Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lightning Stirkes and a Merry Heart

  Why I remember light travels at 186,000 miles per second and that there are 5,280 feet in a mile, I have no idea. I'm sure the teacher who drilled those facts must have taught me something else as well. Really, it's not like the knowledge of the speed of light is particularly useful on a daily basis, but I do remember it during thunderstorms.

As a kid, we used to count the seconds between the lightning and thunder, but I don't remember if we knew to divide the total by five, which would make a bit of a difference. I might have spent my childhood thinking a five second space meant the storm was five miles away when, in fact, it was right on top of me.

Last night we had a ripping thunderstorm. Since the pool is close to the kitchen patio doors, I was counting the seconds from the lightning, and trying to not forget the mahi-mahi in the broiler, and thinking about an acquaintance with breast cancer, and listening to the news about drug thugs taking over a previously prosperous town in Mexico...it was all very worrisome.

But then, I caught the end of a news story that made me stop and cheer for a little town whose name I didn't catch. This town, like many others these days, had no money for recreation projects. But the people made a decision not to let recession and depression steal the joy of their children's childhood. Deeming summer memories of swimming, and splashing, and laughing important to the well being of their children, they raised the $12,000 needed to run the pool.

Good for them, I thought. I'm sure they had plenty of pressing needs, but they chose something immeasurable.

A merry heart does good like medicine the author of Proverbs tells us. I may not have much money, but there are lots of inexpensive ways I can do something to lighten my spirit--take time out for beauty, do something different or differently, read a humorous story, call someone and cheer them. Such little things are not life-changing but they just might be enough to change my perspective for the day and knock me out of a rut.

Lord, today,may someone needing the healing of a merry heart be blessed by a gift of laughter.

P.S. Perhaps too trivial for a laugh, but--Reuters has some silly news stories, like the girl who took her car for an oil change. The mechanic found bags of drugs under the hood and called the police. She told them she didn't know the mechanic had to look under the hood. (Okay, maybe not)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The nautilus and the sea urchin

Like a heat-seeking missile, I was determined to find a nautilus shell like the one I saw on the postcard in my hotel lobby. It was early morning. I was trying to sneak out the room without waking my husband. But he turned, blinked a few times and asked,"Where are you going?" We were, after all, on vacation, which to his mind meant rest.

"The tide's out," I said. "I have to get on the beach early to find a nautilus shell.

Sport that he is, hubby sighed, rolled out of bed, and donned his sweatshirt and shorts. We joined the other early-morning seekers along the vast stretch of beach famous for its shells. The birds vied for low-tide pickings; the gentle lapping of the retreating water and the misty salt air added the ambiance for a seashell hunt.

I set out briskly, certain I would find the one shell I had in mind. Bob soon lagged behind, stopping every few minutes to examine something which he either discarded or added to his bag. I walked faster, ignoring the piles of shells and shiny objects on the shoreline. Bob stopped, examined, enjoyed. After an hour or so we met up and compared treasures. I had nothing. Bob had a bag full of perfectly formed, shiny, spikey, curly, pearly treasures.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a shell store where I learned my nautilus didn't even live in those waters. They were just props on a postcard.

I had been so focused on the big treasure that I had overlooked all the little beauties along the way.
Today, may I have the eyes to see, the faith to believe, and the heart to be thankful for what I have today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

She's got "the depression"

My sister called to say her Wii Fit was asking for me. Said it hadn't seen me in a while. Maybe that's because the last time I got on, it groaned, "Oh," and said I had a fitness age of about eighty. Jan also wanted to know where my blog post was.

I admitted last week I had a case of the D's--discouragement, despair, disillusionment, doubt, diets, death...Well, I wasn't that bad; mostly I had "the discouragement" (a term borrowed from an elderly, perfectly coiffed woman I met at the dentist office who said her sister had "the depression"). 

It came out of nowhere, a simple remark by a person whose opinion I valued. I determined to persevere through the fog of mental ennui that settled on me and sucked my thoughts out. But as so often happens, one bad thing led to another.

The corner of my front tooth broke (maybe grit your teeth and buckle up isn't such good advice). It wasn't too noticeable so I decided to postpone fixing it until I had caught up on my bills. A few nights later, after I brushed, flossed, spit, and rinsed, I looked in the mirror and stared at the big space where the corner of my other front tooth had been a minute before.

It's hard to ignore two broken front teeth, besides, my daughter was coming to visit with a friend she wanted us to meet. Not wanting to look as if I'd left my shotgun in a cabin back in the 'holler,' I promptly called my dentist.

"The discouragement" was gaining on two fronts--mental and physical. Early one morning, I curled up on the couch with my Bible. A verse, so random and so seemingly unrelated to my situation, parked itself like a mighty boulder in front of my broken-down defense.

The exiled Jews were rebuilding their destroyed temple, but their adversaries were trying to stop them. The adversaries tattled to the king who was unaware of a decree issued by a previous king, which gave the Jews both permission and provision to build. The current king issued a search in the archives where the treasures were stored and there in a fortress, a scroll was found.--Ezra 6:2

I'm not sure why this knocked the dis off and left me with courage. I think because it speaks of hope, of unexpected possibilities, of things never filed away and forgotten by the KING.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Concealed weapon or tree of life?

You can bite, curl it, or stain it blue, but this little organ is mighty hard to control.

Yesterday my husband called on his lunch break. "I just looked in the mirror and realized I'm ugly."

"Must be a warped mirror," I assured him. Satisfied I didn't concur with his assessment, he hung up. He is not difficult to please.

But neither are a lot of people. That's the beauty of this powerful potential we have to make someone's moment. A kind word, a thoughtfully timed word, a simple word like thanks, settles in the spirit and reverses a negative thrust.

Conversely this little organ, our tongue, has the power to form weapons of mass destruction. The Bible likens it to a deadly arrow, a fire, and a sharp sword. That's how I used to use it. Like many women, I learned at an early age that I carried a concealed weapon in my mouth.

Over the years I got so used to wielding my words like a saber, I didn't even notice all the heads I'd cut off. One day I overheard a student whisper, "She uses her words like a sword."

My saber clattered to the floor as I saw the truth in his words. Since then I have purposed to become aware of the power I so carelessly carry. I don't have to be powerful, rich, or famous. I don't even have to step outside my front door to change someone's day for better or for worse.

Today, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight Lord. 

PS  My granddaughter Shelby is one of the few people whose tongue matches her eyes!                                                                              

Friday, July 2, 2010

The loyal snipe hunter

Any self-respecting daughter of a gun-toting father should know she can't catch snipe in a paper bag. That's what my father said after I told him about my snipe hunt. I may have been gullible all those years ago, but I was aiming for loyalty.

This economy has ferreted out the most distant of relationships. I received a postcard from VISTA  saying, "We found you!" Many years ago, I was a Volunteer In Service To America stationed on a Chippewa reservation in Cass Lake, Minnesota. I had dropped out of my pre-med curriculum at the University of Vermont, and signed up at the recruiting table outside the university shop.

Several weeks later, I arrived on the Blue Goose airline, all by myself, in Bemidji, Minnesota. Seasoned volunteers from the various towns on the reservation met me. They told me they were going on a snipe hunt that night and perhaps I'd like to come along. "Of course, I would," I assured them. After all, I wanted to "be one of them."

Just before dusk, they picked me up at my tarpaper shack. We all piled into their government-issued station. When we got to the field, they handed me a paper bag and told me they would drive the snipe toward me by whistling. I was to stand in one spot and blink my flashlight, and when the snipe came, snatch them up.

I had arrived in town only hours before and there I was, all alone in a dark field. I blinked my light frantically. Then I noticed the headlights from a slow-moving car. It stopped, a shadowy figure walked toward me. My friends were nowhere around. I blinked my light. A policeman drew near and asked, "What are you doing?"

Suspicions about my choice of weapon clouded my response. "Snipe hunting?" my voice reflected more of a question than an answer.

"Don't you know it's not snipe season?" he asked.

Now that threw me. Not wanting to get my new friends in trouble, I simply said, "No."

"You'll have to come with me," he said, and I, back in the days of trust and stupidity, went.

We sat at the counter of the local bar/restaurant/hole-in-the-wall. He pulled out the fish and game book to prove my offense when the door burst open and my friends tumbled in. They laughed. The cop laughed. I pretended to laugh. Oh what you could do on a reservation way back then.

The recent postcard from VISTA reminded me of that night. I wanted to save my friends from trouble and prove I was loyal. I thought about my loyalties now.

"Lord, may I be loyal, be willing to not speak against, but be willing to stand up for, my husband, my friends, my country,--YOU."