28 February 2010

Lent again

FYI - I don't do "giving up for Lent." My God is not a God of "Don't."

Years ago - 1998 or so - I worked about four steps down the food chain from a man named Tom Vitaglione. He was the director of Women's and Children's Health for the State of North Carolina, and he was loved. Tom personified "servant leadership" before the phrase was coined, let alone became the buzzword it seems to be these days.

The first week of Lent that first year in WCH, I ducked into the breakroom to heat up my lunch, and Tom was sitting at a table alone, eating a PBJ and reading a book. I asked him what it was, and he told me - Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved. He said he read it every year during Lent, because it reminded him of his purpose.

Since that time, I've sought out opportunities during Lent to do. Do read something challenging or joyful. Do start seedlings. Do encourage a friend who's never had a garden - and help get one started. Do sing at the top of my lungs while driving down the expressway.

Fast forward to February 28, 2010: The gist of the sermon this morning was seeing the face of God in everyday things. The challenge was to be aware of that face as we go through the week.

It's easy to see God in people like Tom, who are conscious of the fact that there's a reason they're here and who work at fulfilling that purpose. It's not so easy to see God in the faces of harried co-workers, tense executives, or people who are so angry because someone in the world doesn't subscribe to their definition of "right." It's not easy to see God in the idiot who cuts me off as I'm trying to merge onto the highway.

But maybe that's because I'm not aware of the presence of God in my own being at those moments. It's so easy to snap back at someone who's frustrated and short-tempered, to shrug off the high muckety-mucks as being "oblivious," to let my blood pressure go up as I drive. I don't see the face of God because I'm not reflecting the face of God.

This week, here's the #1 "to-do" on my list: I want to be conscious. I want to be aware of the gifts I've been given - the gift of humor, the gift of words, the gift of music - and I want to reflect those gifts out into the world as I walk (or drive) through it. With the help of the Almighty, and in honor of Tom V (who still has - and will always have - my respect and admiration), I will try to see God throughout each day, and reflect the face of God back out to others I encounter.

We'll see how that goes...

24 February 2010


My friend Kirk (of PedalAround) said the other day that "change is inedible." After a little good-natured ribbing, I forgot about looking for a snappy comeback and moved on. But not until after I laughed - and that's good.

It's been a trying week. Last Wednesday, several hundred of us - me and my husband included - got the news that our positions were being eliminated. Nothing personal, of course, but it smarted. Still does, a bit.

Nevertheless, it comes to me over and over again that this is a gift from the Universe. This is a gift. From the Universe. Really.

How often does one get the chance - at the age of 55 - to step back and, with the cushion of a few months' severance pay, evaluate where one is, where one wants to be, and how to get from here to there? How often is that restless sense that there's something more one should be doing met with the chance to find it?

One of my friends is collecting cliches. I'm totally with her; if one more person says to me, "God never gives us more than we can bear," or "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," I'm gonna have to snatch 'em bald-headed. Not because of the attitude (although I don't think God had a whole lot to do with any of this), but because they're clearly unoriginal, unimaginative people who live in boxes and couldn't "think outside" if their lives depended on it. (Although I have to confess to using "waiting for the other shoe to drop" more than once lately.)

My outlook has nothing to do with lemonade. I don't believe God has a plan. I do believe God has a purpose, but that's the difference between being process-oriented and goal-oriented. The Universe has a rhythm, a rightness, that will always find itself. It doesn't matter what we do to gum up the works or "throw a spanner in the hole" (as in "Industrial Disease," one of my favorite Dire Straits songs) - whatever we do will fit into the purpose.

Be that as it may, I do see something cosmic in this. For both of us - Ed and me - to be laid off on the same day, getting the news within 30 minutes of each other, sounds to me like Reveille. It sounds to me like the Universe dropping a book on the floor, like Mr. Clark used to do in Algebra class to wake up the nappers. It sounds to me like The Great Favog saying, "Right. So how's that workin' for ya?" (Don't remember the Great Favog? Google it. Saturday Night Live, first season. I'm dating myself, and I love it!)

Yes, change is inevitable.And - as Kirk said - inedible. Can't digest it sometimes. Leaves a knot in your stomach. But sooner or later, you have to decide how you're going to deal with it. Do you take more antacids and hope it will go away? Do you cry and fight and rail against the decision-makers? They've already decided, and you're not going to change their minds. Do you snipe and complain and vent, thinking maybe you can at least take someone down with you?

I choose to use it. I'll digest what I can, when I can. I'll have my moments of wanting to fight or snipe or vent, but I hope for the most part I can let those impulses go. And I'll be eternally grateful for the friends who let me vent in private and don't repeat anything I say, because they know it's just venting and I'll get over it. And then I'll go back to being the dogged Pollyanna I am, and looking for something in this mess we call "life" that might work for me.

No, the world's not perfect. No, there's not always a "bright side." But it's possible to find a positive lesson in even the worst that happens. And the worst hasn't happened. My family is well. The dogs are alright. There are possibilities waiting out there. I just have to go find them.

15 February 2010

Techie stuff...

Posted a great post-vacation wrap-up. Pictures came out all wonky. Sigh...

Will re-post when I get the tech stuff figured out. In the meantime, I just want to find out whether we're having work tomorrow -- and if so, whether it's going to be on time.