Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Sound of Silence

One of the best days happened today.  In the middle of a stormy season of life, I traveled to the Abbey of New Clairvaux for a "Quiet Day" with the women's group from our church.  I hopped into a car full of women I barely knew to carpool down I-5 to a Trappist monastery.  Our only agenda was to be quiet. 

Turns out that was enough.

I brought a book along in case I wanted to spend some time reading.  Didn't get to it.

I was busy being quiet.  All day.

I also brought a notebook with me and did a little writing.  It wasn't eloquent.  It wasn't really organized or earth-shattering. I just picked up the notebook and wrote down anything I saw, heard or felt sitting under the canopy of my giant tree.  So, if you're wondering what a quiet day looks or feels like, here's a glimpse of my experience.

Ants dropping in.
Bird pooped on my ankle.
Bees busy buzzing.
Weeds not giving up.
Birds soaring.
Dragonflies bobbing on the breeze.
UPS delivery.
Fountain percolating the soundtrack for our day.
Careful tending of juvenile grape vines.
Traffic distant.
Worlds away.
Sun slowly warming.
Women strolling.  Reading.  Resting.  Writing.  Listening.  Looking.
Gentle breezes.
Open mind.  Agenda-less.
Dust moving in.
Thick redwoods.  Lush.
Tree dropping leaves, twigs, bugs.
Inner-circle focus.
In the moment.  Noticing details.
Breathe.  Pray.
Sun peeking through thick, shady branches.
Thankful heart.
Blessings abound.  Challenges abound.
Support.  Concrete.
Relax.  Soak in silence.
Breezes beating back the heat.
Off the hamster wheel.
Clovers in abundance.
No pictures.  Just feelings, senses and words.
Surrender.  THIS is important, not a luxury.
Ambitious branches reaching for the ground.
Running shoes are neglected.
Trains loud and close.
Monks in blue jeans and coveralls. Old and young.
Sacred stones framing vineyards.
Stark chapel.  No-frills. Basic.  Simple.
Walnuts.  Giant ones.
Voices chatting.
Grapes, vines.
Soothe.  Pause.  Quality time.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shut the Door!

A funny thing happens each morning when my son arrives at school.  We enter the building together.  Sometimes he holds the door for me and practices his good manners saying, "After you!" Sometimes he waits for me to hold the door and storms right on by ready to tackle his day.  But when we get to his classroom door, it must be closed and he MUST be the one to open it.  If the door happens to be open, he asks me to shut it so he can do the honors himself.  If I try to rush him and open the classroom door myself, there is angry protesting. 

I'm not sure when or why this little ritual started, but it's been going on for quite some time.  He loves being in charge of opening that door, usually at a very slow pace, so he can peek his little head in first and survey the classroom before opening the door all the way.  It's a process.  The door is never opened with abandon.  He opens it at a snail's pace, inches at a time, savoring the entry process.  It's quirky.  I don't really get it. But I have learned that trying to rush this child rarely ends well for anyone. So we roll with it.

A few weeks ago at the very beginning of school, his little friend saw my son coming down the hallway.  "Thomas is coming.  Close the door!" he said to the other little friends in the classroom.  It just about made my heart melt.  Typically I wouldn't want kids rushing to slam the door in my kid's face.  But I knew his little friend was acting in love.  He knew my son wouldn't enter the classroom until the door was shut and he could open the door for himself.  He knew Thomas' little quirk and didn't question it or try to cure him of it.  He embraced it.  The beauty of this small gesture struck me.  To be known and accepted....isn't that just the best?  Isn't that the sweet spot of life that we all really crave?  To have people in our life that know us and love us anyway. 

I never really imagined that four-year old boys would have a thing or two to teach me about kindness and grace.  Boys!   Little ones!!  Turns out they know things. They grasp things, important things, that most adults struggle with.  They might not know how to keep sand in the sandbox, or remember to flush the toilet, but little boys know when to close the door to welcome their friend.  Nobody had to tell them how, or explain why, or convince them it was the right thing to do.  They just do it. 

I never imagined a closed door could be such a sweet gesture of an open heart.