Friday, March 1, 2013


IN OUR TIMES OF TRANSITION, it is often hard to know where we stand, what to choose. Doubts are part of the journey to firmer ground.  Questioning our beliefs is actually very helpful when living with great uncertainty.  I just watched the movie DOUBT, and Meryl Streep plays a cold, rigid, highly disciplined nun who has no room for compassion, deep listening to others, or forgiveness in her structured world.  Kindness is the last thing in her heart, where so much bitterness dwells that she frightens the children and the other nuns as well.   She trusts no one, and has suspicions that undermine all her relationships.
    Annie Dillard in The Writing Life has such a contrasting philosophy.  "Shoot it. play it, lose it all, right away.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book.  Give it, give it all, give it now...Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.  You open your safe and find ashes."  If faith is an ascension, a climb into beliefs that help us trust life and its underlying goodness, then letting go is a  process of descending, dropping our cherished habits, addictions, opinions to be open to the moment, without preconceived ideas how someone or something should be.  This takes courage to be at peace with not knowing, with letting answers unfold in their own timing.  It doesn't mean we don't care, but it means a surrendering to a deeper knowing than what our experience  or our beliefs tell us. 
    The image above for me is inviting, honoring the calm ocean,  the rocky yet lovely shoreline, the feather, a symbol of faith in things unseen as the sun is setting.  Each night is a time to enter the Darkness, to rest, let go, and retreat.  Each morning is a chance to let our lives count again, one more day, one precious day, even if things don't go as we'd hoped or wanted.
   Today I assemble a small gift package for a 97 year old friend who is blind.  It includes a jar of split pea soup mix, a dainty cup and saucer she may enjoy, a brightly colored spring-time placemat, placed in a small lavender gift bag from Goodwill. I called her daughter, and she advised no music, no flowery hairpin, nothing requiring much vision---things I enjoy, but would not be appropriate for Hilda.  To make a good decision involving someone else, we may need to consult someone who knows the person's interests better than we might.  It feels good to give Hilda a gift, not hoarding things she may enjoy, but I don't need now.
    Sometimes we reach out with words, or prayer, a phone call or an email.  And it's fun to send a gift too, especially when her neighbor is in town here, and can deliver it to her door.  Old-fashioned ways of saying "I care, I love you" are still important in our fast-paced world where the elderly who can no longer dial a phone would welcome feeling connected.  When we give from our heart, it feels good for both giver and receiver!

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