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Thursday, November 29, 2012

He was Old, Wrinkled and Round and he was Magnificent!

The aroma of freshly baked chocolate chips cookies lingered in the house long after my mother had tucked us in for the night.

Snowflakes hit the windows in our bedroom beckoning us out to play but they would have to wait for another day. Sleep was what we needed to do before he arrived. I could hear the logs in the fireplace crackling and Niko’s soft sighs as he settled into his soft puppy bed for the night. 

Ten cookies sat next to a glass of cold milk on the mantle. These were Santa’s favorite treat. 

My sister and brother were nestled on either side of me.  Their gentle snores told me they'd already drifted off no doubt dreaming of the toys that would soon come their way. How could anyone sleep on such a glorious night? I threw back the covers and hoped over my sisters legs. I just wanted to take a quick peak.

I tiptoed to the end of the corridor and looked over the railing. The grandfather clock at the end of the corridor struck midnight. It was time! Certain that no one else was awake,I made my way down the staircase.  My progress was slow. I rounded the corner leading to living room and much to my utter surprise he was there.
I watched in fascination as he gobbled his treats, the crumbs clinging to his whiskers. Then he lifted the glass of milk and drank it in one long gulp.  He was just as I had imagined! 
Old, wrinkled, and round!
Unable to move I gasped as he opened his sack and pulled out three beautifully wrapped boxes. He laid them carefully under the tree. 
Surveying his work he turned toward the fireplace. He was ready to go. I adjusted myself moving ever so slightly so I could watch his ascent. The gentle rustling of my night coat caught his attention. He turned!
“Merry Christmas little one,” he whispered. 
“Merry Christmas, Santa,” I replied.
He tiptoed toward me, placing a finger over his lips. He opened his hand and in it rested the last of the cookies. I marveled at his magnificence as I reached for his offering.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Person Who Lives with an Open Soul Sees the Beauty of Life

This would appear to be a rather simple picture to post on a blog that highlights breathtaking moments. How could a woman who's face has been marked by the passage of time, the superficial signs of youth long gone, be breathtaking?  
 If we see her with our souls instead of our eyes then we would know how truly breathtaking she is.
This remarkable woman lived through the second world war, helped raise six siblings, became a seamstress, married, gave birth to two children and then lost her young husband to cancer.
She cried, she laughed, anguished, praised and she lived.
When all her child raising was done she met a man who caught her heart and they married. He was her companion, best friend and confident but God had other plans and he took him as well. 
When her cup seemed almost empty, her beloved daughter was diagnosed with cancer and she too passed barely 50.
And although her heart was broken she forged ahead and saw two of her grandchildren married.
She survived a horrific earthquake.
During her life she buried her parents, two brothers, and a cherished sister.
Last year she turned 80. Some said she would not see 81 for her health was failing.
She needed a pace maker and although the doctor was hesitant to perform the procedure she insisted.
Despite all of life's trials, her spirit would not be defeated.
This past summer she turned 81.

Is she not truly breathtaking?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

However we Should Remember that Homelessness is a Condition of the Society we Live in.

A few days ago, as I waited at an intersection, I watched a homeless young man rest his tattered back pack against the traffic light pole to prepare for his day of pleading. He took a sip from a water bottle and picked up his sign turning it hesitantly toward the oncoming cars.
Homeless, Hungry and Can't go Home.
I watched as vehicles moved passed him but not a single person opened their window to make an offering let alone glance his way. Did they think that not looking at  him would mean he wasn't there?
I cannot judge them for not stopping  because each of us has to be comfortable with the choices we make.
However we should remember that homelessness is a condition of the society we live in. 
How often do you hear people say,
"They should get a job. They're addicts, they'll just buy drugs. He's probably a bad kid and his parents sent him packing."
But maybe they were abused or they are mentally ill. Maybe they didn't have good parents who loved and cherished them, maybe, maybe maybe.....

In the span of thirty seconds a hundred thoughts ran through my mind,
Where are his parents? Are they worried about him?
Why isn't he in a shelter?
How old can he be?
How long has he been alone?
And with thoughts of the many blessings in my life and in the fervent belief that someone would extend the same kindness to one of my own children if needed,
I reached into my wallet, rolled down my window and watched as he walked toward me.
His smile caught me off guard.
He accepted my offering, surprised by the amount,
"You're amazing. Thank you."
"Get yourself something to eat and take care of yourself."

 I rolled up my window and glanced at him as I drove away. He joined his hands together in a gesture of prayer and smiled at me.

Where was his haven? The place to come home to at the end of each day to be greeted by people who love him.
I think that homelessness is not only to lack this place of refuge it is more the absence of not belonging.

In the moment of giving you find deep comfort in knowing that you have helped a fellow human being and that is truly breathtaking.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Suitcase-One Last Gift

She closed her front door and sighed, "What a day!" 
Looking at the dishes, trays, wine glasses, cake crumbs and left overs she thought, I'll get to that later. She  poured herself the last cup of coffee and cut herself a chunk of cake, licking the remnants off her finger.
Then she turned and walked into her study. Sitting in her favorite chair she turned to gaze into the forest that enveloped her home.
The trees were, surprisingly, still speckled with orange and yellow leaves.
She loved autumn.

How had 65 years passed so quickly, she mused. Sixty five birthdays, each of them marking the passage of time and with each passing year she'd added to her repertoire of life.

The door bell chimed shattering the silence.
"What did they forget? she laughed expecting to find one of her children at the door coming to retrieve a neglected item.
Instead she found her best friend's daughter standing there the leaves swirling around her feet, suitcase in hand.

Annie recognized it, "That's your mother's bag!" she gasped looking at the worn corners, a testament to Amanda's years of travel.

"It is Annie. She asked me to give this to you before she died. Make sure it's on her birthday she told me. So here it is. I don't know what's in it but knowing mom it will be pretty special. You know she really loved you, like no other friend."
And with that she kissed her and turned to walk down the driveway to the waiting car.

Annie's hands trembled as she lifted the suitcase with one hand and wiped the stream of tears with the other.
"This is just like you, to send me something even after you're gone."

Setting the suitcase on her desk she studied it. She knew this was Amanda's favorite one. It went everywhere with her.

She pulled the zipper open and gasped when she saw the hundreds of photos that filled the inside. Looking up at her were photos of Amanda in Mexico, Italy, Spain, birthdays, communions, weddings. Amanda's life lay sprawled before her surrounded by her family and friends. Love, laughter and adventure.

Annie's hand finally came to rest on an envelope with her name scrawled across the front in Amanda's chicken scratch handwriting,

Dear Annie,

I never used this suitcase although I did have one like it.  I saved this one for you, hoping that one day you would travel with me on the remarkable journey called life. There were so many missed opportunities and so many years of waiting for you. But, I have no regrets. So instead, since you couldn't be with me I filled this suitcase for you so that you too could one day share the passage of time with me. At each event and on every trip, I carried you with me.
Now spread your wings Annie, fill your suitcase, have no regrets and race to the finish line.
I'll be waiting!

The bell rang again. Annie pulled the front door open, a fresh stream of tears fell from her eyes as they came to rest on her new suitcase. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shaded Eyes do not see the Beauty!

Like Lucy and Ethel, their friendship would be forever!
A woman turned to her best friend, a woman she'd known for more that 25 years and called her a paper friend. The friend laughed because it sounded so absurd. What could that possibly mean. Was she shallow, absent, distant, only present in the friendship when it suited her? What had made a once loyal friend harden her heart?

She searched her soul and the answer can in a silent whisper.
 If we are hurt and disappointed by others, then we can become jaded but that is no way to live. 

Shaded eyes do not see the beauty around them.
Disappointments have to be tossed aside like worn running shoes.
Only then can we live freely and see the richness of life.

When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.Disappointment, defeat and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way."
~Paulo Coelho, Brida

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Could you Live this Way?

Imagine what the world would be if each of us could live this way!

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Gift of Time

It hard to believe that it is once again the time of year when the malls are decked out for Christmas madness.
The race is on as people rush about in search of the perfect gift.

But what is the ideal gift? The one that doesn't disappoint, that won't be exchanged, that won't be tucked into a closet or be re gifted?

I would say its the gift of our time.
The time we take to share a meal, or a glass of wine. The time to reflect on the blessings in our lives.
It the time we take to smile at a stranger and wish them the best for the holiday season, the time we give to a charity.
It is the time we take to snuggle up by the fire with our special someone, or bake delicious cookies with our children.

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
                        ~Mother Teresa

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Explore, Dream and Discover!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
Mark Twain

Each time I travel to Italy I’m captivated by the history, the food, the din of tourists, the cafes, the shops…

Meandering through the spattered towns of Lake Como, the waterways of Venice, the hillsides of Tuscany, the museums of Florence, the seaside towns of the Amalfi coast and finally the pearl of the Mediterranean, Taormina, I marveled at the age of this boot shaped nation. How many people had stepped upon the cobbled stones, sat on the wooden pews in the thousands of churches, peddled their wares in the markets, and fought battles on the road side? Everywhere I turned there was evidence of their existence; the lives they’d lived, the children they’d born, their struggles, and triumphs.

I couldn't begin to pick one particular place as a favorite. Each stop held its own allure but there was one family farm, in Tuscany that made me feel like I’d stepped back in time. Nestled at the foot of San Gimignano, the small paradise still holds much of the old traditions of making wine, raising Chianina cattle, pigs, bees, saffron and olives. I’m certain there are countless places, such as Fattoria Poggia Allora in Italy.

An entire lifetime would not be enough to explore them all but I’m certainly going to try.

 Safe journeys!