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The Story of Any of Us is the Story of All of Us.

Two children, bright and beautiful, suddenly, separately and unexpectedly passed away this week in neighboring communities. One a sweet little 8-year-old boy with the face of a freckled angel, the other a shining, vibrant young girl of 14. Both smiling from pictures framed by a journalist’s galley of words attempting to explain this tragic loss to stunned readers. Many, like me, are strangers to their grieving families but that does not matter–children should not die, and we are all connected in our collective grief.

. . . as the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.

~Frederick Buechner

DSCF0418Many in the two communities in which the children lived hung balloons up and down their streets in school colors, one community filled with orange balloons and the other green in a tender display of shared sorrow in support for the grieving families and in celebration of these precious lives.

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At times like these we often want to hold those families close and tell them we grieve with them, but we feel helpless to offer comfort for such an unfathomable loss. So, people hung balloons hoping to send these families the message that they are not alone, that they are held in the hearts and prayers of many who may not know them but who grieve with them.

Where I live, these two communities border each other. Today as I was driving down the road I saw this collective compassion overlapping in a very visual way.
Where the two grieving communities crossed paths, two bunches 0f the colored balloons, four green, four orange were entwined on a shared tether.

It was such a powerful display of who we are when we are so consciously connected to our own hearts and therefore to the hearts of others. A signpost marking a moment when we recognized our oneness–when a stranger’s grief became our grief. An interconnection that felt so real and fragile and tender and sad and beautiful all wrapped up in the image of those balloons for Carly and Quinn, tangled up together in the bright sunshine, swaying gently in the cold winter wind.

With my deepest heartfelt love and compassion to their families.

Mammaste

Divinity in the Everyday

The Things We Do For Love?

So what happens when we realize what we thought we were giving out of love, we were really giving in exchange for love? What can we do when we feel resentment or bitterness welling up over something we’ve given in exchange for less than what we expected?

Well, that’s the amazing thing about gifts of love–we can retroactively transform those past transactions into gifts by simply forgiving any perceived debt! We can just burn the invoice, tear up the bill, erase it from the ledger in our heart. The alchemy of this transformation is pure magic, and you and I, we are all magicians at heart.

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mammaste ~ divinity in the everyday

“I close my eyes as my daughter leans in to concentrate on making the stroke of eyeliner she is applying to my lid straight and clean. I feel the warm puff of her breath on my cheek each time she exhales. This beautiful, suspended moment is enough. I am so very, very happy.”

After listening to the shepherds tell of their experience with the angels in the fields, it is said in Luke 2: 19: that “Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.” I love this passage because of its wonderfully genuine and personal portrayal of Mary as a young, heretofore ordinary woman, living an extraordinary experience. There is such an intimate truth in this passage about the overwhelming quality of grace. It can be too much to take in when it is happening, a heart overflowing.

I have been given brief glimpses into the miracle…

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mammaste ~ divinity in the everyday

LightMany years ago, during my darkest hour, I held a small grain of hope that there would be days like today. A still, clear, quiet, sun-dappled morning–children sleeping in upstairs rooms, an old dog curled at my feet. A populated solitude. Alone but not lonely. This is a day extraordinary in its utter ordinariness. I had faith and I am here and I am grateful.

The final years of my first marriage were like walking barefoot along the razor’s edge of sanity. Each careful sliding step away from my old life sliced me to the bone. I was not just leaving a marriage; I was extricating myself from destructive patterns of loving. Truly changing yourself is not an easy exercise. Imagine self-amputation of a seemingly vital organ—you are sure it will kill you—but miraculously it cures.

As a result, there is a dividing line in me as essential in marking my…

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And Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think?

Sigh. I love my husband more than that holy water. I really do. But I'm not gonna' lie, it is a love that was sorely tested that day.

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Are Our Lives Predestined?

At the time, I had been trying unsuccessfully for about six years to have a baby, so I asked him; “When will my baby be born?” After a moment, he shook his head, looked a bit bewildered and said; “Well, it’s not for me to question the information I’m getting, but I’m being told your baby will be born in January.” I said, “Really? January? As in two months from now?” He looked as perplexed as I felt and he nodded and said; “Yes. I’ve checked it several times. Yes, in two months from now.” Clearly, I was not seven months pregnant. We both would have noticed that!

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Skimming and Skipping Across the Surface of Our Days

But sometimes, with engines full throttle, I simply let go of the rope and gently sink down into the heart of the deep, silent weightlessness of being fully present in the here and now.

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I told Dad what you said about him . . .

“I told dad what you said about him,” my fifteen-year-old daughter said to me the other day. A stab of panic gripped my stomach. Had I said something derogatory? I knew I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, especially to my daughter. But that irrational thought still crossed my mind and my heart. Maybe I had made a joke about him and she had taken me seriously? Maybe I was feeling some residual guilt from a time in my life when I was often careless and callous with my words about others. (It still happens, I’m no saint, but I work hard at being more aware of harsh words before they pass my lips.) She must have seen the worry on my face, because she quickly explained;
“I told him what you said about him being so good and kind and funny, and how you felt grateful to have him as your husband. When I told him what you said, mom, he smiled.” As she told me this, she smiled too. So did I.

It is so easy to tell our children how much we love and appreciate them. Through this conversation with my daughter I learned how important it is to tell them what we love and appreciate about others too, spoken from an easy and casual place of truth and sincerity. Out loud.

I think this may apply to how we speak to others too, not just to our children.

What do you think?

Mammaste

There is so much Divinity in the Everyday.

Seeing Beyond Things

Our every encounter with one another, all of our relationships in this life are holy. Each one has the potential to be a sacred exchange, whether it involves laughter or tears; a simple smile or even a sneer! We need only pay attention. There is so much divinity in the everyday if we have eyes that not only see but also perceive; if we can listen with ears that hear with an open heart. It is all gift. All of it. Keep watching, keep noticing, look and see beyond things. It really does expand your world.

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Catching Joy

I have set a trap in my front yard. The idea for it started a couple of years ago when I saw a ‘free’ sign scribbled on an old Adirondack chair while on a walk with my husband, Alan. Alan knows I cannot resist an orphaned chair. Soon enough he plodded back to where I stood admiring the chair and picked it up as I grabbed the matching footrest and we made our way home.

The old chair sat in our back yard for two years as an idea began to percolate in my mind. Finally, this year I set my trap. With the help of my bewildered husband, we laid fresh green sod on the chair’s seat and footrest. We built-up the arm rests and planted ground cover in them. We stapled chicken-wire to its sloping back and filled it with potting soil and upholstered it with hundreds of little succulent plants. We tucked the chair under the shade tree on our front lawn, right next to the sidewalk and waited.

My home office is on my front porch and I often get to witness the joy I capture in my trap first hand. It began with the children who often run ahead of the grown-ups on their walks. They are almost too easy to catch.  With their fresh, inquisitive eyes and low stature, they are drawn into the chair’s whimsey from a block away and they easily  ensnare their adult charges with squeals of delight.

The next to fall prey are the older men and women. Their un-hurried pace and seasoned gaze never miss the chair, and though they are not loud like the children, very much like the children they always stop and cheerfully go over every detail with wide smiles.  Often I will capture the amused attention of dog walkers who notice too late the lifted leg on the chair’s footstool as they yank the leash and guiltily look up to the house. (It’s okay, I don’t mind!) New parents lazily pushing sleeping babies in shiny new strollers whisper their admiration.

But the hardest and most elusive prey are the joggers, with their headphones and determined, focused attention on the road in front of them. As I watched them pass by over and over again, oblivious to my joyful trap, I realized I had to do something clever to grab their attention. So, one beautiful sunny day I hung my parakeet’s cage from the tree, right over the chair. He sang and chirped his delight at being outside. “Irresistible,” I said to myself, “surely this will catch them!”

Soon I noticed a jogger coming up the street, she breezed past the bird and chair without breaking stride. I sighed. But, what’s this? She is circling back! She stands panting, smiling at the chair for a moment before bounding away again.

That’s what I love most about my trap, it’s a catch-and-release program!

While out watering the chair one day a man drove past, then reversed his car and pulled up next to me to say how much he loves driving by our yard on his way to and from work. He thanked me for creating the chair, for the joy it brings him.

And so it goes. Surprise, joy, delight and gratitude fill me too. Just one of the many ways extending even the smallest gesture of love comes full circle. Isn’t that just so beautiful, the way love works?

Mammaste, notice the divinity in the everyday!

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