his family.  The laughter was like a balm to my soul.

I’ve been thinking about that little guy and his shock and disbelief about our connectedness.  It was as though something like that had never even entered his mind.  About how we are joined together.  The string that connects us.

I am thankful for my nephew, his laughter, his joy, and his reminder that sometimes we might not know or remember just how much we are all–every single one of us–connected.  And oh–the joy and laughter that knowledge should bring.

Sometimes I think it’s easy to remember the things that divide us–those things tend to be so much easier to focus on, don’t they?

But wouldn’t it be nice if we had someone to remind us of that connectedness and laugh like a child with joy over that knowledge?

Hilarious.  And fabulous.

And one of the most important things to remember.

Love to all.

 

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas…..

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Sweet ornaments made by my sweet friend that remind of the way the sounds of the season resonate with my soul and what a treasure friendships are.

Tonight I sat listening to the carols being played and sung by people who have come to be a part of my family.  As they sang and played the guitar and the flute and the drum box, I was, once again, moved to tears in the midst of “Silent Night.”  As I wondered why, the image of women singing this to themselves in the midst of waiting for news from the war came to my mind and heart.  I wondered what it was like for my Granny singing this back then.  Or my great-grandmother before her.

And then it hit me what a precious thing it is that they did.  They sang these same carols that I sang as a child and sang tonight.  The same ones, I’d venture a guess, that my grandchildren will sing along to one day.

Then I thought about three different Christmases and how dear they all are and how they connect me to my story–

Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.

And for all of the new ways of doing things like tracking Santa with an app on our phones or sending Christmas cards through email or social media or going to the movies on Christmas day–all of which are wonderful in their own way–the old traditions that connect us to those who have gone before us are truly beautiful.  Decorating the Christmas tree, making homemade Christmas ornaments, baking cookies and other treats, singing Christmas carols, caroling, making time to visit with family and friends, reading the Christmas story together, sitting out milk and cookies for Santa…..

priceless.

Tonight I’m thankful for the traditions that have and will last through all three Christmases.  It is a good feeling to be a part of something that has come before and will last long after I leave this world.

Silent night, Holy Night…..

Love to all.

The Dream That Made Me Hear

Is there a full moon or something?

Because these dreams I am having…..when I awake, I’m not rested.  I spend the rest of the day seeking meaning.

Last night’s was no different.  In keeping with the “It’s not for me to lock the door to keep someone out” and yesterday’s thoughts about fear and comfort zones, my dream last night seems to be calling me out about fear and judging others.

I was on the fifth/sixth grade hall at my old elementary school.  (The repurposed building still stands and I see it at least twice a week.)  At one point I rushed into Mrs. C’s room.  I spent many happy days in there in the sixth grade learning about artists and diagramming sentences–two of my favorite things. (Yeah, I just admitted that.) But in my dream, I was afraid and begging Mrs. C to keep the door locked.  I never could get through to her the importance of that.  In the next moment I was in a room across the hall, the one I had fifth grade classes in.  Brightly lit, the room was filled with students who were trying to find a seat.  I sat down and started tucking my valuables away. I could hear people being loud in the hall, and then a tall angry female came in.  We were all afraid.  Okay, I was.  I can’t speak for anyone else because she was my only focus.  She was yelling and then I heard her words.  She told a story of dreams dashed.  Dreams that were really important and would have made a huge contribution to our world.  Her dreams were attainable but someone unjustly brushed her aside as not worthy, and all her chances were gone.  She was angry.

After hearing her story, I was angry for her.

Through my tears, I told her, choking up, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.  My heart hurts for you.”

And in that moment our eyes met.

And I was no longer afraid.

I had seen into her heart, and that made all the difference.

It has been on my heart today that we are all seeking the same things at some point in our lives.  To love and to be loved.  To dream and make those happen.  When we are not heard or we feel dismissed or our dreams are laughed at, the brokenness begins and that’s when the darkness can come in.  And it then has to be let out.  In any matter of ways.  Sometimes it’s worse than others.

Tonight I’m left wondering what my heart and my conscience are trying to tell me.  Whom do I need to listen to?  More importantly (and yes, I think there might be a distinction), whom do I need to let know that he or she has been heard?

May we all find make time to listen to someone–maybe someone we love or maybe someone we’ve only just met–and to let them know they’ve been heard.  It could make the difference between their anger and their turning things around.

Because when we hear another’s dream, another’s story, there is an invisible thread that joins us, that binds us.  And that thread is what will keep us from fearing another and remind us that we are all more alike than different.

Now I’m off to read with Captain Cooter at the debut of his book club on “his ship.”  And perhaps I might even drift off to sleep a little earlier and have totally irrelevant dreams.

Love to all.

Stars and Lamplight

Some folks say the stars make them feel small.

That they look up and they see those stars and they start to comprehend just a little about how big the universe actually is, and then they feel very, very small.

Not me.

I don’t know which parent it was who taught me to look up and make a wish on the first star I saw each night, but it’s something that I still do today.  Though most of the time now the wish is a wordless sigh and more about hope than anything else.

When I got over the whole being terrified of being out at night in the dark under the stars, it had the opposite effect on me.  I felt pretty important.  Just me–and the stars–the lights of Heaven twinkling down.  I felt–

important.  Loved.  As though the Creator were handing me a beautiful painting to gaze upon, all for myself.

Treasured.  Related.  Intertwined with All That Is.

Friday evening on our way back home from Atlanta, when we hit the “parking lot” on the roads to home, the Fella used an “app” on his phone to map us a more “traffic free” way to get where we were going.

Next thing I know we are driving through neighborhoods and subdivisions just as the world was beginning to go dark.

And then it happened.

There were the twinkling lights.

And I felt smaller than I’ve ever felt.

It wasn’t the stars.

It was the lights in the homes we passed.

Lamps in living rooms, situated on end tables with an open book in the chair next to it.

Lights on in the dining rooms with the tables all set.

Porch lights on, waiting for the last of the family to arrive home for a cozy supper and a family movie night.

Lights on upstairs where children played or teenagers read or texted or…..

small.  Tee-niny, as we used to say.

 

There are more people in this world whom I don’t know than ones I do.

There are people who live and love and grieve and laugh and share and plan and dream and write and read and play and dance and swim and sing and cook and hate and help and jump and run and paint and…..

there are more people in this world than just me and mine.

It was when I saw the lights on in these homes–so intimate and precious–that the universe felt big to me.

All of those people with whom my path will likely never cross again?

They matter just as much as I do to the One who breathed life into me.

Just.  Wow.

It’s not all about me.  It’s not all about the ones I love.

There’s a whole world of hurting and love and beauty and brokenness that I’ve got no idea about.

And that–

that’s what makes me feel small.

And somewhat lost.  In the chaos of this world.

I think it might be time for a walk under the stars.

Tonight I’m thankful for lights shining through the darkness, giving warmth and comfort to those on the other side of the wall.  And for the reminder that we are all loved.  We are all treasured.  And we are all connected to each other.

Star light, star bright…..

Love to all.

Nary a Waste

The past few mornings, Miss Sophie has arisen a little earlier than usual.  I don’t know how to figure it, but I keep blaming it on the time change.  Why not?  It’s an easy target and everyone else is doing it, right?

So she and I walk in the quiet morning air, breathing deeply as she takes her morning constitutional, tending to her business as she does.  Some mornings she draws it out more than others.  This morning was quite different from the past few mornings.  We’ve had both sunny and warm and sunny and cool in just the past few days.  (Welcome to Georgia.)  This morning the sky was overcast as I peeked out the window, putting on my shoes.  I expected it to be brisk, but instead it was very much becoming of a proper spring morning.  (No Winter, you’re still not fooling me. I know you’re still around.)

As Miss Sophie sniffed the ground, I took a deep breath and thought about how different and yet beautiful this quiet morning was.  And it occurred to me, all of these days, with all of their differences–in temperature and breezes and birdsong and sunlight or clouds–all of these were made by the same Creator.  The same Artist painted the sun and brightness of yesterday and the day before as painted the gray and overcast of today.  The same Hand waved the breeze gently yesterday as waved the whipping winds of today.

Same Designer and yet different designs.  No two days alike.

Is it any wonder the magnificence of differences in each one of us?  We have been designed and created by One who loves uniqueness and whimsy and color and light and all different shades and hues and sounds.  By One who delights in each one of us.  Just as we are.

Today was so different from the past few.  Tomorrow, bringing back a taste of the chill, will be even more different.  But will any of us disregard a day in our life as unworthy or a total waste simply because it is different?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  I can still get things done, I can still eat and work and do laundry and play with my children, you say, no matter the weather.  I can go to work and the grocery store and send my cousin a birthday card, no matter what the day looks like.  Oh sure, I might have to adjust my route or the timing of a thing or two if the day is very different, but a day that is a total waste simply because of the way it is?  That’s crazy talk, Tara.

And I say you are right.

No day, no matter how different from our ideal–balmy, sunny, light breeze, birds singing, just a few beautiful fluffy clouds in the sky–is a waste.  Even if it snowed tomorrow (ha! what year do I think it is? 1993?) it wouldn’t be a waste, would it?  It might not go just as we had planned, but I expect most of us would come up with something that would make us feel downright all right about the day.  A waste?  That’s blasphemy!

And so I think it’s the same with people.  The Artist and Designer and Creator and Maestro who came up with the Idea of how special we were and are and can be made each one of us different in so many ways.  It is really beautiful to think about.  As much as I seem to enjoy talking to myself (ahem), I don’t think I would enjoy it very much if all I had to talk with or relate to or share thoughts with were more of me.

And yet we have a bad habit of disregarding someone if they are different from us, don’t we?  I have been known to do it.  Oh well, she doesn’t see things the same way I do, so…..it would be a waste of my time to get to know her any more.  Oh my, he is definitely making different choices than I would…..did you see what he was wearing?  I’ll just move on, not worth getting to know him.  We’d have nothing in common.

I’m speaking in generalities, but the truth is we all have specific, very specific things that we use as reasons to disregard another person.  Their faith, where they live, their income bracket, their schooling, their skin color, their gender, their sexuality, their health status, their job status, their style of speaking, their marital status, their hair color, the music they listen to, the clothes they wear…..shall I go on?

It reminds me of our neighborhood drama.  On a daily basis one of the children tells one or several of the others, “We’re not best friends anymore.” Because…..you won’t play what I want to play…..you won’t listen to what I’m saying…..you won’t let me go first…..you won’t come to my yard and leave her out…..you won’t share your doll with me…..you went home for lunch…..

and on and on it goes.  Those seem pretty childish, I know, but the things described before theseconcerns and issues of the 5-10 year old bunch also seem pretty childish.  If we never associated with anyone different from us, how sad would that be?  I wouldn’t have very many friends.

Scratch that.

I wouldn’t have any friends.  I don’t think that anyone I know and care about is exactly like me.

And for that I am extremely grateful.

Throwing away the chance to get to know someone, someone designed and created and orchestrated by the Great One just as he or she is simply because he or she is different, that’s as ridiculous as throwing away a day in our life just because the weather isn’t perfect.

That’s just full of the foolishness, as my folks used to say.

Make today a day to go and meet someone new.  Someone different.  Or maybe you already know someone but haven’t made time to say hello.  I’m not saying you have to be BFF’s Forevuh or anything, but I bet you’ll be surprised if you really take time to listen to their stories.  You just might find you have more in common than you do different.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll appreciate them for the work of Art they are.  And vice versa.

Go be fabulous.  You were made to be exactly that.

Love to all.

Why I Don’t Volunteer with Homeless People

It’s  pet peeve.  I know it.

Everyone has one, so I thought I’d share mine.  I mean, one of mine.

I have many.  Like lunch and dinner are at noon–depends on what it is as to whether it’s dinner or not.  (for example, sandwiches=lunch; chicken, peas, squash, biscuits=dinner) Supper is at night.  Done deal.

When I worked at the childcare center, I always said “children” not “kids.” Not sure why, but it mattered to me.

So yeah, I don’t volunteer with homeless people.

People who are homeless?  Sure. Some are close friends of mine.  Women who are in temporary housing?  Yes.

But homeless people?  No.

Some might think it’s a matter of semantics, but the distinction is important to me.

When we say homeless people, we’re labeling.  Using their homelessness as an adjective to describe them.   I prefer to say I have friends who are homeless. That describes their situation. People first.  Always.  Because that’s who they are.  Their status is not.

Many years ago I worked with Hospice as a social worker and grief therapist.  When I went to meet a patient for the first time, I would look at the patient information sheet to see the diagnosis one time.  After that I let myself forget it.  Their diagnosis did not define who they were, and I wanted to get to know the person and family outside of that diagnosis.

Just as I want to know the person outside of their living situation.  It does not define who they are–their personality, their dreams, their favorite foods, the things they love.  It is their situation for the time being.  And that’s it.

We are more alike than different.  And in the end, that’s what counts.  Relationships.  Without the labels. That really hit home with me last week as I sat in our Sister Circle and a young woman and I shared what it was like for each of us to lose our mothers recently.  The words, the labels, only serve to separate–the homeless and the housed, the working and the unemployed, the sick and the healthy, the haves and the have nots.  Separate, things are never going to get better for any of us.  As long as any one of us is homeless, enslaved, impoverished, hungry, lost, afraid, sick–it affects all of us.

In the past week there have been a lot of quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28th.  Here’s one that really spoke to me.

pic of mlk quote

Truth.  As long as any of us is without a home, sick with cancer, enslaved, lost–we all are.  As much as we’d like for these labels to separate us from the things that we fear most, we are all connected.  It’s time to rip off the labels and look deeper, invest in a relationship with the person in front of us, and get to know the person outside of the box our society tries to put them in.  When we do that, and we see with our eyes and hearts–that is the stuff that truly begins to free us all.