Category Archives: Blessed Friendship

What We Have in Common

What We Have in Common

 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

The campus chimes begin to toll as I step out onto the labyrinth at University of Central Oklahoma, one, two, three, four, five o’clock. A lovely, simple melody follows, and I continue on the red winding path. The music ends, and the chimes from a nearby church echo the same tune back, then play a hymn. It is Good Friday and the campus is deserted; I love the quiet and the peaceful setting. Perfect for my walking meditation today. I am in the first hour of a four-hour silent retreat and prayer vigil.

As I walk I think back over the past six months; I have been part of a group engaged in the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius. This daily retreat focuses on the entire life of Jesus and places the participant emotionally into scenes of his life with prayer, meditation, contemplation, and journaling. Total immersion. I first participated in the exercises sixteen years ago, and as my first experience, this one has been intimate, imbued with spiritual integrity, tolerance, and revelation.

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Have You Seen a Snow Goddess?

Have You Seen a Snow Goddess?

Wakonda high school, hats off to thee.

And our colors, true to thee we’ll ever be.

Firm and strong united are we!

Hoorah rah rah, Hoorah for Wakonda high school!

 

When I was a kid we lived in the Tundra for eight years. The incessant cold all but atrophied my grey matter; the above is what is left in the memory bank of our school song, a cloudy memory from the second grade. This Christmas season brings back memories of that time, and my parents, whom I miss more than I can say. This was a divine time in our lives, a time of innocence and possibility.

Our first years as a family were fairly idyllic in small town South Dakota, Wakonda, population 405. Wakonda is an Osage Indian word meaning “Great Creator”, an abstract, omnipresent spirit. Curious that my awareness and seeking of God began when we lived in Wakonda.

SD House Sized (2)

My folk’s first home was actually their dream home; they paid less for it than you would a used car now.  It was on a corner two acre lot with cherry trees, apple trees and crab-apple trees. This place was an absolute marvel for a kid!

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Ten Years and a Road Trip

Ten Years and a Road Trip

“A vacation is like love-anticipated with pleasure., experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia.” ~Author Unknown

What’s brought me to this state of double vision, painful hips and feet, constipation, migraine, and generalized pissy attitude? The thing we Americans call vacation. It is very poorly named.

My enormous Random House Dictionary, unabridged, 2nd edition (which I sold when I worked for them) defines vacation as A: “a scheduled period during which activity is suspended” or B: “a period of exemption from work granted to an employee”. I can state with absolute certainty that Random House is mistaken! The term I would use to define this particular vacation is masochistic labor while trekking through the Torrid Zone.

It started with high hopes, great planning, ambition, sites to see, foods to try, friends to visit, time for contemplation and writing, but more closely resembled emergency rescue and heat stroke.

The idea was to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Yep, next month will be ten years since our surprise wedding. Yes, I know this is a bit odd, but as I’m told-so are we. We had planned to get married on September second, just go to the justice of the peace and get er done.

My friends Lisa and Leigh Anna weren’t having any of it. On August sixteenth ten years ago, the three of us were getting a pedicure when I noticed they were extremely cheery and conspiratorial about something. When I pressed them for the reason they replied “Guess what? You’re getting married tonight!”

It was actually lovely. I already had my dress, a good luck dress that seven other women had been married in and all were still married! In fact, my high school singing partner and confidant Cheryl had been married in it too. Sweetie had the rings and his suit. Lisa and Leigh Anna spared no detail. The minister, Curtis, was a friend of mine; they had a beautiful bouquet for me and boutonniere for Sweetie, rose petals for the ground, a picturesque spot at Cole’s Garden, a photographer, and music. Just Sweetie and I, the minister, and two couples who went out of their way to make a wonderful memory for two old friends.

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We chose our first road trip together for the ten year celebration. This was wrong on so many levels. As we headed out west to our first event, the Marine Corp reunion, we came to a complete stop in the desert where we sat for three hours while a wreck was cleared-during a record heat wave. So much fun.

We turned off the car so it would not overheat or run out of gas. We played “I spy” to forget about the heat and the waiting. It was a short lived game as we spied a rock, some sand, the sky, blacktop, and the two trucks in front of us. Not much to “spy” in the desert. I shed my shorts to stay cool and the truck driver who walked up to keep us updated on the possibility of movement had quite a surprise. I on the other hand did not give a flying fig. That empty Planter’s peanut can came in handy after drinking multiple bottles of water to stay hydrated!

I am a contract sales rep; I make sales or momma eats spam-so I am diligent. But I really needed to completely get away from the laptop, the clients, the phone, and the stress. This did not happen so much. Sweetie is a chef and feeds two hundred college kids three meals a day, many of whom have quite a sense of entitlement. He needed to be away from the little….darlings and the daily assault of food service issues. His happy little dream did not materialize either.

While we sat in the desert, my clients continued to call and email me, despite the fact that I had notified them all twice that I would be on vacation during this period, and had an auto-reply on my email reminding them I would be unavailable. I worked all day long the first four days of “vacation”.

Sweetie was likewise harangued by faculty from the university with this issue and that. A “period of exemption from work”, right. At this stage we morphed into Clark and Ellen Griswold; I threw myself down and did the really big ugly cry-snot everywhere and mascara running down my face. Come on, you know you’ve done it too. It wasn’t my finest hour.

Sweetie, Grand Canyon

I opted to visit my sweet aunt who lives in Lake Havasu while the Marines reminisced, guzzled beer and swapped “Desert Storm” stories. That drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Lake Havasu, Arizona in middle of the summer is not for the faint of heart. With a record heat wave, the mercury topped out at an astounding 122 degrees and God help you should your car break down because there is nothing and no one on that road but you.

It was my first time to drive between the two points so when I came upon a sign that said “Welcome to California” I melted down the rest of the way. I felt like one of the Andrea Gail crew until my Dad happened to call. He told me that you indeed pass through a smidge of California (still rescuing me after all these years) on the way.

I had visions of wandering the dessert for weeks, a crude turban made from my blouse atop my head, drinking the contents of my planters peanut can. This is such a desolate part of the country; I can’t imagine the endurance it took to settle there years ago. I would clearly not have been one of them.

The Grand Canyon portion of the trip was a surprise too; they also were having a record heat wave. It was so hot the first day we went to our rooms, stripped off the clothes, fell on the bed and didn’t stir. The next day we got up when the sun did so we could trek down into the canyon without heat stroke. Going down was an adventure, scenic and surprisingly easy with fantastic views and interesting terrain to explore-really fun. Going back up, not so much. To add insult to injury, after we huffed our way back up we realized we had only gone down one mile!! Must step up the fitness routine.

Things improved, sort of, the weather gods finally smiled upon us on the way back and it went from 117 to 52 degrees within hours. Upon entering New Mexico we almost slid off the road because a storm we encountered left six inches of hail on the road. The last couple days a little grace found us, a great time in Albuquerque and enough fiery hatch chilies to make us forget the rest!!

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”–Mary Jean Iron.

Yoga mat on the floor, I peered up at the room from a Chihuahua’s vantage point and stretched my arm far over my head just as instructed. A large window faced me with an enormous Schefflera in front of it. Each long stem stretched out in a different direction; the huge leaves seemed to grin back at me saying ”It was your idea to try Yoga, miss healthy pants.”

A restorative Yoga session, so not much was required of me-a good thing since this was my first ever Yoga class and I had widespread arthritis pain and multiple disc pain to contend with. My mind traveled back to when I did not have this level of pain constantly and sadness covered me. I wanted to curl up on my mat and weep; I longed for a miracle.

But lying on my Yoga mat I had my miracle-that I was able to be there at all. In fact, I am stunned that I am able to do so many of the things I do. There are magnificent things in my life, many that I am aware of and certainly those I have been too dull-witted to see.

At a concert I heard Amy Grant say that one morning she was getting coffee when her young son came in. She picked him up and put him up on the kitchen counter in front of her. She was stroking his hair and reflecting on how much she loved him and the miracle that he was, when he said “Mommy, you have really bad breath!” There it was, the extraordinary right next to the commonplace! This is life.

Do we perceive the beauty in the everyday sun filling the room on an icy winter’s day?

The wonder of lunch with friends we’ve shared life with for over forty years?

Playtime with the precious bright little dog that learns any trick you teach her?

That first cup of coffee in the morning, knowing the journey the coffee took to you?

A road trip with a treasured niece and the gift of good conversation with her?

The miracle of meeting the right mate whose flaws equal yours in just the right design, when you had not been interested in y-e-a-r-s?

The significance of everyday occurrences distills and the closer we draw to God, to spirit, the wider our eyes become. The film dissipates and we can finally grasp what was there all along. The thing is, God uses these events to give us an opportunity to wake up . . . an opportunity.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

Close Your Eyes and Think of Me

Close Your Eyes and Think of Me

We met at school over on the rock ledge when we were kids, new friends who had surprisingly known each other forever.

She gave me then what she offers to all-an open heart, she meets you where you are.

She rubs up against life hard and often, and it hurts her. Authentic always, when her days end she will have the grace of knowing this.

As enthusiastic as she was in younger years, there’s a gleam in her eyes as she shares her plans for the summer. Her weeks stretching into years, she does not want an idle life and has never had an idle mind.

She is such a talker, not one who relishes silence. Even the chatter is worthy your attention, this is an intelligent engaging woman.

In a world choked with indifference she illuminates what needs to change in our world. She starts with herself.

A deep loneliness dwells within her and really always has-but even more so now.

Her trust in me shines through her kind eyes; I am blessed. She knows she is safe with me in all circumstances, and I with her.

What she gives to those she serves is remarkable; she has a vision they can’t have for themselves. They are lucky recipients of her perception, attention and action.

A lover of animals, she protects those she can, giving her time and love to them. She mentors others about their care.

Heart on her sleeve; her wounds are plenty and relived. There is no debridement; the scar tissue seems to multiply.

Deep friendship is her talent, her gift. She’s not as good at casual friendship-always wanting more. Never cunning to conceal her love, she is effervescent in the presence of friends and family.

Bearing gifts from everywhere she brightens a mediocre day-just when you really needed a little surprise. And, she seems to have no idea the sweetness of this.

If you are lucky enough to know her well you have a partner for pizza, a confidant on the phone at two am, a warm honest hug when you are weak, straight forward words when you’re a fool, her prayers when you are lost and the most beautiful smile when you were sure there wasn’t one to be found.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the Pooh