Saturday, September 27, 2014

Little Feathers: No Mistakes

Little Feathers: No Mistakes: Regret, I hate you. You drag me down You make me want to hide. Regret, child of self centered thought. My first response To hide, to d...

No Mistakes

Regret, I hate you.
You drag me down
You make me want to hide.
Regret, child of self centered thought.

My first response
To hide, to deny, to blame.
But you will linger on
Like a bully, waiting to pounce.

Regret, who made you?
Me? Surely not.
I would choose perfection,
If I ignore you, you will disappear.

Still, you whisper
Your lies of power over me.
But I get to choose.
Maybe I'll call your bluff.

Change the past?
Can I go back and undo, re-do?
No. But I can learn.
And grow and forgive and be forgiven.

Regret, my teacher?
I shudder to think so.
And yet, what better use
For you than clearer sight?

Regret, come sit.
I'll tell you true
That you are part of a tale
A necessary part of any story.

Now, let's work
On your bedside manner.
Put away your false intimidation
And help me see my way from here.

Thanks, Regret. That'll do. Til next time.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Little Feathers: That pesky little nay sayer...

Little Feathers: That pesky little nay sayer...: I understand the truth, and the importance, of the advice to surround ourselves with people who bring out our best selves. Because I can nev...

That pesky little nay sayer...

I understand the truth, and the importance, of the advice to surround ourselves with people who bring out our best selves. Because I can never be good enough, never be faultless or blameless, because I need the healing balm of grace every day of my life, I do want to give myself the best allies in the quest to live a good life.
There is a little naysayer inside who condemns. Who questions motives, who compares. I have a variety of standard responses to the naysayer. Some, I can't write here. But some are pathetic first responses that need to be addressed, so my self esteem can be talked off the ledge.
The naysayer wants me to believe that I am never enough. That naysayer loves to hook up with negative energy coming from both myself and people with critical natures. There are lessons to be learned there, in that moment of despair when I realize I've messed up again. If I thought I was above making mistakes, that would truly be self deception. But, my choices for what to do with that information are the key to turning the reality of my faults into help, or harm, for myself.
I know a really wise woman who believes with all her heart that we ought to love, and be grateful for, our imperfections. That it is those very aspects of ourselves that drive us outside of ourselves to look for our redemption. She says that embracing our imperfections are in fact a way of being grateful that we are alive. It is very different notion from using our human frailties as an excuse to behave badly. It is, in fact, the opposite.
Requiring perfection for fear of losing the love of our dear ones, including our creator, is an exercise in self flagellation. Yet, the pesky little naysayer wants me to fear. Fear failure. Fear loss. Fear grief. The antidote to fear is not my own courage. It is my own desire to allow myself to be forgiven. To live in gratitude for grace itself.
There are many people in my life who give me grace all the time. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And, it is the gift that grows more powerful when shared with others. Take that, naysayer!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Little Feathers: Signposts

Little Feathers: Signposts: As much as I love looking at the stars, I'm surprised I haven't learned more about them. I have said for years that I'm going to...


As much as I love looking at the stars, I'm surprised I haven't learned more about them. I have said for years that I'm going to learn more constellations. But so far, I haven't followed through. There is one that is deep in my mind, though. When I was a kid, my mom and dad would point out the Big Dipper to me, showing me the handle and the bowl of it. I was always amazed that it followed us around, showing up where ever we were. 

Last night, Lucy and I were taking a stroll around the driveway (it's long at our Spicewood house) and I could see the Big Dipper, low over the big empty pasture next to our house. I thought about where that Dipper likes to show up when we are at the cabin. You have to look just above the little pine tree that grows near the deck on the north side. But that same tilt, like someone was ladling out water from a bucket, that same jaunty handle and bowl. I remember the stories of how slaves looking for freedom were encouraged to "follow the drinking gourd" and go north. It always made sense to me that the constellation that would point the way was a symbol for life giving water, a drink for the thirsty. And we are all thirsty.

With all the ups and downs of life, the joys and the tragedies, it is nice to have some constants. Some signposts that not everything is shifting sand. Every morning the sun comes up. And when the night sky is clear, if you live in the northern hemisphere, you will see the Big Dipper. It is there whether you are happy or grieving. It is there whether you are sick or well.

Compared to the stars, the history of us humans is incredibly short. If I am looking for constancy, I can't look to the ancient buildings in Egypt. They are crumbling, and someday will be gone.  I can't look to the ancient writings, even the holy ones; if not renewed, they will be gone someday. But the writings of the creator will be here to the end. The stars, the sun and moon. How fitting, for me, that looking up is the solace I need. Looking away from myself into the vastness of the cosmos doesn't make me feel insignificant. It makes me feel incredibly blessed that I was put here to experience this wild journey that is life. I am the opposite of alone when I look up and see that Big Dipper. I am part of the history of mankind. One more human who looks with awe at the night sky. A tiny part, for sure. A very, very temporary part. But the Dipper is pointing toward freedom. And we are all looking for freedom.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Little Feathers: In the Wee Hours

Little Feathers: In the Wee Hours: I drove back to the cabin from Santa Fe in the wee hours last night. At first, I was feeling sorry for myself that my plane had been delayed...

In the Wee Hours

I drove back to the cabin from Santa Fe in the wee hours last night. At first, I was feeling sorry for myself that my plane had been delayed by weather, and my near-two-hour solo drive began at midnight (1am Texas time) instead of 10pm. I bought a giant coffee at a 24hr McDonald's. The young man who was working the window was cheerful, and wished me a wonderful morning. That was the beginning of the turning. Then, I saw the cutest fox on the side of the Santa Fe bypass road. He wasn't running. He was sitting there, waiting for traffic (me, actually) to pass. I drove within a couple yards of him, and he smiled at me. Well, maybe he just broke into that toothy animal grin that means he was gulping extra air in anticipation of his jog across the road. But what I saw was a smile. Coming on the heels of the cheerful greeting from Coffee Man, it was enough. Enough to get my mind into a better frame. One that didn't waste the time in the car inaudibly moaning about my bad luck.

I tried several radio stations and finally settled on one that played classical music. It was perfect for that nighttime journey. I was grateful that I could find a strong signal that stayed with me almost to the cabin. I met very few other cars, so I was able to let my high beams carve the canyon, and that sweeping music made it a dance. Here I was, in a really nice Ford Flex (we call it Flex Luther, who as you know, rubbed elbows with Superman), driving in gorgeous country, listening to beautiful music. Even my coffee began to taste more like Starbucks and less like Mickey D's.

What a great, great blessing it is to travel today. I was very grateful to be in Austin for Harry Doss' funeral. It would not have been possible without modern conveniences.I flew through the air with the greatest of ease on the way there. And, all things considered, the extra wait at the airport on the way back would have seemed like a mere nano second to the people who crossed this country on foot. I was thinking about all the grumbling that occurred when we had to deplane in Dallas so mechanics could secure a loose carpet edge in our little jet.  Sure, everyone was tired. Tired people grumble if they aren't careful. The captain who called in the carpet caper was very sorry and apologized at every opportunity. The poor gate agent who kept having to announce delays and gate changes was brought to tears by demanding flyers. I loved one customer who saw the girl in tears and said to her, loudly, "How dare you make lightening strike nearby? How dare you keep the ground crew inside and safe from dying when they could be out there making our plane taxi to the gate!!!"  At first the girl heard only the loud voice. Then she heard the words and sunshine broke through her tears.

We landed safely in Santa Fe. My suitcase arrived with me. Flex Luther was waiting right where I left him. Coffee Man smiled. The fox smiled. The deserted canyon held tightly to the boulders that sometimes cavort down the cliffs and into the road. The radio station played strong and true. The cabin stood waiting on the side of the hill. What a nice way to spend the wee hours of the night.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Little Feathers: Pollyanna

Little Feathers: Pollyanna: Pollyanna had it right. I know, I know. People make fun of Pollyanna. They think she is immature, short sighted, and ignorant of the cynicis...


Pollyanna had it right. I know, I know. People make fun of Pollyanna. They think she is immature, short sighted, and ignorant of the cynicism required by our educated society. But I think that is because they don't understand her process of thought (and of course, I do). She didn't deny the sad, hard things. She didn't pretend that everything was alright when it wasn't. She simply had the knack for finding the hope in the middle of the mess. And in the scenes toward the end of the movie, when Pollyanna had lost her gift of gratitude, the people who loved her guided her back to her natural inclination.

I know people who are addicted to crisis. Who really hit their stride when the multitude of bad things happening in this world confirm their belief that we are all going to hell. And I am talking about the very real, incontrovertible hell that is right here on earth for millions. Even if you don't believe in a place of everlasting fiery brimstone, the smell of sulfur wafts strong from the evil at work today. Even Pollyanna would not try to say something positive about beheadings. She would cry about it, as we do. But after the tears were shed, I think that girl would get to work. Do something, anything to make the place she occupied in this world a better place.

What good does cynicism do? Does it make us more compassionate? More altruistic? Or does it just make us think we know more than the common Pollyannas who believe in the inherent goodness of mankind, of the earth, and this short time we get to walk here? I am arguing that a fatalistic view is a partial view. That wholeness only comes with gratitude. I suppose I argue for Pollyanna because I can't imagine wanting to remain here if I believed that life sucks. Always did, always will suck. I do believe that there is something at work in the cosmos that makes waking up each morning a gift. It is part of my deepest, most primitive self who has been in me since birth, this belief in goodness. The power of good, the power of people who do the work of honesty, courage, creativity, self sacrifice. I call the power behind that goodness God. I feel the call from outside myself, and I believe that the very best part of me and every other creature is where God dwells. Lots of people who do the work of goodness call the power something else. I don't care, I don't think I have a corner on truth. What does matter to me is that we lift each other up. That we hold on to the hands that reach out from the depths of despair. That our desire to appear intelligent and educated never makes us hard, encased in the steel cocoon of cynicism.

Our desire to draw life in black and white makes us stereotype and label people who have different solutions than we do. I hear the hubris in the voices of those who argue their political views. As if all the problems we face will disappear if only the right party is in charge. Hubris is one thing, but we cross the line when we demonize the opposition. It leads to a chasm between good people.

All the problems of our society...even Pollyanna would admit that we will never get it totally right. But she would not make the mistake of becoming apathetic about it. She would look for ways to be a light, to be a worker for good. I'm rooting for the girl. I'm rooting for the spirit of gratitude to infuse us all, to inspire us to be a more unselfish, a more good-centered society. This isn't a Disney life. If it were, no children would die of cancer, no people would go hungry, no terrorists of any ethnicity would prevail. Yet, there is hope in the center of the mess. Hope in the good deeds done by many, by any. Hope in the hearts of those who console. I can't think of anything more needed today than hope.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Little Feathers: The Hard Part

Little Feathers: The Hard Part: Just yesterday, I wrote about the death of our friend Gus. And, just yesterday, another kind, gentle man went home. Harry Doss was Daddy to ...

The Hard Part

Just yesterday, I wrote about the death of our friend Gus. And, just yesterday, another kind, gentle man went home. Harry Doss was Daddy to my friend Cheryl. He was husband, friend and partner to Dolly. Heebee to some beautiful great-grandchildren. Friend to many.

When I called my mom to share the news, we both cried. Not for Harry. We knew that Harry was released, relieved of his worries and cares. We cried for Dolly, and for Cheryl. Mom knows the hard part of losing a life long partner. I know the hard part for a daughter who will miss her dad.

There are some years, for many of us, when our parents are healthy, our children are happy, and we roll along through life thinking it will always be so. Years when family gatherings are for baptisms, birthdays, weddings. When Christmas cards bear news of promotions and graduations, happy successes.

The hard times come for everyone. Because we lose people we love. And, no matter how much we want the easier times back again, grief changes us. It leaves a mark. Time eases the acute pain, but we will never be the same. I could repeat the common belief that we are stronger, better people because of the hard times. Personally, I would rather skip this part. The broken-hearted part.

I would rather call Cheryl and laugh about the antics of her grandkids. I would rather recall fun and funny times spent together. But the most helpful thing for me when my dad died was hearing from people who cared about my loss. And I care very much that Cheryl has lost her dad.

Harry is free. No more illness, no more hardship for Harry. So, I pray for Dolly, for Cheryl and all their family, that they may feel peace and solace, knowing that they were loved so well by a child of God gone home. Rest in peace, Harry. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Quiet Ones

Yesterday a good man died. There were no national news reports of his death, no special editions of Time or People. But the world said goodbye to a man who served God, his family, his church and his community.
Gus always had a smile for people. And he volunteered the labor of his hands for countless projects that helped make the world a better place. He was a quiet man, not one to draw attention to himself. But there was a twinkle in his eye and a kind word on his lips. He cared to live in such a way that his passing leaves a hole in the fabric of life.
There are as many personality types as there are people, and we need them all. We need the boisterous antics of the Robin Williams of the world. We need the stirring rhetoric of the Barbara Jordons. And we need the unselfish, quiet contributions of the Gus Grosskopfs. We need the men who run their businesses in an honest way, who would never consider taking advantage of others. The women who give of their time in volunteer efforts without thought for public accolades. We need the men and women who believe that work is a worthy part of life, time well spent. People who take pride in doing a good job. We need them more than ever.
I am grateful for the life of Gus Grosskopf. He raised a wonderful family, together with his beautiful wife, Carolyn. I am grateful for the difference he made. We will miss him. Another of the Greatest Generation gone home. I can't even imagine what a great crew God has at his fingertips there. In case some projects need doing in heaven, there is one more cheerful worker available. Thanks be to God for the life of Gus.