A Little Girl Decides

A sharing from a friend:

Yesterday something amazing happened. L. set aside her firmly held principle that boys in general and brothers in particular are the absolute worst, and snuggled up with T. in a Costco shopping cart. She opted to get buried under groceries with him instead of getting out of the cart, so that the only indication I had children in the cart was the giggling. And then held hands with him on the way out. She took a nap without complaining and cleaned up toys together with her siblings. Ate her dinner without criticism, and declared her very mundane day to be awesome. It was like a vacation in the best alternate universe. Today, we are back.    –– G.R. 

This post struck  me.  The little girl had a mundane day objectively. What did she do? She went to the store. She took a nap. She ate her dinner. These are normal things.  This day should not be different than any other. The externals were the same.  

The author writes that she “declared her very mundane day to be awesome.”  Why?  children-1720484_640

She chose for her day to be awesome.  She chose to love. She chose to connect with her brother instead of pushing him away.  She chose to hold hands with him.  Most of the time I’m guessing that she considered him an annoyance, not knowing quite what the author meant by “absolute worst.”  She also chose, later, to clean up toys with her siblings, which included more than one boy.  She joined in the activity with them.  She chose to be loving to her mother in taking a nap without complaining and in eating her dinner without criticism.

I recently went on something like a church family camp — part Summer Camp-like fun, part retreat.   It included singles and families alike.  The last day there, I realized that I’d been feeling disconnected. Was I not participating in the games? No. I was.  Was I not learning amazing things at the talks? I definitely was. But what I was lacking was a heart to heart conversation. I had not made time to have one yet.  When I did, and was truly open with my friend, I felt the beauty of the experience and I proceeded to join in the campfire songs joyfully with the heart of a person belonging.

In each situation it was not the situation that changed.  It was the girl or the woman, reaching out to love — reaching out to connect.  

How often do we as grown ups hide from connection? I realize the parents who has to make dinner or a living cannot always be face to face sharing themselves with their children. But when we are with others — when we can be — how present are we?  Do we hide in movies and the internet? Do we hide in things we know we have to do? Do we run from intimacy even with those who are close to us?  I know that I myself have chosen to watch TV over connecting with someone, only to realize that when I turn off the TV and give them my focused attention how much more rewarding my life is.  So many of us keep half of ourselves somewhere else. But is this really living life? 

My challenge for you today is to reach out in love and/or connection with someone today. Perhaps spend time even walking around the backyard holding someone’s hand. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe fast from something screen related — something. You can even take the time to connect with yourself if you’ve been neglecting your needs… but reach out in love somehow.  Life is short, and we need each other. And like the little girl in the story… maybe your day will be awesome.  

May God bless your day.

Bonus: Today is the Feast of St. Martha. Doing tasks that need to be done is not bad. Remember, she is still a saint.  We just can’t forget presence.  

Love to you all.  

Codependency or Love?

Wandering through groups on  a certain social media site, I see relationship questions, and I see people advising the other to leave the one they have the problems with. Sometimes, this is good. Other times, “leave her” or “leave him” is the default.

A friend posted a meme which basically said, “Take care of yourself, don’t worry about everyone else.”  Is this helpful or selfish?  There is such a thing as giving to a fault, and there is such a thing as not giving enough.  How do we know the difference?  Some heroes and saints gave all.  Some battered spouses gave all too. What is right?

I have a theory, and it is one that I would like you to consider, and respond to and give feedback on if you so desire.  Please don’t take my word as though I’m an expert. But this is what has been coming to my mind and heart.

To give out of real love makes you more of who you are.

To give in an unhealthy way depletes who you are.

I know many people with difficult spouses.  One of them has chosen to not try to control him and to see that what he says comes from wounding and not take it personally.  Does she stand up for herself? Sure! But she does it in a certain way that is more calm and self-assured than others I’ve seen.  She has chosen to stand by him as he heals from childhood wounds, and when I talk to her, I notice that she glows. This is love. She is growing in who she is, and her source of energy and self worth is not her husband.

I know another woman who was in a relationship where she slowly became less and less and catered to everything the other wanted. It was a blessing when she had the strength to end it.

Giving can be exhausting, but if the source comes from the Supreme Being of Love who is leading you in this way, it will build you up. It may not always feel like it, but it leads to your growth.  Relationships can change too, and move out of helping-so-the-other-needs-you-and-doesn’t-leave into giving them freedom, seeing them as God does, and giving because they are precious to you. Walking with them through the difficulties can strengthen you both.

I know that some who are Christian might ask, “Are we really meant to be more and more ourselves? What about Galatians 2:20 which says “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me?” Still, Romans 12:4 says that we are many parts but one body, and that section goes on to highlight differences for a purpose. Anyone who has seen twins grow up knows that they are different people despite the same environment. Anyone who has studied Myers Briggs knows that some people’s brains are designed to perceive in a way that is more focused on the facts, and some on the connections between the facts. It is obvious that we are each created unique and have a special role in the world. We are unrepeatable. Therefore, the Galatians verse might be about selfishness and self-will, and it might be about the source of our life. But it isn’t about our uniqueness disappearing.

When I was in Rome, a Dominican explained it to me like this.  Think of stained glass. When the light shines through it, it is filled with light. Light permeates it. But we can also see the color and texture of the stained glass better because of the light.  In Christ, we are more  Him, and more ourselves.

Therefore, to be oneself is not bad. It is good. It is beautiful. And most of all, it is truth.  If you and those around you notice you are growing, then maybe you made the right decision in the way you love.  Is it codependency or love? Is it freedom from codependency or is it selfishness?  Think about it. Do you feel yourself disappearing? Or are you strengthened? This can be a method of discerning. After all, we don’t ever want to simply not love, but it serves no one to be used. May your discernment be blessed. purple-1937375_640 (1)

May God bless your day.

 

 

Truth Over Wine

I made a new friend recently whom I liked very much.  She made a judgement about my views based on a lot of misinformation about something I’m part of,  and didn’t want to talk to me anymore.  As a result, I was very bitter.  I hang out with people who are different than me quite a bit, yet I hadn’t experienced this before.

I tried to get over it. I prayed. I prayed for her. I talked to friends. Still, it was there.  When one looses something one cares about based on injustice, one has a right to be angry. But this felt darker.

After a CL meeting, I was sitting at a table with friends and I told one of them about the accusation of holding certain views.  She had a look of surprise on her face. “But you don’t live your life that way,” she said. I shared that I was angry and my friend said, “Of course you are. If she thinks that she doesn’t know you.” And she shared that if someone did that she’d be angry too. My friend also didn’t think it was unreasonable that I blocked that person.  I was hurt and protective.

Right away, I felt peaceful and was able to forgive.  Why? Had my new friend apologized? Had I gotten through with logic?  Had anything externally changed? No. The only thing that changed was that my feelings had been validated with sound reason.

Though I knew the accusation wasn’t true, part of me believed it. Though I knew I was protecting myself, I felt like blocking someone wasn’t being a good person.  When my friend said those things, that shame was released.

I have never seen a certain principle illustrated so clearly as this, and it got me thinking. How much pain is because of shame? Guilt is, of course, feeling bad for doing something wrong, and it leads us to change. But shame says, “There is something wrong with me.”   When I can’t find anyone to go to the movies with, it hurts, but it isn’t just because I’m lonely. It is because there is a little voice, whether audible or not, saying, “No one likes you all that much. You don’t have friends.”  If I let that go, the experience lightens tremendously.  When we read internet memes insulting a group we happen to belong to,  we might take it personally.  But the meme doesn’t know us.  It was written by someone who categorizes people, and we can begin to let go of what that stranger thinks.  One of the reasons so many people have drama around those who are  hurting in various ways is because they feel expected to fix it and worthless when they can’t.  There is shame there. What happens when we let go of being expected to do any particular thing and just be with that person?  Things become easier and we can enjoy the other for who they are too.

What shame thoughts are attached to your experiences? If you can realize it and release them, with help if need be, how much more wonderful might life be?  Perhaps the external world can lose some of it’s negative power over you and more freedom can enter in.

May God bless your Day.

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Restarting: A Gift

For a long time now,  I had been having increasing trouble walking. It is like my leg muscles did not want to work. I walked, purposefully willing each and every step.  I didn’t know what was wrong, and was working too much to make an appointment to find out.  There were days that it was better, but most of the time, if I sat down, I didn’t know how long it would take me to stand up again. I would slowly unbend as though I were very old.

Right after Easter I either got the flu or my body reacted to the Easter food. Every muscle hurt in a very strange way, like that science fiction plot where Kevlar unites with one’s muscles from a freak accident. Breathing hurt. My muscles didn’t want to stretch. I had a fever and severe stomach flu symptoms. It scared me. Someone said I looked yellow. I would have gone to the emergency room if my temperature didn’t go down.  For three days I hardly ate anything but, concerned about being hydrated, I drank quite a bit of hibiscus tea.

When the “flu” was over, the elasticity in my muscles was back! It had been months upon months, but now  I could easily stand up again and walk and still can with the occasional problem after I’ve eaten the wrong thing, but it is so much better.   The other day I couldn’t find my car because I’d walked farther than I thought I could. Whatever it was that had been making my muscles act like old fiber was cleaned out of my system.

Sharing this with a friend, she said that she’d been on the Whole 30 diet and had the same result. It’s amazing how what we eat does to us, even if it doesn’t seem that unhealthy.  I used to be on a food combining diet which was mostly low carb. When I was on it I was the happiest and healthiest I’d ever been in my life. My moodiness was gone. My focus was stronger.  It has taken me years to get back to this because of temptation… but through no effort of my own, my addiction to carbs was gone. My body re-set from sugar addiction and I did nothing.  It was a gift. Did it hurt?  It hurt badly.  But it also healed. And after that my body has been craving what it needs, not what it is addicted to.

There are so many things to take from this, and you can take whichever way it speaks to you or find a meaning I never thought of. If you do, please share that with me.  1) Some problems are easily helped with nutrition. The answer to feeling better may be so much easier than you think. 2) Experiences that seem absolutely horrible can be blessings. Being cleaned out is painful. But it is worth it. This goes for, not just the physical, but all aspects of who we are. 3) We don’t have to work hard for everything. Some things are gift. I had tried ten years for the discipline to reset my body off of carb addiction. Now and then I’d do it.  This time, it was done for me. And I am so grateful.  Some things are gift. I don’t recommend not eating for three days, but that was given to me.  4) If we fail at something, and we try again, we are farther ahead than we would be if we didn’t try. So many people treat things like New Year’s resolutions. If we break it, we’ve broken it. No. If I eat healthy and then don’t, I’m still ahead of where I would have been. The same works for virtue development.  So many people just give up. No. Keep trying and asking for help too.  It isn’t a fail and you’re done type of  life.  Any little bit of a good thing helps us.

The main takeaway for me was number three. Some things are gift. Years of trying, and it was given to me.  No detox, no elimination diet, just reset.  It doesn’t mean I don’t need to learn more discipline. It doesn’t mean I don’t fail. It just means that I can walk.

May your day be blessed and full of amazing gifts you don’t expect. Right hear and now, I am praying for you.

May God bless your day.

Of Nerds and Habit Change

I love words. I love words written well, words spoken well, words in poetry where the sound of the consonants and vowels also have their own meaning.  When I was a child, my favorite subject was creative writing. When I first went to college I studied English for a while.

I connect with God best through beauty, and that beauty includes well written words, often the writings of saints.  For the last month or so I’ve been “waking up” and realizing things about myself, mostly that I am who I have always been. I am not going to be satisfied unless I start reading literature again, writing more, and praying from meaningful reflections and thoughts. This is who I am. And it isn’t enough for me to just read them. I  need to engage with them and let these thoughts be a catalyst for my own. If I read lazily, nothing happens. If I really try to understand it, though the work may be difficult, I am made more than I was.

Last week, I was lonely.  Usually when I’m lonely I see who’s live on a certain website and wants to chat.  With a few exceptions this is highly inadequate but, when it’s late and I am already home, this is the best I can do.

This time, I did something different. I picked up a book I was reading.  I didn’t expect this to satisfy anything, yet my loneliness subsided. I was in shock. I didn’t realize it could work this way.  Last week I also worked on my To Do list which includes various forms of reading and writing as well as learning a skill, art, and music, in addition to more mundane tasks. The week was glorious.

Many of us, are lonely and turn to habits and addictions to deal with that. Many are lethargic and worn out.  There are a number of things that can help with these, and here is my new favorite:  Geek out on something. Get really into something that challenges you, and yet energizes you even more.  Whatever your thing is… do it. We waste so much time on distractions in this day and age, but knowing about conjoined cats’ love lives doesn’t satisfy me and chocolate makes me want more chocolate.  As  I wrote last week, “If we are who we are called to be we will set the world on fire…” St. Catherine of Sienna.  Our hearts will be set on fire too. In a good way.

I know just about everyone reading this has worked out.  We don’t often want to workrunners-373099_640 out, yet once we are, we feel alive. Restlessness settles. Angst dissipates. We know we are on the way to becoming. Our brain is like this. We need to exercise it and grow it; we will continually be unsatisfied if we don’t. We have a mental hunger which can translate into hunger for too much food, or lust, or TV, or any number of things that will only create more emptiness. But other things can feed us. There is a hunger in my soul and mind, and it needs to be fed with substance. Learning and studying, perceiving beauty, mediating on the love of God as birthed in me through the words of the saints… these things are substantial food to me.  What is it for you? After an exhausting day, try doing one of these rather than something easy.  Watch your life change.

May God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You be You Part II: Lent’s Sunset

There is a one year old in my life. She is a wonderful human being, and I don’t know much about who she is. If I were to describe her behaviors to anyone who knows children well, they would say, not that I am describing an introvert, extrovert, artist or scientist, but that I am describing a one year old. I think I have discerned that she thinks before she acts more than some other children her age, and that she doesn’t seem to have much fear. There are a few unique traits that I have been able to discern. But for the most part, who she is is slowly unfolding and remains a mystery. We love her for who she is as much as we can discern that and beyond. But she is still at the beginning.

I have been learning a lot more about myself lately, and that is normal for my age and for any age. As we grow and mature, we learn more of who we are. As others grow and mature, we can see more of who they are.  I am surprised sometimes at the deep thoughts of my nephews who have grown far beyond the toddlers I used to know.

I went to an evening Lenten retreat.  One of the points that the speaker made is that when we do things to escape, such as eating ice cream when sad, movie binges when lonely, more benign actions and much worse actions for that purpose,  we rob ourselves of our humanity. We are not facing what is in us. We can’t ponder our feelings or perceptions when we numb ourselves. We are not growing. We are not becoming more human. We are losing ourselves.

The desires of our hearts show us who we are. As St. Catherine said in the Italian of the 1300s, ”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”  Her words been translated many ways. But as we follow that sense in our hearts of what we truly want, and as we become more ourselves, not only are we happier people, but we make a huge difference to those around us, and, even if not seen, to the world.

We have a little less than two weeks in Lent.  Those of us who do Lent and who give things up for it may have failed. We may be running out of steam.  We just read at Mass how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Let’s let him raise us from the dead too.  Where are we hiding? What are we hiding in and from? It is by facing the uncomfortable with perception, thought, and received help, that we can process and become more amazing selves not only for our own sake but the world as well. In these last two weeks of Lent, what is a little discomfort compared to that which we meditate upon? He did that. We can do this. Let’s go.

Grace be with you.

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You Be You: Examining Freedom. Part I

Many years ago I tried out for a choir. I didn’t make it, but the director said something to me that stuck. “You’re singing like your last choir director.  You need to sing like you.”  They had enough soprano singers, and I was trying out for Alto using a darker tone that did not work for me.

We’ve heard “Be yourself” in many story lines of after school shows when we were children.  To me, it feels like one of those phrases that say nothing, such as:  “You are nice,” or “How pleasant.”  Does this phrase really have a meaning? What is that meaning? This is something we need to not answer too quickly. It is something to be faced and explored.

I’m finishing up the second music teacher maternity leave that I’ve covered, and I am once again realizing what I realized last time. If I try to teach as I think the teacher before me taught, things don’t go well.  There are strengths she has that I just don’t,  and it is hard to maintain classroom management while floundering.  But if I try to teach like me, things go very well. The children see the confidence and the excitement I have in what we are learning, and they catch it too.

Now, I don’t mean that I mustn’t  honor the teacher’s instructions.  But it is how I teach what the teacher asks that really makes a difference.   When I have successful days I ask myself this question:  “How will this help children to eventually write their own music?”   I frame the lesson around my knowledge that what we are learning is a piece in that puzzle.  I’m a songwriter; when I do this, I’m teaching from who I am. And it works. For another teacher, their self question will be different. There will be something else that will be the deeper meaning of why they do what they do. When they ask this, they’ll be teaching from their core too.  We bring who we are. If I’m invited somewhere, I bring the gifts that I have to offer.

We need to develop oumusic-1781580_640r weaknesses, and often there are things we just have to do.  Sometimes what we think are weaknesses are really strengths. But when we are working with and out of that which truly moves us and brings us to life, we shine.

It is very easy to get caught up into doing something “the way I think I’m supposed to,” when I could adjust that very thing to fitting who I am better,  and  no one would mind.  The expectations that I perceive others have of me aren’t always really there, and if they are, there are creative ways to work with this, becoming more and more ourselves not only for our good, but for the good of all we encounter.

May God bless your day. May it be full of amazing things.

To Listen

My mother edits my blogs sometimes. She sent me this in an email: “Last line: The scene is worth mediating on! hee hee.”

As you might deduce, this isn’t the first time I’ve written “mediation” in a blog and forgotten that “t.”

And so, in all good humor, I declared, “More meditation! Less mediation!” And I mean it. We all have our areas that we need to grow. For me, I tend to try to help people solve their problems without praying first. Sometimes I try to teach without first studying too.  No.  This isn’t the way it needs to be.  I need to grow in prayer, reflection, learning, and studying.  And true wisdom will overflow from this. This sense of needing this change isn’t a “should”wrapping me in chains.  My heart longs for it.

When it comes to what we each need to focus on, people are not the same.  Some reflect and learn quite a bit and don’t serve much, and they can hear a call  to reach out to others.  I have had heard those who haven’t had enough healthy self-care say that we need to focus on ourselves, and heard those who tend to be selfish saying that we need to forget ourselves.  We don’t have to be perfectly balanced in learning vs. action or self-care vs. service. We can be who we are. Yet we heed the ways we are pulled to growth, and we do it in unique ways. Obviously, we can’t all follow the same path until we get to it.  We are all coming from different directions.

Yet there is one thing that I think is true for a great deal of people. So many of us need to tap into listening. We need to tap into listening to our thoughts, to our perceptions,  to others’ faces, to our Higher Power. We need to read and soak in the words. We need to look around us and see where God is in all this. We need to let in beauty and wisdom. Some are distracted by puzzles and some by parties … but distraction is distraction. So many of our hearts are longing to embrace, not the silence of being alone, but the silence of spending time with the Source of Love and Creator of All Things. We long for the Life we feel in the presence of nature and wonder — the accompanied silence, the beautiful solitude. We desire to break through what we see in front of us until we stand eyes wide open to what is greater and more true than this.

May we stop today. May we listen.

God bless your day.

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The Name Game

Saturday Night I went to a  New Year’s Eve party that consisted of a few families and some singles. It was a nice small gathering, and there were people there that I’d been missing as well as some I’d wanted to get to know better.

In this party we played a guessing game in which each person writes down a name that is not their own, and others have to guess which name they have written.  The lead reads the list of names twice, and the game begins.  The first person guesses. “Ralph, are you Pharoah?” someone might say.  And Ralph might respond, “No.” or “Yes.” If Ralph is Pharoah, the person who asked gets Ralph on their team and gets to guess someone else. If Ralph isn’t Pharoah, Ralph has a turn to guess. A team can consult with members. It proceeds until every name has been assigned to it’s rightful owner.

In the room there was a child who must have been three. He was all smiles and bright eyes, eager and very capable of connection and fun, and he was very interested in the game.  “I want to play,” he kept saying, and so he got to “play,” so to speak.   He hadn’t written on a paper of his own, and he didn’t even remember the names that the leader had read from the papers,  but when there was an opening he would ask a question such as, “Maddie, are you Santa?”  or “Dad, are feet-619399_640you the window?” and he had an amazing time.  Sometimes someone would ask him, “Peter, are you Superman?” And he would smile big and respond.  He was charming.

The boy only played according to what he understood, and technically,  he didn’t play by the rules. He did a great job, but he didn’t play right.  Yet he didn’t worry about that. It didn’t even cross his mind. He just played.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of us could be like that, I remember thinking, if I could be more like that. We just jump in and play and enjoy the experience. We don’t worry so much about doing it right or perfectly. We participate. We LIVE.

I was speaking earlier with some people about the hindrance perfectionism can be. Yes, excellent quality is good. Artistry and Mastery are good (the little boy was attempting mastery too). But  we cannot be precisely right in every little thing we do. It is impossible to be impeccable with every little detail of our existence. And many times it hinders our creativity and our life to insist upon it; it paralyzes us into inaction. This is why I love November National Novel Writing Month. We are encouraged to just write, and to edit later. So many amazing gems come out that way that would have been stifled by perfectionism. But there are many other ways to get this balance.

And then  I saw this three year old simply dive in and live.  The scene is worth meditating on.  Sometimes, it really is best to become like little children.

May your day be blessed.

Of Snow, Humanity, and Providence

Last Wednesday I was working in NE Portland when the snow began to come down.  “No problem,” I thought.  “I know how to drive in snow.”  I had, earlier, dropped my phone and it had broken.  I had been planning on getting another one on the way home, and my plan was not swayed.

I slipped a little on my way to a main road,  but turned into a parking lot and I was fine. I paused to pray and remind myself to keep the gears low, and I continued.

Traffic was slow, so slow that I decided not to take 26 West as the line toward the freeway was not moving at all.  I took the Highway 3o Exit, Vaughn Street, and headed South on 25th.  It had taken an hour and 45 minutes just to get that far in all the traffic, and I was desperately in need of a pit stop. But there was nowhere to go.

The snow on the road was packed into ice by then and, heading up 25th toward Lovejoy, I hit a little hill and could go no further. After several attempts sliding, I realized that continuing wasn’t safe, and I turned onto an untouched road and drove easily to a parking spot.

I had not been prepared to leave my car that day. I knew there would be snow, but I knew I knew how to drive in it. I hadn’t planned for this.  All I was wearing was non-waterproof boots, a simple light rain-jacket, a sweatshirt, and light pants, I pondered what I was going to do. Two days before I had, over a week early, put in my car a package of 40 hand and foot warmers for a friend to give to the homeless, so I had those.  I looked in my car for chains. What I found, among other things, was a pair of track pants that I had left in my car,  snow boots I’d bought at a garage sale three years ago and forgotten about,  a sweater,  and poster paint I needed to return to my place of work as I’d hauled it for some reason.  I found no chains. Chains would have been nice.

I took the poster paint and a brush and painted “stuck in snow” in very bold letters on a piece of paper and put it on my dashboard. I took an envelope I had in my purse and  wrote in pen, “stuck in snow, please don’t tow,” and stuck it to my back windshield wipers. I put the track pants over my own, attached footwarmers to my socks and switched to the snow boots, added the sweater to my layers, and set out. Before I even reached the sidewalk a woman walked by with dogs and I began speaking with her. I let her know I wanted to call my family and let them know I was OK.  She said she wished she had her phone on her, but I should knock on a door. “Knock on a door?”  I asked, wondering why anyone in this day and age would open a door to a stranger.

“Everyone understands a snowstorm,” she replied good-naturedly. “I’ll wait here to make sure you are safe.”

I knocked, and two young men and a woman let me use a phone and facilities. I was surprised and very thankful. Afterward I walked over to one store that I knew of in the area. The boots were too big and my feet were hurting. I was so excited by my adventurous predicament, yet  aware that I needed assistance that I spoke to everyone who walked by. I was especially intrigued by the fact that my phone had chosen today to die, and I must live by my wits.  My usual fear of annoying people disappeared with the adventure and the need.

The store had no way to give me cash from a card for bus fare, but I bought some compression socks and the man working gave me some free carbs.  He suggested that I could get cash at  Zupan’s.  As I was leaving the man added, “I don’t think the 20 is running.”  I wasn’t sure quite what I was going to do at that point.  The Max (transit train) stop that I knew of was farther than my feet were going to carry me. At some point someone said the Max might not even be running. There were cars stalled on the tracks and a switch had frozen.

At Zupan’s I bought some dinner,  an abundance of water, and got change for the bus.  The man was most likely right: the traffic  heading West into the hills on Burnside was not running, so the 20 wouldn’t be able to take me.   The people at the counter verified this.   I wasn’t sure about the Max, but I had nothing to do but try.  If I couldn’t get home, I didn’t know where I would go.  Yet I was still more excited by the adventure of it than afraid for some reason.

While I was eating my dinner, I was aware of many people coming in, sharing their predicaments about the snow or simply making it obvious by their way of moving. I heard someone advise a woman to get an Airbnb as traffic was going nowhere.  Her phone was running out of battery power and I shamelessly made it obvious that I had been eavesdropping as I offered her my phone cord. She was thankful.

Again, somehow unafraid to simply approach people whom I might be bothering, I asked a man if he could check on some Trimet information on his phone for me.  He told me he didn’t think they’d have anything but I could take the Max at a stop four blocks away. I had forgotten about the stop, and I had no idea it was so close. Relief washed through me and grew even stronger as, after I’d gotten a block away, I saw a Max go by. It was running.

While there, I spoke with some people at the stop. One woman had left her car in a place she didn’t even know if she was allowed to park. There were other stories. Everyone seemed jovial though their plans had fallen, they were cold, and they were only focused on getting home. Was it because it was an adventure? Was it because no one was alone in this?  We were all simply thankful for the Max.  One man told me that he’d checked and the trains were running every 15 minutes. Such good news!  I asked if anyone was cold and gave out my extra pair of foot warmers and a hand warmer, and we took the train together.  I commented on how friendly everyone was, and one young woman shared that she was concerned about her phone running out, and I wondered if that is why people weren’t staring at their phones.  It was a welcome change.  However, I think there’s more to it.  People were coming together to share the experience.

After I left the Max, I made my way over to the Hospital I live near. I was going to go into it and rest a while before taking the long way to my house, but I just wanted to be home.  The short way was down a steep hill, but I could do this. It would get me home quickly. I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go, but I went.

This was a fairly deserted path. Others use it, but I hardly ever see anyone.  I made it to the top, about to go down, and I saw two figures behind me. It was a man and a woman. After chatting briefly, the man carried one of my bags of supplies while helping his lady friend and I down the hill.  At the most slippery places, a hand was there to steady me. And I made it home.

Portland isn’t very equipped for snow. We don’t salt, we have so many hills, we have more people than the roads can handle, and the temperature stays so close to freezing that it ices and melts and ices and melts creating very slippery conditions.  But in what other people considered a disaster, all I found was blessing after blessing.  An empty parking lot was there when I slid.  A parking space was there when I needed to park. Though I was unprepared, everything I needed for the snow and keeping warm just happened to be in my car, and I hadn’t prepared. I am not even one to put an item in my car a week and a half early, yet I did, and the needed warmers were there.  The woman was walking her dogs at the exact right time to help me have the courage to ask for help.  The people in the house helped me.   Helpers suddenly appeared when I needed to go down the steep hill.  And the amazing thing is, if I had had those chains, I would have been stuck in traffic for hours to come.  Everything worked out in the best way possible.

There are so many lessons for me in this.  Most of all, I was struck by what was providential.  I found out recently that my friend who was giving the warmers to those on the streets has the exact amount she needed plus one,  the others that I had used and given away that day were, all along,  destined for me to use. Sometimes what seems to be the worst situation is really the best (remember the lack of chains).   Despite whatever darkness I see in the world, so many people are still kind.   Even if I’m not prepared and not doing the absolute right thing,  or if I have a fault such as leaving things in my car,  God can work anyway. It’s not up to us doing the perfect thing or having our ducks in a row.  Joy is found in living the experience of the moment which is a gift.  And of course I can’t deny this one:  Adventure makes the heart soar.  The whole adventure, those difficult and physically painful, was a gift.

Whatever you are struggling with, may you pause to notice what good you’ve been brought today, and may you have hope.

May God bless your day.