Archive for October, 2009

Trick and Treat

October 31, 2009

That’s right.  There isn’t a typo in the title.  It’s Trick and Treat.  Here’s why.

While today is Halloween, yesterday found me making my way into the city to purchase some gift items.  I called the day before and Melanie helped me.  She agreed to have things ready for pick up when I arrived in the morning.  And, yes, she would be there.  So the adventure began.

The day promised to be rainy so I slipped into my purpley-pink rain clogs, grabbed my tote bag and headed for the Metra train station a few blocks away.   Once there the rain began.  I reached into my tote.  No umbrella.  I forgot it and there was no time to run home.  Standing nearby was a young woman who also had no umbrella.  We made quite a pair giving each other that look of “Do you believe this?  I can’t believe this.”  Next thing a man with an umbrella walked up to us and without a word he moved in and offered us shelter.  We three huddled together waiting for the train and struck up a fine conversation that was not about the weather.  This was a kind and thoughtful man.  And it occurred to me that there is something about rain that dissolves the edges of our illusion that we are separate from each other.  Let’s face it, when we’re in the rain, we all begin to look very much alike in no time at all and we require less personal space than we do when the sun is shining.  Getting rained on, it turns out, is a valuable experience.

Once I arrived in the city, the rain had stopped and I walked north on State Street.  You know what’s next.  When I got to the store, Melanie had not yet clocked in and no other person could find my order.  Heaven knows those men tried with no luck.   I was told Melanie was scheduled to arrive in about half an hour and so I decided to check out the rest of the store.  It was then I noticed the red, white, and silver decorations for the winter holiday season.  I swear this is true.  And you Chicago people now know I was at the State Street (used to be) Marshall Fields.

Then my cell phone rang and it was my darling goddaughter-niece Julie.  Julie became a mother for the first time last month.  As we chatted I could hear the cooing of baby Tyson.  How delightful.  Not only was I having a lovely conversation, I was also listening to the sweet sounds of the first child of the next generation for my family.  While it briefly occurred to me to ask Julie to put Tyson on the phone, I realized that Tyson was already on the phone.  I could hear him just fine and I could talk with his mother.  I didn’t have to choose just one.  I could have both.

Melanie arrived as the call was ending and I approached the sales desk.  She was apologetic and quickly gathered my items including a few nice complimentary things for my inconvenience.  I thanked her.  Yes, I was inconvenienced and I had a wonderful time looking at the decorations and talking with Julie.  Now I know some folks who would see cause and effect in this situation.  They would say that Melanie was late so that I could have the experience that I did.  And yet for me it is important to hold difficult life experiences with the same value and reverence that I have for the more pleasant ones.  It’s a slippery slope to suggest that because we’ve experienced something difficult, we can expect something beneficial to follow.  First of all, it doesn’t always happen that way.  And more importantly, we then continue to label things as “good” or “bad” and get fixated at one point or another rather than be present for all of life however it shows up.

With parcels in hand I walked back toward the LaSalle Street Metra station.  I stopped at my favorite deli to order a sandwich for the ride home.  It was there I met the most courageous man I have encountered in some time.  The young man who took my order and made my meal did not speak much English at all.  Yet here he was, working hard during the lunch rush.  He struggled to understand what I wanted, kept checking back with me and we worked our way through the process.  He was dealing with hungry people who are in a hurry – a notoriously surly bunch.  Yet he hung in there and he kept at it.  Add to that he was pleasant to every customer although not every customer returned the favor.  And it turned out, he makes a wicked, awesome sandwich.  So here, too, is the co-existence of difficulty and delight.  Not one or the other.  Both.

So I offer this reflection to you.  Should you find yourself tempted to settle for the Land of Either/Or, perhaps you might consider broader vistas and travel to the Land of Both-And.  It is in that spirit that I wish you a magical Halloween.  Happy Trick and Treat, everybody!

My thanks to the directees who inspired this topic –

in Love and Service,



Strolling along with Luna and St. Teresa

October 15, 2009

This morning I was strolling my dog Luna around the neighborhood when St. Teresa of Avila popped into my head.  No kidding.  And then I realized that today was her feast day and I figured I’d go with it.  First let me set the scene.  When I say I was strolling Luna I mean she was in a dog stroller and I was pushing it.  You got the picture.  Luna’s anatomy is a recipe for disaster and since we’ve come up from a long stretch of dealing with pain and muscle relaxers, I decided a stroller was the best way for her to check out her hood, see her friends, and elevate her mood.  My job, of course, is to navigate this thing.   It may be that your eyes are rolling about now.  That’s pretty much what I get from some observers.  Enter St. Teresa.

In St. Teresa’s work she explored how our fear of being humiliated limits our choices and prevents us from following our interior guidance.  In my view humiliation has a kissing cousin named Embarrassment.  Humiliation is great, big, huge for me.  Embarrassment not so much though it’s still a major player in a more subtle way.  So here I am strolling Luna and catching those looks, each of which is an invitation to feel embarrassed if I’m willing to go there.  Where Luna is concerned I am not because I love her like crazy.  And yet often I feel drawn to take action in situations where I don’t have that strong heart connection.  Or I find that my investment in a relationship is so high that I’m vulnerable beyond description.   And so it’s easy for me to tell myself that I am confused and don’t understand what I am being directed to do.  Truth is I’m deceiving myself with that line.  Really I’m more afraid of embarrassment, or worse, humiliation and that awareness is actually not too far beneath the surface.  That’s the truth and that’s where the real work is.

According to St. Teresa our fear of humiliation is something we don’t tackle once and consider it done.  In my experience it is a relentless issue that has more tricks than a circus dog.  And when I try to push it away, that’s when it completely overtakes me.  Keeping this on my radar has become part of my regular personal inventory and even so I find myself blindsided from time to time.  I imagine the same is true in your life.

So I’m grateful to St. Teresa for dropping in early today.  This afternoon Luna and I will be strolling to Our Lady of Perpetual Help gift store.  I think we should get a small statue of St. Teresa for the stroller.  That will really give folks something to talk about.  I think I can hear St. Teresa laughing.

in Love and Service,


Bailey Sue: Fire Dog Extraordinaire

October 12, 2009

Bailey Sue left planet earth today.  Rather, it was her body that left planet earth.  Bailey has been doing the Hokey Pokey for the last several weeks and today she made her exit strategy clear.   Bailey had the great good fortune and wisdom of finding her way to my amazing friend Noreen who has tended her with open heart from day one.  I know of no other relationship that has spoken so much of love and devotion as theirs.  And so today marks a passing that shakes me in a way that from time to time finds me not only inconsolable, it finds me joyful beyond description.  Love, after all,  is eternal.  And so is joy.  Love and joy — that was Bailey Sue.

Thank you, Bailey.  You were the best rule maker, rule keeper, let’s play, why are you holding back?, where’s the party?, go for it girl I ever did know.  You will be in my heart forever, and I am so grateful for all of it.

in Love and Service,

(Aunt) Lorena