Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Is..

There is nothing that love can't endure. It stretches thin, it swells to fill...it absorbs all.

I have been thinking about the character of love today. Just what does it mean to me? What does it do for me? To me? In spite of my shortfalls?

Love is like a sponge to me. It's not really useful, unless it is absorbing, and being used to capacity.

Love, like a sponge, is an instrument to clear things up. It holds no limit, as it can be rung out, over and over again. Very little will cause it to crumble and lose its absorbancy, for it by nature, is a cleanser. It doesn't lose effectiveness with different spills...it consistently does its job, and clarifies.

If you have read even a couple of my posts, you will know that I am wading through the loss of someone irreplaceable. With this loss, I have for some reason felt a semblance of responsibility for the hearts of the grieving. It's a hard one to explain. Many times, and never moreso than in the last few weeks have I wanted to grab that sponge, and somehow sop up this horrendous, murky dark puddle of dispair. My heart aches with each beat, the loss scratches at my soul, preventing the opportunity for a scar to develop. My efforts to absorb grief, both my own, and others, has stretched me beyond what I thought I was ever capable of, or desirous of. With much discomfort and an unruly, restless soul...I have come to a conclusion:

We are qualified for the mission when love is the reason we chose to participate.

I loved Michael. I still do. Truthfully, I always will. Because I loved him, I continue on with what he thought was important. I absorb the grief of others, wring it out with compassion and understanding...and head back toward the swirling ocean of heartache...determined, to start all over again. I do this, because he did it for me. His way of loving me, of being that sponge...was to be an unfailing, intent listener. He carried my secrets, and I his. Now I CHOOSE to absorb the details of each person I come across...the beautiful, the hideous, the resplendent...all in a quest for understanding, both of myself, and that of the person sharing with me.

If you seek the character of love, might I leave you with a clear picture of its nature:

“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, never quick to take offense. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and endurance. In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.”

May we strive to love beyond what is merely acceptable, to that which is extraordinary and pure. May we come alongside the broken hearted, the weak and the lost and gently take their hand, or put an arm of mercy around them. May we do it not for ourselves, or our own recognition, but rather, to bring the glow of grace into a life that has burned low the wick of hope.

Michael...I do it for you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reminder on the Path

A friend of mine shared a story with me not long ago. I loved the story so much, that I asked him if I could share it. It's a story that all of us are hoping will be the outcome of our life.

To be found.

My amazing, insightful and brilliant friend is on a journey right now. He is seeking truth...he is searching for peace, and I believe, he is desperate for meaning. Not just personally, but in the grand scheme of this whisper we call life. I see all great things layed out before him...layed out on a table. Some of those things are face down and are waiting to be discovered. Some pieces are upsidedown, and need to be set right again. A few pieces, I think..are fatally damaged. I believe those pieces need to be examined for what they were...and what they now are, and put away in order to allow a masterpiece to emerge.

My friend took a walk not long ago. He was meandering along the waterfront, not far from his home. He came upon an elderly couple stopped in the middle of the path. They were transfixed with one of those things we often overlook as one of lifes little miracles. A monarch butterfly had paused on the ground...and was gingerly flapping its wings...slowly...methodically...in a trance like state. He too halted his walk for a moment, to observe this lovely winged black and orange undercover angel.

As he carried on his way, I believe his mind was fine tuned for a not so random encounter. His senses were heightened for a moment predestined just for him.

He strolled along the waterfront, as he had many times before...and came upon a park bench that he had walked past on numerous occasions. This time..he took notice of the bench...and this time, the bench stood guard over a secret. Something out of the corner of his eye was tuned to something nestled in the grass at the back righthand leg. As he went to investigate...he found a brilliant reminder of how God finds you where you are.

A bracelet. Beaded with pictures of Jesus, and Mary... and various religious figures on an elasticated band. For a man on a quest to find God...to find meaning...I believe this was a clear message, gently whispered to a wounded soul...."I see you...I am with you...I want to be close to you on your terms".

So my dear friend wears that bracelet now. I don't know if he sees that story like I do...but I did assure him that it wasn't a mistake...not one second of that encounter was by chance.

I think of you often and with fondness SP...always when I see 88, when I hear a brilliant piano player...and when I think about the undeniable fact that life is continually coming together for all of us. Magic will fall onto your pathway always...and point you towards this one fact,

you're never so lost that you can't be found. xo

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free Bird

Don't put a bird in a cage...for it is meant to be free. It is meant to flutter its feathers in anticipation of a journey. It will gently fan its tail feathers, give it's head a shake, and instantly ascend at its own whim. Don't take its freedom, and try to keep it a prisoner...for this goes against its nature as a creature of the breeze.

What things do you hold onto in a cage with a tiny little door? Do you open that door, just to feed the control you are trying to contain? Is it a relationship you can't let go of? Or, perhaps a past hurt or wrong that has caged you, and caused you to live your life inside of a world of mental bars?

Once again, a common saying has come to me in a radiant new light.

"If you love something, then set it free. If it is yours, it will return...if not, it was never meant to be".

I let go of something yesterday. While it was material, and in critical need of replacing...my heart told me to retain it for a time when I was better prepared to be at a loss. It would be nothing to most people...it would be a very exciting time for most everyone I know. However, it struck me with anxiety and complete aprehension.

I bought a new vehicle. My lease on my beloved Jeep is finished in November, and I knew I wouldn't be keeping it. Most people would think this was an exciting time...one of new opportunity, and of course, something shiny and more current to learn about, and park in the driveway. The caging of my excitement came because of this...

My Jeep is the first place I was with Michael...and it is also the last. So, the substitution of the Jeep for something newer is just one more step in the process of accepting the loss of him...the loss of us. On Wednesday, I actually grabbed the phone to call him and tell him about the new wheels...for a flash, life was as it had always been...and he was still here.

But as with a caged bird...or anything held too tightly, a funny thing happens. It cages you and holds you, as much as you hold it. You inadvertantly become obligated to the care and nurturing of the prisoner. Just as the bird needs to be fed and taken care of...so do anxiety and fear in order for you to sustain them. You must supply them with the necessary nutrition to survive, otherwise, existence isn't possible.

Or so we think.

When we open that cage door...or open our hands to the new, whether it be healing, forgiveness or understanding, we are instantly released...just as the inhabitant of the guilded cage is. While life without the company of the inhabitant of the cage is strange, and perhaps a little unsettling...it is best for the one who lives in the cage, and the one who decided it needed to be there in the first place. The release is like setting a bird free...and watching glorious emancipation stretch out its wings, and soar into the distance.

So, the Jeep is gone. I am stronger, and free in its release. I am protective of the memories I hold in the most sacred of places...but rest assured...there is no locked door on my remembrances of Michael...

for he is a Free Bird. xo

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Persolvo is Porro

Persolvo: this verb carries with it the paying or filling of an obligation or vow.
Porro: forward, further, next, in turn.

It sounds very romantic in the Latin. The concept is not new, and was first expressed in a play in Athens, Greece. The year was 317 BC. Humans through history have stumbled toward the beauty of this action...and that is, to Pay it Forward.

Pay it Forward. What does it bring to your mind? A cheesy movie with Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel, "I see dead people" Osment? Or does it stir recollection? One of an act of kindness that caught you bewildered, or just brought a smile to your face? Or does it provoke a memory of when you were the one who extended an unexpected kindness?

I think the easiest, and most inexpensive of acts, is a compliment. It's amazing to see someone light up for your recognition...whether it be a compliment about their appearance, a talent, or just because. If compliments were currency, I would certainly hope that we all have a surplus in our bank. One where we can deposit the ones we have received, but more importantly, spend on those who need one most. The exchange rate of thoughtfulness never leaves one with less than they started with, rather, it grows with each transaction.

While it is exciting to be part of this amazing ebb and flow in our life journey, I am of the opinion that keeping the acts you have participated in to yourself. I'd guess in the grand scheme of life, that kind of installment holds a much more precious value. Keeping it silent, I believe is the entire essence of the interaction.

Some people spend their lives taking. Never being secure enough in their own skin to extend any kind of sincerity to another. Puddle deep. That's what I call those people. Some people spend their lives wild with jealousy...I would rightfully anticipate, that Paying it Forward is the last thing on their mind. Or, of course, there are those so wrapped up in their own lives, and their own personal dramas, that they can't shift even a baby toe over the line of compassion, and to the recognition that there is more to this life than just them.

But then, you meet someone who blows the doors off of your Pay it Forward concepts. That person is sent to you, to show you that you can do so much more...you can BE so much more, if you will just pay attention in this life. That person is perhaps catching up...for years of being a taker...but is doing one hell of a job making a difference here and now, and...from now on.

Thankfully, Pay it Forward doesn't die when we do. It lives on inside the ones we love.

The movement continues...from Athens in 317 BC, to my apartment in September, 2010 AD.

Michael...we're off at it again...walk ahead of us, so we can follow your unquestionable shadow. May we Pay it Forward with focus and endurance...and may we make you proud. xo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The BUFF and the Grenade

People never cease to amaze me. A great deal of the time, the things that amaze me are the brilliant things people do for each other. Sometimes, on the opposite side of that swinging pendulum, I am awe struck at the things people DO to each other.

Have you heard of grenades and landmines? Sure you have...ongoing war in Afghanistan, daily bombings in Baghdad..WWII. Grenades and landmines have taken on a new spin in recent months...but seem to deliver the same kind of damage as those used as fatal weapons.

A wildly popular reality show has quietly crept its lingo into popular vocabulary. These kids from a Shore somewhere south of NYC have created a new language. They have degraded human beings, specifically women into two categories...grenades and landmines.

"A grenade is a girl who is quite frankly, not hot. Not to say that the girl is ugly, but she just doesn't measure up to our qualifications of attractiveness. Basically, this girl is a bomb about to go off. A landmine is like a grenade but is usually thin or petite and you don't realise she is a landmine until you realise you want someone better looking". Pauly D.- Jersey Shore
(Btw...that quote needed to have punctuation and grammar corrected in it before I posted it. It seems Pauly D. isn't that bright).

Seriously? Are you kidding me? This is the kind of grading system we are using these days, and allowing our children to emulate?

The reason I am so fired up about this is this: an ugly guy I know dropped this phrase the other day. See...I used an old school word...UGLY. He could be a model on the cover of Men's Health Magazine, but to me? UGLY..repulsive as a matter of fact. (btw- he's no cover model).

Here is why...I read a blog tonight from a lovely, sweet girl who is on an amazing weight loss journey. I applaud her. I believe in her...I want her to be all that she has hoped to be. She recalled an incident while out with her thin girlfriends. She was innocently out at a bar...having a good night. She said she was insecure even in that moment, as these friends of hers don't struggle with their weight. A group of hot guys approached the table..and began to laugh as they got closer. When the girls asked what was so funny, the response was unbelievable..." Your table just proved there is a BUFF in every group of girls". When they inevitably asked for a breakdown of just what a "BUFF" is, this was the response.." Big Ugly Fat Friend".

I have NO words.

Words hurt. Words burrow themselves into your psyche, and paralyse you when you least expect it. She said this incident happened years ago..and she hasn't gone out again. To prey on someone unexpecting, and obviously different than the crowd is just cowardly..cruel, and should be punishable.

So the next time you see someone who isn't appealing to you...or someone who rubs you the wrong way..maybe think twice about what made them the way they are. Exercise your mind to think beyond their exterior, and to the person they really are. I'm trying...everyday...I hope you will too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I Love

I'm taking a break. I have disengaged from a popular social networking site...I'm taking a sabbatical from text messaging. I am taking some time to regroup, take the pressure off...and BREATHE.

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment...and realise, "I honestly don't remember the last deep, cleansing breath I have taken". I think that's a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Breath is life..shallow breath, shallow life? Perhaps. Or, in my case right now, too much going on, and seemingly not one second remaining for an extended inhale.

But let me tell you, when you turn off distractions, a funny thing happens. You mentally purge chaos, and find beauty in the small things again...you smile quietly to yourself when something catches your funnybone...or your heart..and all of a sudden..you feel like....

I'm back.

Today I love so many things. One thing that always grabs me, and shakes me, is how great Canada is. I'm not biased..this is the best place on the planet. Here are two reasons:

Last night I went to Dairy Queen with a friend of mine...we sat in the car and laughed, and shared our hearts. As we sat there, a black van pulled up beside us, and a mennonite family got out. A father, a mother, and 3 daughters. They were in simple, homemade, ankle length floral dresses...the girls and their mother had on Birkenstocks. The father looked like a minister...but then, I kind of think that all mennonite men look like ministers... like Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie. The ladies had white bonnets on. No matter their religion, or ancestry, last night, they were like the rest of us..and they wanted a Blizzard. There was zero risk for ridicule. I LOVED this moment. My friend and I sat and watched them from the car...it was a brilliant thing to be aware of. They weren't being judged, or looked down upon..they were just a normal family wanting ice cream on a hot summers night.

I am always caught with a grin on my face, when I see children of different religions, different sizes and different backgrounds playing together. Today I saw a very chubby, red headed boy with a milky way of freckles across his face, bouncing a basketball down the street with his friend. His friend was crazy tall, rail thin, and had luminous black skin. They were laughing and goofing around like only young boys do...and I was caught with a wildly, profoundly proud feeling in my heart...Canada is a RIDICULOUSLY awesome corner of this world.

I love that for some strange reason, babies and animals are drawn to me, and are comfortable with me. I don't know what that means. I don't know if it means I have a wild heart, and a calm soul? I just don't know. But I love that those most vulnerable seem to find security with me. My sister once called me the Baby Whisperer...funny that...as I don't have children.

I have learned intriguing things on my short writing journey. I am learning to keep my eyes open, and not just focused on what is right in front of me...but right out to my peripheral...to the blind spot. I am learning to listen closely...and to always have a story brewing in the back of my mind. Sometimes they simmer and bubble slowly, and sometimes, they wake me in the night, and I am powerless to them until I put them down, right here at the Passion Spill. Who knew? Writing holds one of the top positions on my, "What I Love" list.


What do you love?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Rabbit and the Median

I am wrestling with this post. I've been bothered all day about this one...but I know it needs to go out there...even if it's just for me to get it off of my chest.

Monday morning this week started very early. I was on the road at 6:45am, heading into the city for an event for work. I actually don't spite the occasional predawn morning when I have to hit the road...I drive east, and I see the sun come up. The world is quiet...peaceful and fresh.

As I hit traffic slowing down about 20 minutes from my home, (trust me, this is just the way of it...heading into Toronto in the morning is not for the faint of heart or the impatient) I looked to my left, as something unusual caught my peripheral. There, sitting on the hard, concrete median, was a rabbit. I am sure my face wound into an immediate look of perplexity and disbelief. It's face was intense...it's eyes darting against the fast moving traffic going westbound. This rabbit was trapped. I am sure it had crossed in the wee small hours of the morning, when there was little risk...when there was an open road, and no four wheeled predators to snuff out its life. The choice this wee furry one had to make now was one of three things:

1. Take a chance now..run into traffic, try to escape without being scathed.
2. Wait...wait all day if necessary. Wait until the conditions were the same as the time it crossed in the first place.
3. Travel east or west...try to find a break in traffic, or try to find a bridge. Even if it takes hours...the journey will likely ensure that life is preserved, even if its a rough and exhausting quest.

I haven't been able to get the parallel nature of this story out of my head...that damn rabbit has been haunting my mind for 48 hours. How often do we get into something, darting forward when there is little possibility for harm, to find that where we ended up is a very scary, unpredictable place? That place we ended up was new and exciting and a little risky...until the time crept forward, and brought out the eighteen wheelers, and all of the unexpected dangers we never thought about?

I tend to think...intuition is that thing you must follow. Your gut feeling is your road map. That your attempts to get to those new places, sometimes isn't a journey worth the destination. Of course, I am not saying to not try anything new...I'm not implying that meeting new people, and seeing new places isn't a worthwhile journey...but I think, if you were honest, as I am trying to be everyday...we KNOW what is right for us, and when.

Sometimes, we have to wait out the traffic until there is a safe crossing. Sometimes, we have to head in an unexpected direction to find a new path that will be unpredictable, but will be away from the traffic that gradually increased, until safety was futile.

I'd love to tell you that this story has a happy ending. But I saw that sweet rabbit this morning, lifeless on the side of the road....a casualty of choice. My heart sank, but I knew in my mind when I saw it there on Monday morning...this would be the unfortunate, inevitable end to the story. That rabbit didn't have the mindpower to think about it's choices, and how to find safety..it only saw traffic. We, as humans are blessed to have the wherewithal to think forward, and to choose from the multitude of options that lay before us. We aren't trapped...we can think things through..and we always have each other, if the lines are blurred and we need counsel.
So I choose, to be more mindful of my choices...more protective of my direction, and as always, to keep my eyes open for strange, unusual, heartbreakingly real lessons that will make me a better human being. Thank you God, for the rabbit...and the lesson.