Gifts – what are they?
Things contained in pretty paper?
For many years, I kept a “Gratitude Jar.”
Each day of the year
I noted something on a piece of paper
for which I was grateful
… some thing
… some person
… some situation
… some memory
… some blessing
even though I didn’t always use the word ‘gift’.
there are many ‘gifts’ in our lives
– the gift of talent
in a shared piece of art, pre-cooked meal/baking, landscaping, etc.
– the gift of ‘presence’
given to a friend who is going through a difficult time
– the gift of thoughtfulness
expressed in a handwritten letter or card to a senior
– the gift of time
offered to a friend who needs a break from being caregiver
for a sick child, an aging parent, an ailing partner/spouse,
– the gift of patience
expressed by ‘response’ rather than ‘reaction’.
And then there are the gifts of:
… breath … being loved … imagination
… mobility … friendship … hearing
… faith … sight … freedom … joy
… taste … education … touch … intellect
… creativity … ability to reason
… health … insight … love
… and life itself!
May we never lose sight of the boundless gifts around us.
nor lose sight that each of us can be gift to another.
© june maffin SOUISTRY www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/facebook
Okay, lesson learned …
Next year, the cherry tree will be have CD’s hanging from the branches
or the tree will be draped with netting.
Decided against doing either on this year.
The birds got to the cherries before we did.
One solitary cherry.
was left for us.
Next year, that cherry tree
will be protected
… in some way!
© Photo & Text june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
Has this ever happened to you?
Life is going along – a few hiccups here, a few hiccups there –
but then a curveball comes out of nowhere!
Has it ever happened to you? Of course it has.
Life wouldn’t be life without some curveballs.
Sometimes the curveballs are such that they are predictable.
Sometimes they are anything but predictable.
… when the vet said, “It’s time. There is no cure for your beloved pet, only suffering,”
and you know you have to do what you have to do.
But you don’t want to do it.
… the driver in the car behind the woman on a bike ride after dinner who was blinded by the sun.
He ran into her. She died and he lived knowing he killed another human being.
… when the symptoms began gradually but weren’t recognized as “symptoms”
until it became clear that something-wasn’t-quite-right;
the testing and waiting for more tests began.
Then diagnosis – the big “C” … or
No one goes through life without a curveball or two … or twenty-two … or
But life isn’t about the *number* of curve balls.
Life is about adjusting our perspective and
… not letting them define us
… not letting them destroy us.
© june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
“Miss Pudgy Angel – it’s time for you to come and lift us out of the fear many are feeling these days.”
Many are feeling fear these days – fear of terrorists, fear of flying, fear of a soon-to-be-pronounced medical diagnosis, fear of an unknown political future – especially lately.
I wish I could say that I’ve never been fearful, but I remember a terrifying plane ride when the plane heaved and starting falling, luggage began to come out of overhead bins, and people screamed. My hands were in a death grip on the arms of the seat. My breathing was shallow and swift as my mind raced through possible scenarios. I was scared – big time.
“God, help” I heard myself whisper as the crying around me seemed to increase.
And then, “she” appeared.
Miss Pudgy Angel.
Well, that’s what I called her when I was given her as a gift many years earlier. She sat on my mantle for years and years and I delighted in her presence and in her sweet and gentle smile. Why I thought of her at that moment, I didn’t know, but I was grateful. Her image brought a smile to my face, and for just an instant, my concentration was on her – not on the fear.
I soon found myself imagining Miss Pudgy Angel with three of her pudgy angel friends … she was underneath the nose of the place … two of her friends were under each wing of the plane … and one was under the plane’s tail. Each was working to stabilize the plane and help the plane climb back into its proper flying pattern.
The more I visualized Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends, it seemed that there was less and less space for the fear to take over my thoughts. Slowly, I realized that my breathing had slowed down, my grip on the armrest had lightened, and I was smiling!
Those four pudgy angels were ridiculously funny! They huffed and puffed and pushed their pudgy arms into place. And as I continued to visualize the four of them under the plane, lifting it, stabilizing it, the more I became aware that the heaving of the plane had slowed and my fear was dissipating.
Do I understand what happened in that moment in the sky? Not for a second.
Of course, there was no Miss Pudgy Angel or her pudgy-angel-friends underneath the plane.
And yet … and yet …
Do I believe in the possibility of angels?
As twenty-first century people living in a western culture, we’ve inherited a philosophy that says “knowledge comes from a combination of our intellect plus our five senses. If we can’t touch, taste, see, hear, smell or reason it, then its existence is suspect.” So it’s not surprising that giving serious attention to the existence of angels is difficult. If angels are part of the realm of the Spirit, that’s the realm of the unknown and the mysterious and it’s not a world to which many can easily relate. But in the Book of Job in the Old Testament these words give rise to the possible reality: “God does speak. Now, one way. Now another, though we may not perceive it…”
To believe that there is a God, a Holy Other … to believe that such a Holy One speaks to us … and to believe that such communication happens through the form of an angel … well, that takes an openness – an openness to the spiritual dimension and to Mystery.
Do i believe in the possibility of angels? However angels appear … in human form, in our imagination, on canvas in a painting, or even in a tiny little statue … after my encounter in that moment-in-the-sky, the possibility of the existence of angels exists for me. So yes, I do, now, believe in angels. And many times since that moment-in-the-sky, I have uttered/prayed/whispered words of gratitude … “Thank you for your angels.”
Were the pilot and co-pilot, crew, air traffic controllers, Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends angels that day? I don’t know. I just know that for that brief terrifying moment, when I visualized Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends lifting the plane, as the pilot, co-pilot, crew and air traffic controllers were working hard to stabilize the plane and get it back on its flight patter, I was being lifted out of fear. And for that, I am grateful. “Thank you, Holy One, for your angels.”
Text and Photo © june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
Once upon a time … yes – this is a story. 🙂
Once upon a time, a donkey fell down a well.
The animal cried and cried and cried – for hours.
The farmer tried to help but …
he decided the animal was old
and it wasn’t worth his time and energy to save the donkey.
So he and his neighbours began to throw dirt into the well.
When the donkey realized
what was happening, he cried and cried and cried.
Then he quieted down.
The farmer and his neighbours continued to throw dirt into the well.
When the farmer looked down the well,
he was surprised at what he saw!
With every shovel of dirt that fell on his back
the donkey was doing something amazing!
He was shaking off the dirt
and taking a step up.
As the dirt continued to be shovelled on top of the donkey,
he would shake it off
and take another step up.
Everyone was amazed
as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well
and trotted off!
We all get dirt shoved on us
we even shovel the dirt on ourselves.
Each time we say “I can’t …
… I can’t do this
… I can’t try that
… I can’t go there …”
we are shovelling the dirt on ourselves.
That’s when we need to get out of the deep well we’re in
… the well of self-pity … blame … low self-confidence.
We need to
… shake off the dirt
… take a step up
… not give up
… let every adversity become a stepping stone to positive change.
We *can* get out of the deep wells – whether our well includes
– feeling lonely
– feeling anxious about upcoming assignments
– not making friends
– frightened about the future
– worried about upcoming medical tests, dental treatment, surgery
finances, politics, an upcoming meeting, exams … whatever!
When dirt falls on your back,
remember the donkey
… shake it off
… and take a step up!
A “Poohian Theology of Music“?
Yes, ‘Poohiah,’ because it was a most unexpected theologian by the name of Winnie the Pooh who once said
“Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get. They’re things which get you.
All you have to do is go where they can find you.”
(A.A.Milne author of “Winnie the Pooh”)
The “poetry and hums” get to us! And when they do, the body expresses emotions, being experienced in the soul, as fingers rap out a rhythm, toes tap a beat, heads nod, larynx hums a tune or sings out loud. When the “poetry and hums” get to us, healing can happen … feelings of sorrow, anger, frustration, fear, rage, passion, grief and even boredom can be relieved … courage can be awakened … love, passion, happiness and devotion can be nurtured … our physical body can become stimulated with increasing blood flow, speed of circulation, muscular energy, and metabolism … and we can be connected with the Source of All Life in a unique way.
Music is gift. Music gifts us with the ability to reflect, remember, and become re-created. Maybe it’s the combined right/left brain activity that takes place when we sing, play instruments or listen to music on the radio, tv, CD’s, stereo or at a concert. Maybe it’s the soul-soaring as hymns are sung, psalms are chanted, sung prayers are offered. Maybe it’s the unique embodiment of theology, art, truth, wisdom, lesson and emotional release in word and song that captures our heart and mind. Whatever it is, music appeals to our soul and senses, and society reminds us that music is a wonderful part of our existence: music awakens astronauts (and us!) first thing in the morning … music entertains at concerts … music enriches movie experiences … music can be found in stores, elevators, airplanes and even restaurants … and music has an endurance that is retained in the deepest recesses of memory. Those who have worked with stroke victims and neurological disorders know that people who have forgotten so much (even the names of their partner, children) have been known to play music on the piano, hum the melody of beloved hymns, toe-tap to remembered songs, and respond to meditative choruses.
One of the greatest conductors of all time, Leopold Stokowski once said that “there are regions so elusive in our life of feeling that only music can express such intangible and sublime visions of beauty.” There is no doubt that music awakens the soul and that an inner part of ourselves connects directly to the Holy Other whether that music be Rock, Country, Classical, Reggae, Chamber Music, Jazz, Latin, Folk, Celtic, Gospel, Spa Music, Country, Blues, John Philip Sousa marches, Gregorian chant, Chuck Berry, Celine Dion, Paul Anka, Barbra Streisand … whether it be penny whistle, French horn, bass, bagpipe, bassoon, cello, comb and tissue paper or even one’s own whistling!
Music can make us dance and skip, move us to tears, and encourage us to be as happy as Winnie the Pooh on a fine summer’s morn!
A Poohian Theology of Music is simply this:
It’s true – music can be a wonderful bridge between the body and soul …“all you have to do is go where they can find you.”
May we make time to go where music can find us.
And may we give voice to the “poetry and hums” that nurture and touch our soul beyond cognitive understanding.
© june maffin SOULartISTRY www.soulistry.com