Friday, January 11, 2013

Coffee's On

Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about generosity, and gifts, and hospitality.  They are all tied together I believe, and you would be hard pressed to find a hospitable person that didn't love to give gifts, or a generous person who wasn't thrilled to share their home and life with others.

There are things we do at certain seasons of our lives, and perhaps the ways we carry through, change and evolve as we do.  There are pastimes and relationships in my life, that have faded and disappeared over time.  Other people and passions have filled their spaces, and it has been right and natural.

But when kindness, and generosity, and gift-giving, and hospitality leave, I suppose it is right to take a hard look, and not just assume that a season has passed.

Years ago, I was gift giver.  I loved to plot, and plan, and create the perfect special gift.  And I was an impulsive gift giver as well.  I saw that someone loved something, or needed something, and I wanted to give it to them.

Our home was a hub of activity.  It was the place where the best parties were thrown, and long dinners were shared.  It was a place where the coffee pot was always on, and the door was always open.  At times we would arrive home after a day out, and find folks waiting on the porch or in the kitchen.  I have  awakened in the morning, to find the closest of friends already in my kitchen, starting the coffee or cooking breakfast.  There was nothing strange about it.  It was how we lived.

And then something changed along the way, and I have never been able to put my finger on why that was.  We moved away from close friends and family, so maybe that was the reason.  Yet that reason didn't seem to hold true, because we had always made new friends as easily as keeping up with the old ones.  We moved to camp, where our job was hospitality, so perhaps we just wanted time off the clock.  But even that didn't seem to ring true either.

Recently I realized that I had begun to give gifts again.  Small gifts, something of my own that I thought a friend would enjoy.  A book, or a movie, or a piece of jewelry.  Small gifts of time, and energy, and emotion.  

It has been in the giving, once again, that I began to sense the reason for the lack.  There are seasons of life that knock the stuffing out of you.  They leave you bereft of confidence that you have anything to give, anything any other soul would want to have.  When you are asked very specifically to give, you do.  Cheerfully and willingly, but tentatively as well.  But unless you are specifically asked, you assume that you are not wanted.  Not needed.

It becomes a way of life, an ingrained habit, of turning away and into oneself.  Just the same as there was once a habit of turning outward and toward others.  The old ways will never come back exactly the same as they were.  The same friends will never gather in those houses again.  Children who used to run and play, are now grown, some with children of their own.  We have learned new recipes, for long meals and life itself.  Still, I hope that as each day passes, all of my friends, both old and new, know that the coffee pot is on and the door is always open.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Not One Word

A couple of days ago, a friend wrote this post, and it made me tear up a little when I read it, because so much of what she was saying is so close to the surface for me these days.  Go.  Read it.  You won't be sorry you did, and this post won't make sense if you don't.

It seems like all  the cool kids who blog, have been picking words for themselves, for the new year.  Words like "brave" and "fearless" and "light".  I thought about that, and I realize that I would be more able to choose a word to describe my old year in review, than pick a word to describe what I hope my new year will be.

The thing is this.  I don't know what this year will bring, and I don't even want to pick one little word to try and steer it.  And that's not a criticism at all.  I understand being purposeful and intentional, and if having a word becomes a touchstone to spur a person on, I'm all for that.

It's just not for me, for this year.

I feel as though this blog is changing, because I am changing.  The things that used to be important to me, don't always take center stage anymore.  Things like being right, and having answers, and being able to fix things.

Where I come from, this is a spiritual issue.  Being right is the most important thing.  Having the right answers is a sacred responsibility.  Being the bearer of truth allows you to fix anything...anyone.

But what if I just said, "I don't know anymore. I used to think I had the answer to that question, but now I'm just not sure."  Does that mean I have abandoned my responsibility?

I used to think I could weaken or shake a person's faith with an answer like that.  Like their faith was dependent on something I could do or say.

I used to feel like the things I did and said were so important.  Like people were watching and taking their cues from me.  And if I missed an opportunity to speak up, and insert truth and wisdom into their lives, it would all fall back onto me.

But now I just think of how foolish that was.  How foolish is was to think that I was that important, and how foolish to feel that somehow I would be held responsible for the choices others made.

The thing is this.  All I have left now, is this sense of my heart being outside of myself, in the hands of a trusted few.  And so, when a person comes and places their heart in my hands, I am no longer struck with a sense of self-importance.  I don't want to answer their questions, or show them where they've been going at it all wrong, or fix their problems.  

I'm actually pretty certain, that a good deal of the time, I know absolutely nothing about those things.  But I do know how to listen, and love, and hope, and pray.  And I am terribly aware of what a sacred space I am standing in.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Life Resolutions

This past year, I was cleaning the boys' room, and I found this little book.  I remember when Hippie Boy was given this book.  All these long years it has stood quietly on the shelf.  I sat down on the bed and opened it, and this was the first and only entry.  

It made me think of all the years of my life, when I resolved all sorts of things, at the New Year, and at other seasons.  I no longer make a list, only to promptly forget it, to find it sitting quietly in the dust of future years.  But I will press forward with resolve, and most of all hope. 

The most beautiful thing we have been given is not a book full of blank pages, or a calendar of clean white spaces to fill.  It is newness of life, lives that can be made and remade, written and rewritten.