Monday, September 08, 2008

Grace and Gratitude

September 1st marked two years since I set down my first tentative words in this column thus commencing this journey down Love's Freeway. I had forgotten about the anniversary until I turned the page on my 2008 "Languages of Love" Freeway calendar and saw the birthday notation I had entered when designing it. Immediately, I thought of all you who, turning your calendar page and seeing the notation as well, were perhaps joining me however momentarily in marking this day. To you, and to all who are sharing this occasion by way of these words: thank you for being there!

If my life in Ireland is showing me anything, it is highlighting for me what is precious. It has me keenly aware of the many priceless gifts that comprise my life, that comprise Life in general, and deeply appreciating them. First of all, it is safe to say I would not be living this extraordinary expansion in Love Dublin style were it not for Love's Freeway. And every time this expansion bleeds into a new part of the world, I smile through and through. Yesterday, I learned it has touched Germany. Last week, it was Taiwan. These are the new links that I know about; how many others are there that I don't know about?

I have asked multiple times in various ways to hear from you, out there making your own unique yet parallel journey. To those of you who have responded, here or elsewhere: thank you. I am enriched by and grateful for your comments, your appreciations. Now I am asking again: tell me how Love's Freeway serves you, how it might serve you better. What else might you like to see in these columns, or beyond them? Where in your part of the world--in your world--does Love seem to be lacking? Where do you see It thriving? In the meantime, I will share from mine.

Yesterday, serendipity placed before me the opportunity to be in touch with my seventh grade History teacher who unbeknownst to him made a big difference in my life. Besides history, he taught me about passion, enthusiasm for one's subject and, consequently, how to teach from that. He also, by way of a simple short yearbook comment, a mere four words scratched into that glossy paper, let me know I was more than I seemed. I couldn't resist the opportunity to acknowledge him for these, and so I sent off a letter of appreciation and gratitude from sunny Dublin, Ireland to the land of my upbringing.

The state of gratitude is a state of grace, I am sure.

I am discovering anew or at least more richly here the wealth that is my own history, in particular the riches bestowed upon me by the people who constitute that history. One day out of the blue, I remember fondly a man who always stirred warm feelings in me, and I launch a brief but unsuccessful search for him online. That same day, I am surprised by email from a former coworker and friend we shared in common--someone I haven't heard
from in years. Out of our friendly exchange, without soliciting it, the address and phone number of our mutual friend is proffered, along with news that my former boss, President and Founder of our company, died suddenly at the end of June. My spontaneous wandering in thought then has afforded me the opportunity to join this man's family in their remembrance and loss, to join with his colleagues and community--and the world community who continues to benefit from his patented inventions--
in paying him tribute. Life is a grace and a privilege and so is death. So is the opportunity to share in the death of one with whom one has shared any part of one's life. That's how it feels to me right now, anyway. I was privileged to know the living spirit that was
Paul Johannessen, to work alongside him, to receive his praise and his criticisms--all his gifts, two of which still reside on my fireplace mantel in Boston.

And speaking of cherished objects resting on surfaces back in Boston: it occurred to me a few days ago that the woman who is making my house her home these days might think them peculiar, the tiny clay elephant and bear each no larger than a thumbnail which decorate my kitchen window sill. There is no way for her to know of the marvel that they embody for me. She can't know that they were created while I looked on by my blind friend Harriet on a hot summer's day when I had gone to cheer her, to lift her spirits which were dipping due to hip surgery and its resulting restrictions on her mobility and comfort at the rehab facility. Harriet asked for guidance only once:

"Is this the yummy plum color" she'd asked while holding that square of sculpting clay above the other two of pink and creamy white. When I confirmed that it was, she set about twisting and pinching pieces of each color into their intended marbled animal shapes, complete with trunk and floppy ears in the case of the elephant, and perfectly placed pink nose and eyes in the case of the bear. Even sighted, I couldn't have produced such dear, enchanting characters, let alone in such a scant bit of time. They were perfect specimens in miniature: the bear very bear-like, the elephant unmistakably elephantine, and both exactly proportioned, their coloration and swirls beautiful in design and contrast. Harriet fashioned them with what seemed to be pure delight as we chatted nonstop. I even cried at one point I remember, so entrustingly and wholeheartedly was I lamenting to her the state of my love life at the time, so compassionately was she receiving it. I'm almost embarrassed to tell of it now. Here I had been thinking I was the giver, that I had come for her benefit. And there she was giving so much to me. Ah, the dynamic of relationship, the mathematics of Love that has it always returning in multiples!
Harriet offered true comfort and selfless generosity to me that day. And when it came time to leave, she insisted I take the clay critters with me, sending me off with instructions on how to bake them into a more solid form at home.

any things of great value can be purchased for a price in this world. Others are just plain priceless. More and more these days, I am seeing: my true wealth has been the people, whether in brief or in prolonged moments, who have crossed my path and thus graced my days. I see that every one of these encounters has been consequential whether or not it felt that way at the time. The people (and creatures) of my life past and present, the moments, the meals, the places we've shared: these are my greatest treasure. These are riches no money can buy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You asked how has Love’s Freeway has inspired me.

For me Love’s Freeway is yet another opportunity to think about the power of each word. With your craftiness you breathe new meaning into them. You make them alive so they jump at me and carry me along. Your words of free spirit become like a bunch of playful children who invite me into their random hopscotch game.

I have pondered the phrase “Love’s Freeway “over and over again. Depending on the day it may mean different things, but consistently it is always free, always a choice. Love, free to give and free to receive. It is why I am here and why all of us are here, traveling together, learning from each other, helping each other along.

Love is the big umbrella that protects us from any weather along the way, the storms, the sunburns, the downpour that sometimes seems to drown us.

Now I must say I still travel slowly, cautiously in the right lane. This concept of fearless love and reckless abandon is still a bit scary even at sixty-two years old. I am not breaking any speed limits. I proceed more like driving Miss Daisy. I want to make sure I am not getting off Love’s Freeway at the wrong exit, hitting the guardrail, or missing any important signs on my way. The signs I liked best are “Easy Does It”, “Keep It Simple” and drive “One Day at a Time.” I also watch out for HALT, getting too hungry, angry, lonely or tired on the freeway. I keep the phone next to me in case of an emergency.

I want to stay on the path and not break any rules that push me over the edge. I am not driving a convertible yet but will get there eventually on Love’s Freeway.

8:36 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home