In the Checkout Line

People waiting in line with shopping baskets at grocery store

My greatest learning of the week came simply; they usually do.

I went to Aldi simply to buy kale and tomato sauce and get back home quickly, so I could make meat sauce before going to work.

And in front of me in the checkout line was a man with down syndrome.

He smiled and waved.  He asked me my name and he introduced himself.  He asked if I wanted a hug or a fist-bump.

The simplicity of this encounter has lingered with me all week.  It was sweet, and it marked me.

This man exposed my desire for efficiency, so that I ignore the stranger around me.

He exposed my guarded-ness of the stranger, and my desire just to keep to myself.

A simple smile helped to break down my walls.

And this came from someone who came to Aldi with a care-giver.  He doesn’t have credentials or titles that the world considers fulfilling.

But he lives his life with the simple belief that a once-stranger can quickly become a friend.

As I was leaving, he giggled and said, “I made a new friend.”

I don’t think that it’s ironic that children and a man with disabilities has made me ponder how I think about friendship this week. They naturally cross barriers they don’t even know are there.  They do not worry about their reputation being tarnished.

And they’ve reminded me, that neither should I.

Rainy Day People-Watching

I love days where I have enough margin, that I can be quiet and observe.  I find myself smiling and laughing, remembering that life is full of abundance: laughter and tears and toddler temper tantrums.

Today I sat on a comfy recliner in the children’s section of Glendale library.  I watched a 3 year old boy, in his boredom, pull his shirt up and say, “Look at me, Mom!” She responded in a loud voice, “Pull your shirt down!”

I observed a “black male stereotype” get broken by watching a young African-American father read four children’s books to his two year old daughter.  I watched him smile as she ran back to the shelves, wanting to pick out more books.

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I smiled as two boys: one black and one white shared a computer chair and engaged in dialogue, “You can come over here and share a seat with me.”

I listened to a young girl sing the ABC’s proudly, while the boy who pulled his shirt up, started singing with her from across the library.

Kids reach out without judgment.  They do not register being self-conscious or wonder how others will think of them.  They just want to play; they just want a friend.  Oh, how we as adults need to return to this childlike simplicity!

What if our adult yearning for friendship was acknowledged and the simple question was asked: Would you like to be my friend?

Little Ways of Summer’s Fortune

Last week, I quoted William Stafford’s poem and the more I read it, the more it continues to resonate with me.

“Wisdom is having the right things in your life and knowing why.”

As I’ve considered my summer, in some ways it feels like a big blur.  There have been many griefs: my grandmother dying a few weeks ago, moving an extra time, the exhaustion and wear and tear on my body.

Alongside these griefs, there are little ways of fortune.  Wisdom tends to exist at every corner, especially on a winding road, the journey too big to grasp.  I’m learning too that wisdom often exists in the tears.

“Wisdom is having the right things in your life and knowing why.”

I have helpful, loyal friendships.  The abundance of summer for me has meant seeing and believing the richness in life lies in the people around me.  I’ve had people helping me pack, move, pack again, and bring me food in the midst of the craziness.  I’ve also just gotten coffee because I needed to get out of the house or ask a friend if I could borrow an ice cream maker.

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“Wisdom is having the right things in your life and knowing why.”

I have a sister who is a friend, and we can enjoy a beautiful museum after my grandma’s funeral, because we both knew that we needed to gaze into beauty for awhile, rather than just get up and drive home.

I have parents who let me make the best decisions for me regarding my health and what I can handle in the midst of moves and my grandma’s passing.

“Wisdom is having the right things in your life and knowing why.”

I trust my intuition more strongly.  I knew I needed to get of the house with mold.  I knew my body was getting sick.  It meant lost money and frustration, yet the desire to breathe in clean air won the day.

I have stayed working at an organization where I can personally learn and grow and also increase my workload.  I’m looking forward to celebrating my body’s resiliency this fall.  I’ve taken a drastic pay cut from previous jobs and yet this work environment is what I need, and it’s making me a more patient, loving person.

“Wisdom is having the right things in your life and knowing why.”

I keep meeting with a spiritual director, which helps to center me, to locate the Lord’s gentle voice even in my chaotic inner world.

I allow myself to cry and grieve illness & death, and the many ways in which “this is not the way it’s supposed to be.”

I watch the Olympics because I love to, and reacquaint myself with my kitchen as I make yummy soups.

What wisdom are you gleaning from the right things in your life? 

 

Poetry for Your Monday

So, life has been a little crazy.  Between my last post and now, Chels and I have moved again (not because I wanted to, but environmental issues in the house were making me really sick)!  So, we found an apartment quickly and moved in last Monday.

It’s been a whirlwind and I’m exhausted.  Yet, in the course of this crazy week, I still have managed to:

  • Walk on the Fall Creek Greenway close to the apartment.  There are beautiful homes on small lakes and best of all, it’s quiet. (Rabbits like it too!)
  • Venture into Half Price books and buy some poetry.
  • Visit the Harrison Center and admire Jed Dorsey’s artwork.
  • Play with Chels’ new dog Cash.
  • Sit in a local coffee shop and read, while listening to old men talk about the election.
  • Explore a new farmer’s market and decide that I like the Broad Ripple market better.
  • Fall asleep watching the Olympics.

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Slowly, my longed-for rhythms are returning, which are little reminders of the abundance that is mine.

While my life just seems like transition after transition, William Stafford has helped me slow down and see that wisdom can even be in the chaos.

 

The Little Ways That Encourage Good Fortune

Wisdom is having things right in your life

and knowing why.

If you do not have things right in your life

you will be overwhelmed:

you may be heroic, but you will not be wise.

If you have things right in your life

but do not know why,

you are just lucky, and you will not move

in the little ways that encourage good fortune.

 

The saddest are those not right in their lives

who are acting to make things right for others:

they act only from the self–

and that self will never be right:

no luck, no help, no wisdom.