Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Letting Go

On two mornings in my life, I've woken with the sure conviction that I would do anything to avoid living those days.  The first was the morning after our 1997 bus accident.  The second was the morning we brought Adam to his dorm at the University of Minnesota, Morris. 

The first was understandable.  I knew we were going to have to deal with tragedy and start to collect answers to the unanswerable. 

The second isn't understandable.  My son's not dead.  He's not beyond communication.  He's not even that far away.  More, I know he'll be back periodically.  In our current economy, he may eventually come back to live. 

Still, I didn't want to leave him.

I know he's ready for this new stage of his life.  He's going to love college - the schedule and freedom and people and material. 

I also know every parent faces separation at some point.  I've been preparing it for nearly two decades.  I knew I didn't want to be one of those moms who held too tightly and crippled my children.  And I'm not.

So what is it?

It could be fear of the unknown perhaps.  Adam's leaving creates a gap in our family.  I wonder who will talk to me now about something other than sports.  Jakob's now an "only child" who doesn't yet have a driver's license.  And for crying out loud, who's going to put salt in the water softener?

I keep having brief moments of panic when I think of all I haven't taught him yet.  I haven't taught him how to stock a kitchen.  I haven't taught him the best way to budget.  I haven't taught him how to get stains out of his jeans or keep his t-shirts white.  I haven't given him all the tools he needs.

Then I remind myself we have given him all the tools he needs.  We've raised him to love the Lord.  We've loved him unconditionally.  We've said "no" because it was good for him even though saying "yes" would have been so much easier.  We've taught him the importance strong relationships with good people. 

As for the rest?  I didn't know all that important life stuff until I was in my thirties.  He'll figure it out.

In the few moments I had with Adam before we left him at Morris, he hugged me tight.  I'm sure he had conflicting emotions - excitement, fear, a little abandonment.  But the only thing he said was, "I'm going to be fine, Mom." 

I had no words at all, just the conviction that he's right.  He will be fine.

Scenes from Morris
August 17, 2010

The Campus Sign
The University of Minnesota, Morris, is located in a very rural area of the state.  It's a nice campus, small and nicely maintained with quite a few newly renovated buildings.  It has the feel of a small town, and every person has been friendly and welcoming each time we've been there.

The History Behind the Tuition Waiver Plan
Students who can demonstrate Native American ancestry, even those not able to register on the "Rolls" are granted tuition waivers at UMM.  We're thankful for that!

The Brotherly Goodbye
They actually had a nice brotherly hug until Jakob said, "Bet you never thought your face would be smashed in your younger brother's chest at your first day of college."  Adam quickly showed him that Jakob may have a few inches on him, but Adam's clearly still "the boss" - at least for awhile.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blessed Be

I've long been fascinated by the Wiccans.  "Blessed be," they say to greet and to bid g'day.  "An it harm none, do what you will."

Wouldn't Moses have been thankful to share such a simple message with his followers rather than the ten, rather wordy, commandments inscribed in stone?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Old Man and the Bat...

I love watching Joe play baseball when it goes well.  I love that little grin and wink he sends my way before he hits.  I love the smell of outdoor baseball clinging to his uniform at the end of the game.  Last night was one of those perfect nights.  He made a couple nice hits and a couple nice catches.  All-in-all a good night on the field.

That doesn't stop it from hurting the morning after. 

Aging plainly sucks.  There are more aches and pains, more activities to consume spare time, and the grief that marks every major life change - loved ones dying or becoming ill, kids growing up and moving away from home, unplanned and unexpected separations.

But there's something beautiful about it all too.  Stephen Curtis Chapman sings the line "I will be here to watch you grow in beauty and tell you all the things you are to me...  I will be here."  I've watched him grow in beauty and I try to tell him every day what I see and what he is to me. 

He gives me that same simple gift that somehow keeps us attached to our past while living our present. 

I have a feeling we'll one day bury that old man with his bat.  He wouldn't want it any other way.
Those gems of wisdom that circulate in emails now and then annoy me.  Like I don't get enough mail that must be handled without having forwards!  There's one I love though and I recall it often:

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.

Sometimes they walk away.

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you  sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON . . .because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

There's something true in that and comforting in the notion that all things don't need to last forever to have value.  The one thing that's not true?  Love isn't blind.  It is patient and kind and accepting and longing for the beloved.  I'm glad.  What's good about blind acceptance? 

And if it were true that friendship is clairvoyant, we sure could take pains to prevent friends from hurting us.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Be Still and Know... The Onion

(Grab an onion, cut it in half, and enjoy the read! :))

When C├ęzanne paints a common fruit he does not add to that fruit qualities which the fruit does not possess; he sees the fruit accurately -- with unrelenting accuracy; nevertheless, through his accuracy a something beyond the fruit, a wonder beyond the vegetable is presented. Familiarity and wonder must be, and have been present in all true aesthetics.

Self and World, Definition Press, NY, pp. 136-137

I saw the world accurately today, and I what I saw was wonderful.  I spent the day with two lovely, brilliant women at the Minnesota Arboretum. 
For the first time in my life, I saw what an onion - one of my favorite oft-used foods, looks like growing from the earth.  "I didn't know it grew like this! I exclaimed before snapping this pic with my handy dandy iPhone cam:

Aren't they stunning?  

You know, it may be the case I would have imagined an onion grew like this had I ever considered the onion's origins.  I just haven't thought about it.  Not ever!  And yet I touch and use and ingest onions nearly every day. 

Had I considered the onion, I may have thought something like "How mundane!  How ordinary!  How unworthy of consideration!"

How wrong!

Multi-layered, multi-functional, multi-colored, this fruit of the earth sustains us, keeps us healthy, and gives snappy flavor and color to foods. 

And look how it rests on the sustaining, loving curve of the earth. 

The Master Crafter of the earth and all it sustains clearly loves His creation; what a grand gift we've been granted to steward.

I took lots of pictures, and found myself wishing I had our good camera instead of my iPhone, but still... beautiful pics.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Art of the Apprentice

Adam shared with me a favorite series of his, The Ranger's Apprentice.  Though Adam and I don't always love the same books - ugh to Harry Potter - usually we share similar taste.  Neither of us, for example, will deign to read the highly popular Twilight series.   

Will Treaty is the hero of the Apprentice series.  He's young at the opening of the series, just a boy.  In his world, he's old enough to be deciding his future and he wants glory and excitement.  Sadly, he's chosen to be the Ranger's apprentice, and thus begins his journey full of not just glory and excitement, but honor and dignity - and the kind of friends a good man deserves.  He becomes a well-respected and renown character critical to his country's safety.

I want to be an apprentice.

I want to sit at the feet of the Master crafter and learn to be exceptional at my trade.

I want to submit my will to my art and calling, rising above the challenge and frustration of the daily chore of improving my skill.

I want to achieve master crafter status and turn to the apprentice at my feet and share my art.

I want the respect due a crafter.

It might be a calling...

Imagine working every day with someone whose talents you long to share, someone with wisdom he shares freely, but only when the time is ripe.  Imagine working one day with another whose talents show promise and who wants to drain every ounce of technique and art from you before his tenure with you is complete.  Imagine mastering something you love, and doing it because you cannot do anything else.

That, I think, is a calling worth following.


I've committed to using the Rotary four-way test in all aspects of my decision-making life - personal and professional.

The four-way test offers the following "test" to apply to any situation:

1.  Is it the TRUTH?
2.  Is it FAIR to all concerned?
4.  Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Just as it's no mistake that the Corinthian definition of love begins with "patience" so too it's no mistake that the four-way test begins with TRUTH.  Often, decision-making occurs with the answer to this very first question.  So many issues and dilemma start with a lie.

Take a moment and apply the four-way test to decision-making moments in your life.  Don't have any issues or dilemmas?  Try some news-worthy issues:
  • Is it ethical to accept a severance package that amounts to more than some employees of the same entity would earn in a lifetime?  How is that FAIR?
  • Is it acceptable to indulge in multiple affairs and intimacies because they're offered freely?  Is it the TRUTH, FAIR, BENEFICIAL?  Does it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  • Is it admirable to confess to an affair with a public figure for the notoriety the confession brings?  How does that build GOODWILL or BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  • Is it wise to move a man accused of wrong-doing from location to location without investigating behaviors?  Ah-hem.  Not even a single "yes" can be applied to that one.
  • Is it honorable to judge another's actions without having walked the proverbial mile in her shoes?  I don't have to belabor the point, right?
Try the four-way.  It works.