Tag Archives: Prayer

Good Gifts #2

thumbnail_IMG_0767thumbnail_IMG_0769

It would be nice if the grief journey were over, wouldn’t it?  Sadly, this is not the case.  In many ways, it is just getting going.  We all survived the Easter holiday but it was not the same without our Radish.  MCVWasHere and I managed to grill a butterflied leg of lamb, thereby making our mother proud from her heavenly perch.  I am pretty sure we screwed it up but it was tasty nonetheless.  Severe holiday let down set in on Monday  with family returning to The Other Coast.   After the shock has worn off, the active MISSING phase begins ninety days in.  Man, would Grandmere have delighted in the peas, carrots, and Easter Egg hunt …

Perhaps to prep me for this, a galaxy of friends sent me a gift every day.  EVERY DAY OF HOLY WEEK I RECEIVED A GIFT.  Surprise!  It was not Christmas but it sure felt like it.  And to think that this was not coordinated by friends, only two of whom know each other.

On Monday, a box arrived with four wrapped gifts and a note from one of my DF Chicks, MLD, a needlepointing and reading maven.  She was also my Heart Surgery Coach.  Thinking I would need these gifts later, I hoarded them for Sunday.  I confess to feeling through the paper – they felt like books.

On Tuesday, a flat package arrived from Martita, another DF Chick, and Thing 3’s godmother.  This I ripped open, thinking it was an Easter card.  Instead, it was gorgeous watercolor painting of a bunch of radishes, an article on them, and a long lovely letter of a personal nature on what grief for one’s mother looks like after twenty years.  I never met Martita’s mother but I still quote her:  “If they [gossips] are talking about you, that means they are giving some other poor soul a rest.” Although Martita and MLD are good friends, I do not think these gifts were a coordinated effort.  My sister MCVWasHere also gave me a Glassybaby, a pink “goodness” votive for my burgeoning Radish altar.  This was not actually a gift – it was for winning a round of the High Stakes License Plate Game – but since I’d forgotten about it, it still counts!

When Wednesday rolled around, I opened a package from Amazon, thinking Mr. Understanding had ordered yet another guitar instruction video.  But lo and behold, it was another book, this one a gift from Ms. Broccoli.  Called Designing Your Life – How to Build a Well-Loved, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, it is a Stanford University design class on how to create a life you actually enjoy living, the perfect gift for a family in flux.  Think “encore career”, or for me, middle aged starter career.

After three amazing gifts in three consecutive days, it dawned on me that the Universe was sending me a big fat message of LOVE.

But wait!  There’s more!  It’s almost embarrassing.  Almost.  I am just trying to make a point here.  Wait for it.

On Thursday, MCV handed me and my father each a gift from her college friend, Michelle.  This one makes me cry when writing about it – a beautiful compilation of Sally’s musings, photos, and recipes from her blog CookSallyCook.com.  Curated and organized with a table of contents, I was awestruck  by this gift.  Michelle and Sally had bonded over the ancient grain einkorn.   Who knew???  An heirloom, both the grain and the book.  Earlier in the day a Jackson & Perkins bulb garden arrived from Dr. Skin.  Bloom where you are planted.

Moving on to Good Friday:  a hand knitted, lacy, rainbow pastel prayer shawl from MoodRingMomma.  I do not know how my sister had the mental band width to create such an intricate gift.  I had been using a prayer shawl of Sally’s given to her by the women of the church.  It was toasty warm but I confess to finding the colors not to my liking, even thoughI did get in the habit of putting it on.  Another heart wrenching heirloom, imbued with tears.

On Saturday, MCV gave me a blue Glassybaby cocktail drinker (“splash”), another premio for winning a second round of The High Stakes License Plate game.  My in-laws sent a bento box tower of nuts, which I put in Mr. Understanding’s Easter Basket.  Mine, as you can see, was full.

On Easter Sunday, MCV returned to my Children’s Bible Stories,  given to me and inscribed by my Grandmarie on Easter, 1971.  She also gave me Anne Lamott’s latest and greatest book Hallelujah Anyway.

On Monday, feeling bereft (which is just pitiful), I opened all of MLD’s gifts:  semi-cerebral brain candy* and a Mexican angel ornament that doubles as a nativity scene which went directly to the makeshift altar.   In the middle of my pity party, I took a nap and while I was dozing, the postman delivered a box of gifts from KT:  a key chain with Phillippians 4:4 on it (REJOICE!), a new CD by Olivia Newton John and friends called Liv On,  some paper goods from Magnolia,  and a favorite hymn printed on pink paper.  I actually knew the words.

I still cannot believe it.  Can you?

And then today:  a signed contract for the sale of our house in Ohio.  Cranky me, it seemed like another loss, the closing of yet another chapter.  Punto final.  Until Thing 2 said to me, “What if it’s an Easter gift?”  Indeed.  He did not know about all of the other ones …

So what do you think the cosmic message is, sent by a phalanx of Easter angels?  Here is my best guess:  READ.  FEED YOUR SOUL.  High brow, low brow, non-fiction, fiction, the Bible in adult and children’s versions.  Go to the beach and design your life.  Plant seeds.  Eat ancient grains and nuts.  Drink a cocktail out of a handcrafted colored glass and savor it.  Light a candle.  Say a prayer for your friends and for the world; wear an heirloom made with love while you do it.  SING!  OUT LOUD!    Frame all those extraordinary radishes and hang them where you can see them every day.  Have mercy on dear Anne Lamott and make your peace with her she’d meet you at the beach and chat with you about Jesus.  Miss your mother fiercely but remember she is in The Best Place, hanging out with the Mother of all Mothers, REJOICING.  She sent a cadre of love language speaking friends and family to remind you of the power of Resurrection, the unlikely gift of an empty tomb.

***********************************************

*MLD’s book choices to lighten the heart of the Expat Princess:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen

5 Comments

Filed under Family, Fine Dining, Friends, Life, People, Princessdom, Religion

Words to Live By – A Meditation

Sometimes when a phrase or word pops up in different situations in quick succession in my life, it is a sign  I need to pay attention to those words.  The word(s) for me recently, this week  especially, were “my story”.   I am a lover of the word and the Word.  Life to me is one giant puzzle and words help me fit everything together.  Today’s blog post will add a few jagged pieces to the outskirts of my jigsaw, just inside the straight edges of the border, about an inch in.

A few weeks ago, Texas Belle, in an effort to motivate me, told me about an acquaintance of hers, Joni Marra,  who is director of community relations of Common Ground in Cleveland,  Ohio, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conscious living.  When I checked her out, she had a blog post called One Word, in which she discusses selecting a word for the year to meditate on, the idea of which came from a book, published in 1999, called One Word That Will Change Your Life.  This sounded all too familiar. 

For the past 5 (?) years, my mother (a.k.a. The Radish) has encouraged our family to pick a word for the year.   She has even roped in my in-laws.  I cannot tell you what my words have been in past years, mainly because a) I thought it was a bunch of BS and I wanted to placate my mother and b) by February the word was still hanging around on a primeval level but by March, it was a thing of the past.  Last year, I think my word was GRATITUDE as I was turning 50 and I was GRATEFUL.  But I honestly can’t swear by it.   It was the theme of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, however, so it must have stuck by September. 

I did a little research this morning on the one word subject and it turns out my mother got the concept from a dynamo called Ali Edwards, not the above cited book.   Ali Edwards has a memory making blog that, quite frankly, scared me to death due to its extreme professionalism.  A younger, sexier, more focused Martha Stewart,  Ali has been doing this word practice since 2007 and has even trademarked a section of her blog called One Little Word.  (I don’t know how to put the trademark thingy in there or I would).  I do not know if Ali has ever read the above referenced book – I was only skimming her posts, visually stunned by her incredible production.  In any case, Ali is a  creative  tour de force, who inspires and encourages her readers to write/create/memorialize  their story as she documents her own.  She lives in Eugene, Oregon.  QUACK.

This year I decided I needed TWO words:  QUIET and PURGE.

2014 was, quite frankly, a blur for me.  Thing 2 graduated from high school and went off to college.  I spent a summer on ride-alongs with Things 1 & 3 as they learned to drive.  I trained for a pilgrimage with Mr. Understanding and then went on said pilgrimage in Spain and France.   I cleaned out a house, sold it, and moved it.  In the meantime, I made everyone happy.*  Hence, the need for the word QUIET. 

Part of being quiet this year is reading  and going to yoga.  As I don’t think I am actually going to have a quiet year, I need to be quiet on the inside.  Both activities calm my brain.  I have not had time, until this last week, to actually think about the pilgrimage I took in the fall, a fact that seems rather obscene to me, but I need quiet in which to do this and that has been in short supply.    

One of the books I have been reading lately is called, simply enough, Prayer, by Timothy Keller.   One of the methods he advocates is mediating on the Word or even breaking it down into each individual word.   Strangely, I had already been doing this for the word purge.  In Greek, purge is kathairo (to cleanse, to prune) or katharos (clean, clear, pure).  The name Katherine means pure.  Think catharsis.  

PURGE.  You would think that I would have done this already if you are reading carefully.  I did a lot of it in 2014, even though it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t my word.  All that purging actually made me want to vomit – a double purge, as it were – at all the waste and stuff.    As I am still surrounded by stuff/crap that I need to unload, the word needs to be at the forefront of my thinking.   

You are going to think I am in left field with this one but stay with me. Let me introduce a little bit of American culture, the guilty pleasure of bad-for-you TV, in the form of the show The Batchelor.  Having lived overseas so long, I am not in the habit  of watching anything on TV, except for news and the occasional sitcom.  But my children got me hooked.  On Monday of this week, one of the contestants, “Kelsey” talked about “her story” of being widowed.  One would think this would generate empathy.  But no, it just made me want to gag.  Storytelling as manipulation in its most tragic and transparent form!   

And then I went to relaxation yoga last night in the middle of a snow storm.  My favorite yoga instructor, whose voice coats the brain like honey, had us meditate on the stories we tell ourselves.  I laughed to myself, vis a vis Kelsey, “What story have I told myself lately that was false? Tragic? Spun in my own brain?”

What I came up with was the story of my blisters on the Camino.  After the first day of the Camino, my walking companion and dear friend Maria, acquired a blister on her big left toe.  I had none.  I chortled to myself and pride entered in.  Long story short, she only got the one and I suffered numerous.  The story I told myself was that God was laughing at me for being prideful.  Was perhaps the real story, though, that I was just a dumbass and thought my fancy REI moisture-wicking socks would do the trick? That I did not put on enough Vaseline? Perhaps a lot of both  – lessons learned.  (Now that I have coughed up that little nugget of self-condemnation, I am letting it go.) 

As I said good-bye to the yoga instructor, who is traveling to Seattle tomorrow for a healing workshop, I gave her the website info for Glassybaby and told her to check out their new store at SEATAC.  She responded that she loves the Pacific Northwest – she had gone to school there.   QUACK!  Just like that, two stories intersected and two random little bits just clicked into place. I can’t wait to see what fits in next!  

Q:  What stories are you telling about yourself or someone else that you need to eliminate?  What would your word be for the year?  It’s only February – you can pick one (or two!).

*Just kidding.

4 Comments

Filed under Life