Saturday, November 25, 2006

Setting things down

This is a wonderful story from Listening to Your inner Voice, by Douglas Bloch:

According to a Japanese legend, two monks were walking down the road when they saw a finely dressed young woman standing before a large mud puddle. She explained that she had no way of crossing the water without ruining her clothes. Without saying a word, the first monk picked her up in his arms and lifted her safely across the obstacle.

A few hours later the second monk said in an accusatory tone, "How could you have picked up that lady? Don't you know that the rules strictly forbid us to touch a member of the opposite sex?" His friend smiled and then replied, "I put the woman down back at the puddle. Are you still carrying her?"

Friday, November 03, 2006

How to Live

This poem is posted this morning on the Writer's Almanac. It's amazing. I was pleased to know that I'm on the right track. I like Thai food and have a turtle (he's actually my son's, but I've been his primary caregiver for the last 8 years). I don't hear hidden meanings in a cardinal's song, but I do feel that a cardinal is a valentine from God. :)

This poem is a great reminder of the richness, variety, and open-hearted possibilities each of our lives offer:

"How to Live" by Charles Harper Webb, from Amplified Dog. © Red Hen Press.

How to Live
"I don't know how to live."
–Sharon Olds
Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends
who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly
as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause
a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose
a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea
monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)
Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.
Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Worry Cure

Last night as I was climbing into bed my prayer was a request for help with worrying. Usually I am not a big worrier--I'm optimistic by nature and typically expect good things to happen. And good things almost always do. But perhaps because of the major changes in my life over the last several months--my son going to college for the first time, my daughter having a baby, my youngest son growing 8 inches in a year and suddenly discovering girls (!)--I have noticed an increase in the worry refrain in my not-so-conscious thoughts. I worry about my daughter driving with the baby to the bank by herself. I worry about my son getting overly tired when he stays up til 5:00am writing papers. I worry about my youngest wanting to go to a different high school where he will be the "new kid."

All of these are normal, natural parts of growing up (for them and for me). But the after-effects left me in a pattern of worrying. And worry is more than wasted energy--it creates fearful images of what might happen (thinking the worse) and projects them outward as though they could be a reality. And what's worse is that I might then believe that the worries are real and change my actions based on them, which can impact the messages I give to my kids about the goodness of life, my hope for the future, or my belief in the care of God.

So last night, my prayer was that somehow (God knows how) I might be released from this unnatural, unpeaceful worried state. I know God doesn't want me walking around with a low-grade worry fever, a kind of fear-based static that keeps me on my toes, watchful, anticipating something scary. That's just not God's way of doing things. From what I believe about God and God's world, there is a harmony, a loving harmony, in which all things work together for our good. We are loved and cared for and safe. This is the opposite of worry. Last night I prayed to remember what is real about God and to release the fearful thought forms I was creating by losing touch with my belief of the constancy of God's care.

This morning I awoke with energy and joy. One of the first thoughts in my head was, "If life really is a smorgasbord, what would I choose for myself today?" What an empowering thought! If I can choose anything I want for today, what would I serve myself? Joy, comfort, care, peace. Remembrance of God. A happy family and loving neighbors. Meaningful work. A sense of care and comfort for the world.

My hope for you today is that, if you find yourself in the clutches of worry, you will let God heal your worried mind and remind you how much you are loved. And then you will be free to choose the best parts from the smorgasbord your life is offering you right now!