Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just For Today, We Are Here!

Opportunity.  What a brilliant word. It is filled with such promise.

I read a quote this morning that has since stayed with me.  It reverberates in my mind.  I hear its echo throughout my day, taunting me, nudging me, reminding me.  It is this:

"Just for today, we are here. We are alive. And with that aliveness comes a profound responsibility to do what we can. To make meaning and beauty out of what is." ― Dani Shapiro
 

It may not mean that tomorrow we are someplace else, or that we are not alive. 

But it may.

Who ever really knows what is around the corner?

Then all the more reason to drink in the moment.  Take advantage of where we are, and whom we're with, and what is on our plate.

Perhaps its significance is more haunting because of the hints of change. Can you deny that change isn't prevalent in all of our lives in one way or another?  Our lives are constantly affected by for sale signs, doctors' diagnoses, graduations, job changes, births.  And deaths.

The challenge then lies in making meaning and beauty out of whatever state we are in. The challenge lies in living large, and drinking in the fresh sea air, and snapping a million pictures of an ever changing ocean because opportunities that are here today may be gone tomorrow.

And when our circumstances change, we embrace the newness with whatever courage is called for.

Again.

And again. 






Friday, August 23, 2013

What the Sunflower Lacks in Elegance


Sometime ago I was given one of my most treasured gifts.  It was simple.  It was elegant.  What it lacked in worldly value, it more than made up for in spiritual and emotional wealth, and was poetry to my ears.  It was, in fact a poem, written by my daughter Miranda, who has a way of seeing beyond the obvious and in the lovely way of a poet, imbues the common with sublimity; adding layers of meaning to what may be dismissed as ordinary. 

In her poem, my four children become the hallmarks of a garden, each represented by a distinctive flower that graces my life with unique attributes.  All so different from one another, yet all blessing my life with beauty and grace.

I have been thinking a lot about my Sunflower lately, the fourth addition to my garden of beauties, and have felt to pay tribute to her with my latest creation of glass fusion.  It is easy to see her golden hair.  It is easy to see her big brown eyes.  But most importantly,  "What a sunflower lacks in elegance is made up in the soul, 
For only when they give all things is when they're really whole."

She has chosen to sacrifice her time and all her talents to her Savior, Jesus Christ, serving Him as a full-time missionary. Putting aside the distractions of a busy, silly, crass and crude world, she walks with God, looking for opportunities to serve His children, to teach them the Gospel of Christ and bring them into the fold of the Good Shepherd.

A sunflower keeps its face toward the sun, knowing that is from where it draws its strength.  My prayers are with Miranda every day as she has chosen to be in the world, yet not of the world, keeping her face directed toward the Source of all Light.

My Mother’s Garden

Written by M.L. Haws
For my mother.

Four little beds filled to the brim
Each bright in blazing color
Planted in their youth by a loving hand
In the Garden of My Mother

One is lush with Poppies
In a drowsy and dreamy red
Smooth to the touch, daring the eye
And stubborn in the head

The Poppy will stand vibrant
And have its way, still
But will honor those who need their rest
And serve them with a will

Next, the Birds of Paradise
That stand up straight and proud
Showing off their sprays of light
With wise heads humbly bowed

The Proficient Paradise gives promise
Of strength, beauty and charm
Standing tall in stormy weather
And finds home where it is warm

Third in line, the Orchid
Glowing in elegance
But beneath those pearly petals
Beats a heart of amethysts

The Orchid is all loveliness
With an inner glow of fun
Light and grace, vibrant joy
In its soul unite as one.

Last of all a humble patch
The Sunflowers nod away
In Morning face toward the sun
And contemplate the day


What the Sunflower lacks in elegance
Is made up in the soul
For only when they give all things
Is when they’re really whole

Four little boxes tenderly kept
By their gardener expertly
This gardener who loved them
Though they all grew differently

Four little boxes surround a tree
Growth from a seed of faith
That bears the fruit and creates the light
In which they daily bathe

And from my Mother’s tree of Life
That stands unfailingly
New vines still grow and intertwine
And blossom verdantly

In my Mother’s Garden
There still is much to grow
But come and see, the Faith and Family
Are quite enough to show.



Friday, August 2, 2013

The Miracle of It All

Some days are life changers.  Today is one of those days. I am waiting this morning for a fellow to come and put a For Sale sign in front of our home.  As we have anticipated this big change, I have felt very anxious, but as the day is finally here, I am surprised that the anxiety has subsided to a large degree.  I feel remarkably at peace as I note the closing of a chapter.

That's ALL it is!  What an epiphany.  It truly is merely the closing of a chapter in a book filled with joy and wonder.  And the expectation for the next chapter is joyful and purposeful--no excuses, no regrets, no hesitation.  It is, in fact, a great blessing that we have the opportunity to build a new home.  And it's going to be a wonderful home--built with the objective of being a gathering place to draw together our growing family.  Our children and grandchildren will comfortably be able to come home as often as they desire.  My job will be to make certain they desire that OFTEN.

I can do this!  I feel the Lord's blessings everyday as I press forward with this project.  And He is filling me with His Peace at a time that I had worried so much about.

It's ALL Good.  It really is.  Why am I such a worrier?  Has life never managed to turn out for my good in some way?  It does.  It always manages to teach me something and have my peace restored eventually.  I do not understand all the mysteries of God, but I KNOW that He loves me!  Of this I am certain.  He manifests His love in so many ways.  And today, He has filled me with peace.

And THAT is a miracle.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Die With Memories, Not Dreams

I was startled by this quote the other day:  "Die with memories, not dreams."It caused, as great quotes do, some introspection. I asked myself, what memories do I have tucked away as the treasure of my life?  And which are in danger of existing merely as dreams, never to be fully realized and converted into memories?

I dream of a place to gather my growing family. I thought the BeachHouse was to be that place. After some experimentation I have come to believe that that was shortsighted. Once every seven weeks is not reliable nor flexible enough. We need a place that is available 365 days a year; 24/7; for better or for worse; in sickness and in health.  Not to mention in quickly encroaching old age.

We need our home to be that place.

Much conventional wisdom would lead the empty nester to believe that down sizing is the  answer.  For many it may be.  For one who dreams of a gathering place, that would seem to be shortsighted too.  Why would I move to a home which is devoid of memories, and is also insufficiently sized to create new ones? My present home has been the growing up place for my children, as well as the growing up place for my own immaturity and weakness and foolishness.  My children have come out on the other side of their childhoods with confidence, assurance, and courage to face lives as adults, and hopefully many happy memories of time spent together as a family in our beloved home of the past seventeen years.

I believe that I too have come away from my time spent here with experience, with lessons learned, with faith in a still-bright future, with hope for many more years of family gatherings and one-on-one time with grandchildren and hobbies to be pursued and wisdom to be harvested and things to be beautified.

So it's time for movin' on my friend.......

No. Really.

It is actually time for moving on.  We have worked very hard to polish and shine our beloved old homestead, which will soon bear one of those dreaded "For Sale"signs. Family pictures have been removed. Our characters have been erased with neutral walls and neutral floors and neutral decor. It is very lovely. But the rooms, for the most part, don't feel the same anymore. And that is intentional. Staging a home for sale is purposefully about inviting the lookers to be able to imagine it with their own things and their own families, not being distracted by our distinct stamp of ownership.

Our memories have been carefully tucked away, but not to remain in boxes forever. Plans are already in the works to build that gathering place of which we dream. It will include minimal stairs, because let's face it, this will be our last home and we're not getting younger.  How about a glass studio with sufficient power outlets to fire up a kiln?  Undeniably.

We are taking with us the important things of a home, things which will never be as prosaic as rooms and painted walls and gardens. We are taking the people that we love, and we are taking our treasured memories of the sweetest childhoods that ever were.

And any other dreams acquired along the way? Certain to be resolutely converted into long lasting memories.


Friday, May 31, 2013

This Is My Quest

Funny how life imitates art.

I have always wondered why the familiar quote wasn't the other way around. Doesn't the artist draw inspiration from life, then twist it, bend it, soften it, refine it and produce something elevated from the mundane, coarse, and common?  Oscar Wilde, however, claims that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life".

I am becoming a believer.

Recently I have watched as the influence of a song lyric has woven itself into my psyche; it has touched my heart, leaving me at random times with inexplicable tears.  How could the merest suggestion of lyric and melody ring with such truth?  It is just a song and yet it expresses a universal longing.  

Last Christmas I was given a unique gift.  It wasn't the extravagance of the gift that provoked my wonder; it was the complete and utter confidence in me, which it showed, that I have found to be the most profound.  My husband believed in my talent enough to buy me a glass fusion kiln. Through this gesture he has shown his love for me as well as his license to continue forward in adding this new skill to my wheelhouse.

In anticipation of firing up my new toy, I have prepared a beautiful studio.  I have purchased furnishings and supplies which would enable me to create to my heart's content. There is even plenty of workspace to have others join me in playing with glass.

With everything in place, just short of being able to plug in the kiln, I completed the initial stages of my first project.  I was inspired by an image that symbolizes the haunting melody which I have recently found so inspiring. 

Little did I realize that the final task of actually plugging the kiln in would become fraught with roadblocks.  At every turn there have been delays, setbacks, obstacles, and even what seems an insurmountable impossibility. With patience I will press forward, certain that anything worthwhile comes at a greater price. Truly the impossible just takes a little longer.

Therefore, it is a strange paradox that my unfired project is a windmill.

For those familiar with Don Quixote, the windmill is symbolic of a wanderer's impossible quest, something tauntingly just out of reach. In the musical Man of La Mancha, that quest of Don Quixote is described musically with the stirring passion of unfulfilled dreams, and the strength that comes through the search, the patience, the dedication to a quest.

I haven't given up.  Someday soon I will be able to access enough voltage to be able to plug the silly thing in.  I'm not sure exactly what hoops I will have to jump through to do it. Nor how many windmills I must challenge before I am finally triumphant.

To dream the impossible dream 
To fight the unbeatable foe 
To bear with unbearable sorrow 
To run where the brave dare not go 

To right the unrightable wrong 
To love pure and chaste from afar 
To try when your arms are too weary 
To reach the unreachable star 

This is my quest 
To follow that star 
No matter how hopeless 
No matter how far 
To fight for the right without question or pause 
To be willing to march into Hell for an Heavenly cause
And I know if I'll only be true 
To this glorious quest 
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm 
When I'm laid to my rest 

And the world will be better for this 
That one man scorned and covered with scars 
Still strove with his last ounce of courage 
To reach the unreachable star 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Too Much Jane Eyre

Chick flicks?  Why are they so popular? Why are we such dyed in the wool romantics that we continually gravitate toward fairy tales, novels, movies, anything that stirs our hearts and reminds us we were young once and were viable candidates for the starring role in our own once upon a time?

Our bodies may be old but our hearts are still beating. Is it possible to turn off the romantic spigot that still churns out the desire for palpitations caused by a sideward glance, a too-long gaze, a daydream, a song lyric, a love note?

Must our fairy tale only happen once, then fade away and turn to something predictable and careworn? Is this why marriages are set aside and families abandoned?  Is this why people walk away, searching for a renewal of the dream? This screams travesty and yet the pining seems strong and real enough that sense often is pushed aside in favor of chasing those long lost palpitations.

What is the answer then? Are movies a good idea to replace the longing? Or are they part of the problem?  Are novels an escape, or a too-potent reminder of feelings, delights, drama that are never to play in one's heart again?

Maybe books and movies paint an unrealistic picture of the dream of true love.  Did music really swell in the soundtrack of my own great romance? It seemed to. Did my prince charming really spring onto the scene with heart stopping, breathtaking heroics? That is how the memories play out in my head.

Then why could I ever hope to have them replaced with something new? How could anything new be better than the reality that was?

The problem is my heart still thinks it is young.....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What I Feel, What I Think, What I Learn

Awhile back I overheard a conversation about blogs.  With a bit of disdain, a comment was made that blogs are generally: "too sappy, too self-serving, and too preachy." Naturally it caused a bit of introspection, as well as outward 'spection of my blogposts.  Yup.  Very often sappy.  Very often about me.  Very often about what I have learned.

In pondering this indirect comeuppance and fighting the urge to put my tail between my legs and slink away, I stopped short and exclaimed:  'What the heck?'

I considered the definition of a blog, which in literal terms is the shortened slang of "web log," which merely implies a log, or journal, of one's life that is kept on the world wide web for others, as they choose, to peek inside and read what I feel, what I think, and what I learn.

I often feel emotional about things.  We that choose to feel lead heightened lives of joy and sorrow.  Our emotions are those things which set us aside from the animal kingdom in general.  My highs and lows and in-betweens are the things which will endear me to my posterity, displaying my all-too-human side. By choice, I will include in my journal the things I feel.  You may or may not choose to feel with me.

Sappy?  check

I often think.  It is one of my best qualities.  It is how I approach life and the things that happen to me. I process events by thinking about them, analyzing them, comparing them.  And I prefer to think about the things that happen to me rather than analyzing and comparing the things that happen to you. I find it is much healthier than spending too much energy on studying someone else's life.

Self-serving?  check

As I spend a life of feeling and thinking, it invariably leads me to learning something.  Halleleujah!  Life has a purpose then!  I also find that the best conduit for me to learn is to write.  That is when inspiration comes.  That is when the pieces begin to fit together.  That is when the "aha! moments" come. For me, there is not a better place for me to taste the things I am learning than as I sit down and write about my life.  The things I am learning are not intended to be crammed down any potential readers' throats.  They are for my benefit, and for the benefit of my posterity that will hopefully read Grandma's blog.

Preachy? Sure. 

I have been amazed and gratified to find that others' occasionally check in to see what Ardith is thinking about today.  But consider this a disclaimer: It will probably be sappy, most certainly about my life, and hopefully will show that I am learning something.  Proceed with caution.