Beauty Thru My Lens: A Rose

Toledo Zoo 261I did a little cropping to make the composition more pleasing, and then I stared, wondering how something that has such a short life could be so beautiful. I am thankful that I have sight – to see my world as I moved through it that day, and also the ability to see the beauty of this very special rose.

Our days of seeing blooming flowers are coming to an end for this year, here in the northern part of the northern hemisphere. This gets me thinking about aging, and the fact that my seasons are numbered. The number isn’t known to me yet. I may have ten more autumns – maybe more, maybe less.

Knowing this doesn’t distress me. Some people don’t like talking about getting old and nearing death. I think that once I acknowledged my limited time, like the limited time that this rose will bloom, I began to appreciate living so much more. This doesn’t mean that I have to do everything on a bucket list; it means that I want to enjoy the special moments in each day. Like listening to JB talk about this and that as we are eating a simple dinner together, and having the satisfaction of folding clean laundry. It means feeling joy as I chose this rose to post, and writing the thoughts that the image triggered in my brain. My days are numbered so I will especially enjoy the likes I find in the morning, and the comments I will read from the wonderful people I have met in the vast blogging community. Thank you for enriching my life and I hope you find many simple pleasures as you make your way through this day.

Time of Reflection: Gentleness

garden mist 425

I need to reflect on “gentleness” today, the next to the last gift of the spirit. I forgot that I hadn’t finished them because I have had too many bad-body-days since I returned to Michigan. I’ve been on edge, and my edges are pretty sharp. If you want the real scoop, just ask JB. I get no awards for gentleness this week.

I think of myself as a gentle person; I abhor war and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a physical fight. A friend told me, just this week, that I give the best hugs. JB likes the way I gently rub his back when we are settling in for a night’s rest. But I can also be so impatient, and my words can cut and sting.

This morning I woke up stiff and achy and tired and very discouraged. I had things I wanted to do, nothing urgent, fun things but my energy level has been very low. I’m also struggling through some grief because my sister and mother won’t be at our 50th anniversary party this summer. JB has been trying to help; he is so sweet about that. But sometimes he can’t help or, like this morning, helping me would take more work on my part. I got snarky, I got mean, he was hurt, his hurt turned to anger, I felt like shit – said I was sorry, he was still angry, I got hurt, I got angry, doors slammed, the silence was deafening, I cried.

I know you understand, you have danced this dance. The song may have been a little different and the steps varied, but the outcome is the same. There were opportunities for gentleness but neither one of us was big enough to stop the dance. I started it, but either of us could have stepped away from our self-righteous strut.

I don’t like the part of me that lashes out and becomes sarcastic. I can explain why and justify my actions, when I get like this, but this isn’t the way I want to be. I would never treat strangers like this. When I have been at my worst, I have felt God’s gentle love. I want to be this same kind of gentle when I am threatened or hurt by those I love; I want to use a gentle tone, gentle words, gentle understanding, gentle listening.

I could bore you with long, theoretical descriptions of the ongoing developmental tensions of forming our sense of self while being in a relationship. I have studied this – a lot. Sometime, however, knowing in our rational part doesn’t help us in our emotional part. Sometimes understanding isn’t enough when what we need to do is practice new behaviors.

As I was lying on the sofa crying tonight, JB sat next to me and very gently wiped away my tears. We talked about what we could do differently, because we know there will be a next time. We have had 50 years of next times. Our episodes have been getting gentler because we dedicated ourselves to loving the other, and love is kind and gentle. Besides, we have to make it work because this morning I mailed the invitations for our party.

Tonight, I wish you gentleness in all your interactions. Thank you, JB, for your gentleness.

Lent: A Time of Reflection

Reflection of Dark & Light

                                                  Reflection of Dark & Light

During this Christian time of Lent, leading up to one of the two foundational events of our faith, it has been customary to sacrifice something. To give up something for lent – like dessert, or television, or Facebook. I was never able to get into this ritual because — I don’t know, maybe for a lot of reasons.

I saw people do it for the wrong reasons (I need to lose weight so I’ll give up sugar), or because the church said we should (I was never one for blind obedience if it didn’t have personal meaning), or to demonstrate piety (my interpretation of scripture leads me to private piety). Maybe it was because I spent the first half of my life, 50 years, living without because there wasn’t much or because children’s needs came first. I didn’t feel deprived or bitter, it is the way life is. But I sacrificed for 365 days a year, I didn’t see the point of heaping on more self-sacrifice.

There is no longer a need for self-sacrifice in my life, but I still have a hard time getting into the “giving something up for Lent.” This year is different. I have been influenced by several different people, writings from both the living and the dead. A few words here, an idea there. All small, but together they have become a nagging voice I can’t ignore. I usually consider this Divine Intervention. This year I need to do something for Lent.

This chorus of voices has led me to “give up something for Lent;” did you pick up the difference in wording? I am “giving up” that which is most important to my sense of self and my place in the world. I am giving out and raising up my voice, my ability to think and write and photograph the beauty of creation. I am going to speak out as a means of spiritual self-reflection and sharing my thoughts on what makes for spiritual wellness.

If you don’t define yourself as a Christian, don’t hit that unfollow button. My purpose isn’t to bring people to Christianity, especially if your faith is working for you. My purpose is to share with you how my faith informs my living. My purpose is to stimulate your thoughts, spark a little fire in you, so you will join me in posting from your faith perspective. How  wonderful it would be if we all linked together to create greater ideas, deeper faith, more hope, more compassionate living. One person at a time, in unison.

I need structure if I am going to be consistent and follow through so I have chosen the Biblical book of Galatians and the text defining the Fruit of the Spirit. I can’t pick and choose because fruit is singular – a package deal. I will cover all of them, one or two a week. This will take me past Easter but no sweat. My spiritual journey doesn’t end at Easter – it is only the beginning.

My spiritual self-reflections will cover the Fruit of Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness Gentleness Self-Control. I will write on each one individually, but not separate them because each probably lacks integrity without the others. I hope you will look forward to hearing my thoughts on Love and as you anticipate, I hope you will reflect on what your world view believes about love and how it is reflected in your life. I think I will also need to think about what the lack of love means.

Endnote: My thinking has been influenced by books I have been reading, but the blog that has moved me the most has been the Bardo Group. If you are not already reading their contributions, you might want to check them out.