Faith in contagious good

Coronavirus-2019 shows me the bottom line isn’t financial but spiritual. It shows me the value of faith.

While distancing myself physically from others, I also strive to remain in touch with behaviors that support cleanliness and health. I can spread wisdom rather than disease. And I think wisdom involves respect for one another as mentioned in Romans 12: 4-12.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

As expressions of the one God, we each have different gifts and together those gifts express purpose, health, and love. It’s not a gift to point fingers and blame. It’s not a gift to pretend to be an arm and tell the leg how to act. It’s not a gift to pretend to be an arm when we’re really a leg.

But we can be our self and respect others, because behaving as one, has throughout history, served humanity better.

While I understand more each day about this virus and how to behave with respect, patience, and zeal in society, I don’t want to forget faith. I don’t want to struggle to understand more and more about this world-problem, since an obsessed mind isn’t mindful.

I can take time to cherish faith, my faith in God, the one Mind, and in divine Science teaching me, as read in 21st Century Science and Health, “Nothing except divine power is capable of doing more for human beings than we do for ourselves.”

I don’t fully understand divine power, but I believe it resounds goodness, not for a few, but for the whole.

Provoking images

Cartoonist Bill Watterson.

I’ve never met the guy except through his comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. But his creative talent sure invokes images that still give me a chuckle today.

Calvin’s character portrayed a rascal, kindergarten age, who tussled with life issues in unusual ways that strike consciousness with new perspectives. Hobbes was his stuffed cat, a tabby. A furball of honest friendship and common sense.

When Watterson retired in 1995, we bought his books for posterity and found ourselves reading and rereading the Calvin and Hobbes comics. Within a few years, the pages were dog-tagged and blotched with jam or dry hot chocolate.

During our empty nest phase in life, my husband and I got a couple of kittens. A brother and sister. A tabby and a tuxedo, respectively.

Unable to come up with names we’d remember, my husband watched the kittens and said, “The tabby is Hobbes. Watch him. His attitude is Hobbes all over.” Sealed deal. Calvin and Hobbes became part of our family.

Along with a granddaughter.

Our granddaughter grew up getting to know and adore Calvin and Hobbes.

When our granddaughter was three years old, she went to the doctor’s office with her mommy and noticed happy, yet solemn attention was given to a big round tummy. “What are you doing?” she asked her mommy.

“There’s a baby inside my tummy. We’re checking to see when the baby will come out,” our daughter answered.

“What’s its name?” our granddaughter asked.

“Calvin,” her mommy said.

“Oh, we get a cat,” she remarked enthusiastically.

“Well, no, it will be a baby human.”

Slight disappointment.

No worries. That was three years ago, and our granddaughter took to her brother just fine. We do however need clarification sometimes, “You mean feed Calvin the cat or Calvin my brother?”

One day, I’ll introduce our granddaughter and grandson to Watterson’s popular comic strip. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of images they get from Calvin and Hobbes.

Eavesdropping

Apparently, the word “eavesdrop” came about in the 17th century and described a noun, like dirt, but more specifically as “the ground on to which water drips from the eaves of a house.” Today, eavesdropping signifies a verb meaning “listening into a conversation without the knowledge of the people involved in it.”

Not too long ago, I had to make strategic efforts to eavesdrop. It required tiptoeing undercover, with inhaled breath, near a hushed conversation, to hopefully gather curious or pertinent information. Not anymore.

I can stand in the line at the grocery store and listen to, albeit one-sided, conversations about sold properties, other children’s behavior, and where they want to eat dinner that night.

Granted, most conversations aren’t pertinent and tend in this direction.

“Hey.”

“I’m at the grocery store.”

Louder. “I’m at the grocery store.”

Impatience kicks in. “Why can’t you hear me, where are you?”

“I’m at the grocery store.”

“I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

“I said, I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

Right. Those type of conversations happen so often that I now make efforts to ignore what I hear. I don’t want to know what I hear, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why do most people stuff earbuds in their ears?

Which brings me to riding the subway in New York City. Where I see ears chockfull of buds. As I did last week after traveling to Washington state. A grand trip it turned out.

My return flight to New York landed at JFK airport. I still had the Air-train, subway, bus, and car to navigate before reaching home. From the subway, I wanted to get to Port Authority and sort of knew to get off at 42nd Street, but when in doubt, I ask the person next to me.

I was told by a confident person, “Get off on 35th.”

I got off at 35th and started looking for signs to Port Authority. None.

I heard a calm but clear voice, “You want 42nd, get back on before the door closes.”

I did.

“Get off at 42nd and follow the signs,” he told me.

The voice came from a guy who was sitting in the subway car I just exited. He was seated at least seven people away from where I’d been standing. How did he hear my conversation through the track rattling and his hoodie covered head? I don’t know.

All I knew was, I could have made it to Port Authority from 35th but I was carrying a heavier than normal backpack and looking for the shortest distance to walk. Thankfully, someone eavesdropped. They listened. Or did they answer a call for pertinent information?

Society is a foolish juror, listening only to one side of the case. Justice often comes too late to secure a verdict. People with mental work before them have no time for gossip about false law or testimony. To reconstruct timid justice and place the fact above the falsehood, is the work of time.”–21st Century Science and Health

[Jesus said] “Are you listening to me? Really listening? 16-19 “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”–The Message

The puzzle of puzzles

In the corner of our living room stands a table. On top of the table is an unfinished jig-saw puzzle. When the mood hits me to slow down for a minute and quite worrying, I go to the corner of the room. I gaze and shuffle and attach puzzle pieces to watch come together the scene of ice-skaters in a park surrounded by leafless trees.

Experts say that solving puzzles helps reinforce existing brain connections.

I see how tackling a puzzle can reinforce the existing brain connection of mine that, say, puts together jig-saw puzzles. But I’d beg to differ it helps me connect 5 p.m. with making dinner.

For twenty years when the children were growing up, I had a strong brain connection that come 5 p.m., I’d put together some form of edible food for our family dinner. Now?

I’m too busy solving the jig-saw puzzles to remember putting together dinner. Apparently, the dinner brain connection was loosey-goosey. But not the puzzle connection.

For years, I was lucky enough to live near a guy who also loved jig-saw puzzles. We shared puzzles, saving us both a bundle in costs. I also would buy puzzles at garage sales or thrift stores, but usually a piece was missing, the piece I was always looking for.

Puzzle solving started when I was young. Mom brought home five puzzles, each with 100 pieces. “Here, turn off the TV and put these together,” she’d tell us five kids. It took about twenty minutes. “Take them apart, and swap puzzles with your sister or brother,” Mom said.

Five puzzles, five kids, five swaps, you get the picture. Less TV.

We noticed, however, that each time we re-solved the puzzles, we got quicker. So, we started racing one another. A puzzle was soon put together in less than 30-seconds, serving as top entertainment for weeks.

Over the ensuing years, Mom bumped us up to 500 then 750-piece puzzles. By time I married, I preferred 1000-piecers, thinking no more of numbers as I enjoyed the feeling of therapy when connecting puzzle pieces.

Then, my preference for 1000-piece puzzles joggled when yakking with our new son-in-law. He was working on a 15,000-piece puzzle. Fifteen thousand?

He still works on it, and that was ten years ago. But at the time, I couldn’t resist getting a 3,000-piece puzzle to challenge myself. It was torture and I’ll not do that again.

In the meantime, our son-in-law explains, “My puzzle pieces came in four bags. Each bag represents a quarter of the 15,000 pieces. After finishing the first bag and starting the second bag, I wondered if each quarter was really the same puzzle cut.”

Huh? I had absolutely no brain connection here.

But he orders a piece of clear, four-foot plexiglass, lays it on top of the first finished quarter of the puzzle, and slides the second quarter of the puzzle on top. Sure enough, each quarter was made from the same cut.

When it comes to the sky, he puts the pieces together according to shape, shown to him below the plexiglass.

Some year, I’ll see on the wall, an eight-foot by four-foot finished puzzle of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, hands touching.

“You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. She’s worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight—and be blessed!”–Proverbs 3:13-18, The Message

 

Gardening already?

flower getting sunflower seedsBundled in a coat, mittens, and scarf, I walk to the mailbox to receive a garden seed magazine. I think, “Oh, come on. A bit early for gardening already.”

Then our jovial grandchildren visit.

We’re sitting around the kitchen table. Our three-year old grandson tells us about a recent gift. “I got a wheelbarrow like your garden one, Grandma, so we can garden the same.”

Each year I plant a garden. Our six-year old granddaughter is savvy to the routine.

At the table, we listen patiently as she verbally makes a list, “This year I want to plant carrot seeds, uum, peas, beans, oh, raspberries, arugula of course.”

We adults see garden-excitement escalating. The grandson stands on his chair ready to add to the list and says, “I want to plant bacon.”

It’s never too early to plan your next garden.

While farming potatoes, grapes, apples, and cherries in Washington state for more than four decades, gardening was part of my life. I didn’t know any different from careful cultivation and eating a bounty of vegetables and fruits grown right outside our door.

Garden magazines and seeds lay around the Washington house like socks.

After settling in New York, and no longer farming, my life model took on a new look. Much less food grown outside my door.

But I buy produce from local farmers and still plant a garden, mainly for the grandchildren. Which is translated to mean, I plant a garden for dumping seed in one place and accidently trampling the carrot seedlings while looking for peas.

The trick is planting enough seed.

After planting two packets of pea and carrot seeds, sure enough, satisfaction. It only takes thirty pea pods and twelve carrots to thrill children. And their parents.

“Check this out. I just pulled a carrot out of the ground. I can eat this? Look at this, honey. I can’t believe it. This is so great. Can I pull another?” asks the parent of a six-year old friend of the grandchildren.

Ah, the magic of gardening.

We learn where food comes from, the value of caring for the soil, the importance of water, and the advantage of removing weeds.

And yes, I’m the “weed puller” and I use my wheelbarrow to haul weeds to compost. In time, the grandchildren will catch on but for now, I watch our grandchildren haul magnet-tiles and toy train cars in their miniature wheelbarrow.

The happiness of choosing good memories

I define good memories as images of innocence, comfort and joy, all embracing. Such as my childhood memory of getting a parakeet for a pet. It was a nice bird. My buddy.

Which brings me to our grandchildren’s dog, Hammish. A miniature Dachshund who has challenged many intrepid dog whisperers and trainers. Hammish isn’t dangerous. All bark, bark, bark. He watches the grandchildren diligently, or rather watches their food because the instant food can be reached with Hammish’s long nose, gone, disappeared. Oftentimes causing tears of anguish from children. Oh sure, progress has been made over the last seven years but Hammish can bark it away in nanoseconds.

When the family comes to visit on the weekends, I roll my eyes as Hammish bullets into the house, running from corner to corner, ready to terrorize my cats. My cats know a fraud when they see it, and they don’t have to sit to high to be taller than Hammish and watch him loose his bananas.

Author Jon Katz, in his book, Talking to Animals, says dogs aren’t bad, they just need to be understood. They’re a blend of wild and domesticated. They understand through images. Use fewer human words. Katz teaches how to communicate mystically, by picturing images in your head of how you want the dog to behave.

I get what Katz is saying, and I’ve more often than not actually experienced what Katz calls mystical or spiritual relationships with pets and animals. But not with Hammish. His wild side just can’t shut up enough.

Then the other day, our granddaughter and I are finishing lunch. Hammish is sitting in a sunbeam, on alert, but not enough to come steal food. Our granddaughter is calm and happy, and we talk about snow skiing, school, and her latest bracelet making.

She scoots down from the chair and walks over to Hammish. Sits next to him and pets his head. Hammish lets her. No commotion. Peaceful petting continues as Hammish gazes into her eyes.

She says quietly, “Hammish is such a good dog.”

I mentally choke, snort, and stifle myself before saying something that would probably banish this good image or memory.

It wasn’t easy, basically, to shut up myself, but I managed to agree, “Yes, you’re both good.”

A few days later I figured that image was one of the better gifts I received, and gave, this holiday.

Wonders

Dark cold winter nights lack humid-heavy atmospheres and allow sharp sightings of the cosmos. Expert and amateur astronomers giddily set up telescopes to peer through to chart the skies. For hours. Seemingly unaware of their freezing fannies. And this gazing has been occurring for centuries, starting with the naked eye.

I get it. But I don’t freeze or chart. And the naked eye suits me fine for staring into the night sky. But did you know, smartphone apps can tell you what’s in the night sky?

With the app, you can aim your phone at the sky and your screen-view will match the sky. On the screen you can read about thousands of catalogued stars, galaxies, planets, and more, along with tidbits of information such as their travel route and speed. The phone app also tracks artificial satellites and the International Space Station. It’s simply amazing.

In 1997, I couldn’t sleep, one cold night in Washington state.

I layered coats over my pjs, plopped a hat on my head, and strapped farm boots on my feet before sneaking outside. Shep, our dog, was waiting for me.

Shep probably heard me tossing in bed and was wondering what took me so long to get outside. But off we went for a walk around the orchard.

Head down, I began trekking the forty-acre orchard border. Diligently watching the ground so I wouldn’t trip and fall while walking over tree shadows created by the moon.

On a knoll, the ground shadows disappeared, and I looked up. To see Hale-Bopp comet.

Now, an unforgotten experience of wonder and awe.

I’d read about the comet. It was discovered independently by two amateur astronomers, Alan Hale in New Mexico and Thomas Bopp in Arizona in 1995.

But what moved me so wonderfully?

The fact I quit stewing in bed and got into a better physical and mental mode? Our faithful dog? Or, that I could see something more than 120 million miles away? Or, the unimaginable stream of dust and gas released from the atmosphere around the comet affected by the sun’s radiation pressure? Nah.

Its wonder and awe itself. Moving us.

 

From Luke 2: 1-18

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

%d bloggers like this: