Monday, January 28, 2013 and letting go

"Many times when we help we do not really serve...serving is also different from fixing. Abraham Maslow said, 'If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.' Seeing yourself as a fixer may cause you to see brokenness everywhere, to sit in judgment of life itself. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve, we see the unborn wholeness in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. Others may then be able to see their wholeness for themselves for the first time." 
Rachel Naomi Remen

When a child grows up, a parent is faced with questions. Do I hold on a bit longer? The harbor is dark and the sea beyond, vast. Is this precious soul ready? Or is my grasp selfish? Am I helping or tending to my own fear and own need for control? And with this, ushering my child into victimhood. Or laziness.

The answers are complex. Ideally, we send our children out in faith...but we have their backs. Quietly, so as not to undermine their confidence. These babies we once held close to our hearts now dance uncoupled and we hold them in our hearts.

I am thankful for those who've trusted the unwritten chapters of my life to the great mystery. Who've neither hammered nor manipulated. For humility and compassion are born in the dark. In the wilderness, courage and perseverance take root. And, with these...eventually...forgiveness for all the rest is born. May I return the favor.

For all those times I have not, mea culpa. Mea extremis culpa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

...morning has broken

Indian River sunrise
Photo taken by my delightful Florida cousin, Lynn Yawn, on his morning walk yesterday.

My sabbatical continues but I'd like to drop in every now and then for a "hello". The best part of blogging is the community that develops. I've appreciated hearing from you.

I woke up a bit before five a.m. No complaints here, though. Mornings are my favorite time of the day. Howard Thurman wrote that he liked to start his day with a simmer. So do I. In my corporate days, I'd get up at five, light a candle, write my "morning pages" (thank you, Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way), meditate, and then write for pleasure. Each segment twenty minutes of soul food. At six-fifteen, I'd meet my friend, Joanie, and we'd walk for forty-five minutes. Then back to shower, dress and head to work. Fueled.

The deep south, where I lived most of my life, morphs from oven temperatures in the summer to deep freeze in the winter. The bay is a more temperate place. We have, however, dipped into the forties over night. So I've made myself a latte. Lit a candle. Slipped into my Irish sweatshirt. Ruminated over the delicate balance between relationship and solitude. And what to cook for dinner tonight when Bill returns. I'm either still the multi-tasker...or ADD.

The Irish sweatshirt took me down a different road so I wrote an email to my now-sister, Bonnie, courtesy of Bill. [For an only child, I've picked up some delightful siblings along the way.] Back to the sweatshirt...which takes me back to Ireland. Jane, my friend and traveling companion, and I each bought one at Sean's shop in Kinsale. Quite the bargain, the lofty, warm hoodie looks like new. Thick and fleecy. Not a single tatty, little pill. I would've bought two if zipping the suitcase hadn't been an issue.

I loved my Irish mornings. First, a shuffle downstairs to the kitchen of the four-hundred plus year old cottage to plug in the kettle. Back up with two cups of tea and two toasts. I'd drop one off in Jane's room, then head back to my little haven and crawl under the duvet. A deep sill ran across the window wall by my bed. On this, my books, my iPod/speaker, and my girlie things: one part library, one part music room, one part dressing table. I'd sip my tea and stare out the window. Read a devotional and meditate. Total silence until the magpies started their day. At eight a.m. the bells of the Angelus sounded a slightly out-of-sync duet: first, the parish church around the corner, then the friary at on the hill above the cottage.

Around nine each morning, I'd stick my head out the upstairs window and yell to Jane that it was a one,  two or three t-shirt day. We'd dress and head out for morning rounds in the village. Chat up shopkeepers, stop by the victualler for chops or chicken for dinner. At the bakery, Tracy would make us a latte and join us if the morning rush had slowed a bit. Back to the cottage for lunch. Afterwards I might go for a long walk while Jane napped. An illness was the precursor of this six-month sojourn. The walks were restorative. Not purposeful, a moving, breathing journey toward hope. I've never felt so at peace or less alone. Jane would join me around three for another loop around the village. We'd head to the library computer to catch up on correspondence, check out a new book, and visit with Eileen, the librarian. Oh, how I miss her. One more stop at the grocery for biscuits (cookies, stateside) and a chat with Jacqui who we met upon arrival and who remembered our names three days later. To most we were "those ladies from Alabama" but Jacqui always called us by name.

We lived in Kinsale from November 1 until May 1. The winter sun set around forty-thirty. We'd head back to the cottage at dusk and I'd make tea while Jane started the peat fire in the living room stove. We'd curl up with a cuppa and biscuits to watch "Midsomer Murder" and a cozy British afternoon talk show. At 6 p.m. a sixty-second television spot: the evening Angelus with an ever-changing video of people pausing from their activities to listen to the bells.

The familiarity of those days, the calm, the blend of quiet and Thanks for joining me in a re-visit. Now I'm out the door, bundled up against the chill, for a walk by the bay. A proper beginning.