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It’s About Time

Blog Post #26 

clock

(*Originally written March 29, 2015)

Last night, I discovered I had allowed my domain account to expire. This means that my blog disappeared. I called my excellent blog savvy daughter for help (she helped me set it up in the beginning) and through her instruction got the domain reinstated. However, this morning, when I checked my blog, it was still gone. Feeling a little panicked, I called my daughter again. She began the task of trying to get my blog platform back on track.

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My daughter has a busy life, and already spends a great deal of time dealing with internet/computer issues. I felt terrible taking up so much of her time trying to fix my problem. I might have sidestepped this puddle of problems if I had had more foresight. It bothers me to think of the time she has been wasting on my account.

Wasting-Time-Button

In contemplating this, I began to think about Time, and why I hate to see Time wasted. What is time, anyway? It is something elusive and intangible, and yet can be such a taskmaster. It drives us out of bed in the morning, dictates meals, events, chores, and other activities, commands punctuality, but begs for relaxation, and may even wake us from a sound sleep in the middle of the night worrying about meeting its demands later on.

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We willingly submit to Time’s regimentation, too. By choice, we invite Time to control our very existence in offensive ways. For example, we set clocks—sometimes, right next to our heads—to blast annoyingly loud and obnoxious sounds at ridiculous hours to startle us out of bed. We wear Time as jewelry, or as part of our clothing ensemble, to carry its nagging influence with us every waking hour. We even place large timepieces in conspicuous places in every venue we visit to remind us who, or more aptly, what is in charge. For it is Time that people rush to meet, check on to stay within obscure but rigid bounds, and that tells us when we can take a break. We are literal slaves to Time.

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So what is Time? It’s one of the most difficult things to define and capture. It has no substance, no shape, no mass, nor profile. It cannot be visualized except by how it relates to things that happen during its reign. A timeline depicts key events occurring during Time’s tenure, but it does little to help us understand the true nature of Time itself, except to point out that it exists—you guessed it!—throughout the span of TIME! Yes, for millennia, mankind has bowed to its strict dictatorship, without ever catching hold of what it is.

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Interestingly enough, for all the things Time isn’t, there is one thing Time is: Time is measureable. We can calculate how much we need, how much we’ve used, how much is left, and how long till we press the “reset” button to have another chunk of Time to use or waste as we see fit.

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For me, it is a rare and precious commodity. I have been known to hoard it. I have often wished for more of it, but it is extremely stingy and precise. It gives the same to everyone—be they king, peasant, homemaker, or businessman. It matters not where on the globe you live, or how rich or poor you are. It treats all people—young and old—with the same tacit economy. Either you adhere to its dictates, or you live the life of a vegetable. Ha! Even a vegetable bows to Time—for vegetables grow and change and decay, and growth and change of any kind need Time in order to occur.

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What of wasting Time? I detest the thought of it. What do you consider wasted time? I have a long list of things that fit into that category. Some of the things I might consider a waste of Time, you might find valuable and high on your list of worthy uses of Time. It is a personal thing. It can be hard to define. On any given day, something you once considered a total waste of Time may become of great value, and on another day, it may be the opposite. Through the lens of Time, things can become distorted, or possibly, more distinct and accurate. Priorities shift, bow, and adjust to Time’s influence.

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An ever-changing spectrum of activities spins round us on a daily basis—one eternal round of things to be done that take up a tidbit of Time here, a boatload of Time there—taking more Time or less Time than is adequate or desired. Even things done routinely may be categorized as requiring more of our precious Time than is truly needed. Take, for example, dishes, meal preparation, and laundry. They make their appearances in a routine fashion—day after day—to the point of becoming a burden or a nuisance to many. They hover there in the vacuum of Time while we try to wish them away. Thinking about them may take more Time than actually doing them, making Time deceitfully cunning at stealing away Time from the unwary, or more especially, from the Procrastinator. (A Procrastinator is Time’s evil twin incarnate.) If we “time” how long it really takes to clean a meal’s worth of dishes, we may find it only takes a matter of minutes, whereas the Time spent dreading and thinking about the chore may eat up hours.  

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Wasting Time can be a stress inducer. It can cause an otherwise sane person to have bouts of temporary insanity. An example of this it when one wakes up with a list of  pertinent “to dos,” but fills the early morning hours sitting at the computer dillydallying with social media, instead of effectively knocking off things on the list. Another example might be when one gets sidetracked by a box of old school memorabilia when one intended to clean the closet in which said memorabilia was found. By chance, one looks up at the (ever nagging, blatantly scolding) clock, and notices hours have passed, and that in thirteen short minutes one is supposed to be showered, dressed, and out the door for an important engagement! One suddenly moves from a state of relaxed euphoria to a panic-stricken maniac! Suddenly, everyone and everything in one’s way is at fault, and an obstacle to one’s top priority—being On Time!

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This is not one of my time wasting issues. I learned my lesson about wasting time in that manner a long, long time ago.  I trifle more with Time at a different level. I try to outsmart it. I lie in bed of a morning, after watching the clock every hour on the hour to make sure I don’t oversleep, and bargain with Time: “If you will give me fifteen minutes more to sleep, I will make it up later on by going to bed fifteen minutes earlier.”    Or “If you will make this hour that I need to get ready for company go by at a slower pace, I won’t complain about the slow hour spent in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.” (Only sometimes, I still complain.)

snooze

Ah, such are the lengths some of us go to try to manipulate Time, all the while knowing, deep down, that Time is staunchly unwavering. It is as constant and consistent as the rising of the sun. And aren’t we grateful for that? For how would it be if we couldn’t depend on the very seconds, minutes and hours of life to mark out their space exactly as they do? We would be like a child at the beach, ever chasing the waves lapping the shore—in and out, back and forth—never exactly knowing which wave will overlap another, pulling and tugging and catching our toes unaware, ever knocking down the sandcastle plans of our lives.

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For Time, all are “created equal,” and this is a blessing. No one can gain the advantage over another by having less or more of it, or of moving within it more quickly, or more slowly. No one can travel back in time, or into the future. It is fortunate, indeed, that no one can tamper with time, wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent people and creating immeasurable chaos. Time is an “equal opportunity employer,”—how we choose to use the Time given us is what matters. Those who squander it will never be able to make up for that which they lose.  Those who respect it, using it carefully, prayerfully, and wisely will be able to look back on their Time without regret.

How I wish I had taken the time to keep my blog domain up to date. I currently wouldn’t be suspended in time—waiting to post this to my blog. It is a lesson well learned. I grew up with the saying:  A stitch in time saves nine. I have supposed this meant that if one made the required stitch when a hole first appears in a garment, one would save nine extra back-pedaling stitches to repair a larger hole. (Sadly, I have experience with this.) I would like to translate this saying as meaning: taking appropriate action at the appropriate Time will save nine minutes, nine hours, nine days, or maybe nine years.

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This has long been a favorite poem of mine. It is taken from a Time marker—a sundial—at Wells College, and was penned by Henry Van Dyke.  I share it with you as a last, profoundly accurate statement on Time:

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The shadow by my finger cast
Divides the future from the past:
Before it, sleeps the unborn hour
In darkness, and beyond thy power:
Behind its unreturning line,
The vanished hour, no longer thine:
One hour alone is in thy hands,–
The NOW on which the shadow stands. ”

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*I am happy to report that all issues with my blog are now resolved, thanks to my very capable daughter, Thalia.

You may have noticed the new platform for, and format of my blog. A little change now and then can be a good thing.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear friends, for reading.

End Piece

© April 9, 2015


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Middles

Blog Post # 25

All stories have a beginning, middle and end, including each of our personal stories. Most of us spend most of our lives in the middle of our stories. Few remember the beginning, and the end is a mysterious, ambiguous question mark quivering, mirage-like, somewhere in the future. 
 
 
I believe there’s a lot to be said for “the middle”—and, generally, I think we take middles for granted.
 
 
 The famous Tolkien understood the importance of the middle, creating the setting for his epic tale of Hobbits, elves and men in Middle Earth


Map of Middle Earth as it appeared in earliest editions of Tolkien’s books

An entire period in history is named for the middleThe Middle Ages
 
Middle Ages (Image: Public Domain)
 
Even historical time is marked from the middle—when Jesus Christ was born—and is counted forward or backward from that point. 
Jesus Christ–born in the Meridian of Time
So you see, middles are significant.
Other prominent middles you may be familiar with are:
Middle of the road
Middle ground
Being in the middle of things
Caught in the middle
In the middle of nowhere
In the middle of something
Middle Aged
Middle Life (shortened to Mid-Life)
Middle Class
Meeting in the middle
Middle man
Middle of the night
Middle finger
Around the middle (referring to the tummy area)
Middle school
Middle roll or slice of bread (This is probably not important to anyone, but me. Everyone in our family knows how much I love the middle roll for its softness and lack of crusty edges. They have been very respectful of this preference, and always save at least one middle roll for me as they come out of the oven.)
 
You may agree that some of these middles have more positive connotations than others, but where would we be if there weren’t some kind of middle to things? We’d always be on the dangling “ends.” I submit that there is an aspect of safety and comfort to be had in the middle.
Take, for example, one of the most prominent middles: The Middle of the Road. When our children, grandchildren, and even a couple of our nieces were learning to drive, my husband, Brad, like Frodo Baggins, fearlessly stepped forward, volunteering to assist the hopeful, naïve drivers in their treacherous journey down backroads and freeways to destroy their “ring” of immobility. I was sometimes a passenger/companion in that fellowship down the road, and I can honestly tell you: the middle of the road is best! We came precariously close to trolls, dragons and orcs poised along the broken white lines separating lanes, and the solid lines on the edges of the roads—knocking an orc off the road here, and a troll off there. Several hair-raising (and hair-graying) incidents stand out in my mind, but I’ll only mention one. Our son was driving our old yellow Suburban along the freeway when a dragon of enormous proportions came up beside us in the form of a semi. 
 
I couldn’t believe there is really a truck painted to look like a dragon!
I had to include this picture I found on Pinterest!
 
Sitting on the passenger’s side of the front seat, (my husband Brad in the middle), I gripped the car door as if brandishing a shield in my defense. At the point when I knew if I stretched my arm out the window I could polish the scales on the dragon’s skin, Brad, meaning to encourage our son to drive ahead of the semi, said, “Move closer.” Of course, our son understood his meaning as “move closer to the truck,” and began sidling across the line towards the dragon in the lane to my right. I was scrunching down into the car floor with fear, at this point, certain if I ventured to stick my fingers a hand’s length out the window, the dragon would have bitten them off at the nub. Brad, as calmly as if he were ordering a cheeseburger and fries, told our son to move forward, not to the side, and our son corrected our route before sheering off my side of the Suburban. Afterwards, our son admitted that he couldn’t understand why his dad would want him to nudge up next to a fire-breathing dragon spanning the dotted line on the perimeter of his lair, but being the obedient son, he followed directions and nearly got us all killed or maimed. It would have been far safer for said “fellowship” to brave the middle of the lane leading to Mordor rather than flirt with danger lurking on the periphery.
 
 
The middle of the road is reliable and trusted for other reasons, as well. Any time you get precariously near the fringe edges of things there are risks lurking in the shadows. It is along the edge that one finds cliffs, soft shoulders, bridge railings, ditches, bodies of water, trees, and granite walls. Guardrails are called “guard” rails for a very good reason. It is their specific mission to prevent the risk of danger or accidents. Reflectors imbedded into some guardrails flash a warning at you that you’re veering off the path of safety into dangerous territory. If you opt not to heed the warning, you may find yourself careening down a cliff, or plunging into a swiftly moving river.
 
See the guy beyond the guardrail?


The middle of the road can apply to smaller, less aggressive thoroughfares, as well. If you’ve ever wandered a path through the woods or meandered down a country lane, you may have noticed the fringes of the path lined with stinging nettle, poison ivy, rocks, branches, downed or standing trees, stumps, or weeds full of foxtails and cockleburs. The well-trampled pathway has fewer hindrances due to excessive use, in most cases making it less hazardous–or perhaps to some, less interesting. (I, personally, have never been one to find interest or entertainment in trifling with risk, but I know some who do.)  
 
There are always exceptions to this rule, as I recall many times finding a less maintained pathway blocked by a fallen log. But stranger than nature causing obstructions are those man creates for himself! Here are two crazy examples:

Ahem….there’s a telephone pole in the middle of the road! 
It would be best not to drive this street on a moonless night.
Either the road should have been rerouted,
or the tree planted elsewhere, whichever came first.
When I speak of The Middle of the Road, I am not talking about haphazardly trekking over an imagined path across the middle of a perilous and fragile frozen lake, either. Shortcuts over thin ice are what the Foolish or Lazy consider a time-saver, and indeed, that route may insure never having to worry about going the long way around on solid ground again!
 
When I speak of The Middle of the Road, I am referring to a road built on bedrock: solid, steadfast, and immovable.
 
Wagon ruts in rock — Oregon Trail. (From Wyoming Heritage.org)
 
Other middles that have proven useful are Meeting in the Middle, Finding Middle Ground, and Being in the Middle of Things. I am lumping together these middles because, to my mind, they seem to hold hands and bridge gaps when put together. When I was a child in grade school, I often felt myself on the periphery. If you had asked me where I stood among my peers, I would have probably described myself as part of a circle (the type of circle employed for a game of dodge ball, or Duck, Duck, Goose), or perhaps more fitting, on the outskirts of the circle looking in, not the child in the middle (the chosen one). I was usually one of the last chosen for schoolyard teams, and rarely chosen by the teacher to lead up a team. I wasn’t very athletic, nor was I particularly popular. I was on the shy side, and completely average. I stood in the wings, awkward, and relieved not to be the center of attention. Sometimes I was observant. I learned to see and have compassion for others who were also standing in the wings—who were “different” in the sense of not quite fitting-in.
Duck, Duck, Goose, of course.
 
Over time, I learned a very useful lesson: how to find Middle Ground where people who were “different” (or at least felt they were different) might meet and feel safe as part of a unified whole (something I seldom felt during my elementary and junior high school years). It wasn’t until High School that I began to feel a sense of being a part of a united whole, as I found and honed some of my personal strengths and offered them to my school community in the form of choir and drill team. I didn’t need, or want, to be In the Middle—the center of attention. I was content not to be a drill team captain or co-captain, and not to have the lead in the school musical. I was content as a member of the team, or of the chorus—having the fun without the worry or discomfort of having all eyes on me.

Drill Team back in the day
(That’s me: 
right center front. I’m almost always in the front row
–what can I say? I’m short.)
There were times, however, when I enjoyed being In the Middle of Things, meaning, being a part of the greater good, or the greater whole to achieve something of worth. If you have ever enjoyed the uplifting experience of singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a member of a choir, you may understand the essence of what I’m saying. As a choir member, a drill team member, a member of an orchestra, soccer team, basketball team, dance ensemble, or any such group effort where every individual contributes to enhance the whole, one may experience a sense of synergy—creating something greater than the sum of the individual parts. One needn’t be the center of attention to feel one’s value in creating something beautiful and inspiring. One need only be a participant—a contributing part of the whole. In this way, one is indeed In the Middle of Things while being uniquely individual; a voice unique to oneself, yet blending with the whole—a true sense of unity.  
 
I’m in the front row again, far right of this picture. One voice in the choir–a part of the whole.
(This is from college. I couldn’t find a picture from high school.)
One of my favorite “middles” is not just being In the Middle of Things, but being In the Middle of Something. This is the story of my life. I am always in the middle of something, or truer still, I am always in the middle of several somethings at once! I laid aside some long-anticipated sewing that I was right in the middle of to sit down and write this post. I am not a slave to writing because, for me, it is simply a thing I do for fun. But writing was calling to me. The thing is—the sewing was also calling to me. Which do I answer first? Whichever calls loudest? No…. I think I answer more to whichever calls to the innermost longings of my heart, provided it doesn’t encroach on other, more important things—necessities, responsibilities, family, or service. One day, it may be sewing. Another day it may be time with my family—this desire accounts for most days. Yet another day, it is writing. Tomorrow, it may be sewing again. Or baking. Or going for a walk with Brad. Or building a puzzle while sitting with my father. Or playing the piano. Or tending to the roses. Or providing service. Or cleaning the house (yes, even cleaning the house calls to me from time to time.)  I could list a dozen or more things that, most of the time, I long to do all of the time. One may find oneself Caught in the Middle of Being in the Middle of (more) Things at once than one can handle at one time. It’s at these times, that I most long to run off to a place alone—In the Middle of Nowhere—where my mind can untangle itself, and quiet the noise, rest, and rejuvenate (this is rarely possible).
 
Two more middles and I’m done. First, being The Middle Child. Certainly, being the middle child has been given a bad rap. When you are the middle child, you are neither the oldest, nor the youngest, both of which are problematic. My own experience as the middle child was instructive, providing plenty of evidence that there are both advantages and disadvantages to this position in the family. The adulation that goes to the oldest, and the privileges that attend the youngest are somehow lost on the middle child. This is not all bad. I had the direct advantage of observing and avoiding the “guinea pigged-ness” of the oldest, while inadvertently also avoiding the privileges of the youngest. My older sister tested the waters, so to speak, and I saw what worked and what didn’t. I understood at a young age what was required to maintain peace and avoid contention through thoughtful observance of her experiences. On the other hand, my little brother was born just close enough on the heels of my third birthday, (the day after, to be exact), to give my parents virtually no time at all to consider spoiling me, and plenty of time for my brother to benefit from being “the only child” once my sister and I left home.  
 
Me, my sister, and my brother. For as long as I can remember,
the heads of my wonderful parents have been missing from this picture. Not sure why.
 
I must add that the home in which I was raised was a completely loving and nurturing environment. I had a virtually ideal childhood. In fact, it was a blessing for me to be in the middle. Among other things, being middle child taught me to save and budget my money, to be self-reliant and self-analytical, and to observe and learn how to have good relations with my parents and with others. (This is not to say that my siblings did not also learn these things. It is only to say that I attribute the speed of learning such lessons to the tutelage of being middle.) 
 
Lastly, I would like to speak from experience about Middle Age—a middle through which I believe I am gradually approaching the exit—or through which I have, in ignorance, already passed. Having turned sixty last year, I recognize that I have been very solidly engaged in Middle Age for many years, and that, although it doesn’t feel like it, I am entering the period know as Old Age. Strange as it may seem, my spirit gazing from the inside of this body out through ever-youthful, sixteen-year-old eyes, has never sensed the aging process. No, not for an instant! Having experienced Middle Age, I think I can safely say it has been, for me, a place of security and comfort.
 
Some of the benefits I’ve experienced during Middle Age are:
  • Being rooted solidly in family and all the accoutrements of a full and fulfilling life with husband, parents, children and grandchildren.
  • Having an understanding of ways I have been, and continue to be a contributing member of society.
  • Enjoying the many gifts of Time.
  • Having intact, faithful connections with friends, near and far, old and new.
  • Feeling at peace and empowered by my beliefs and the strength of my faith in God and Jesus Christ.
  • Continuing in the delightful process of discovering things that bring joy every day.
  • Recognition of all for which I am grateful.
 
The edges of life feel insecure compared to being cemented in the middle: there are questions; there is anticipation; there is the strange, empty sadness of impending or experienced loss; and the ecstatic joy of new beginnings. I look at my ninety-two year-old father, and think that if I have inherited his genes for longevity, I may still have another thirty years—half again the life I have already lived—left in me, and I wonder about that. When viewed from that perspective, I may at this moment, remain fixed in the middle of my Middle Aged years. And yet, I do not know the answer to that any more than my father knows at which moment he will pass into the rest of the eternal realm where he’ll enjoy the companionship of his beloved wife and other family members once again.  I’m okay with this unanswered enigma. Whatever the ending of my story will be, it was the middle that prepared me for what is to come.
 
The Middle of life has given me a sense of Eternity. Of Joy that knows no limits. Of Hope for what lies in the future. Of Faith in a Loving Eternal Father who is mindful of me and wants me to return home to Him. Of Love and Family ties that last forever.  
 
The Middle has strengthened me for the boundless Ends. 

“And thus it was, a Fourth Age of Middle-earth began. And the Fellowship of the Ring, 
though eternally bound by friendship and love, was ended.” – J.R.R. Tolkein


From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear friends, for reading.
 
© March 16, 2015


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Sand

Blog Post #24

Illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith
 
There’s a new toy in stores these days. What is it, you ask? Why, it’s sand! Yes, that’s right…sand. As in “a loose granular substance…” familiar to most toddlers and preschool children. This new toy has a special, engaging and “smart” sounding  name: *“Waba Fun Kinetic Sand. TM
ki·net·ic
kəˈnedik/
adjective
1.    of, relating to, or resulting from motion.
o   (of a work of art) depending on movement for its effect.
sand
sand/
noun
1.a loose granular substance, typically pale yellowish brown, resulting from the
   erosion of siliceous and other rocks and forming a major constituent of
   beaches, riverbeds, the seabed, and deserts.
  
 
Why call it kinetic sand? The definition of kinetic has to do with movement and motion, attributes that directly relate to this product. Here are its selling points as quoted from Waba Fun Kinetic Sand’sTM ad on Amazon:
   ·       Sand in Motion!
   ·       Great for Developmental skills and Learning Minds!
   ·       Bring the beach indoors! Sand stays clumped
   ·       Won’t Spread all over.
 

I saw this sand in an open display at the checkout counter of an Aaron Brothers store. Of course, I had to touch it and see what was so special about this kind of sand. I have to admit, I didn’t want to stop playing with it. It felt soft, cool and squishy between my fingers. It did clump together as promised and was just fun to squeeze and mold. I was tempted to buy some …but then, I remembered.

 
 
I remembered that the bane of my existence is, in fact, sand!  Not Kinetic Sand, mind you, but sand just the same—the garden variety that you find in the average sandbox, such as the one in our backyard.
Here are the reasons why sand is the bane of my existence:
·           Sand in motion!
·           Great for developmental skills, and learning minds (which is why we always have a sandbox in our backyard)
·           Brings the beach indoors! Sand stays clumped (when wet)
·           Spreads ALL OVER!
I will elaborate.


I’m not sure why, but when I was growing up, a preferred picnic item for family outings was often cold fried chicken. Although, it tastes good, cold chicken is also greasy and messy. Once you’ve handled cold chicken, your hands are irreversibly sticky. Napkins do little to help the situation—leaving small, torn pieces of greasy paper stuck to your fingers. On more than one occasion, my mother packed wonderful picnic lunches that took half the day to prepare. During my early years, many of them included cold chicken legs, thighs, wings, and breasts to devour at the point of starvation after a busy morning playing at the beach.

by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Little children know how to make the most of a day at the beach—dodging waves, wading and splashing in the foamy seawater, collecting seashells, building castles and digging holes in the sand. 

by Jessie Wilcox Smith


Inevitably, sand is involved in each of these activities. In fact, there is no avoiding it, even if you want to. Like cold chicken, beach sand has the particular attribute of being sticky. It sticks to your legs and feet, to your hands and arms, between your fingers and toes, and all through your hair and scalp. It clings to your wet swimsuit, or your dry swimsuit. It sticks to your beach towel and lines the bottom, sides and pockets of your tote bag. In other words, it sticks to everything!  

Our grandson wears sand well!

It seems reasonable then, that it would also be on your lunch. And it was. If eating sticky cold chicken wasn’t enough to wreak havoc at a picnic on the lawn, add a little beach sand and you have a perfect combination of sticky and icky. Fried chicken often has a nice crispy crunch, but that is nothing to the crunch of sand in every bite.  I lost my taste for cold fried chicken while on a beach picnic about 55 years ago….and that has definitely stuck!

by Jessie Wilcox Smith

A significant illustration of sand in motion occurred when I was a teen. Occasionally, our family visited friends who had a wonderful beach house in Malibu (which, I only recently learned, was swept away by the weather, erosion and the sea). When my brother, sister and I were young, our friends’ house stood with its toes touching the threshold of the Pacific Ocean and included its own private beach. Karen and I went out in our denim, two-piece swimsuits to sunbathe, while Craig romped and played in the ocean. Anyone who knows anything about swimsuits will know that denim is not the fabric of choice for wading or swimming, being heavy, cumbersome, and having a tendency to sag and stretch out when wet. But these were such cute, nautical-looking suits, we both (“Bobsey Twins” that we were) got the same style. Karen and I mostly refrained from getting wet, since we were “cool” teenagers too concerned about messing up our hair than having fun in the water. (Besides, getting wet meant wrestling with, and trying our utmost to keep on those denim suits.) 

1960s Malibu beach house similar to the one our friends had

We felt self-important and at leisure to lounge about on such a private beach. As time passed, the tide pursued its normal routine: “coming in.” The water gradually sneaked up the beach until it pulled its sneakiest prank of all: invading our dry lounging area. With the lapping of each unsuspecting wave, it deposited about two pounds of sand in each of our suits. We cast aside our “coolness” in an attempt to rid ourselves of the excess scratchy, saggy, weighted burden by dipping our lower halves into the water, but to no avail. Each succeeding dip only deposited more of that loathsome sand. I am grateful we were on a private beach, away from public humiliation and scrutiny. I felt as if I was dragging a dumbbell in my swimsuit bottom, and, no doubt, resembled a baby with a too-full diaper. Removing the sand must have been traumatic to the point of amnesia, for I honestly can’t remember how we got the sand out without creating a trail into the bathroom packed with enough sand to drive a mule train over.

This aptly illustrates bringing the beach indoors, sand clumping when wet, as well as sand in motion. If you get one “benefit,” you get all.

 

Fast-forward several years and you’ll find my husband, Brad, building a sandbox for our young children for the first time.  In those days, when our finances were meager, we purchased the lower grades of sand that had a coarser texture than beach sand.  The children enjoyed hours of digging, playing and even school activities in those early sandboxes. Very little of it came in the house, because of the coarse composition.

A few of our grandchildren in the sandbox
Fast-forward a few more years, and you’ll still find Brad building sandboxes, but for our grandchildren. Finances having improved over the years, Brad decided to get premium-grade beach sand for the latest of these sandboxes. Now we come to the real reason sand is the bane of my existence! Not only do we have thirteen grandchildren—most of whom are still of sandbox playing ages,—but we also have dozens of grandnieces and grandnephews who visit from time to time, who also love to play in the sand. This is all well, and good, except for the beneficial properties of sand mentioned earlier:
·           Sand in motion!
·           Great for developmental skills, and learning minds
·           Brings the beach indoors! Sand stays clumped (when wet)
·           Spreads ALL OVER!

It’s difficult to restrict children from playing in a sandbox when it is great for their development and learning minds. But many have been the times when I have done just that—especially when they want to play in it just after I’ve cleaned and mopped the floors, for, as has been scientifically proven, when a child approaches sand in any form, it magnetically attracts to the child, adhering to every square inch of his or her body and clothes. Then, upon entering a house, it’s as if the magnetic switch automatically shuts down, and the sand all falls off, creating deposits only rivaled by the Nile Delta. 

Buried Princesses
Recently, some of our grandchildren were here for a visit. They spent a good portion of their days playing in the sandbox. One evening, just as the sun was setting, and it was beginning to rain, my granddaughter informed me that she had forgotten to bring in the brand new plastic princess dolls we had given them for Christmas. (Unlike other toys, these could be taken outside, with the stipulation that they come in at the end of the day). “Where are they? Can’t you quickly run out and bring them in before the rain comes down harder?” I asked. Her reply, “They’re in the sandbox. Buried. They all died.” I thought about insisting my granddaughter go after the dolls, but I quickly settled on a different option. Picturing sticky, clumping sand which would most assuredly have been caked on her clothes, shoes and body, I put on my coat with the hood and went out to collect the dead dolls without uttering another word. Digging with a plastic toy rake, I found five of the six interred dolls. (After a month and a half, the sixth still remains at large in her sandy grave.) I still had to deal with sticky, clumping sand, but it was on my shoes and hands, which makes a world of difference.

Missing Princess
During the summer, when some of the children are here, they can disappear for hours at a time in the cool, shady spot on the side of the house where the sandbox is. If I crack the bathroom window open, I can hear them pretending and imagining all sorts of situations only children can conceive of. It’s at those times, that I truly appreciate the benefit of sand.

by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Still, if we ever build another sandbox, I’m determined that it is composed of at least 75% gravel.

 

And who knows? I may even break down one of these days and buy some Waba Fun Kinetic SandTM….for me to play with!
 
© February 10, 2015
*This post is not intended as an advertisement for Kinetic Sand, Aaron Brothers, or for Disney My First Mini Princess dolls. Just telling it like it is.


2 Comments

"Pretending"

Blog Post #22
Harry Potter in his Invisibility Cloak


Have you ever tried to pretend you’re not there?  I have.  It’s a ridiculous thing to do. (Although would-be “flies on the wall,” like me, understand why people do this.)

 

If you aren’t sure of my meaning, perhaps one of the following scenarios illustrating how people sometimes pretend invisibility will trigger understanding:

  • You’re in a classroom setting, and the teacher is staring down students, asking for an answer. You lower your eyes, avoiding eye contact, thereby achieving invisibility. 

  • You’re visiting the home of an acquaintance when a bickering match erupts between the person you are visiting and another family member. You slink toward the door attempting to excuse yourself, but the elephant in the room is blocking your path. You pretend you are part of the wall—not there—until you can make your escape.

 

  • You’re not feeling very sociable while walking down the street. Dog walkers and joggers pass by, but you keep your head down. No eye contact makes you invisible.
Henry Holiday “Dante and Beatrice” 

(notice how Beatrice carefully averts her eyes)

  • You spot a solicitor sitting at a table outside Wal-mart. Rather than walk the direct route to the entrance, you make a huge circuit through the parking lot entering the store behind the solicitor’s table. When you exit, you wait until someone else is exiting and walk behind them so they effectively block you from the view of the solicitor, or, if a blocker is unavailable, you focus your gaze in the distance, planting an expression of intense distraction and extreme urgency on you face, making you, essentially, invisible.

 

 

Young children are quite adept at pretending they’re invisible. When our oldest child was just a toddler, we liked to play Hide-and-Seek with her. This game revealed how superfluous an appendage the rest of her body was to her head since if her head was covered, she was—in her mind—hidden, or rather, invisible. We’d tiptoe into her hiding place to find her entire body from the neck down sticking out from under the hem of curtains, or from under a desk, or from under the bed. I suppose we fed the misleading notion that she was invisible by standing toe-to-toe with her and calling out, “Where is she?” and “I can’t find her anywhere!”


Just as our young daughter thought she was invisible when her head was hidden, so adults seem to have narrowed the range of their invisibility from their heads down to just their eyes. This is evidenced by the illusion the lack of eye contact creates as illustrated in the four examples previously given.

There are occasions when it is impossible to achieve your own sense of invisibility, no matter what you do. For example, if you’ve ever been in the presence of an incessant talker (whom we’ll call “Chatterbox”), there is no escaping his or her vision. Any attempt you make at invisibility is immediately thwarted by Chatterbox’s complete inability to “see” you as another person, or personality, with thoughts and ideas of your own, thus, in a sense, making you invisible.  This may sound contradictory, but it really isn’t. Your attempts to respectfully release yourself from a prolonged discourse by breaking eye contact, appearing distant, uninterested, or downright bored have no effect. Even if you begin walking away, Chatterbox will follow you, never pausing to catch breath. As you get in your car, and start the engine, Chatterbox is not deterred, but walks into the busy street to—not see you off—but talk you off and on your way. Essentially, Chatterbox is the only “visible” person in the world; everyone else is invisible, existing only as a target toward which Chatterbox effusively flings his or her superfluous arsenal of words. (For the record, I know some Chatterboxes and I really like them–they are my friends. But their speech can be overwhelming at times.)

 

 

There were times when I didn’t need to pretend invisibility because, in certain situations, I was, essentially, already invisible. As a teenager, I became well acquainted with this type of invisibility. In classrooms where only “teacher’s pets” or troublemakers were visible, or in settings in which I was the quiet introvert among a group of popular social butterflies, the invisibility issue was driven home in multiple ways. 


But you must not assume this type of invisibility was necessarily unwelcome–at least to me. Quiet personalities can enjoy a certain measure of invisibility, provided they have close friends and family to whom they are visible in positive and worthwhile ways.

 

Harry Potter sneaking about in his invisibility cloak

 One of the motivations for my own pretended invisibility wasn’t so I could sneak about in a secret cloak like Harry Potter, spying on people. Rather, it was to enjoy conversation and interaction without the strain of interacting, which is often wearying, or difficult for more reserved personalities.

 

The idea of being a fly on the wall is terribly appealing to people like me.  It isn’t so I might listen to idle gossip, or be privy to secrets not meant for my ears (types of interaction I try to avoid). No, it’s not that at all. It’s simply because I am clumsy at conversation. It can be stressful and tiring to interact with large groups—draining, in fact. Still, I’ve practiced conversing for years and years, partly out of necessity, and partly because I really do love people, and enjoy getting to know them. To be a true participant in a conversation is more rewarding if both people are present. The truth is, if you put someone like me one-on-one with someone, I have no trouble making conversation. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy delving headlong into a deep and heartfelt exchange. It’s group interaction that I shy away from. I haven’t completed my study of being a good conversationalist, but even with all my efforts, I still find myself wishing to shrink into invisibility at times.

 


 There are occasions where attempting invisibility is useful in sharing joy with others in an anonymous fashion. Our family often employed the Ding-Dong-Ditch method to drop-off goodies to friends. In this method, the driver sits in the darkened, idling car a short distance away, while runners secretly place goodies on the front door step of the homes of friends and neighbors, ring the doorbell, and run back to the car without detection. We’d done this as a family activity so many times over the years, we were quite expert. However, one particular time didn’t follow the typical pattern of success. I was driving our old 1982 yellow Suburban (which is roughly the size of a school bus). The kids got out of the car to Ding-Dong-Ditch the goodies while I quickly pulled around the corner to hide our car in an inconspicuous spot—behind a small parkway tree. It was like trying to hide the Goodyear Blimp behind a toothpick. By the time the kids ran back to the car, the folks receiving the goodies were out of their house and flagging us down! We tried to pretend we were invisible, but there was no fooling them! Anyone remotely acquainted with us could spot that yellow car from dizzying distances. If you ever want to remain incognito, be sure not to drive a conspicuous yellow Suburban. (Either that, or find an airplane hangar to hide behind.)

1982 Yellow Suburban like the one we had. 

The desire to be invisible, in this instance, was a worthy one. Doing good—to “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (Matthew 6:3)—is a positive occupation. There are, however, attempts at invisibility that are not as admirable.

For example, there was the time my daughter and I had spent a long day working in the heat, and ended the day sweaty, grimy, stinky, and hungry. Normally, I wouldn’t have ventured into a public place on such a day, but we were both famished and fatigued. We stopped at a café to grab a quick bite to eat. Standing in line to order, in a state of exhausted oblivion, I didn’t notice an old acquaintance enter. As we waited to place our order, I casually glanced at the line of people forming behind me and saw the old “friend.” (I put friend in quotation marks because, for all I know, we may possibly no longer be friends. There’s no explaining to someone that you had pretended you weren’t there.) That’s right. I was the invisible woman. The sweaty, stinky, grimy me did not, at that moment, exist. In a sense, it was my version of Hide-and-Seek all over again. If I don’t acknowledge my existence in circumstances such as this, perhaps no one else will. Faulty reasoning, but there you have it. (The fact that the friend, having seen me, did not acknowledge me either made it much easier to rationalize that I was invisible.)

 

You must not assume that because my behavior was beyond ridiculous that I wasn’t aware of just how foolish it was. Nor must you assume that I was Okay with my behavior. I wasn’t. I was, in fact, ashamed of myself. Such behavior was inexcusable. Ludicrous. Pretending invisibility did not make me invisible.  If truth were told, it made me completely transparent. Certainly, anyone in that café could see me plainly. The only one I fooled was myself—thinking I could fake “invisibility” to protect my vanity—without truly protecting it, having obviously been seen. 

I have since repented of this foolish flaw in my nature, and my unfriendly behavior. There is a price to pay for vanity—wanting to be seen as a “put together person” (or at least as a non-stinky person!).  Isn’t it ironic that “wanting to be seen as” (or not to be seen at all), more than likely exposed me as oblivious, unfriendly, vain, and anything but “put together.” So sad, but so true.   

 

My mother used to repeat an old saying, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” (Sir Walter Scott). I don’t think of myself as being a deceptive person. Nor do I intentionally “practice to deceive.”  Deception is contrary to my fundamental beliefs, and is repugnant to me in every way. The day and circumstances just mentioned caught me completely off guard. I strive diligently to be honest. I rejoice in honesty, in light, in truth, and in simplicity. However, —given my beliefs—the irony of the whole charade was not lost on me.  I swallowed a giant café-sized slice of “humble pie” after pondering the true nature of my pretended invisibility.


Dear Readers, now that I have exposed myself to judgment and possibly to ridicule, let me assure you that it has become one of my goals to rid my life of the pretense of invisibility. To rid my life entirely of pretense would be even better. I shudder to think I have been, at any time, guilty of pretending invisibility, but I must admit, I have been guilty.

To pretend is to be fake.  In reflecting on this topic, the word hypocrisy reared its ugly head.

hy·poc·ri·sy
həˈpäkrəsē/
noun: hypocrisy
 
Middle English: from Old French ypocrisie, via ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek hupokrisis ‘acting of a theatrical part,’ from hupokrinesthai ‘play a part, pretend 


Hypocrisy is, essentially, to pretend. What greater hypocrisy is there than to pretend invisibility? To pretend invisibility is to deny existence, which reeks with ingratitude to God, The Giver of Life. As His child–His daughter–there is never a time when pretending invisibility in any uncharitable sense is appropriate or desirable.

I so admire people who are straightforward, respectful, forthright, interesting, interested and real—people who put you at ease and make you want to be visible because you feel trust and security in their presence. I hope to be that way, too—to be plain, honest, interested, respectful, present, and kind in all aspects of life—in other words, to be

visibly real.

 

Being “visibly real,” (according to my definition), has, by its selfless nature, the capacity of making you the best kind of “invisible” you can be as you “lose yourself” in the service of others. 

 

 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

 

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for reading.

© January 24, 2015


4 Comments

January’s Physics of Writing

Blog Post #22

Fresco: Sappho from Pompeii, about 60 C.E
I haven’t written for a while. Nor have I taken time to notice anything. Only when my mind is alert to subtle (and not so subtle) connections existing in the world around me, am I able to find inspiration to write. Too much stimulation can overwhelm a quiet, introverted spirit (such as mine). What is the result? My mind’s vision narrows, becoming more focused, or blurred; tuning out, instead of taking in. Some stimulation is desirable, of course, but a surge creating too much stimulation, can overpower, perhaps destroy, tender and underdeveloped thoughts, causing my brain’s circuitry to spark and short out. 


It’s the steady stream of routine flowing in and out of every day, intermittently switching-off for restful periods at night, I find most productive. Small sparks of stimulation are welcome, provided they spread themselves over days or weeks.  




Sadly, my brain ground to a dull and listless halt back in about November. Now that the speeding locomotive of holiday commotion has passed, I find myself scrambling to clean up the confusion left in its wake. Gradually, as one day rolls into the next, the dust of confusion settles into a sense of calm and predictability. My train of thoughts begins gathering momentum, chugging into action again. 



Slowly at first, the gears begin to creak and turn. Fueled by the beautiful, bright, warm weather, that—like an old friend—dropped by to sit a spell, my creative engine begins creeping along. Sporadic wanderings outdoors and idle walks through the neighborhood commence anew. I wander the backyard, looking at new growth fresh from winter rains. I touch the earth, prune the rose bushes, and pull up poor, brittle plants that failed to survive my neglect during earlier seasons. I rearrange my workroom, “The Studio,” for the first time in years. I tackle a long overdue project. I’m feeling invigorated, moving more swiftly down the tracks. I blow the whistle to announce the one or two goals I’ve already checked off my list. Pressing forward. Picking up speed. Thoughts are churning into words and images.
“The Thinker,” by Auguste Rodin

Maybe I still have something to write about, after all. I was beginning to doubt. It’s been so long. Like Michelangelo’s sculptures desperately struggling to immerge from the stone, thoughts long imprisoned in that dark, forgotten fold of my brain fight to get out. Writing is the chisel and hammer that will free the captives. I am their Michelangelo. I am the sculptor. A blank page is the marble.
Michelangelo’s “Young Slave” (unfinished sculpture)
Accademia Gallery in Florence


Today is a beginning.
Even if tomorrow doesn’t reveal a masterpiece, it will reveal a little bit of my soul.

I welcome the New Year and I welcome you! 

© January 16, 2015


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Nearly Perfect

Blog Post # 21


Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

    A woman approached a bouquet of silk flowers, investigating it closely. She zeroed in on the only rose, reaching to touch the petals and whispered, “Is it real?” Judging from the other flowers in the bouquet, I shook my head, and told her I didn’t think it was. Drawing back her finger, she remarked confidently, “It’s fake, but the rose looked real—it isn’t perfect.”
    This silk rose was unlike some—made with small imperfections. Reproductions of nature are sometimes created in perfect symmetry and form: a dead giveaway that the reproduction is a fake since things in the natural world tend to have blemishes and inconsistencies. At first glance, a rose may appear perfect, but even the most perfectly formed rose is, upon closer examination, likely asymmetrical, or may have a spot of brown, or a gimpy petal.

    It is in these little departures from perfection that we see the true beauty of the rose. Each rose, though coming from an abundant proliferation of rose bushes around the globe, bares its own individual distinctions and, if I may, flaws. I wonder if all roses were identical in shape and arrangement—clones of one paragon of perfection—would we find them boring or monotonous? (Well, probably not.) But even “flawed” roses are perfectly beautiful.


    The same is true of other things. When electronic keyboards became popular many years ago, I occasionally had the displeasure of playing one. The older, economical models had the action of a toy piano, and the tone of a toy accordion. Many of the keyboards were only half the size of an eighty-eight key acoustic piano. Try playing Wagner’s Wedding March for a bride on such an instrument (I know–I had to do it once), and you’ll find the results as laughable and embarrassing as if the Olympic Fanfare and Theme were played on Kazoos. 

    Early Electronic Keyboard
    Kazoo

    Recent electronic and digital instruments have improved on those early models. They come with headsets, improved hammer action, full-sized keyboards, and a variety of sound options. But there’s one thing these modern instruments lack—flaws in performance sound and delivery. Digital tones can be beautiful, functional, and astonishingly versatile, but without the small distinctions and inconsistencies in tonal quality created by the vibration of strings and the resonance of a wooden sounding board the sound they create is manufactured and flawlessly, monotonously consistent.  By nature of their design, acoustic instruments have distinctive character that makes their reverberations unique and moving.

    Piano Sounding Board

    When my daughter was purchasing an acoustic piano, we walked together through the warehouse trying out different instruments. Each piano, including those made by the same company, had a distinct sound, action and quality because each piano was made from a different kind of wood, from a different tree, with slight variations in the wound strings, and so on. Each had a unique identity—a unique voice. These inconsistencies created character. Where one had a bright, full sound, another was subdued or thin, another rich.  It was somewhat like choosing a friend to interact with for years to come. It had to be the right fit. 


    Among book lovers, there is a newer debate of preferences between digital books, audio books, or “real” hardbound or softcover books. I was, at first, skeptical about Kindles when they first came out, holding fast to traditional books. Then, a few years ago, while waiting hours for Jury Duty to begin, I noticed one of my fellow jurors reading on a Kindle. I asked her what she thought of it, and her response was positive. She let me hold it, heft it, and look at the appearance of the writing on the screen. “Humph…,”I thought, “It’s OK, I guess.” But I wasn’t sure I could get used to such a thing. There’s something about holding a real book, the weight, the feel, the sensory experience. Flipping pages. Those things aren’t possible on a digital screen.


    My sister, Karen, and I attended several educational conferences together many years ago. Before each conference we packed up boxes of encyclopedias, reference books, and resource materials with which to work while we were there. We lugged those heavy boxes up and down flights of stairs to and from our room each time we went for the sheer joy and anticipation of what was to come! On more than one occasion, we skipped less appealing activities (such as rafting on the Truckee River, or going on a “field trip” into town) in order to pursue more exciting prospects (such as sitting in our room pouring over encyclopedias while writing curriculum for home school)! A notepad or laptop would have made our lives much simpler and less burdensome in those not so long ago days of the late 80s and early 90s.    


    After considering the many conveniences of a notepad, I invested in one a couple of years after seeing the juror’s Kindle. I have since read many books on a digital screen, and am convinced the technology opportune and valuable. There are advantages to the notepad format. Just as a pianist carries an entire orchestra in a portable digital keyboard, the notepad carries an entire library in a very small, lightweight package. (Not to mention the multiple other uses and apps included in its convenient and compact form.)


    However, after having read several books digitally, I’m convinced that there is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned book to soothe the eyes, and to enjoy a more satisfying, sensory experience with reading. 


    Old Books: Flawed on the outside, but what’s inside remains of value

    A digital screen poses the same problem as the silk rose and the digital piano: no apparent flaws. The well-lit, non-glare screen is bright and easy to read even for a passenger riding in a car at night. (Note: I said “for a passenger,” not for a “driver!”) Pages turn smoothly, and have easy bookmarks. It’s possible to make notes and to highlight words and passages. Perfect. Yes?


     No. Not quite.

    A local church leader recently challenged members in our area to reread the scriptures during the following six months on an inexpensive, paperback copy, and to make marginal notes of impressions and inspiration received during the reading. I dutifully bought said scriptures and began reading and making notes. It has always been my practice to make copious notes, and to record impressions and inspiration while reading the scriptures—even when using my laptop or notepad. However, while reading the paperback text, I discovered something unexpected. I was profoundly impressed with the difference in my experience rereading the bound paper book, instead of the digital screen. 


    Isaiah 7: On my Android


    Subtleties of light and shadow falling on the page, the character of the paper, and the appearance and selection of the words may all be incidental to one’s study. But after reading from a monitor or screen for a period of time, I couldn’t help but notice that these physical elements caused certain words to stand out, catching my eye and my attention, and leading to further thought and sometimes to new understanding. The sensorial experience far exceeded any experience I’ve had staring at a flat, brightly lit screen, and helped me to “listen to” the layers of meaning within the written words, to understand and relate them to my own life in a more personal way. The ease of writing notes and impressions in the margins was not only simpler when done by hand, but it was almost as if the personal inspiration I received became one with the physical book of scripture in my behalf.

    Isaiah 7: My scriptures

    All this was not possible to the same degree on a digital screen. Why? Because of the absence of flaws. The irregularities in the printed text, the wrinkling pages, the layout on the page, the play of light all influenced how I saw and felt the words. I didn’t just read, I poured over the words. I studied, I reviewed, I basked, I feasted. My fingers could rest on the paper without accidentally turning the page or inadvertently causing some other kind of action to happen. The feel of the thin paper was a tangible connection to the written word.

    And what of the flaws in people? We all know they exist, and sometimes we aren’t particularly thrilled about those others may have, not to mention our own . Once, when I was bemoaning the behavior of my children, Karen shared an insightful comment. “What if, every single day, every one of our kids got up and came in like perfect little grown-up automatons, sitting on the couch without doing or saying anything out of order. Wouldn’t we be shocked if they acted like that? Would we really want it that way?” 



    As I pondered this, I realized that, though challenging at times, their variety of behaviors—good and bad—were extensions of precious personalities; part and parcel of growth, development and becoming. No, I wouldn’t want little automatons any more than I would want them all in comas. I was happy with the little people I loved sharing everyday life with. Hindsight has shown that those seeming flaws were building blocks to some profoundly important traits and gifts, needing time to channel and mature.


    One day, when my oldest child was only four, we lived in a cute little rural community where we spent most of our free time in the garden, and visiting friends. One day, I took my little ones and walked the several blocks to the home of a close friend. As I approached the door, I accidentally heard through apparently thin walls my dear, laughing, seemingly perfect, never-raised-her-voice-above-a-whisper friend yelling at her children! I stopped in my tracks. I certainly wasn’t going to knock on her door at that telling moment, when it would have been impossible for her not to recognize I had heard through the walls. We backed up into the street, waited a respectable length of time, then returned and knocked on the door, cheerfully gained entrance, and had a wonderful visit. The point is, from that day forth, I felt an extra special bond with this friend. She was like me: flawed. It wasn’t that I didn’t already know that she had imperfections. Who doesn’t have them? It was that I hadn’t witnessed them before. Etiquette, good manners, propriety all summoned imperfect, flawed beings such as my friend and me to be on one’s best behavior when in one another’s company. It wasn’t dishonesty; it was decency, respectfulness, politeness. If those walls hadn’t talked that day, I would have missed perspectives I sorely needed—to know I wasn’t alone in my own flawed life; that other “good” people were also flawed, while striving to be better each day. Flaws don’t make a good person bad; they just make them real, and interesting, and familiar. 


    The scriptures teach us to be perfect. Here are just two examples of this commandment:
    James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
    Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
    Flaws are a part of nature, including human nature. We are all flawed, but not hopelessly so. Each soul is on a journey, and walks at a different pace, occupying a different location, along the path. All face obstacles on the path, and must learn to dodge, hop over, climb above, or wade through them. Flaws are among those obstacles and are necessary parts of the journey. Through them, we grow stronger, more humble and teachable, and if we desire it, filled with more faith and hope and trust in God.


    A *wise man once shared the following story:
    When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is. [W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis (New York: Random House, 1974), p. 37]



    How true of us all! Certainly our development not only encounters, but invites flaws and mistakes. When a baby is learning to walk, it falls over and over again. But we wouldn’t say the baby is flawed! We recognize the baby is just young, just learning. We think the baby cute, sweet, and tenacious. We are all like the baby, like the rose. We may sport gray hair and wrinkles, but we are still in process of development and growth. And that’s OK.

    After all, aren’t the rough edges of a rolling stone merely flaws that will wear away in time, producing a refined and polished gem? The flaws, instead of becoming scars, will add depth, interest, and flecks of lasting wisdom and beauty. The very flaws we once despised may become vehicles toward perfecting our natures. 

    Rough Opal
    Polished Opal
    Turquoise: Rough and Polished

    And then, there’s always the rose—in every stage of development…perfectly beautiful, and “perfectly all right as it is.”




    * The wise man who gave the talk entitled “The Authority of Personality, Competence, and Character,” that included this quote, was Marion D. Hanks. The talk can be found at http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1970.

    © November 7, 2014


    2 Comments

    The Garden of Remembrance

    Blog Post #20

    “Summer Flowers” by John William Godward


    In the Garden of Remembrance
    Time stands still
    While one leisurely
    Strolls and Reflects
    Upon each
    Intimate Blossom


    “The Shrine” by John William Waterhouse

    “The Flower Picker” by John William Waterhouse

    “Gather Ye Rosebuds” by Waterhouse

    “Among the Ruins” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

    “Spring” by Alma-Tadema

    Public domain images of some of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite Artists
    ©October 10, 2014

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