My father turned 80 two days ago. This post is dedicated to him.
Some people, probably many people, have fathers who were either very difficult to live with or rather absent. This was not the case with me. I was blessed with a pretty amazing man for a father. I share this with you not so that you will be envious, but so you can rejoice that there was a man like him in this world.
My father was a carpenter. He worked hard in all seasons and for more than fifty years building and remodeling homes of exceptional quality. I occasionally still run into people who praise him and his work. We were never rich, but we were always well taken care of. I don’t know that he ever missed a day of work except for that time he went to check on a roof when it had been raining and he fell off and broke and bruised a couple of ribs and landed in the hospital.
He would come home from work roughly the same time each day and greet my mother with a hardy “Any phone calls, visitors, company, mail?” And then he’d give her a little kiss or squeeze. He’d wash up, we’d have dinner together, and then we all sat in the living room together watching TV or playing games or reading. In the summer, he might toss us some softballs or swim with us in our above-the-ground pool. He was home every single night unless he and Mom went away for a rare weekend or out to an occasional party or card night. He never hid in his room or a den. He never went out to bars or with friends. He was with us. Whenever he wasn’t working, he was with us.
On weekends, we’d often go to parks or take long drives through the country looking for deer. We took a lot of hikes. Sometimes we fished or skipped rocks. My Dad was the one who taught me the names of trees. It’s because of Dad I can tell the difference between an oak and a maple and a locust tree. It’s because of Dad that I can recognize a shag bark hickory or a horse chestnut. I think I learned my love of nature from him and his father, my beloved Grandpop.
Dad was a gregarious man and often the life of a party. He always greeted people with enthusiasm. Often he would tease people about something or other, or play practical jokes. Probably the most astonishing example was when he was dating Mom and they were driving somewhere together. He casually asked her if she had a stick of gum. She rummaged around in her purse and had trouble finding any, so he suggested she dump her purse out on the seat. (This was back in the day when there was one long front seat between the windows, with no space in the middle for gear shifts or compartments or cup holders.) Mom did as he suggested and there, writhing right next to her, was a little garter snake. She was so freaked out she opened her door and jumped out of the car while it was still moving!
In my hometown I would occasionally have the pleasure of running into a wonderful man named David. He and his family used to go to my parents’ church. A couple of times David went out of his way to tell me that Dad was the very first person at that church to greet him and talk with him and make him feel welcome. You will appreciate this even more when I tell you that David and his family are black and had the courage to walk into a church that was rather lily white. David and his family soon became regulars at that church and David eventually became an extremely well-loved assistant pastor there.
A few years ago, Dad started showing signs indicating a possible onset of Alzheimer’s. I missed the signs in the beginning because I was living out of state and only talked to him on the phone or saw him at Christmas. But after Mom had a heart attack, I moved in with them for a while and began to see the evidence of his decline.
He is now at the stage where he still recognizes his wife and kids, but he mixes up the grandchildren and forgets the names of anyone he didn’t know when he was young, and often, even them. He can do very little now. His attention span is too short and his confusion too great. But he can still love. And he can still be grateful. And he does both with beautiful regularity. He often tells his family members that he loves them, many times choking up in the process. And he never fails to say thank you – often so many times it nearly drives some people crazy! He appreciates every meal prepared, every person who gives him a ride, and every bit of assistance offered to either him or my mother.
He is such a beautiful soul and I am so grateful for him.
Thank you, Dad. You are such an incredible blessing.
I wish you peace and all the love you can handle.
I was walking the labyrinth the other day and I found myself thinking about connections. I thought of the old Kevin Bacon game – Six Degrees of Separation. In this game, an actor is named and then everyone brainstorms about how that person worked with someone who worked with someone who knew Kevin Bacon and soon it becomes clear how everyone in Hollywood is linked.
I realized I didn’t know how or if I was connected to Kevin Bacon (although he was born in Philadelphia – not far from where I lived a majority of my life, so chances are good that I know someone who knows him or I know someone who knows someone who knows him.) But then I excitedly realized I have three friends (that I know of!) who have had personal audiences with the Dalai Lama! How cool is that?! I am only one degree of “separation” – or more accurately, only one person away from being connected to the Dalai Lama! (I personally prefer to think that we are all six degrees of CONNECTED to everyone else. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense?)
I began to think further. My goodness! I met Naomi Tutu last year through my dear friend, Barbara! That means I’m only one degree of “separation” – or, in this new and more logical paradigm, only one or two people away from being connected to Archbishop Desmond Tutu! (And Naomi is quite a shining light in her own right. I was blown away by her presence and speech at a middle school in New Hope, PA last year.)
Then I realized, through Barbara yet again, I am also connected to Mahatma Gandhi because she knows his grandson! (Yes, I know Gandhi is no longer living, but still…) Wow! I love this! I love being connected to all these luminaries on the planet!
Many of us know that there are multiple spiritual traditions that talk about the interconnectedness of everyone and everything on the planet. Shamans and other spiritual folk are familiar with the concept of an energetic web that inextricably links us all one to another. And, of course, obviously we now also have a web of a different kind – the www worldwide web (great name, come to think of it.) Now it is increasingly unusual NOT to be connected!
Our web of influence connects us to family, co-workers, neighbors, clerks in stores, tellers at banks, ticket-takers at toll booths, waitresses at restaurants, clients and customers, people in our place of worship, our children’s friends, our friends on Facebook…. We are so very connected. Now, more than ever, we are connected.
Of course, in addition to being connected to wonderful and famous people like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, I am equally connected to those I may not like or respect very much. I’m sure if I tried (which I confess I do not want to do!) I could find a link from one of my German ancestors to Hitler. I imagine many of you could as well. Remember our connectedness goes in ALL directions to ALL people.
Realize also that along this web of connectedness our thoughts, words, and actions ripple out and touch everyone – both those we “like” and those we don’t. Science is catching up to this concept with the Butterfly Effect. Every little thing we think, say, or do does have an impact. With every thought, feeling, word, song, prayer, and action, we are touching someone. And in fact, because we are all connected, we touch everyone!
So, bearing that in mind, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we each could endeavor to live with as much love and grace, joy and kindness as possible? Let’s remember that the ripples and ramifications of our actions vibrate throughout the web and touch the entire world.
Big blessings to each one of you.
I am glad to be connected with you!
Today is May Day! If you have Celtic ancestors, they would have called it Beltaine. It is a time to celebrate the rich fertile fecundity of the Earth.
In May, everything starts to get so green and lush. Flowers burst into bloom. Trees wake up from their long winter’s sleep. Birds sing. Animals (and humans) mate. And, it is hoped, the crops will flourish. It is a time of unabashed joy and celebration.
Spring in the high desert where I now live is ever so much more subtle. I tell you I celebrate every tiny bit of green that I see! Being an East Coast girl, I am used to feeling incredible joy every time I venture outside at this time of year. Whereas here I can certainly celebrate the warm days and the singing of the birds, but I have to shift my expectations regarding the explosions of color and scent that those of you in most of the country are experiencing right now.
I have become a bit of a green detective out here. For instance, yesterday I noticed there is some green grass growing alongside the roads. And the few scrawny deciduous bushes scattered here and there have teensy tiny green leaves. There are a few willows with their lovely tinge of green. But the cottonwoods are still in their wintery state of undress and the cacti have yet to bloom.
Those of you who have not lived in the desert have little idea of what an unbelievable blessing rain is. You are so used to seeing streams of water gushing along the roads after a hard rain and driving past a multitude of creeks within a ten mile radius of your home.
Here, it is such a gift to find a stream or a lake or a spring. To hear the sound of flowing water is something that generally only happens when we turn on a faucet or shower. (And thank God for that!!!)
So, may I gently remind you when you are tempted to complain on the next rainy day, that water is something we NEED! We can only survive three to five days without water. We need water to drink, to bathe with, to water our gardens and crops with, to wash our dishes and clothes with, and to moisturize our skin. Sitting by a body of water can sometimes bring peace like nothing else. Sitting by a waterfall can elevate the spirit almost instantly. Sitting by an ocean is bliss. Water is medicine to our body and soul.
(And for those who have received so much water that they’re afraid of flooding, try to reframe from being angry at the rain. It is not the rain’s fault. Bless the rain and nicely ask it to visit the deserts and other drought-stricken places.)
So, CELEBRATE today! Celebrate the greening of the Earth! Celebrate this dear planet as she wakes up from her long winter’s nap and bursts into glorious color! Celebrate this natural world that gives us all that we need, for every single thing that we use comes from this Earth. Remember your ancient ancestors who did not take this abundant world for granted. Take a moment today and breathe in the good air, notice the beauty around you, feel the earth beneath your feet, smell the luscious scents, and maybe even… DANCE for the joy of it all!
Like the Earth, may you flower. May you create, may you be fertile, may you be juicy and ALIVE!
Blessed be, dear ones. Blessings do indeed abound.
Hello Everyone! Welcome!
This is my inaugural post for the Blessings Abound blog. What a beautiful honor and opportunity! I pray I can regularly supply you with ample doses of encouragement and inspiration. It would give me great joy to know that I am helping to brighten up your day.
Here are some of my hopes and intentions with this blog:
- To be uplifting and remind us (both you and me) of all the good in this world,
- To help us remember all the many things there are to be grateful for,
- To inspire each of us to be our best and most magnificent selves,
- To be a voice of hope and faith,
- To be authentic and “real,”
- To speak from the heart,
- To help bring into this world just a little bit more joy, peace, and love.
Some people believe they have much to be grateful for, while others struggle to be in that place of gratitude. So today I thought I would focus on the basics. What are the things that each one of you reading this can legitimately be grateful for?
For one, if you are reading this, you are alive. Good job! Thanks for staying alive! That is reason number one to be grateful. While there is life, there is hope!
If you are reading this, you are breathing. Good job. Breathing is good. Breathing keeps you alive. (See previous paragraph.)
If you are reading this, chances are you have a computer, a laptop, a smart phone, or some kind of wonderful technology at your disposal. This is obviously not a basic need, but it can certainly be a blessing. We are each so connected to one another. Many of us know the basic spiritual tenet “We are all connected.” But the internet brings it from the esoteric into the mundane. We have become so accustomed now to the magic of being able to talk to hundreds of people at once (via Facebook or Beliefnet, for instance) or to being able to look up almost any kind of fact or figure we can think of, that we may find it difficult to remember what a miraculous thing this really is.
If you are reading this, chances are you have eyes. This is a good thing! There is so very much beauty to behold on this planet. (And it looks even better when you see it in “real life” and not on your computer screen!) And if you happen to be blind, as is one of my dearest friends, you may still be reading this blog due to the gift, once again, of technology! (See previous paragraph.)
If you are reading this, chances are you have fingers that work. They can type, they can move a mouse, they can turn on the computer or phone. And chances are they can also bring food and drink to your mouth, touch a child or lover or spouse or pet, play games, create works of art, or do any number of things that we tend to take completely for granted. And if you are reading this but perchance you don’t have fingers that work, like one of my clients, then you probably have eyes that move and the technology to use a computer using eye movement! (See previous two paragraphs.)
If you are reading this, you are probably a human being. And the blessing of being a human being is that you can make choices, you can love, you can think, you can work, you can play, you can dream, you can pray, you can make a difference. There are so many amazing things you can do or choose to do as a result of your body, your mind, your heart, and your spirit.
What do you choose to do with this life you have been given? What do you choose to do with this body you’ve been given? What does your precious heart want to do? What does your magnificent spirit ache to do? Do them, friends! Do them!!!
May you be richly blessed.