Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

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Stealth Healing

dennis flowersSometimes we know we’ve healed by what hasn’t happened.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death. And I didn’t grieve.

I still think about him often, still cry occasionally, miss him frequently, and love him always. But I didn’t grieve his loss yesterday. Instead, I bought flowers.

Healing is as natural as blooming and dying, and just as intense or gentle depending on the moment. Sometimes it slips upon us unawares.

Thanks Dennis, for the good and the less-good, for the happy and sad, and for the intention to love always and to strive for the best in us all.

Enjoy your flowers.

George’s Last Fishing Trip

Sleeping George

Sleeping George

Some of you may know that my beloved cat George died on Tuesday evening. He was nearly 17 years old. I know everyone who has a much loved pet thinks that particular animal is special; and I’m no different.

George had a complete and unique personality. He oozed “Georgeness” with every breath. He wasn’t the smartest cat I’ve ever shared my life with, but he was one of the most loving, good-natured, patient and happy cats ever. He had a checkered past: from an early run-in with a rooster that left him with a kinked tail; to a serious bout of ideopathic vestibular disease (his inner ear/balance stopped functioning); to a badly broken leg; to a 3-day ordeal stuck in the top of a very tall tree; to his passion for fishing, and the record 3-squirrel night a couple of years ago.  George lived large.

George riding Josh

George riding Josh

One of his nicknames was Fuz-ee… we called him the great and terrible Fuz-ee, kung fu master cat. Another cat of ours, Topaz, couldn’t resist attacking him in play and always always George won, hands down. Tope would start it, and the great and terrible Fuz-ee would end it. My husband used to say they were playing dinosaur kitties again.

Until a little while before his death, George groomed himself immaculately. This was challenge because he all that fur and very tiny tongue. His white paws were pristine, and his ruff shone in the sun. Once he got too decrepit, his paws soon turned to mud brown. We were bewildered, since he was no longer leaving the house (or so we thought).  But muddy and brown they stayed.

Gorgeous George

Gorgeous George

Many of you enjoyed the posts about George fishing in the creek across from our house. During the course of the year, George gifted us with about a dozen fish. We’d often see him ambling across the street, paws wet up to the black fur, happy as could be. When he caught something he did the usual happy song, yowling his triumph on his way from the cat window to the kitchen, where he’d plop down his prey. When it was a fish, it was often still flopping, which he adored and I hated!

I noticed a couple of years ago that he often brought in a fish after I’d shared a few bites of my fish with the cats. I guess it reminded him how much he liked seafood.

the predator☺

the predator☺

Two nights before he died, in an effort to tempt him to eat, I minced a little cooked fish for him. He actually ate two bites, then, exhausted, went to sleep. Next time Josh and I checked on him, he was gone! Josh went outside to call for him, and saw him coming home from the creek! Wet and muddy, very unsteady on his feet, and barely able to walk up the drive.   No fish, but I bet it wasn’t for lack of trying!

That was last burst of energy he had to give — and he spent it being quintessentially George. Tuesday around midnight, he died in Josh’s arms, while we sat together and kept vigil.

He’s out there somewhere, beating Tope up, catching fish like crazy, and blinking in the warm sunshine… being George.

IMG_0099And so it is.

 

Things Big and Little

Holidays often provoke a thoughtful and slightly sad reaction in me. So many milestones passed, for good or ill. So much done already in life, and still daunting mountains to climb.

I look around at friends’ lives, and I see that we’re all facing challenges — things big and little. An old friend facing a cancer diagnosis; one whose marriage may be stressed beyond redemption; another facing persistent financial lack; overwhelm at work; insecurities about work; boredom, sorrow, fear and loneliness.

Through all these saddening lenses, I also see glimmers of hope: things big and little that give grace and laughter. A bird’s song outside my window; a friend’s supportive and loving wife; petting my cat’s silky fur; listening to music while I knit; a leave fluttering down in the soft summer twilight; my pink petunias waiting to be transplanted; a leader’s decision to speak out and bring hope to thousands; a child waiting impatiently for Mr. Softee (yes, he still exists!).

Things big and little make up our lives. We pray for big joys and small sorrows, but often encounter the reverse. But joy and sorrow need not have binding qualifications. Joy can know no bounds, whether from a bird’s song or a newborn’s wail. Sorrow can be lessened through joy, no matter their relatives sizes.

This Memorial Day, I thank my son and your sons and daughters for their service. I pause, grateful and moved, at the sacrifices of so many. I remember my husband, my parents, and too many friends who have already left us, leaving holes big and small in our lives.

I wipe away a tear that blinds me with refracted sunlight, hear a bird singing in the yard, and listen for the wisdom, big and little, that relaxes my tightness, deepens my breath, and finally transmutes the fears, the sorrows, the pains into peace.

And so it is.

Got the Blues…

Christmas 2007

One lingering effect from my husband’s death a little over two years ago, is the loss of my love of the Christmas holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, my appreciation for the Christ (Truth) wherever and whenever I find it has not diminished. But the celebration of the Winter Holidays — the traditions: carols, the greens,  the tree, the baking, special holiday movies (I haven’t watched them again yet), making gifts, the sheer delight and burgeoning excitement — all gone.

This year, I’ve felt tiny tickles of it. Like a delicate poke at my side, a whispered, “joy to the world — remember?” from deep inside. I did a little Christmas shopping yesterday, and felt mild pleasure at getting things for people. I feel, what, convalescent?

Perhaps that is all it is. Christmas was a special time for our relationship — as it is for so many, of course. I miss the old Dennis, who entered into it all with enthusiasm. I miss the partner-in-crime at spending too much on Josh. The anticipation of surprise. The shared moments of understanding, of heartbreaking delight. I just miss…

I also trust. Joy always returns, Love is everpresent. Happiness is a choice – or rather, a continuing selection of choices that move us into the shining stream of it. So I’m choosing. Today we’ll get a tree (just a small one to start). Drag out the lights and ornaments.  Ooh and aah over them, select the right one for each spot. Put on the holiday music in the background. Eat the first batch of cookies while we work. I’ll lean into the tingles of joy, the moments of delight. I’ll accept the pain and aching empty of missing. I’ll choose to celebrate, not to mourn. And it will get better and better and better.

Happy Holidays to you … may you have joy and peace in whatever ways you celebrate at this ending of the year

Namaste,

L

“We Gather Together…”

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

I am so grateful for the supportive, funny, insightful, probing, moving, silly, compassionate comments readers have posted over the past year.

I promise to blog more faithfully. I’m also grateful to WordPress for their simple and elegant user interface, to the various blogging sites like ExposeYourBlog, Blogiche, AlphaInventions, and even our imploding friend BlogExplosion, for providing a place to be seen and read, and place to read others’ thought and learn more about this new art of blogging.

So, as you gather for this Thanksgiving Day, wherever you are, alone or companioned, empty or full, “….Sing Praises to His Name, She Forgets Not Her Own” — sing praises, give thanks, raise the roof, commit to change, commit to Love as we turn towards the last month of 2010.

Peace & Blessings,

L

Something to Aspire To

I’ve always loved this passage, it’s the legendary Lazarus Long speaking:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. (Robert A. Heinlein)

Happy Monday, everyone!

At Mary’s!

I’m posting to check-in from the road… I’m on my annual treck to New York State to visit my sister.

Actually, I’m waiting for us to head out to eat.  I’t always wonderful to get here after the long drive and be enfolded in Mary’s arms, treated to a tour of all the changes, enchanted by her latest artistic passions and enveloped in total love and acceptance.

We talk until we’re hoarse, laugh a ton, compare war stories from the past year, catch up on each other’s kids, and just bask in being together.

Ah, time to leave for dinner.  More to come….