Of Casseroles And Compassion

All sorrows are less with bread. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Homemade bread and soup 008

 

We did not cook for six weeks. We were fed casseroles and compassion.   During my father’s illness we were fed by friends, relatives, mere acquaintances, and total strangers. We were fed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even the timing of these gifts was in tune. We received what we needed when needed whether it was a meal, a hug, a prayer, or a simple conversation. We had some people who did all of those things and did them multiple times. These were meals and moments born of love.

We went out for breakfast one morning to a local diner after my father’s death. This was an establishment my parents have frequented for years. The owner came by our table to offer her condolences. She added that our meal was on the house. How often do you have that happen?

Through the years I’ve watched my mother cook meals for others in times of need. Now, I do the same. It makes me feel good to help others in some way. Having been on the receiving end of such love and kindness is a feeling I can’t quite express. It’s probably one most people don’t even realize how much it means to the recipient until they’ve been put in a position to be the receiver.

There is much to be said about the power of community. The heart of every family and every community is love. The one thing people in the south do most to show their love is cook for you.  I can’t think of a better way. The love is tasted in every bite, warms your soul, and eases your heart. It brings people together on an intimate level.

There is nothing more enjoyable than breaking bread with a friend. If you aren’t my friend, you will be by the time we finish breaking bread together. Add a glass of wine to that, and we’ll be friends forever!

Spin Cycle: Cooking With Love

A Link Of The Chain

There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny. ~Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805)

golden hour

Often moments of synchronicity pass unnoticed. Other times it’s as if you’ve been jolted awake, completely aware for the first time in your life.

Perhaps ideas and people come in and out of your life many times before you give them proper consideration.  You can’t reach the top of the mountain without starting at the base and climbing up. It is not in looking up or in reflecting the climb, but the journey itself which has the greatest internal impact on your life.

As miraculous as these moments of synchronicity sometime seem, the silent faith that moves you forward is what is important. That “Be still and know that I am God” moment comforts your soul and quiets the chitter-chatter of your mind. It is a letting go process…letting go of control and surrendering to what is supposed to be.

If you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing, it will come back to you until you finally see. You will have the distinct feeling you are in the flow when you are right where we are supposed to be.

May you leave your ego behind today and be led by spirit.

May you guide when needed and follow when supposed to be led.

Might you find your place and feel connection.

May you always be blessed beyond expectation…better yet, toss out the expectations and enjoy the ride.

A Hobo’s Halloween

Pumpkins

 

“You could be Cinderella,” my sister suggested. The light sparkled off the sequins of the white, pink, and yellow prom and pageant gowns handed down to her from our cousin. I fingered the curved edges of the sequins and the smooth bumps of the beads.  She tossed me a hooped petticoat to try on underneath. I swirled in front of the round dressing mirror before I took off the dress and threw it on her bed.

“No thanks,” I called as I headed down the hallway and onto the stairwell.

“So, what are you going to be then?”

“A hobo.”

“Again?”

“Yep.”

“But you’re that every year. Don’t you get sick of it?”

“Nope, it’s the funnest thing to be.” It was almost as fun as rummaging through Daddy’s big closet.

Even the musky, woodsy scent of his closet was different from any area of the house. It smelled like Daddy.  I pulled my way through hunting clothes and fishing hats, and settled on the same thing I always wore…Daddy’s dark Dickies uniform. I stuffed a pillow in the front and back to fill them out. I crammed Daddy’s balled up socks into the feet of his well -worn leather hard toe boots before I slipped my tiny feet into them and laced them up. I staggered to the bathroom sink and hoisted myself to the mirror. I bobby pinned my hair up and pulled a brimmed bucket hat over top. Then I pulled Mama’s eye liner from the medicine cabinet and finished off my face with some whiskers. Not quite sure how my getup made me a hobo, but I dared anyone to question it.

I needed one last prop so I broke a small branch from a tree out back. I layered paper towels inside a red bandana and tied it to the stick.

I stumbled down the bank to Mrs. Kidd’s house. It was the sole place I was allowed to trick or treat. My parents didn’t allow me to go anywhere else as they were afraid I might receive tainted candy or somehow be injured by someone else’s reckless tricks. What they didn’t realize was I’d get those same treats later in the week. My friend, Tee, always ended up with a paper grocery sack filled to the top. Her mama felt sorry for me not being allowed to participate in the candy haul. Much to Tee’s disappointment, her mama made her give me tons of her candy.

I was met by the sugary aroma before I reached the door. As always Mrs. Kidd’s kitchen table was lined up with bags of popcorn, popcorn balls, candy apples, and cookies. She let me grab some of each and then handed me my special bags (double of everything!) she’d set aside on the counter. Since she was my babysitter, I knew I’d get the left overs the next day.

The best part came after I left Mrs. Kidd’s house.  The boots kind of weighed me down so Daddy gave me a boost into his big work truck. We bounced and bumped over to Beasley’s store.

“Grab whatever you want,” Daddy said as he hung out at the counter making small talk with Buck, the owner.

I looked up and down the aisles. I grabbed a Coke and Wise barbecue potato chips.

“Hey, it’s Halloween. You’ve got to get some candy,” Hallie motioned me to the candy counter. She packed the small paper bag with penny candy as I picked them out. Then I told her I wanted a mallow cup and a Hershey bar.

I thrust my load onto the counter. Buck started laughing.

“Good grief, do you really need all that?” Daddy asked me.

“Yes, I do. You told me to get anything I wanted.”

“I heard you say it,” Buck confirmed.

“Well, I guess I did,” Daddy agreed.

Buck rang up the purchases. Hallie bagged the goodies. Daddy paid for my Halloween haul. I smiled the entire time. As we walked out the door, Hallie tossed me another chocolate bar, and yelled “Happy Halloween”.

My coke (and my stomach) sloshed to and fro as we swerved the curves homeward. I lurched forward as Daddy ground the gears a few times. He looked at me and grinned each time. I figured he was trying to shake me up a bit, and it sort of worked. I rolled my window down.

“Stomach bothering you?”

“Nope, just hot with these pillows under my clothes.”  Daddy laughed. I was determined to be as tough as him.

When we got home, I took my stash and tucked myself into my secret nook behind the woodpile at the side door. I emptied the paper towels from the bandana and hid the candy I hadn’t eaten in it. I pretended to be a hobo who just found some gold and hopped a train…kind of like my night.

Not to be allowed to trick or treat, I made out big time!

It wasn't Halloween, but Daddy let me dress him up with earrings, hat, and sunglasses!

It wasn’t Halloween, but Daddy let me dress him up with earrings, hat, and sunglasses!

Spin Cycle: Halloween

Upon An Orchard Twilight

The sun left her golden shawl behind as she slipped behind the mountains.

The sun left her golden shawl behind as she slipped behind the mountains.

As the remnants of sun settled over the mountains, peace settled into the meadows.

As the remnants of sun settled over the mountains, peace settled into the meadows.

As we approached the fence, the cows greeted us. DirtMan claimed this was because we were standing in front of their feeding trough. However, they wagged their tails when I talked to them and followed me up and down the fence line, Yes, the cows and I connected on another level.

As we approached the fence, the cows greeted us. DirtMan claimed this was because we were standing in front of their feeding trough. However, they wagged their tails when I talked to them and followed me up and down the fence line, Yes, the cows and I connected on another level.

 

 

This one stopped grazing and listened intently to my every word. Who doesn't enjoy being the center of attention, even if it's to a herd of cows?

This one stopped grazing and listened intently to my every word. Who doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention, even if it’s to a herd of cows?

The cows seemed sad to say goodbye...ok, maybe they were sad we didn't fill their grain trough.

The cows seemed sad to say goodbye…ok, maybe they were sad we didn’t fill their grain trough.

There is such a simple  beauty and comfort in farms and orchards.

There is such a simple beauty and comfort in farms and orchards.

A scene of serenity.

A scene of serenity.

 

We left the orchard awash in the glow of dusk.

We left the orchard awash in the glow of dusk.

 

There Will Be Times…

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There will be times we lean on our own understanding.

And there will be times we lean on the understanding of others.

There will be times we think we know it all.

And there will be times we think we know nothing at all.

There will be times we need to be alone.

And will be are times we need to be with friends.

There will be times we see the colors of life.

And there will be times we can hardly see at all.

There will be times we hold others up.

And there will be times others hold us up.

There will be times the beauty of life reaches out and grabs us.

And there will be times we must reach out and grab the beauty.

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul. ~Democritus 

Humpback Rock 075

Whether nuggets are found in those mountains or beauty is found in the golden leaves, the greater gold is the warmth found within the soul.

What are you desires for today? Are your longings complex or as simple as being here for this moment? Can you reach within and pull out a nugget to share? Most people don’t want all you have; they just want a bit of you.  It might be your time, your energy, your love, or simply your take on life. Whatever you have is of value to someone else…and that piece you share makes them feel valuable.

What does it mean to live a life fulfilled? Does it mean to die without regret or to live in peace? Chasing happiness is as elusive as digging for gold…there is just never enough to satisfy once it is tasted.  When happiness is allowed to find you right where you are living life, in the midst of awareness, of peace within, it is always enough.

May you find gold in the hills within your soul. May you always have enough. May you learn to share that “enough” with others. May your heart shine like gold and warm those around you. May you always be blessed and be a blessing to those you meet on the journey of life.

There’s Something About Autumn

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Fall leaves 2012 185

There is something about autumn that does my soul good.

There is something about the change and uncertainty that gets my juices flowing.

There is something about the crisp tickle of wind against my neck that stirs my imagination.

There is something about the glorious mixture of scarlet, avocado mustard, and pumpkin that recharges my creativity.

There is something about the slice of sun filtering through the rustle of leaves that warms me from the inside out.

There is something about the rough edge and smooth body of an acorn that is so familiar to me.

There is something about the pine needles falling like tears that makes me reach within myself.

There is something about the birdsong that says I’ll make it through winter.

There is something about the sweetness of apples and pumpkins that take me home.

There is something about the woody, spicy scents of the woods that comfort me.

There is something about the other tall, stark trees that bravely stretch to the heavens.

Perhaps it is simple witness in the beauty of death and the hope of rebirth.

Spin Cycle: Autumn

On Vision And Visibility

Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. ~Jonathan Swift

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How do you see people? Do you look at them, over them, through them, or into them? Perhaps, that alone is a question of faith. How deeply do you dare to look?

Sometimes what we see gets in the way of what we’re looking at. Yes, you read that correctly. Often we rarely see past our own assumptions.  We are each vulnerable to being noticed.  We know most people don’t get past the clothes on our backs or the expressions on our faces. The eyes only see a fraction of what is there…the heart sees the rest.

There are people who want to be the center of attention, others who wish to remain unnoticed, and those who enjoy mingling and getting to know others. Given the situation we might become all three of those types. We want to be seen until we are and don’t want to be. Or we don’t want to be seen until we aren’t and want to be. And so the story goes. Have you ever felt invisible, meaningless; like those in the room with you don’t know or care you’re there?  We are put here to love and be loved by others. We can’t do that if we aren’t willing to see or be seen.

What is in your line of vision? Do you surpass all others in view of the object of your attention? It’s a human tendency to zero in on our subject and neglect all surplus matter. The perspective differs depending on whether you are the lens, the subject, or the surplus matter. The point is we are each important whether we realize it or not. Let someone know you see them. Show them they matter to you.

Do you see others the way you wish to be seen? People deal on all levels. Some are only interested in superfluous relationships or fair weather friends while others want more than acquaintances. Compassionate people generally peer into souls. They feel the weight of other people’s worlds.

It might not be so much what you see but the acknowledgment of your vision. There is a difference between being recognized and being known…it’s all about the relationship. You have the opportunity to look for God in every face you see. You have the power to validate someone’s existence with a smile, a touch, or a word.

I wish your day to be filled with beautiful encounters. May you encourage the downtrodden and strengthen the weak. May you be a positive influence and make a difference in someone’s life. Might your compassion be a light in this dark world. May your vision give another hope that no one journeys this world alone.

Sight is a faculty; seeing is an art. ~ George Perkins Marsh

Living From The Inside Out

Grief does not change you. It reveals you. ~John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

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Every moment is special. It is ripe with opportunity.

Something extraordinary rests in every ordinary moment. These are the lessons in life that aren’t planned, but orchestrated by powers beyond us.

Life (and death for that matter) is action, and our reaction to the given situation comes from the core. It tells who we are, what we’re made of. Like it or not, both pleasure and stress divulge our inner character. You never know what moment will be the one that springs back in memory as one of great importance, whether it is of joy or regret.

Sometimes the moment is about you, and sometimes it is not. It’s important to learn to step outside and look back in. We can’t relive the moment, but we can change perspective…and that alone can save relationships.

Living life from the inside out may not always be the safest way to live, but it is surely the truest way. If you are walking through your days without feeling you are not living. No one has ever said loving and losing is easy, but it empowers us to live fully.

Life is fragile. People are precious. This is your chance to make the most of all you have. Love yourself, love others, and accept the love offered to you.

Live this day by your heart. Don’t let it slip by unnoticed. See what is in front of you. Listen not only to what is said but what is felt. Be aware of this moment, not just for yourself but those who live this time with you.

May you live well and be blessed beyond measure every single second. And really, it’s all up to you…only you have the power to make your life what it is.