About Loud Dishwashers and Quiet Strength

handsigns_K“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence.” Leonardo da Vinci

 

Well now, I hope that da Vinci is right, because the world around me seems to believe and behave otherwise. If I had time this morning, I would figure out what the sound level of my dishwasher is right now. At the moment, my house is silent other than

1: the dishwasher – a noisy one. Very noisy.

2: my dog Paul and the clinking of his dog tag on my feet. and

3: the pleasant chatter of NPR news which I’ve got at a low-level to keep me company and on task.

I’m pretty sure that I can also hear our dog Lennon chomping on some breakfast as well.

Probably this sound mix seems relaxing to some, boring, or maybe annoying as crap to others. My youngest son LOVES noise – he makes a lot of it, and feels anxious if he’s not surrounded by a clashing mix of various people and media streams. Oh, I think that most of us like the IDEA of silence – and maybe even envy those of us who are quiet and highly sensitive souls. I’ll let you research the statistics yourself, and they certainly are out there. Our world is getting louder. Commercials, radios, classrooms, churches, grocery stores. You name it. All of the day to day places we go to have been proven (in first world type of settings) to be really, really loud anymore. So with that in mind, indulge me as I start sharing some tough crap I’m up against of late.

I can’t be the authority of everything I want to control and change – and I can’t perfectly manage my sound environment – after all, I’m not cloistered and I’ve not yet taken a vow of silence. But I LOVE what Da Vinci says, and I want to switch his quote up to something more personal:

“Nothing can, nor has ever strengthened my authority better than silence.”

And, on the flip side – lore has it that the reason VanGogh cut his ear off is not because he1959461_10153074983048810_36322649183088841_n was insane, it was because he had tinnitus – sound that is not sound. It’s fake noise that is created by the brain of someone who is hard of hearing or deaf. It can be related to a lot of things – injury, stress, a reaction to environmental sound, tight jaw muscles, and from what I can tell – it always involves an out of the norm auditory system or event.

I still don’t know why it is true, but I found out a year ago that my hearing status, for now in one ear, is permanently out of the normal range. That may not sound (pun intended) like a big deal, but it really is. It’s a very big deal for me. What I’m up against isn’t as clear as the typical getting older and starting to hear less clearly.

Strangely enough, it is the symptoms that come with what ever is going on in my auditory system that is, I have to say, kind of maddening at times. And what I have going on isn’t even in the ball park of what many hard of hearing and Deaf folks go through. Thankfully, this isn’t my first unexpected life rodeo ride, so for the most part, it’s not too hard to take in stride. world has ended many times I read this morning that one way to deal with tangled feelings from our past is to accept our limitations as deeply and quickly as we can when these limitations become clear. I agree for the most part – I’m a fan of facing the truth, even when it sucks.

So, in a few weeks if at my 6 month hearing test the truth is that my hearing status is the same mild and mysterious scenario, my body is still going to keep telling me: things just are not right. If the ENT is dismissive and says again, “we don’t know what’s going on, there is nothing we can do yet, come back in another six months,” how should I respond?

The discomfort of constant ear pressure and the annoyance of mild tinnitus that I deal with 24/7, again, is nothing compared to many others. I am getting to know a lot of great people who have profoundly difficult symptoms such as frequent vertigo or severe tinnitus. Many of them can’t work, and many of them work anyway…how, I’m not yet sure.

I do know this:

I adore American Sign Language (ASL). It’s not just fun (which it is), it’s not just cute (which it can be) it IS – well, it is indescribably in written word. Because it’s not – it’s not English, and it isn’t written. It is something that we DO and SEE.

It is the BEST language ever, and I would say the same if my hearing was top notch. It conveys feeling, thought, time, time, space, story, history, and details in a way that no other language will ever be able to do.

So, “God willing, if the creek don’t flood,” hopefully between now and mid-April,  I will have the courage to face this ongoing physical limitation by allowing myself to reflect on these difficult questions and not feel ashamed of the resulting fears and anxieties that are about as normal as normal can be.

I’m out of time and brain juice to figure out a way to transition what I’m saying to a recommendation to read these two articles from a friend – so I’ll just add them as a Post Script here. They are all about the topic of this blog: grace.

Take care, and be warm, Kate

10429303_10153075073858810_8420602525960782671_nStaying open to Grace: http://wp.me/p3gSTz-T2

When ‘Happily Ever After’ Meets Life’s Hardships: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/when-happily-ever-after-meets-lifes-hardships/

A Super Duper Beautiful poem: http://youtu.be/9GdawG7CBNo

 

 

 

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God’s Love is Stronger than the Winter You Were Frightened Of

popeILY“My love is stronger than the winter you were frightened of.”

~ Lucy Wainwright Roche

I had a quite intense religious experience last week. It really came out of the blue.

Like most of us who are dealing with snow storms in the United States, the past couple of weeks have not been ones of convenience. Our oldest son moved to our town and he fell in love right away with a very sweet gal. Both of those happenings have been grand! Our other adult son decided to go to college in the town where we live. This decision of his has been superb for me!

But, that means that when fourteen additional inches of snow falls upon snow that was already on the road, last week I was worrying about four adults besides myself driving safely to work and school. Even more worrisome was that my oldest son was needing to move while sick, without missing work, while the storm was happening.

It all worked out thankfully other than a nick on his new dining room table.

So, then on Monday, we all had a snow day and I wasn’t feeling well, but our youngest son was able to live the life of a kid and had a great time in the snow. This is good.

I wouldn’t say that prior to this storm I was feeling depressed, but I’ll admit that I was in a slump for much of January.

It was more like a winter blues state of affairs and I’m not sure why.

14 inches

 

But, this is where the religious experience comes in – I’m not sure how to put it into words other than that my slump is no longer. Bare with me as I try to describe what happened, I think it was last Tuesday evening.

 

I have a very dear friend who lives in Chicago, which is only a couple of hours drive away from here. I’ve not seen her in, as Billy Joel would say, the longest time. A week or so ago she wrote a beautiful blog post as a guest writer on a theology blog. What she said, in essence, is that for what it’s worth, darkness can be a place of learning. That, if we let our long nights become a place of reflection, the Holy Spirit swoops right in and manages to turn our worry and despair and wondering into the most lovely surprises that we could never imagine ourselves.

And, I’m not sure if this was part of what she was saying in her article, but what she said made me think about how guilt can really mess with this whole magical system.

In the Catholic Church, before we receive communion we say a prayer that goes:

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof

but,

only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

I’m guessing that when Pope Benedict changed this prayer from a previous one he was talking about a communion wafer hitting the roof of my mouth, but it’s not how I imagine things when I say those words out loud.

I imagine being surprised by a friend stopping by my house on a whim. The sink is full, my homework is far from done, my hair looks more like a bird’s nest than usual. And out of the total blue, there she is – a cherished friend, perhaps in high heels with a camera in tow, looking for a quick chat and a long hug. And since it’s communion we’re talking about here, of course Jesus is in the picture as well. I either imagine him being there at the door as well, or having taught that cherished visitor to stop by and lift a burden.

Now, back to my theologian friend. I’ve known her since she was born. I have the distinguished honor of being her first babysitter beyond her grandmothers. I must say she was not the easiest baby to care for because she did a bit of fretting. She couldn’t wait for her parents to return and I had to come up with a good balance of fun and quiet and soft singing to get her down for a nap.

She really loved silence.

As an adult she and her husband have been waiting a very long time to make themselves a family of three.

Now, if you will, go back to my story about our latest snow storm. It was big enough to shut Chicago down, which puts in a really, really big snow storm category. Our town gets pretty much the same weather as Chi, but less windy. So – on an evening mid-week after the storm and moving our son, and digging out to get back to work and school I needed a pick me up. I decided to work on a project that I felt like I had failed. I had plans to make several sets of painted nativity Holy Family people to give away for Christmas, but things got busy and I only made a few. What the heck I say to myself, I’ll work on them as an Easter project. So I sit down in the dark, at the kitchen table and start painting.wise people2

 If you have ever had a family or a dog (we have two),

please imagine how many times I may have been interrupted or distracted while simply trying to decide between pink or paisley paint colors.

I found myself just ignoring the excitement and praying though – it wasn’t even on purpose. As I started to coat a couple of little Magi, a little bit of burden fell off and I started asking God for a bit of help. And I said sorry, I’m not sure about what. Maybe it was about Christmas not being what it could have been in our house, maybe it was because the laundry wasn’t done, probably it was related to having missed going to Mass for a couple of weeks.

Then my cell phone rings.

It was a college friend and she said: “Get on Facebook – go now.There is something you need to see.”

And it was one of the most beautiful baby photos that I will ever, ever, ever see in my whole life.

Our friend who had been waiting six years to bring a baby home, had welcomed him into the world at last. And his skin is the exact color of beautiful that I was painting – out of guilt and life stress, at my kitchen table.

Lucy Wainwright, the musician, is right on target with her beautiful lyrics. My love for this little person, who I knew would come into my life some day, is stronger than any winter that her mom could be frightened of.

This makes me happy.

Attendance Please is Going to Change….

Dear Subscribed Attendance Please readers,

Good morning!

20131014-062918.jpg

I know that there is just a handful of subscribed readers for my blog, but I wanted to say, first of all

Thanks.

This blog hobby was a wonderful companion after I moved and I appreciate that there are those who were willing to not only put up with, but support my ramblings and rants by way of subscribing to my posts by email.

I want to let you in on some thinking that I’m doing right now and am requesting your input.

Some time in the next few months I am either going to start a new blog and attach it to a website, or….

I’m going to transition this one into a slightly different focus than when I began.

Originally I named the Blog “Attendance Please” based on the idea that to experience God’s grace, we need to pay attention to where it is going on in our life. I wanted it to not only be ecumenical, but not particularly religious unless I was in the mood to write about religion. When I look at my posts I can see proof of the many ways that I drive my family insane some days. They are all over the place and the topics often don’t connect at all. Sometimes I will read an old post and have NO idea what was going that I went on that tangent and wonder why anyone would have interest in trying to follow my thinking if even I am not keeping it straight.

As my friend Betty used to say: “Make not no matter.”

The point has been, thus far, to force myself to reflect and to jot down some of my thoughts in opinions in hopes that others will take a minute to slow down, put our thinking caps and take collective big, deep breath.

Soon though, I am going to transition what I’ve started here to a more specific topic. If that doesn’t make sense or isn’t working – I might just start from scratch.

I would like to focus what I write specifically to something that is about communication between the hearing world and that of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing world. I want to make it interesting and generalized – and really, pretty much the same as this one which is about paying attention. I want it to include information and examples of where and why tensions exist between the hearing and deaf world. And – I want to share with you how everything that I’ve been trying to say here about being reflective and attentive already exists in spades in the world of those who happened to also be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I am very lucky to have started my studies in Sign Language Interpreting with Deaf Culture classes. Before I even began American Sign Language 1 this fall, my mind was blasted wide open last Spring by learning the history of oppression toward the deaf. This oppression continues to be wide-spread and I couldn’t be more surprised.

So, please do let me know if there are any opinions out there about what type of blog and/or website would be of interest to you.

I am particularly interested in feed back from hearing people because you are the audience that I don’t want to lose.

I am confident that I can build and wonderfully large and supportive following from the ASL and deaf world – it’s the choir preaching to me and I couldn’t feel more at home amongst my new friends. But, what I want to come of it, even if it turns out that I only have time for a blog post here and there…what I want to come of either transitioning Attendance Please or starting a new project, is an appreciation on the part of the hearing world that Deaf culture is wonderful and rich. The deaf and hard of hearing are worthy of our attention as a hearing majority and as I have already said, I couldn’t be more shocked that prejudice and oppression continues toward those who have hearing loss. I’m aware that these days, most of the time the offenses are based on ignorance, but I kind of thought that we had evolved a bit since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act a few short years ago.

So – that’s what I’m up to and again, I’m very interested in input on if you think that:

1: This blog has potential to just be tweaked into a hearing + deaf world conversation that encourages and exemplifies the benefits of being reflective.

Or.

2: A fresh start would be just the ticket.

Thanks again for your support – don’t go away please!

peace, Kate

“Okay” Can Be a Comforting Prayer

BPyUYW1CIAA-IFqIn part of a passage I posted the other day by Anne Lamott she said that

“okay”

is one of the four great prayers.

o TN_handsigns_O

I wonder what the other three are?

I’d bet they are one worded – perhaps thanks. Amen would be kind of obvious. What about yes? or Hallelujah, or yipee or yahoo or agreed? That’s what amen means in terms of word roots I think. I’m fairly sure it just means “Yup, I think the same thing as you my old pal God the greatest.”

About a month ago my prayers were not close to being quite that amiable. “Greatest” is still not the first thing that pops in mind with how I am feeling about the heavenly host, but I’m starting to ease up on my internal sky rant which started out pretty much like this:

Are you *%@+&ing kidding me? What happened to that giant life plan that you and I mapped out and you were so generously CLEAR with your instructions about what you want me to do with my life? The hints you left were not random on this one. It wasn’t like the time I thought I could somehow make a career out of folding origami cranes and little paper frogs. That wasn’t very practical was it now? Did I try to figure out if that’s what you want. Well YES SIREE I did! I prayed, I journaled. I reflected. I went to mass and made the sons come along as well. I even started reading Anne Lamott books. I may not have gotten to my goal of making a thousand paper cranes, but I got good at that craft and hosted a couple of really fun workshops for kids and showed those little kidlets a good time. Did I whine and moan when I figured out that the want ads had nothing that said: “intensely reflective and fairly forgetful paper folder wanted to fold cute little animals out of beautiful asian paper squares” ? NO MA’AM! I kept on truckin’ and started out working on Masters degree #2 because the first one was not in big demand in the countryside where we were living. Was I bummed when it stopped working out for me to continue in that program. Well sure. It was really interesting and the career demand was going to be huge. And did I stop trying to figure out what you want? Hell’s bells no I didn’t. I dug up all of the Thomas Merton books that we own and got friendly with him again. And I found another hobby as instructed and spent hours and hours building that outdoor porch train track. Giving up that corner of our house that became my little prayer space was pretty damn hard to leave, but I did, DID I NOT? Our buddy Merton says keep reflecting not matter where and no matter what so when I discovered how ridiculously large the Mississippi river is compared to my serene corner on the great Ohio, THAT’S WHAT I DID DUDE! REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECTED MY *#%…..

There’s more, but I’ll spare you the details. Consider that a prelude.handsigns_K

By the way, I know that I used both “he” and “she” words for God. I’m one of those people who feel like God is so big that gender kind of limits the whole point of divinity. And I get irked at continued references that imply that our collective imagination stopped at the image of a white guy with a big old beard being in charge of the universe. That’s kind of boring I think. And none of my grandfather’s look like that anyway. One was a motorcycle cop and the other a journalist with big thick eye glasses.

Anyway.

My dear friend sent me a beautiful gift after I called her to tell her what was upsetting me so greatly. Wait, no, She is the one that had called me first. I had sent a rapid fire set of text messages saying “ahhhhhhhhh” and “eeeeeeeeeeeeek” and “yowwwwwwwwww”! She knows me well and called and said “I’m calling to talk about the weather and want to know what you are making me for dinner.” So we had a great and funny conversation that was mostly a “not talking talk” about what I was upset about, but at the same time she got a basic run down on the scene.

Shortly after, a gift that she had promised came in the mail. I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon! The card that she sent with it had a cute front that talked about how God’s world is full of all that is good. On the inside though, the little bear was shaking her hands at the sky and saying “give me a *xyz#%ing break!”

So all of this to say is this….

yeah. I agree with Anne.

It took me a month or so, but the best prayer I can burp out at this point is “okay.”

And once I said okay, my load started to lighten. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry, but this particular situation is not one that I can afford to pout about for very long.

Some new realities have fallen into my lap that are complicating my plans to get through this Sign Language interpreting certification program, but thus far there is no reason to do anything other than continue to enjoy and get as far as I can in the courses.If some fine tuning needs to happen, then so be it – I’ll deal with it when that time comes.

I’ll say this though – and again, I won’t bore you with the details, but adjusting this quickly from a “BLEEP YOU” cosmic conversation to a kicking my shoe in the dirt and mumbling “okay” prayer stance is completely unheard of for me…pun intended. I hold grudges like a toddler who is unwilling to release a blanket during nap time.

And. I have fallen in love with my studies about a language and culture that surrounds and protects the lives of those who have less than perfect hearing. Somehow, some way though, I didn’t wait even a day this time before sounding the alarm bells to get help and comfort when I had a wrench thrown into my plans. I scattered out a few “hey friends, I’m freaking out” messages and predictably there were those that said “huh?” and those that said “got your back girl. Bring it on. You’ve got this thing. Don’t stop now.”

And the best part? Some of these people are new friends. I survived the three-year mark of relocation and am meeting and entrusting some really, really great people in my new world. I’m encountering people who are flies in my soup too…but I don’t care. This is not my first trip on the pumpkin wagon and I know to be careful to trust only those who gain my confidence. I hope that I have the sense to pay that back.

I don’t know that I need to read up on what the other three prayers are that Anne Lamott mentions. Saying “okay God” is comfort enough for now….gotta start somewhere.

(The top photo is mine and is morning sun on the Mississippi River which is now a favorite water way, second only to the Ohio.)

Anne Lamott on Praying for Spiritual Signs

fallRecently I’ve been enjoying this song by Colbie Callait.

And, this morning I stumbled on an interesting Facebook Post from Anne Lamott. I think it fits with the month of remembrances and thanksgiving.

She wrote it on August 9, Just last summer.

I love the idea of God’s grace being available in an ATM.

Every morning these days, you have to ask yourself, What the hell IS it all about, Alfie? Or you pray for a sign that you absolutely cannot miss or misinterpret, the tiniest hint of direction and assurance.

Well? I got one.

It has been one of the worst week in years, and that’s saying something. You know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how much you love your life and your pit crew; no matter how hard you strive to present a good face. It is so hard here. It’s like Old Yeller meets the Hunger Games; plus the parking is terrible.

Under the best circumstances, we are a nutty and sometimes violent species, on an extremely dangerous piece of land.

But one of the saddest things happened. We had to put my darling old dog Lily down. She died peacefully at home in my son Sam’s arms on Wednesday.

I think she was the closest I’ll come, on this side of eternity, to experiencing the direct love of the divine. You may know the feeling.

Through this love, Sam and I came through. We cried a lot, but agreed to let our hearts stay broken for a while, because that is how light, grace and healing can get in, through the armor.

The next morning, I took Lily’s beloved ne’er-do-well husband Bodhi for a walk. I adore him, but he has tiny mental issues, such as aggression, and having eaten entire chickens, and 24 muffins once. Then, too sad to stay at home without Lily, we went out for a bite.

After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed home. I was disoriented, and so far behind on my daily life, after a month of Lily in decline, that Sam frequently consults A Place for Mom online. But a block from home, I got that Holy Spirit nudge, a tug on my sleeve, which urged me, as it often does, “Stop.” It’s given up on nuance.

They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.

My closest friend’s child, who has been through the ringer, the On Beyond Zebra ringer, starts kindergarten soon, but the friend has been on Total Fucking Overwhelm (TF0). She has not entirely gotten him enrolled, and the school’s website had conflicting info on how to do this. And, of course, no one is in the office, because it is August, which was one of the two biggest mistakes God made–August, and snakes. So we drove to the school.

There was one car in the parking lot and a woman climbing into it. Then some janitors ran into view and called to her–had she locked their lunches in the office? She had–Oops, to quote Rick Perry. So she got out, to unlock the office. I asked if I cd run along beside her, like a little dog, and ask a quick question. “Fire away!” she said. I told her about this boy, and asked all our main questions. She was so helpful. I thanked her, and asked if she worked in the office.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m the new principal.”

Of course she was the new principal, because God is such a show-off. Call this energy the Divine It, or Ed. Whatever works.

“Wow,” I said, bowing my head.

“Look,” she continued, “the easiest thing is probably for me to just give your friend my cell phone number.”

I said, “Okay,” on the verge of laughter and tears. “Thank you.”

Bodhi and I went home and called our friend. “You better sit down,” I told the mom. “I think we got some kind of Inbreaking.”

I told the mom my story, about how we’d somehow ended up at the Grace ATM, and how holy spirit had saved the day.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or Lily.”

I gave her the new principal’s cell phone number. Then Bodhi and I went to read the new People, and took a nice morning nap, feeling a little bit better, which is a miracle.
from FB page Suspended Coffees

Mary Oliver: Wild Geese

 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

Wendell Berry: Everything is Here

Everything is Here

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry

Life Goals: Happy vs. Contented

CND campfire

I have a confession. I hate the “Happy Song” by the dude in the ten gallon hat.

(I couldn’t find the only video of that song that I like, but I found this instead and it’s hysterical. And includes hats. You don’t have to know American Sign Lanuage (ASL) to see the humor. They are hearing brothers with deaf parents, and from what I can catch, they are just signing “flower, pain, love, all year – PAIN, horrible!” So funny.)

I love music, and I love the look of goofy hats, but I utterly HATE the happy song. As in, I have to stop myself from screaming “change it to NPR or else!” at my tween son when it comes on the car radio.

Another confession.

I’m tired of the phrase “it’s all good.” I will say that the cartoons that go with those t-shirts and mugs of little stick people camping and enjoying flowers are awesome – takes me right back to being a residential camp counselor and to be honest, living a “happy song” kind of life. It was a blast…work hard doing fun things with goofy little kids, weekend parties, beach sunsets, card games and summer romance.

camp letter

BBC camp

A few decades later, I know now that what made those times so happy was that the middle-aged and beyond leadership was masterful at harnessing our insecurities, raging hormones, and gullible personalities by:

1:Making us work dawn to dusk. If we weren’t taking care of kids or getting activities ready we were expected to find someone who needed a hand or a poison ivy vine that needs to be hacked or a campfire skit to be planned.

and

2:Expecting that we should otherwise be

a) Doing something prayerful or reflective. Or,

b) Doing something outlandishly fun or crazy to burn off aforementioned                                                 insecurities, hormones and guile.

But, and…

please forgive me if you are a positive psychology research professional or a maker of affirmation posters….because

it’s not all good,

(attatched link is powerful and empowering – it is about domestic violence and is communicated in both American Sign Language and captions,)

and I’m sick of media and the world, particularly the American world, trying to cram the word “happy” into my face and life.

It’s exhausting.

I had a brief but great conversation with a friend about it this weekend. We were at a get together where some acquaintances, rather than hearing what we were saying about some very real and tough life realities, they replied with: “smile and the world smiles with you” and “oh, you can do it”, or

“BEEN THERE, DONE THAT”,

and: “if I can solve that same life problem, you can too, and here’s an App for you to tap!”

Having shared our frustration on the topic before, and because we both try to not blurt out the constant sarcastic flow of venom that we secretly share about the saying “been there done that” kind of mind-set, we had to pull ourselves aside from the conversation and debrief before saying or doing something regrettable.

I suggested that we go find some full-bodied Muppet type of costumes and come back to the party just to throw things off, but we decided to reapply our lipstick and enjoy how Ninja we feel in dangly earrings instead.

CND path

This is what we came up with – and it’s that the real reason, I now know with complete certainty, that I was so happy during those summers on the lake. The thing is, there wasn’t conversation or debate about what “happy” has to be at camp….for any of us. We weren’t trying our hardest to keep the campers constantly jovial – that was impossible. As a matter of fact my dearest memories are of consoling home sick children, of trying to point out to the popular kids that an awkward one was being left out. Of the chubby kids who were falling out of their clothes and the skinny ones who could barely keep them on. My favorite camper was a boy who was deaf and started the week out being very rough with the other boys because he know he was being picked on and made fun of without the single exchange of a word.

I am really attached to the memory of him slamming that wooden screen door on another kid when I was at the front of the line trying to get that stinky, mud covered, whining group of little guys out of the rain and into the cabin so that they could climb in their bunks and be homesick in peace.

Why? Because

it wasn’t all good. And I’m not afraid to remember that, or look at what sucks in life.

Agreed, I am a bit too drawn to the dark side of things, but that’s why God gave me a family who tells me to knock it off when I a become annoying and dogs who shame themselves if I ignore their request to fetch or go outside for a pee break.

This quote better says what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that what I’m shooting for is contentment, while, sometimes, the world seems to be all about happy:

“I want first of all… to be at peace with myself.

 

I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.

 

I want, in fact–to borrow from the language of the saints–to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”

 

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

 

Oh, and about the angry Deaf kid? He ended up having a great week. And he stopped punching and slamming.

Why? Because the other camp counselors and I listened to him first, and distracted him next. We signed in American Sign Language that “angry” happens, and that other boys being mean is not “fine.” And, we tried, in no uncertain terms, to tell him that slamming and hitting was not going to lead to friendship.

My other favorite memory from that week? (I can’t believe I can still pull this out of my brain. It was like, 30 years ago.) We were trooping through the summer heat and itchy fields after one of those scuffles. There had of course been a  “shape up boys!” talk with both kiddos and my rough and tumble little friend fell to the end of the line for a good old-fashioned sulk.

I doubt that I had to fake my exhaustion or frustration about the whole thing as I trudged them toward the pool.

He then suddenly broke protocol and was of course tattled on: “He’s out of line! Why is he allowed to get off the path! No cutting!”

For which, and this makes me tear up every time I think of it, I was delivered a huge bouquet of weeds with a couple of wild flowers and a most beautiful and thankful smile. Guess he found a way to be at peace with himself, even if for a while.

The thing is…if we hadn’t squared up to the rain and the slammed door there wouldn’t have been any flowers for him to pick. Know what I mean? Jelly bean?

 

 

Found a quote about Fortitude

asl love hands

(artist and source on the internet unknown. Please leave a comment with information if you know who did this awesome work.)

I just came back from breakfast with a new friend.

I am so thankful to be settling in even further into our new community.

We mostly talked about trying to get into shape so that we can enjoy our respective jobs for as long as possible. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up though, and I just now found this quote that I had jotted in my “get healthy” journal:

“You will always be
the bread
and

the knife,

not to mention the crystal

and-

somehow-

the wine.”

(by poet Billy Collins.

I made the line breaks up myself – something that is a big no, no in the world of poetry…but in the interest of time…there you go.

p.s. I think when I did research on the poem a while ago I found out that he wrote it either because of a painful divorce, or to make fun of sappy break up poetry that is not good literature. I can’t remember which and my son is currently banging a basketball against the wall, so I’d better not dilly dally at the keyboard.

Why Mr. Collins wrote it and what it meant to him at the time does matter… but I like it today because it reminds me of communion and Catholic prayers about the Communion of the Saints.

And I like cheese, and I like wine.)