Monday, December 12, 2011

Love and the Lunar Eclipse

I recently  read an article writen a woman, a mother, whose child has a disease with a death sentence.  The child, the baby, the beloved son will loose his life by his third birthday.

The woman, the mother is on the clock. She has learned a few lessons about what is important in life sooner than most. The striving has taken second place to the savoring. What to feed, where to educate, how to excel; all those questions now not so important. How to love is.

He child will die. The only questions that remain are how to live now. And how to love. Now.

Saturday morning 7 am. The phone rings. Fine by me, I'm awake ( as all over the age of 50 are?) but who is calling? It's Emily.

Oddly enough Emily often calls at this time of day but not on a weekend. I know I'd better hurry and look to the east when I hear the phone ring that time of day.  She calls me on her way to school with excitement typically reserved for bigger things. But she, it appears, is her mothers daughter in this way. A beautiful sunrise is a big thing. 

What a wake up call.
But on a Saturday?  Well, it turns out there was to be an lunar eclipse and she and Caleb ( who is such a man that would happily do this) were driving downtown to get a better view from the top of a parking garage.

They would pick me up if I liked. I liked.

It was a wild goose chase. We did manage a glimpse craning our necks through the car window.  But by the time we made it downtown, and after scaling two parking garages all the way to the top, fog, and the rising sun had shrouded the moon.

To say this morning was anything short of perfect though would be to miss the point. We were pursing beauty and we found it. We didn't find it in the sky but rather in our hearts.  You should have heard us laugh at ourselves. Not only could we not see the moon, we got "dizzy sick" spinning up and down the parking garages. Over the bagels and coffee that followed  the same sun that obscured the eclipse revealed something even more beautiful. Because when you do anything out of love the sun and the Son can shine through.

We get up early to pursue our jobs, our ambitions, our goals.  The striving is important. The educating and the earning, and the pursuing. But this was Saturday. We could pursue something else. Because we too are all on the clock.

Because we know how fleeting sunrises, lunar eclipses and life are. Because you've got to grab the good when you can. Because there is plenty of pain and ugliness in life. Because beauty is one of Loves faces. And if we let it, Love conquers all, shines through all.  One sunrise, or lunar ecplise, or belly laugh at a time. And I bet that young mother and her son would have been at the top of the parking garage with us.

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game It's easy. There's nothing you can make that can't be made. No one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time -
 It's easy. All you need is love, love, love is all you need. The Beatles


Sunday, December 4, 2011


For this moment.

For this moment I am content.

 All is well, all is perfect, in this cocoon of my moment.

Last nights magical moonlit dance with my shovel under waning flakes, a memory.

Muffled silence of the wet heavy snow weighs on every branch I see outside my window.

Winters first snow.

The newly risen sun leaves the blanket of comfort and adds the joy. It screams wow-wie what a world. The sweet dance of the old and the new, like a rocking-chaired grandma reaching out for the new born babe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods...

As kids we really did travel over the river and through the woods ( Hudson river, Berkshire mountains) to grandmothers house for Thanksgiving ( albeit by car, not sleigh). Throw in the stop to watch the  Fox Hunt (beautiful!) and the likely covering of snow and you about had all the bases covered. This was diminished (although probably only in my eyes) only by the fact that our table held  just my brother and I, my parents and grandparents. As one who craved a big noisy, happy, well, Italian like family, my little, not so noisy Norwegian one fell just a bit short . But, it was a day of warmth and goodness and love. The chairs were full and our hearts were too. We were blessed and knew it. A place, a day, I will always remember.

While our kids were growing up the picture was similar. Over the river ( Missouri) and through the woods ( well, Loess Hills) to their grandmothers house we went. No Fox Hunt, but the table was a bigger and noisier. While still of Nordic stock, (hugs, no kisses) our four kids did their part and the "Step's" ( siblings and cousins that is) added theirs. The days were good.  Every single one.  Blessings and prayers were shared and counted. A tear or two were shed for what we had. The chairs were full and our hearts were too. We were blessed and we knew it. A place, a day I will always remember.

This year the table will hold only Paul and I, his mother and husband, and my mother.  Divorces and death, kids scattered where they live and work, too many rivers and woods, dollars and days away, have shrunk the table again.  Last year I cooked but illness and weather consipired against us. We two were alone. This year our table will be at a restaurant. But I expect, like the last 52 I've been gifted with, it will be good. Blessings and prayers will be shared and counted. A tear will be shed for all that we have. There will be empty chairs and hearts both full and empty. We are blessed and we know it. And I expect and place and a day I will always remember.

"There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all"

The Beatles

Thursday, November 17, 2011


There is something achingly beautiful about seeing the men and women, oldish and older, aptly self described as a mini UN, making, creating, a thing of beauty. A thing, a  piece of art really that they, in any other scenario, would never encounter.
The immigrants ,the aging hippys, the boy from down the block, the women who seem better suited for the rocking chair, all investing mind, body and spirit for the better part of their lives, have clearly created and received something more than a paycheck.
The story is simple. "The Making of Steinway number L1037" is about just that. The years journey from a piece of wood to instrument.
It drew me in. These people embody the power of passion, pursuit of excellence, pride of work. I don't know what their wage is, apparently enough to build a life, if modest, but not enough to own an instrument of their own but  not so little that they leave for greener pastures.  Ever. But I venture to say a wage is not their primary reward.
They clock in, punch out, sweep up after the day, exit en mass, eat lunch from their brown bags. But this is no ordinary factory.
They make instruments. I will never look at a piano in the same way. I figure we must be created in our Creators image to in turn be the creators of such a thing.
They make instruments and they are the instruments. Sort of an unbroken circle. As we, or the planks of wood and wire, submit to the duress of the molding, the instrument is formed.
Assisi Italy, a place of deep and gentle beauty produced it's insturment too.

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy"
St. Francis

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Septembers Soul

Yesterday , the pool, me in the chair hat on head, tablet in hand, phone momentarily  set aside. The banter of the lone mommy and child drifts across the pool, the middle age couple reading  across the way, stiff, warm distinctly summer breeze ,the grasshoppers, the bees, the quiet, the settled-ness. The remnants of Summer.

Mid 1990's, September, front porch swing, Happy Hollow Court. I wait. The kids, walking or running, will turn the corner, almost home.  The bees, the crickets, the grasshoppers, the settled-ness. The remnants of summer.

The moment is a perfect, stand alone moment. Both days.  Like the month itself . August, reluctant to leave, October a breath, a breeze away. The door of change  unlatched but not yet cracked open. But it won't take much.  A reluctant, but content,  good-bye, an anticipated, but unhurried, welcome. The pause of peace.

September knows the storms of Winter are around the corner. It knows the giddy alive-ness of Spring, and the mellowness of  Summer will follow too. It knows, but it knows they hold no cause for concern.  It Begs us to linger here. For just a moment.

So I do. Savor the past, anticipate the next, swirl it around like a juicy grape in my mouth before I bite. And then I do....pack up the hat, and tablet, feel my heart smile as the kids appear, deal with the phone or get snack on the table and off we go. I will keep the Secret of September in my Soul.

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."
Horatio Spafford

Monday, August 29, 2011

Know Your Slippers

 On Sunday afternoon I took in "Hildegard Without Walls " event in Lincoln. A number of local houses of worship were open and their members turned docents shared their spiritual, architectual, and historic stories. Stained glass and Torahs, organs and wheelchairs. And what, by the way does it say about Lincoln that two local women put together this project (year long series) as simply their labor of love and that Lincolnites flock to it?

Sunday evening brought a shower to kick off wedding season for my dear friends daughter. The beauty and hope of young love.

On Saturday afternoon Paul put on his handyman hat and scraped and painted our window sashes along with mowing and a "few" other honey do's.

Caleb tackeled the bright red basement bath and more notably the wallpaper boarder.  Now I have my beautiful, or at least basic beige, bathroom that I have been longing for.

Emily and I took in the farmers market with all things good. Local produce ( corn, greens, honey and an heirloom tomato or two), strains of Mozart or Don McClain on every corner,  coffee from the Mill, old friends to greet ( and make promises to get together soon) . We cut that short to scoot off to a listing appointment.... .not ready to sell yet but a delightful aquaintance made.

 We girls threw together a lunch feast from the bounty of the market and our garden. We filled the grill with pizzas  loaded with all sorts of yummy freshed picked things, corn on the cob and sat down to savor.

During all this painting, scaping and mowing I had another agenda. My book, on the deck, dabbled sunlight, gentle breeze, 83 degrees..Yessss
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese charachter Gosh tells a tale of a merchant who trys to no avail to dispose of his cursed slippers.
 "In order to start to get rid of your slippers, you have to admit they are yours"..

 Emily napped, Paul scraped, Caleb painted, Christian at his desk in D.C., Anna and JohnMarshall doing their Saturday in Dallas, Kate making last minute preperations before todays start of school, and I read.

My family, my own muddled self, my friends, my town, my aquaintances old and new, all quite imperfect ( to say the least...but that's for another day). But we work, we love, we share, we seek, we create, we savor and we share the joys and the pains. These are my slippers. I know them well. And they fit me quite well.

"The key to your happiness is to own your own slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The river of joy

The kiddos are going back to school today. Facebook is full of pictures of backback laden kids with smiling faces and posts from tearful mothers. The first day of kindergarten, junior high, senior year or freshman in college.

At Target last night searching for some hanging folders ( none found) I found instead the "back to school aisle". Ah, the pencils ( and their cases), looseleaf notebook paper( limited quanitity please), the binders,  the dividers and the pocket folders. I want to buy my supply. Instead I listen. The harried mommies saying things like "you only get..", or "I'm not buying", or "You don't need"...Moments missed.

But it's not really about need. Or at least that kind of need. At the gym yesterday I overheard another mommy confess that she was just not up to the chaos (mutliple children)  so she went "school supply shopping" on her own. Isn't that an oxymoron?  A loss of sorts for all. A moment missed.

But then there are the gentle ones. An immigrant ( or so it appeared due to her broken English and her kids mastery of it) mommy listening to her school bound youngsters in all their enthusiam, mirroring back their joy, rolling with the idea for a moment,then gently steering them back toward needs more than want. These children were happy. Their mother was too. A gentle joy. Somehow she seemed to know that secret. That this was it. Right here, right now. These are the moments that make the life.

"How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of humans is to resist it"  E. Lesser. We gray haired mommies who now start our days with a cup of coffee, alone, know something. We remember these moments with a tear ( or two ) And we know there are many more to come. To quote someone, not sure who " to say good-bye it to die a little".  And, " to become a mother is to wear your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life".  It all boils down to pain. The pain of letting go. The pain of love.

That, of course it not the end of the story. "Weeping may last the night, but joy comes in the morning" Psalms 30. For me this is why:

"When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy" Rumi

My grand adventure, my river of joy, is the raising of my kiddos. I have savored every step of the way. I know that the letting go is my gift to them. I know that school shopping chaos, or college drop offs, or kindergarten send offs are all part, all little streams, that flow into my river of joy. Bring on the tears....they fill my river.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A lesson from a friend

I've "facebooked" my friend Kathy recently. It got me thinking about how much my friends have brought to my life and how much I have learned from them.  I don't see Kathy much anymore but she is no less important to me. She would be surprised to know how much she has taught me.

When we met over 25 years ago Kathy and I were the only adult wait staff at the Spaghetti Works restaurant. In another world we wouldn’t have given each other the time of day.We are quite different women. But motherhood worked its bonding magic.  She and I were the only mothers amoung a staff of college students. We both had newborns AND we pregnant with our second children. Yikes!

 Kathy was tall, blond, funny, bright and hardworking. She looked like a teenager.  In fact she was only nineteen.  ( I was merely blond and hardworking) .We ate spaghetti together after work and soon had play dates with our kids ( although we didn’t think to call them that then)  and dates with our husbands. She has been one of my dearest friends for 25 years.
I still carry with me her nuggets of wisdom about budgeting  and making a good life out of a little income. But mostly I've learned about marriage.

In another world she would have been a CEO or CFO of corporate America.  Between her pregnancies she went back to school to get her bachelors degree. She got cancer instead.  She taught me paper towels are cheaper than napkins, the difference between thrifty and cheap and how to afford the  very fun things of life like the final four tickets they always seemed to get.  Kathy and Jeff started out young and poor. Two babies came before the first cancer two more after .Before she was forty she dealt with cancer a second time and her son was in  car accident that left him paralized. Life hasn’t turned out like they planned. 

 Kathy and Jeff are still married to each other. They have a good life. They are  one of the most handsome couples I know.  I still see that nineteen year old girl underneath the scars of life.  I still see that young carefree couple full of optimism and joy.  Most importantly I think they still see that in each other.  They teach me why it is good to have a partner to journey though this life with. When Kathy and Jeff were at their altar nearly thirty years ago they had no idea what they were signing up for. Life can be hard. Marriage can be hard.  Life usually turns out differently than we expect.  I think this is why we cry at weddings.  In the optimism and naivite, of love of the young say their "I do's". They have no idea they are signing up for. Jeff and Kathy didn't.  We sure didn't. But I'm glad we signed up.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Music in My Head

The silence in Toadstool park in remote western Nebraska was deafening. Aside from the gentle sounds of the height of summer there was perfect stillness. I remember it well although it was probably 15 years ago....How many places like this are left? How fortunate I am to find it. And remember it.

I love peace and beauty. The sounds and sights of nature and classical music are my usual source. The best way to set my spirit for the day is to slide a Bach or Mozart or St. Olaf Choir CD into the player. But I've noticed recently that I haven't been doing this for quite a while. I wondered why. Was it just laziness or hurried-ness?

 I crave silence. Whether on my mat at the end of yoga class, or on my deck on a summer day where the dappled sunlight reaches through the vines to my legs, or in my bed waking up on a slate blue winter morning as I watch the sky for the promise of dawn, ...and on and on. 

 As one who has been on one to many diets I remember how the taste of sweet is so very, very... well, sweet after doing without. I roll it over on my tongue. My palate notices and savors. And I think thats it. I have been privy to so much beauty that I need time to absorb it, to experience it, to roll it over in my soul so to speak. The Music is already there. The silence allows the hearing. And the savoring.

"Beautiful Nebraska, peaceful prairieland,
laced with many rivers, and the hills of sand,
dark green valleys cradled in the earth,
rain and sunshine bring abundant birth
Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
you will find a rainbow reaching to the ground.
all these wonders by the Master's hand,
Beautiful Nebraskaland.

We are so proud of this state where we live.
There is no place that has so much to give.

 Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
you will find a rainbow reaching to the ground.
all these wonders by the Master's hand,
Beautiful Nebraskaland"

by Jim Fras

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Weight of Love

I'm missing my "big kids". That would be my 26 and 27 year olds. My  "little girls" are with me. Little as in 23 and 24 years. But thats what we used to called them. The big kids and the little girls. Older of course is a relative term when a mere four and a half years seperates the first and last born.

We just had our first, very own, family reunion. Not a big crew mind you, just our little crew of the four core, two sons in law, and us old-ish folks. Nor was this a typical head back to the hometown or family farm type or assembly over the holiday table sort of thing. None of the typical gathering reasons or places.  This was Dallas. In July. And our reason was love.

Kate first floated the idea a few months back. Where and when evolved around the usual things like schedules and committments of all sorts. "Reply All" emails revealed one weekend this summer that would work. And we would meet in Dallas where the fewest airline tickets were need and we had willing hosts (  who just moved into a two bedroom home...can you say guest room?). What Kate kicked off, Anna and JohnMarshall ( the hospitable hosts) ran with. We booked our nearby hotel with a great swimming pool ( remember Dallas in July ).

And we gathered. Kate arrived first from Memphis, we Lincoln four arrived next, and by evenings end Christians flight made it in and we were together.
Someone who loves words like I do recently said that their ought to be a unique word in the english language to describe what a mother feels when her children are all gathered together. That that experience is like no other I can attest to.

What we did  (eat, talk, lay by the pool, eat, talk, decide where to eat, talk, play charades, talk) was not what I will remember. ( Well maybe charades). It was the  being.  Being comfortable flopped together on the giant bed/chairs by the pool, being in the room next to my sleeping daughter, being in Anna and John Marshalls house and having their presence seep in, being together as twos, and fives, and three as we went to starbucks, or back to the room, or to Mass. It was simple  presence, the being,  whether just sharing space or snuggling, or overhearing giggling or discussions about jobs ( especially those lawyer kids billing 200 hours a month), future plans and dreams.
And now I'm lonesome for all that.

Departure day as we waited for our rides Kate landed briefly on my lap  ( with a little encouragment from me). It was such a lovely and rare thing, an adult child on my lap. Although she doesn't weigh much, she was heavy!  But the weight of love is willingly born.

My mind is still stewing on that stil un-named word but my heart knows it well.  And part of that mother love is the price of love. And the price of love is the weight of love on our hearts. Or our laps. I'm game for it all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Prayer

I was the neighborhood babysitter when the kids were young. We often had a collection of neighbhood children playing in our driveway before school at our home on  Happy Hollow Court. The kids loved it. But as much as they liked playing with the "babysitting" kids they liked a little quiet time alone with me before the activity began. So they got up early. Very early. ( as sleep deprived teenagers they lamented their lost sleeping opportunities...) One of the favorite activities before babysitting friends, before school, was reading. Outloud. By me.
We could just feel the chill of the Long Winter as we read by our fireplace on those dark winter morning. I could hardly hold back the tears as Laura left her family home to marry Almonzo. The girls laughed at Nellie Olsons leaches on the Banks for Plum Creek. We all had our favorite book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series ( Nobody really liked Farmer Boy though.) Time to turn the page? A "tap, tap" on the chosen childs head was the code. The funny little things that seem meaningless , over time became woven into something more. Something bigger.Our hearts and our bodies knit together on our couch transported our spirits. Our little cozy cocoon was also a prayer.

"Sometimes the best prayer comes out of reading rather than praying. Good reading touches all the questions of our life, stretches us beyond ourselves to find answers and brings us face-to-face with the Mystery that is God." -Joan Chittistero

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Do You Run?

It was a busy day yesterday. I began the morning with a tinge of angst. As I checked the newly listed properties I noticed that a friend of mine had listed with another agent. Ouch. I know, I know, there are many reasons sellers might not list with me but still, ouch.

My friend Abby and I started our real estate careers at the same time. I did well. She took off like a rocketship. In addition, often when I checked the "hot sheet" of new listings I found familiar names listing with others. Ouch.

But here is what I learned that first year, and was reminded of again yesterday. My job is to do my job. My job is to make every effort to be the person I want to be. Here is what happed to me. As I learned to truly be happy for my friend, being her friend became not just a joy to me but also a help to my business. As I helped her  my business also benefited. I would do an open house for her....and I found a buyer etc. I continue to be her biggest cheerleader and she is mine.

So, yesterday my twinge of ouch quickly left. I rested in what I have learned. And let go and set out for my day and to work on my business.  At peace. 

It was pie day. My friends grandchildren were visiting her and Conner loves to bake pies and I love to be with those sweet children.  Monday afternoon was our pie baking date . As schedules often do, mine got filled up quickly and I was so tempted to cancel pie baking. Here's why.  I got a call to list two houses. Today. I'm learning not to be surprised. One listing "lost" two gained.

But I knew urgent and important are not always the same thing. So we baked pies. I stopped "running" And it was my sabbath hour. The most fulfilling, joyful hour of the day.  And listed TWO houses.

Rabbi Levi saw a man running in the street, and asked him "why do you run"? He replied, "I am running after my good fortune!" Rabbi Levi tells him "Silly man, your good fortune has been trying to chase you, but you are running too fast."
Traditional Tale

Monday, June 20, 2011

Third Best

As I hung up the phone moments ago DJ Dales segue was  "now for the other half of the mother daughter team". I had just pitched one of our new listings and now it was Emilys turn to pitch another one.

Emily is a teacher without a teaching job. A really good teacher in a not so good economy. So with a bit of encouragement from her realtor mother she got her real estate license. Call it plan B. And those of use with more than a few decades behind us, and the young who will listen to us,  have learned that sometimes plan B or C or even D are not to be missed. As my nephew Sam recently spoke about in his Valdictory graduation speech he is thankful for his failures as they led him to where he is today.

Emily is my buddy. My youngest. The only child to stick around her hometown. Most that know her (even her siblings)  would agree that she is simply one of the most delightful people you care to know.

The funny thing is that real estate is not plan A for either of us.  It is definately B or C.  She is a teacher without a job, a coach without a team. I am a mom whose kids grew up and a wife whose husband now needs me to share the financial responsibility.

The two greatest blessings in my life are my marriage and the children born to that marriage. I was a child in my twenties when these gifts were given. In hindesite I see how amazing it is that we as well intentioned but immature people we have managed to hang on to the goodness of our marriage and not fall prey to the distruction of the pain of it. Likewise how we managed to parent while still in the unconsiousness and baggage of our youth and raise four children of sound character who love each other, the Lord and us, is nothing short of amazing. Grace.

As I see it, at this moment in my life, my third greatest blessing is the partnership between Emily and I. Grace yes, but in this case consciousness as well. A Thomas Merton fan, he has shaped my decision to yield to the Divine. To know that knowing best isn't everything. That my ego is often the biggest road block to the greater good. That " In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be, and in order to find myelf I must go out of myself, and in order to live I have to die". T. Merton.

Emily and I work together. Everyday. She is, as they say, "hungry". And she is good. She interacts with clients as if she has done this her whole life. She attributes her success to me and I attribute mine to her. Each time a seller or buyer comes to us we say to each other "feel free to take this one yourself, please don't feel you have to share". but we want to. We like working together. In spite of spliting all of our proceeds I have never had more business and never made more money that I have this year. It seems we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I am learning how little I know. How the One that created me knows me best, and how failure and disapointment can be simply a segue to a greater good. Like  honestly saying I LOVE my job! Here is to failures, plans B or C, and the third best things in life!  Like Dales segue "now for the other half of the mother daughter team". .........

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This my grateful hymn of praise

Franklin at my feet, cats finished their playtime fight ( Lizzie left, Henry fell asleep),  the top of the poplar trees in the park swaying and the leaves of the fruit trees providing gentle sounds and breeze, the tomato plants looking taller overnight, first cup of coffee finished, paper perused,Paul relaxed and chatting across from me. Soon the walk, the garden,  the grocery list, the print outs for open house, the emails returned......

"For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise."

Soon the walk, the garden,  the grocery list, the print outs for open house, the emails returned......but not yet. First I savor.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy as Kings?

"The world is so full of a number of things,I'm sure we should all be happy as Kings".
I know. But I don't.
I miss : sitting by the pool on a summer day, watching kids play soccer ( and talking with the parents), playing golf, (NEVER thought I'd say that), neighboring, pushing kids on the park swings, enjoying a cocktail without getting a headache, sleeping all night, having a full table at dinner.....
But I'm learning to savor, or at least accept, the discomfort of the moment. And be ready for the next. I'm betting even kings have melancholy days.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June morning on the deck

Coffee in hand, laptop on lap, Franklin at my feet, Henry laying on oposite chair ( the lone sunny spot), gentle breeze, swaying branches, noisey birds(mostly Robins this year, miss my Cardinals) , a distant siren, rushing cars. The day awaits. And wait it must. Another moment or two

"Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up".
 Mother Teresa.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First we have Coffee

As coffee is one of my pure delights in life it seems a fitting first post as we get to know one another....

A few of the things I love about coffee; The sound of the water being poured in, the sound of the drip, the sound of the carafe being pulled off the burner, the sound of the steaming liquid ( I swear I can hear the steam rising from the mug) , the aroma filling the kitchen, and eventually the feel of my hands wrapped around the mug, breathing in the fragrance of sumatra dark roast ( no light brown stuff for me). And then, finally, finally the first sip. Refreshment for mind body and spirit.

( Speaking of mugs. This is an important part. Four fingers need to fit through the handle and the top needs to be no wider than the bottom. I have my favorite, just the right size and shape, painted with Norwegian folk, handed down to me from my mother.)

 Now, I enjoy a cup almost any time of day but by far the best cup of the day is usually the first. This is why. I usually I get to hear all this from my beloved bed as my beloved husband ( who doesn't touch the stuff) makes this for me every morning and he delivers it to me along with the morning paper.
 I savor and sip my morning cup and soak in the new day and the trees outside my window. Whether snow covered, or bare, newly budding or lush floiage, sun or clouds, I relish the beauty. It is often a sacred moment.

As rich as those solitary moments are some days there is  even a better cup. The days I have coffee.  As in "to coffee". The noun and the verb at once. How much fellowship, how many tears, joys, or secrets have been shared while cradling the steamy mug in hand sitting across the kitchen table? Perhaps I will share some of my stories later, I would love for you to share some of yours.

I come from good Norwegian stock so perhaps it's part genetic. I have a coffee pot from my great-grandmother Katinka. Another Norwegian, Margaret Jensen titled her book "First we have Coffee". Her preface includes these word that sum up her, and my, not only love of coffee but the sacredness of it. 

"Slowly we walked to the big house where logs blazed and coffee perked. As old stories and familiar hymns filled the air, the warmth of friendship and loving memories filled our hearts.
With coffee cup in hand I moved close to the fire to watch the flaming logs. An amber glow of love and warmth  engulfed me and I knew that Mama lived on somewhere beyond the storm, safely in the house of the Lord forever.
I also knew that I had to write the story of Mama and her Norwegian coffee, poured with that some amber glow of love.
Being the eledest, I remember much. The story began for me when I found Mama's Norwegian diary in the right hand corner of an old chest-but before se start, first we have coffee."

Daughter Anna and husband John Marshall were home this weekend.Young professionals starting careers we hadn't seen them in months. They arrived during the wee hours after a 10 hour drive and slipped into the basement guest room. As I sat at the kitchen table the next morning coffee in hand they each in turn padded up the stairs, stopped first at the coffee pot, poured their cup, gave me a hug and joined me at the table and we began to catch up. By first having coffee.

Seeking, Savoring and Sharing

I am here. What a gift. I don't take this for granted. I have been here for almost 52 years. I have learned a few things along the way, not just because my years are mounting up but because I am a seeker of wisdom. Wisdom comes for me usually in the small, ordinary moments. If any moment is really ordinary.

I am learning to savor. Each moment. Quite easily in joy, still a struggle in pain. I am learning to be present, here, now, with each breath. To not run from the pain, to not  hold on to the joy too long. To yield to what is, to hold the moment gently and then release it.  To recognize it for the gift it is. But we so often "have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear" (Jeremiah )

I know the importance of sharing. I am a sponge for the wisdom others have poured out.  Many of my musing are nothing more than recyled thoughts of others. "There is nothing new under the sun"( Ecclesiastes).  

These musing are my attempt to see and hear, seek and savor and perhaps in the process share a drop or two with you.

"Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy" Rabi Heschel