The Business of Autumn

The Business of Autumn

During autumn, once life-filled leaves begin to fall to nourish the earth, making way for new growth in the spring that follows winter’s stillness.

Letting Go

Autumn Brings Opportunity for Growth

In the midst of purging through a forest of file folders it became evident that lives have passed, lessons have been given and opportunities for growth sit on new paths waiting to be discovered.

Address changes, special greetings, thank you notes, do I toss or keep? A wastebasket sits by my feet ready to swallow what I discard. It isn’t easy to put some things into a wastebasket, but it is time to let go, turn towards the next season while holding in my heart names and faces I see when reading a hand-written address or note from someone who is no longer on this earth but may be looking down from one of heaven’s windows.

I hold a card with a photo of a black and white cow wearing a colorful sombrero. Inside the card, the words “Moo-chas Gracias” appear. The writer couldn’t find an appropriate card picturing a chihuahua, her favorite dog. Her card also contained a two page hand-written note on yellow legal paper written a decade ago. I can’t let go of it. The writer passed in April. I will treasure it. In part she wrote:

Note

Being There Can Be Enough

If you run across a cow wearing a colorful sombrero, remember, “Being there can be enough to get us through.”

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You Don’t Want That Dog

Every evening I look up, watching lights go on in a third floor corner condominium diagonally across the street from my home. Nola used to live there, her terrace filled with tomato plants, basil, other vegetables and herbs. Ten years ago this month, Nola began a 6-week seminar in my home teaching Dr. Joel Furhman’s “Eat to Live” program. Fourteen women gathered every week to listen to Nola’s wisdom.

Nola

Nola

We watched videos, discussing material, enjoying fellowship. Nola passed away August 25, 2012.

A photo of a rescue Chihuahua named Nola living in Virginia is mounted on my refrigerator door.

April of 2013, a beloved friend’s dog named Francois passed away. She notified me of the passing by email. Condolences were sent. I didn’t hear back from her which was unusual.

A lengthly letter arrived August 25, 2013 a year to the day of my friend Nola’s passing. The letter described my friend’s recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her chemotherapy, surgery and radiation she had gone through the past months. Her letter included a photo of Nola, a newly acquired rescue Chihuahua to help her heart repair from the loss of Francois.

One day she and her husband went to the pound around closing time. She saw a Chihuahua. She was advised not to take the dog, being told, “No one can handle this one.” She asked to take the dog outside. The dog immediately warmed to her, jumping into her lap, sitting peacefully. It was closing time. She decided to take the dog home, naming her Nola, for her love of New Orleans (NOLA) and family ties going back several generations. Two weeks after adopting the Chihuahua, she received the earth-shattering pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

When I read her letter, I shuttered in unbelief. On the anniversary of my friend’s death, I learned of my friend’s diagnosis and learned about a dog named Nola comforting her during a severe medical crisis.

We met later. I shared this with her. It gave her comfort. She is in remission. Her dog Nola does have her challenges with the rest of the family pets, but she is a comfort to her master.

When the lights go on in the third floor condominium, I think of Nola. Angels are among us. Some may be covered with fur.

Furry Angel

Furry Angel

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

Let All That You Do Be Done in Love

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”― Albert Einstein

A friend has an uncanny ability of visiting when I am in the middle of a writing project. Today was a miss. Had she visited, she would have found the extra table set up with eight books covering three surfaces as I was researching and working on material. The last time she visited, she said, “Am I interrupting?” Never is it an interruption when a beloved friend stops by.

There may be an appearance of chaos, but underneath are still waters. The extra table has been put away. The pull out surface has been put back into its place, invisible to those who may visit. From eight books and internet research spread out covering every available surface, I have keyed over 2,000 words. I feel free, meeting a deadline.

Meeting a deadline frees me to visit family at Amelia Island. They are here for a conference. I will join them for the joy of a visit. The extra table has been put away. Eight books borrowed from protective shelves have been returned to their home base. I am free of a cluttered desk, for a little while. There are people who need a response, who need attention. Clutter will return, but hopes to resolve concerns will rise to the top of the clutter. I look forward to a beloved friend stopping by.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

 

Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water

October 18-20, the Florida Writers Association Annual Conference took place at the Lake Mary Marriott.  I was coming from a schedule of activities that doesn’t look as daunting as it did then.  Flying by the seat of my pants, I drove from a weekly dinner to the Lake Mary Marriott which would be home for the next three nights.  I forgot to bring bottled water.  My friend in the adjacent room had a full supply of alkaline positive water.  She gave me a 6-pack.

Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water

My family has been drinking bottled water since the early 80s.  My husband had a nuclear meltdown when I bought bottled water at the Denver airport in the late 90s.  He couldn’t stand the thought of paying for water.  We drink reverse-osmosis water from a special tap installed in our kitchen.

I wanted to repay my friend and fellow writer’s water generosity, to replenish the water she graciously gave to me.  My local grocery store overcharged me for a 6-pack of Fiji water, known to be alkaline neutral water.  Overcharged, what did I purchase that amounted to an $87.00 grocery tab?  I was in shock!  The water should have been $5.49.  I was charged $7.49.  The hairs on my neck rose.  I had the receipt.  I returned to the store, telling my psyche to be kind and gentle.

The service counter employee didn’t believe me.  We walked to the store’s display, $5.49, for Fiji Water.  The few things I had in my basket ended with me receiving 96 cents back for my purchases because of the store’s error.

I have alkaline water to return to my friend.  Free water for me, but think about free water.  Slaves often sang a song, “Wade in the Water.”  Water, pure clear water is a good, unless one needs to hide.

Drink in true living water, John 7:38 reads “and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” (NRSV)  Wade into the living water and drink to refresh a thirsty soul.

Friends

Parking garage top floors can give one a new perspective if time is spent to take in the view.  We were moved by this new perspective of familiar sites.  Walking to a work out, I pulled out my phone.  I read two disturbing text messages, sharing them with the friend.  Though we were walking through attractive spaces, I was reminded that all is not well in the world.  We walked, sharing random thoughts and ideas.

I remembered asking a teenager fresh from a week-long retreat, “What was the best part of it?”  After a long pause, the teenager responded that making new friends was one of the best parts.

Wisdom from a Teen

Wisdom from a Teen (used with permission)

This quote from a teenager caused me to think of great things that my friends have given me or great things I’ve learned from them.  Times when I’ve locked my keys in my car, when I’ve needed to borrow something, times when I’ve needed someone to talk to.  A friend has come to the rescue.

Friends are gifts who share the journey.  A good friend is a gift that keeps on giving.

Midnight Pizza

He had given me a personal invitation to attend a performance of Les Misérables, not knowing if he would be selected for a part in the musical. Auditions had not been scheduled.

Image 1

His home turned into a gathering place for friends planning to audition for roles in the musical. Fifteen pairs of shoes sometimes sat by the front door, abandoned by teens taking the stairs to couches or seats on the floor to listen to music or watch DVDs of professionals performing roles they would audition for. The teens encouraged each other, bonding like family.

Auditions closed. Casting was completed. He and his friends were selected to be part of the cast!  Months of hard work paid off. The all-important production crew and orchestra would work tirelessly to ensure excellent performances. The school edition of Les Misérables was coming to life.

I attended the second night’s performance with four family members. Afterwards, we went back stage. Tired but smiling cast members and crew were showered with congratulations, hugs, and flowers from relatives and friends. The excitement was palpable. I left with his parents. While driving to the house, he called his mom to ask her to order pizza for his friends.  “How many are coming?  What kind of pizza?  Are you sure?” she asked.

Five cast members arrived at the house.  We talked with  “Jean Valjean, the Bishop, Marius, Enjolras” and others while they were eating pizza, discussing the performance. Conversation turned to family. Between pizza slices, one cast member said that grandparents would be arriving from New Mexico.  Others told of their family’s plans. It was after midnight.

The family room was prepared to accommodate the cast for a few hours of sleep before a 7:20am performance the next morning. Pillows, quilts and blankets dropped from an upstairs landing.  A mattress from an adjacent room was moved to the family room floor. “Javert” arrived after most cast members had retreated to the family room. He joined them after having pizza.

Midnight pizza with friends on a school night may be unusual.

I observed the teenagers treating each other with care like I imagined they had treated each other while preparing for auditions and performances.

ImageIn Les Misérables, Jean Valjean experiences the mercy and grace of God through the Bishop’s actions when he was caught stealing. Valjean’s life turned around in a significant way though he suffered from his past.  I watched this group of high school students care for each other, bound together through a musical, yet bound deeper through sharing God’s love with each other.

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was published in 1862.  The life lessons remain relevant today.

Take a few minutes to watch this short video for a spiritual perspective.