Focus on Love

After the miscarriage of Celia Rose last fall, I confided in a friend who had experienced the same kind of loss. She told me that through her grief, the words that rang the loudest came from her husband, who told her simply, “Focus on love.”

I wrote those words down and put them by my front door. They are now the last thing I read when I walk out of my house and the first thing when I walk in. Still, I forget sometimes. I get lost in my own fear and anxiety about any old topic, and it can turn into negativity, then grumpiness, then despondency, then anger, then rage.

It is easy to feel afraid and all the rest of it these days, especially with regards to the critically ill and increasingly evil social and political climate in our country. It’s much harder to focus on love, which is why I know that must be my chore, my commitment, my practice.

We must focus on love. Too many of us have forgotten. But, when one person remembers, even a little bit, it’s contagious. It reminds someone else.

Earlier this fall, I drove our aging pickup truck to town and the starter went out in a store parking lot. An elderly man noticed me kneeling by the front tire, reaching a screw driver up into the works of the truck, trying to jump the starter solenoid. I could get it to spark, but nothing else. He offered to help and brought a friend who drove his car around to jump the battery at the same time. They worked on my truck for a good while to no avail and then kindly advised I run over to the auto garage across the street and ask for help. A busy mechanic took pity on me, left his full garage and ringing phones and came with me across the street. He also tried for a time and then gave me the free diagnosis: the starter was shot.

Long story short, I called in the home-team Calvary, and the starter got changed right there in the parking lot. I had sat there in my truck and cried for a time, feeling helpless and angry (and all the emotional pregnancy hormones). But people had offered their help, their love. And I immediately felt less alone.

A different time, as the same truck downshifted to slow for the upcoming border crossing, the transmission went out. I pulled the truck to the side of the road in “no-man’s land” – that small stretch of road between the US and Canadian border crossings – and killed, started and re-started the engine, the only thing I knew to do when the transmission wouldn’t engage. I was near tears of frustration again when there was a tap on my window. An officer from the Canadian agency had heard the transmission drop, left his duties and walked the distance out to us. He knew there was nothing to be done with the vehicle and so he asked my young daughter and I to please feel free to wait inside while the tow truck came. For the next forty-five minutes, he turned his office desk and computer into a Netflix viewing cubicle where my daughter introduced him to her favorite cartoon while she colored and ate his snacks. They chattered and laughed and became fast friends as I watched for our rescue vehicle.

Again, unwarranted, a stranger had offered help, love in a time of minor crisis and it made all the difference in our little world.

I left my nice, new smartphone at a restaurant in Warroad once and headed north for The Angle. I had disabled the locking mechanism, and the employee who found it used that fact not to her advantage but to mine. She texted the last person I had texted, asked them to get in touch with me through other means and a day later I had my expensive phone back in hand. Her kindness, her love, saved me an embarrassing amount of money and hassle, and I’m so grateful.

Some time ago, I ran over a softball-sized rock on the pavement in Sprague. I thought nothing of it until I reached the US border crossing. The customs agent noticed my low tire, aired it up for me and then escorted me to the tire-repair shop fifteen+ miles away just so I wouldn’t become stranded on the side of the road. The tire made it all that way but barely. Before I could thank him or even offer a smile for his kindness, he pulled back out into traffic and left.

He had simply helped a stranger; he had loved, and he needed nothing in return.

These are only a few examples of recent times in my life when people have offered love in the form of kindness and help. They had focused on love, likely without even realizing it, and it altered the course of my day, perhaps my life.

Yes, it is easier to feel afraid and angry, but it’s more natural to feel love. When we’re not thinking about ourselves and our stories, love is what naturally comes out of us as human beings. Through loss, through grief, through fear of so many unknowns, love is still there waiting to be used, to be spread, to be offered like the most beautiful gift that it is.

In every crisis, personal or national or global, I can think of no better advice than “focus on love.” It’s our superpower, and it’s time to put it to good use.

(Published in the October 30th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)

This Summer Weekend at The Angle

Here’s what’s kept me busy for the last many weeks.

Press Release: Angle Days to be held August 3-5

Northwest Angle residents again invite neighbors from near and far to attend their summer festival Angle Days, August 3-5.

The Angle is small-town Minnesota at its extreme and because of its location and border-crossing commute, the lifestyle is both unique and challenging. Angle Days is comprised of events that celebrate those facets. Continue reading “This Summer Weekend at The Angle”

As Summer as the Fair

Celebrating Firsts and Lasts in the summer sun at our small-town County Fair

I woke to the roaring whisper of the wind through the treetops. It held me those first few minutes, like a song can hold a memory, and then the rain came. Quietly at first, it was the tuning of an orchestra on my rooftop before it burst into the bold sounds of brass and percussion.

It felt exquisitely “summer” lying awake to the sound of a warm rain. I had long since kicked off the quilt and lay with only the sheet covering my body. The ceiling fan kept the air moving and I shifted to my other side once more, one arm under my head and the other cradling my growing abdomen. Continue reading “As Summer as the Fair”

God’s Perfect Timing

(Published in the July 10th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)

I’m reading the most perfect book for the current events of my life at the moment. It always seems to happen that way.

Timely quote: “You take a giant step toward psychological maturity when you refuse to angrily defend yourself against unjust slander. For one thing, resistance disturbs your own peace of mind.” Continue reading “God’s Perfect Timing”

Letters to the Editor

My previous column, Kindness is Wisdom, published in the June 26th issue of our local newspaper caused “quite a stir,” to quote someone who sent me a scathing email. In my estimation, it was deeply misunderstood and as a result, a few people in the community took it very personally.

I wanted to include here copies of their letters to the editor, both for my own record in this ongoing life saga and because they deserve to be heard. My opinion on what they wrote isn’t important at this point. (Note: the second letter was published in the same issue as my response column.) Continue reading “Letters to the Editor”

Kindness is Wisdom

 

The warm nights and warmer days seem to have everything on a fast track this summer. June is most often cold and rainy, but not this year. Fans are going night and day. Water temperatures are where they usually are in late July. The algae bloom has started in force. One wonders if fall is going to start in mid-August at this rate.

I would much rather tune in to nature’s news station than that of we humans lately. The lack of compassion and kindness evident in our political and business arenas is heart sickening. Continue reading “Kindness is Wisdom”