Tag Archives: hope

Snow Days, Lent and Seeing Clearly

ice lentYesterday C and I went for a ride to go pick up our dogs from the groomer.  It was the second snowday in a row, and while the roads were clear, the remnants of the ice that had hampered traffic and business the day before were beautifully evident on the trees on the hillsides.

It may be March, but it’s not apparent on this road.  The grass is browned and the trees are bare from the long winter. But this day, the brown bare trees glistened from the ice as the sun tries to appear.

The landscape of Tennessee was stunning. You couldn’t help but want to soak in the simple beauty.

I started to see things I hadn’t noticed before. I wondered about a road that has been hidden by the leaves and made a note to find it one day, partially for the experience and noting that could be a great shortcut next time traffic backs up.

I got to admire beautiful homes that were now exposed without the covering of leaves.  Creeks and valleys unknown to me suddenly appeared between the road and the horizon. And while we have driven this road countless times, this was the first time I was able to take in the view with this sort of clarity.

We chatted about how C used to live on a mountain, and most of the year, the view from their home was just leaves. And more leaves. And more trees.  But in the winter, you could see homes, roads, hillsides, and their small town below.

Maybe that’s a way of looking at Lent. A few weeks focused on stripping away distractions and coverings to be able to see. Clearly. To be able to re-direct your path and get a better vision of the horizon.

And then when the promise of spring arrives, I know I can enjoy the beauty of green grass, budding flowers and leaves and warming air, while being grounded in my new understanding of the road to follow.

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Don’t Give Up

I never thought I’d have a post saying someone should watch a Pink video…but combine Pink with Herbie Hancock and John Legend, and that’s a different story.

Peter Gabriel wrote this song for his amazing So album in the mid-80s, and Kate Bush sang the sweet, supportive back up. The song is about a man in economic hardship, being out of work and feeling unneeded. The second voice is what women are good at: “don’t give up, you still have friends…”

Sort of a classic look at men needing to be respected, women needing to be loved.

Anyway – Herbie Hancock’s remake of the song is nothing short of stunning, and in a day where unemployment, housing foreclosures and economic downfall are in the news every day, many can resonate with these words

  • moved on to another town
    tried hard to settle down
    for every job, so many men
    so many men no-one needs
  • And the woman’s refrain:

  • don’t give up
    ’cause you have friends
    don’t give up
    you’re not the only one
    don’t give up
    no reason to be ashamed
    don’t give up
    you still have us
    don’t give up now
    we’re proud of who you are
    don’t give up
    you know it’s never been easy
    don’t give up
    ’cause I believe there’s the a place
    there’s a place where we belong
  • All that to say, enjoy a beautiful take on a beautiful song. And to anyone out there needing support, encouragement and rest, don’t give up.

    Gardening 101

    I’ve never been much of a gardener, but I enjoy believing that I, in fact, have that amazing gift where anything that I plant in the ground will grow into the most amazingly beautiful, large, colorful plant that anyone has seen.

    This could be partially because I never have more than a window box or a few containers and brightly colored flower pots to make the horticulture attempt.  This year began with a few interesting looking flowers, some basil, sage and cilantro.  Much to my surprise, I learned that cilantro doesn’t particularly like the hot summers of Nashville, so that particular model died and fast, crispy death.

    The sage followed suit, but I’m not sure what I was thinking planting sage in the summer, because I don’t really make anything during the summer that warrants sage as an ingredient.

    (My dad is a teeny bit obsessed with cooking during the holidays, and he taught me how to make his age old, tried-and-true stuffing.  It starts the night before with the ceremonial drying of the bread, followed by a morning filled with chopping celery and onions, a heap of sage and lots and lots of butter.   Seriously, this sage stuffing can kick your stuffing’s ass…just being honest.)

    At some point during the summer, I was at the Home Depot and noticed a sale on a few plants.  One being some sort of a vine-like plant with purple flowers that appeared to have had a hard childhood.   My nurturing nature was in full gear and I bought the little plant for $3, bound and determined to bring it back to it’s glorious early self.  I wanted it to awaken its little plant soul and have it become confident enough to explode into a wave of color.

    Well, it didn’t.

    I need to give my little porchmate credit – I travel a lot.  I don’t really know how to do things like “pruning” and I’m a little bit sketchy on the “watering” part as well.

    A few other plants have died and started over on their own, and often I think that I should replant them in a larger container – the obvious choice being the home of this purple plant.

    However I just can’t bring myself to do it, for even in it’s dried out desert, there is still little glimmers of life.  Take today for example.  Amidst all of the branches that have been dormant all summer, consistently there are one or two beautiful, colorful blooms that adorn my porch.  And these little glimpses are just enough to make me want to cheer on that little plant just a week or two longer.

    exhibit a.

    exhibit a.

    Maybe I can just relate.  Maybe this plant is showing me that there is always hope, always life in the world around me.    No matter how dire the situation, there’s always the chance to see life start anew.

    No matter how messed up someone’s life may seem, I am still required to look for the best, to cheer on the positive in their lives.

    Maybe it’s a show that even a little bit of color can change your whole outlook.

    Maybe this is a reminder to me of days past where I felt like my situation was broken and beyond the help of God, but in the end, his promises are always honest, and his mercy is great.

    Maybe it’s a metaphor for the state of our world today, a reminder of the positive work that is happening when it comes to the world’s atrocities like genocide and trafficking.

    Or maybe it’s just proof that I’m simply a really bad gardener and this makes me feel better about not fostering this poor plant out to some loving, green thumber at a local plant rescue.

    No matter what, I’m still keeping the plant, and maybe giving it a little more attention, some plant food and some extra love.    Maybe over the next few days I’ll see a few people or situations that look a little like this plant as well, and I’ll take the time to give them a little nurturing as well.

    The power of the apology

    IMG_2512
    Yesterday, I saw a most amazing thing happen here in Ukraine.

    One of our favorite kids here at the orphanage – Mischa – was hanging out, making some bracelets with one of the other kids.  I just happened to be in the room, working on an email.  

    Mischa speaks no English at all, but for some reason, communication is not a big deal.  He has helped us completely with this building project, and has even started attending some of our group’s meetings.   As far as I know, Mischa, unlike many of the kids here, has nowhere to go for the weekends, so either he has no family – or his family is so bad he chooses not to go. Mischa has had the chance to be adopted twice, however he has turned it down, as he knows his little brother will be entering this orphanage next year, and he wants to be there to protect him.

    We have a community snack area in a little “café” that they have built for the kids.  Throughout the day, we’ll leave food out for everyone to share.  Mischa had a very nice chocolate bar that he had added to the snack collection.  But it was wrapped, and no one had opened it.

    Carol, one of the wonderful people we are working with here, wanted chocolate. And wanted it badly.  After a while, she opened the bar and had some – putting it on the counter.  When she realized that it was Mischa’s – she assumed that it was not to share and proceeded to drive all around this little Ukrainian village where we are staying in search of a replacement candy bar.  Which, she couldn’t find.

    So she came in the room with Oksana, one of our English speaking friends here, and proceeded to apologize to Mischa.  Mischa didn’t quite know how to respond.  He kept saying that it was no big deal, but it was obvious that he really didn’t understand what Carol was doing.  She finally made him look her in the eyes as she said “I took your candy bar and it was wrong.  I’m sorry.”  He smiled, but I really think that was simply because he’s Mischa.

    I followed Carol and Oksana out of the room to say that I thought it was a really interesting exchange, but Oksana just simply said “I don’t think he’s ever been apologized to by an adult before.”

    And I couldn’t imagine it.  This kid is 18 years old. He has been nothing but helpful and kind and just straight up fun to be around.  He’s become a part of our little family here, and to think that he’s probably never had someone older tell him that they were wrong I just can’t fathom.  No one has respected him enough to say to him that his opinion mattered.  That he had a voice.  And that he was right.

    It was a candy bar, and he was planning to share it anyway.  But that’s not the point.  Hopefully our little crew has been able to not only befriend some of these kids, but that they will know that we genuinely love them, care about them, and believe that they have a voice – an opinion – a face – and have a true purpose in this world.