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)

It Can Be Fall Now

We put our tired bodies to bed slowly, almost gingerly after the busy Angle Days weekend. “I’m so glad it’s over,” I sighed, almost falling onto the mattress.

“Yes,” he agreed. “It can be fall now.”

I went to sleep with those words on my every nerve ending that night, dreaming of cooler winds and peaceful transitions. Continue reading “It Can Be Fall Now”

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”

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”

On Rabbit Holes and Doing Hard Things

Dreams and memories have been hitting me with a rushing force lately. Wounded animals, babies, difficult physical feats like mountain climbing and surviving barrages of gun fire. I wake with every sleep cycle, adjust my pillow and press-on, back into my dark world of wonder.

But every few weeks something calls me up and out of bed, and I’ll wander the house until I realize the moon is full and my eyes needed to rest in it, my shoulders needed to square-off with it, the soul batteries needed its quiet recharge. That is all. I’m usually free to then return to sleep, but other times I sit down to my journal and a cup of tea no matter the sleeping house.

Soon when it calls, it’ll be warm enough to step outside in my robe, put bare feet on the ground in those small hours and breathe deeply for a few minutes. God is in those breaths. God is in that grounding. God was the call that brought me up and out to gaze in wonder at my minuteness.

I’ve been making my life awfully hard lately, the moon tells me.

A memory from over twenty-five years ago returned with clarity and force last week. Someone once of great importance to me asked what I truly wanted out of life. I had reached that baffling teenage place where happiness had long-since become a mystery and the typical youthful distractions and pleasures suddenly seemed shallow and pointless. Many of us resist this knowing and push headlong into a life that celebrates those and only those pursuits, but I choose to tumble into the question, the discomfort, the not knowing.

“I just want to be satisfied,” I had answered in all my teenage wisdom and angst. “I just want to be satisfied.”

What one does to chase an ill-defined concept like life-satisfaction can be akin to following the rabbit hole. For certain I spent my fair amount of time chasing pleasure pursuits, but I always returned to the philosophical search. Now, it seems, I never leave it. It is my current rabbit hole. Most of my questions remain. Most of my dissatisfaction boils over. Still I press on, now with an urgency that only raising a child can bring. I feel this desperate urgency to shape up my life and Self so as not to pass my angst and dissatisfaction on to her.

It is exhausting.

Most of it is probably pointless.

The moon gently winks at me, as if I’ve stumbled upon some fresh wisdom in that exhaustion.

I stopped drinking water after dinner, which has helped with the poor sleep I whined about last column, but I did not cut out sugar and carbs completely.

I did not do what I said I was going to do. I do not have glory to report.

I make life harder or easier with every choice I make, and my mom’s chocolate chip blonde brownies make me pause completely in their decadent earthly pleasure.

Still, I’ll press-on. Finding something that works for me is my specialty. This place, this Angle works for me. This relationship, this love with this man works for me. This proximity to parents and all that comes with it works for me.

But a lot of other pieces of life are not working for me. And I squirrel about putting my focus on whichever one feels the most painful at the moment. Rarely do I set goals. Rarely do I make a plan. And then, uncomfortable dreams and distant memories have to be enlisted to bring me back into focus. Wisdom whorls its way into my life like the life-marks that decorate an ancient tree. Oh, that I would listen to the trees.

The sun rises and whites out the moon. The birds sing me into distraction from 4:30 on. The never-ending responsibilities of home and child call. Resort spring cleaning begins. Other duties crop up as they tend to do: the park, the county and school board meetings coming to The Angle, graduation, the coming summer events, and of course the call to write is never not present.

Now I also have a new and more pressing focus, which I’ll write about in the coming weeks.

It never ends.

Until it does.

So, I guess I choose the rabbit hole. I choose the endless chase. I choose the hard things because there is where I will grow. I choose the dissatisfaction the spurs me to act until I find what works for me. I choose God in the quiet moon and whatever She can teach me. Everyday I choose.

And as the wisest woman once said, “Sweetheart, you can’t do it wrong.”

 

God is Not Other

My resistance to an external, male-imaged God is ultimately what led me back to God, back to the divine Mother Father God within.

Last fall, before the snow flew and the days were still warm enough to wear only a light jacket, I was out washing windows on our new rental home with one of those long-handled squeegee tools. I’d already cleaned the inside of the glass, but I’d wager it was nearing on a decade since anyone had tackled the outside chore. One afternoon that cloudy view, that nary a fisherman would notice, had suddenly become very visible to me. I couldn’t spend another day, let alone a whole frozen winter, staring out through a hazy lense at our beautiful woods, the visiting deer or the full moon’s path across our own private sky. Continue reading “God is Not Other”

The Roughing-Up of Fall

The pelicans are long gone. The caterpillars are crossing the roads, and the snakes, when it’s sunny, are sunning. The Northern flickers are caucusing and the ravens are ever talkative, chortling every chance they get at their fair-weathered friends who fly south for the winter.

Even in these fall winds and crazy rains everything feels, well, right as rain…even as we move the mortally wounded snakes to perish somewhat peacefully in the grass, and shoo the uninitiated babies back to the sidelines of the gravel roads. Nature so gently and unassumingly reminds me that everything is as it should be, always.

Then I read the news. Continue reading “The Roughing-Up of Fall”