Emily

I met Emily when she was three years old (I think).

Jim asked me to accompany him as he went to talk with her parents about baptism.  When we arrived and sat down, I was immediately smitten.  Emily, however, kept her distance, eyeing us.   Soon she warmed to me and we sat on the floor together, looking at her Minnie Mouse doll.  I was asked to be her godmother.  That was the beginning of something special for me.

Last Friday, I went to Emily’s thesis show which fulfilled her final requirement for graduation from Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland.  We drove to the gallery, spotting it by the sign the graduating students designed as the symbol of their show.  Amazing variety of works filled the gallery.  There on one entire wall was Emily work, except for three pieces she had already sold.  (Totally unbiased decision:  Emily’s was the best by far!)

And there stood Emily, now a poised young woman, standing next to her husband (he’s wonderful, by the way), sharing her photography with the world.

I couldn’t help it…my thoughts went to the past.  I thought of Emily at her baptism; Emily playing basketball at her tiny hoop in her front yard; Emily eagerly awaiting the Tooth Fairy’s arrival; Emily’s total delight in the birth of her little sister, Sarah; Emily singing the Great Litany beside me, quickly picking up the sung responses, then frowning when the response changed; Emily asking if she could roll up her “pant sleeves” so she could wade into the water to see the “wollypogs”; Emily’s decision to be a clown when she grew up, all the while carrying around a particular law book, with a particular page marked; the phone call I got the first time her little sister broke one of Emily’s toys; watching Emily sleep while I got to babysit; Emily reading books to Sarah; sleepovers and roasting marshmallows in the fireplace; and thousands of other memories.

When she was younger, Emily’s eyes sparkled with delight at the world.  As she got older, her eyes were sometimes sparkling with tears, as she experienced the hurts of life.  On Friday, Emily’s eyes sparkled with joy and pride at her accomplishment and at the delight of having her husband and her family by her side.  It was a mature, calm sparkle.

My life has been infinitely blessed by this human being.  Her parents’ generosity in sharing Emily with me is a gift they will never fully understand.  Emily’s willingness to let me in to her precious life for the past 20 years has changed me and made me a better person.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift and the blessing that is Emily.  Bless her and Chris as they continue to build their life together.

Freedom

We have two young people living with us these days.  One will only be here for a week.  The other may be staying for six months or more.  To be honest, I was expecting stress.  Just the opposite is true.  When Jim and I allow people to be who they are, they are happier and so are we.  We promised our visitors space for time alone, availability if they wanted conversation, and freedom to make decisions about how they want to live their lives.  We have invited them to share our activities with Special Olympics — one has accepted that invitation wholeheartedly, one has avoided the opportunities.  To be honest, I wish both could stay permanently.  Not an option, I know.  But I’m glad the desire is there.

God did not make us to be identical to one another.  No cookie cutter people.  Each of us was made unique.  Different gifts, different talents, different weaknesses.  I think the trick is to value the differences, not take the similarities for granted, and encourage one another to grow.  If we can truly see the other as a gift from a loving Father, it can be really fun!  I am enjoying these young adults.

Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful gifts.

Patience

Patience: n 1:  the capacity, habit, or fact of being patient.  Patient: adj. 1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.  2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain.  3: not hasty or impetuous. 4:  steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

Why is patience so difficult?  I see so much impatience around me.  And I struggle so much with patience:  patience with others, patience with myself, patience with God.  Why?

Patience with others.  Why can’t I show others the same respect I desire for myself?  When others fail to act in the ways I think they should act, I get impatient.  Well, who says I have the right to say how others should act?  Who is God here?  Each person is on their own journey.  And they are in different places in their lives than I am.  Can I not respect them as they are, where they are?

Patience with myself.  Again, I get impatient with myself when I don’t act the way I think I should or wish I could.  When I fail to measure up to my standards, I assume failure and grow impatient.  Really?  Failure?  Should?  Could?  Would I treat a friend this way?

Patience with God.  I , of course, know how things should be.  I offer my opinions to God regularly.  Funny thing about God:  He does things His way…and He’s always right (which is somewhat irritating).  Again, who is God here?

I think patience is a good goal to work on in 2016, and the rest of my life.  Help me, Lord.

Aaah…The Quiet

I love the quiet of the morning. All I hear is the ticking of the clocks (yes, plural) and the comforting hum of the heater. I relish the quiet. All around me are tasks calling me to get to work. However, I continue to sip my coffee contentedly (if not defiantly). It’s in mornings like this that I tend to focus on God’s goodness to me. Although it’s 21 degrees out, I am warm and safe in my home. As I made my coffee, I felt grateful that I could simply turn on the tap for my water, rather than having to go out to fetch it and carry it home. In the nearby bedroom, sleeps a man who still loves me (and puts up with me) after 20 years. My life with Jim has been, and continues to be, amazing. I think of my friends Fred & Roberta who helped me get past my fears to be able to say “yes” to Jim. I pass our guest room, all prepared for visitors, and think about all the lovely friends — young and old — that the Lord has given me. I expect my father and brother will phone or text (our normal morning routine) and thank God for my wonderful family or origin. Beside me are my Bible, Book of Common Prayer and book of saints, and I am grateful for the gift of faith and of teachers who have helped me along my journey of faith. I am grateful, too, for all those Saints and saints who have gone before me. I think of my family and friends in Heaven. God did not have to do all this for me. He has done all of this simply out of love and mercy. How do I show my gratitude? I like “The General Thanksgiving” on page 101 in the Book of Common Prayer. Part of it says, “And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days…” Well I have a l-o-n-g way to go to be holy and righteous. I am, however, enormously grateful and am trying.

Old Friends

Old friends are so wonderful!  You can be away from each other for a long time, but when you get together it’s as though you have never been apart.

Jean and Marv came last evening.  We spent the evening and morning sharing old stories (and new stories) and catching up on mutual friends.  We laughed and laughed until my cheeks were sore.

These are the types of friends for whom you don’t have to have everything spic and span.  They don’t mind the dust.

Thank you, Lord, for old friends.

On the other hand, getting older has some difficulties.  I haven’t posted on this blog for a long time.  I had forgotten how to get on the site and my password.  Yes, you can teach and old dog new tricks.  That does not mean, however, that the old dog can remember the trick.  Sigh.

It feels good to write again.  Thank you, Lord, for this too.

 

2015 & aging & health…oh my!

Yesterday I wrote my first checks with 2015. Strange. When I was in junior high and high school in the late 60’s and early 70’s we would talk about what the world would be like in the 21st century. It felt like science fiction. We all agreed that we would have jet packs (we watched The Jetsons!). We all agreed that flying cars would probably be available, through probably out of our price range. Besides, we would be so old by then. Truly…that’s what we thought. We were certain we couldn’t cruise E Street or go to football games. We would continue to go to Haywoods for ice cream sundaes, though we would probably be with our spouse & children. It was going to be weird to be old.

Now here we are in 2015. Although this year will be a “milestone” birthday for me, I prefer to think of myself as “a sweet young thing”, and the streaks in my hair to be blonde rather than grey. However, I am sensing some wonderful things as I age. Fewer things are crucial. I am not so much in a hurry. I value people and events more than things. It’s easier to let go of things. My relationship with God has deepened. I take more time to listen — both to God and people.  It’s lovely.

I do wish, though, that my body would react differently. Things creak that didn’t creak before. Falling hurts more than it did before. Muscles take longer to heal. I don’t have the energy I had in the 60s and 70s. I have saggy parts. I have what my sister-in-law Carolyn calls “Angel Wings”.

However, I also have a husband who tells me I am beautiful. I have young people in my life who still like to spend time with me. Our house is almost paid for. All this is good.

I am looking forward to this year. I expect to see God work in great ways in my life. I expect to grow. I expect to take more deep breaths. I expect to see more beauty in our world and those who inhabit it. Not a bad way to spend a year…