It’s Mother’s Day.
Eileen received a very nice card, signed by all of us and a coil ceramic jar purchased at the high school art show Friday night. It is a lovely pale yellow with accents of green and purple. Everyone is chattering away and wishing Eileen a Happy Mother’s Day over breakfast. A very good start to the day as we head off to church.
Peter has been in an exceptionally joyous mood since he woke up. He is laughing and smiling and very vocal. We sit in our usual spot in church with Peter sitting between me and Eileen. Peter is most definitely enjoying the moment. As the service begins he is dancing and singing with the music. As Jonathan is delivering the message, Peter is affectionately taking my hand and rubbing his head in that certain place and way that he enjoys. Eventually, he leans in and begins to do something he’s never done before. He positions the top of his head against the side of my face and begins to rub his head against my jaw line much like a cat rubs its head against an object. He continues to do this throughout the message, all the while “purring”, sighing and smiling as he enjoys the sensation he gets from this “stimulation”. Even Kris commented on his unusual display of affection
Later that day, Kris and I go fishing in the Lehigh River in Bethlehem. Eileen silently thanks me for a few hours of quiet and relaxation on Mother’s Day. We enjoy the sunshine and the refreshing waters of the river as we rhythmically cast and retrieve our lines. A few hours later, Eileen and Pete surprise us at the fishing hole and Kris proudly displays his first bass of the season.
As the day draws to a close, Kris presents Eileen with a plush toy bunny rabbit that he won several weeks ago in a toy machine outside a big box store. “I got this for you for Mother’s Day,” he says. I was astounded at this breakthrough. This is a big deal! He and Eileen have struggled somewhat in breaking down his old walls and prejudices against mother figures. This day, the walls came down and he showed some genuine affection for her.
As nighttime approached, Eileen and Kris were sitting on the couch – she was watching some TV and he was playing a computer game. Interspersed with that was some conversations about a variety of things. I was upstairs and as I came down the stairs, hearing the conversations … it hit me. A feeling of love and peace washed over me and I realized that we are a family. It’s hard to describe but I just knew that God revealed the blessing of family to me in that moment. It was probably there all along but the busy-ness of the past nine months or so likely clouded my vision. Nevertheless, we are one.
Now, Kris says he’d a like a sister!
It is a cold Sunday afternoon. As I sit here the wind howls outside and drives the already single digit temperatures to below zero. A perfect time to reflect on gratitude.
All too easily the sordid, the ridiculous, the ugly and the dark can carry us away and swallow us up; sometimes it swallows us whole and we can feel like our soul is leaking. We lose sight of the beauty around us for the darker side of things sweeps us away like a flash flood, a veritable torrent, it seems. Before you know it you wind up miles down stream and completely off the map. I know, I’ve been there and it is not a fun place to be (more about that some other time). It took me a few years to get back to a healthy, whole relationship with God and with others and it was a painful journey at times. I’d like to think that I’m a better man for the journey but to be honest, I coast at times and slide down stream a bit. But only for a bit.
It was suggested to me many years ago by people who possess more wisdom than I do, that I periodically make a gratitude list as a way to keep from slipping down stream and going over the falls. The key is to give it some thought, some deep reflection. I find that making the list serves me well on several key points: it keeps me positive; it reminds me that I have much to appreciate in life; it causes me to be mindful of the beauty in everyday things and the beauty in these “common” things are almost imperceptible unless I look for it.
Ugliness, hatred, evil, darkness and fear seem to scream loud and flash in neon lights but beauty … beauty is more subtle. It whispers. It is often shrouded in mist. You have to be open to, present in the moment, it in order to see it’s magnificence in all it’s glory.
So, here are my five things for which I am grateful on this day:
- Francis Albert Sinatra – there is no one whose voice can turn a song, an arrangement, like The Voice. No one!
The Voice from an open source
- Baseball – the greatest game ever invented; it is poetry and ballet on grass, teamwork and also individualism when batter faces pitcher. Today marks the opening of Spring training camp and soon enough there will be cries of “Play ball!”
From an open source
- Language – as limiting as it is at times the ability to express ourselves, to try to be understood and to understand is priceless.
- Music – it’s a variation on language but oh how it touches parts of our inner selves – parts that we thought were impenetrable – and suddenly we are connected with others who are touched in the same way.
From open sources
- The cosmos – the magnificence and beauty of the universe … leaves me humble and in awe.
For a good read on the considered practice of mindfulness and appreciation of beauty (and the joy it brings) check out this little ditty: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/to-instruct-myself-over-and-over-in-joy/7296#comment-1628071