"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

When Different is the Same

By Micky Wolf
Earlier this spring my beloved spent the better part of a week installing edging along the perimeter of the landscaped areas around our house. After taking detailed measurements, he set off to purchase bricks, along with bags of sand that would provide a level base.

Because the job was somewhat tedious and labor intensive, he worked for four or five hours at a time. Once the front and two sides were finished, only the back needed attention. Given how nice things were coming together, he had plenty of impetus to complete the project.

Once again, off to the store for bricks and sand.  As he unloaded the trunk of the car, it took only a moment—could it be true? Yes. The red is red, but is it the same red? Nope. The photo above illustrates that point beyond a shadow of doubt.

Good news? All of the back would be the same. The other three sides would also be the same.

Bad news? Same won’t be same all the way around.

Turns out each huge pallet of bricks is likely to be a bit different shade. Makes sense. Same rule of matching applies to wallpaper, carpet, and fabrics—which is why the experts tell you to get all you need at one time to avoid variations. That wasn’t an option for us as we don’t have a truck.

We pondered the situation for a few moments, but both agreed: we could haul the other hundreds of pounds back and hope to get several new batches matching the ones he had just brought home. Or, we could go ahead with what we had. It was a no brainer. (Years ago I would have gotten myself into a heaven-forbid-it-isn’t-all-a-perfect-match tizzy. Not anymore.)

Nevertheless, here’s the interesting part—of all the visitors to our home in recent months, not a single person has noticed. Not. A. One. And believe me, a few of them would have no problem pointing it out had they picked up on the differences.

Here’s the bottom line to this little brick story—most of us, starting at an early age, notice some sort of variation or imperfection in one another. And if that’s not enough, sad to say, some of us can also get pretty good at looking in the mirror and picking out our own.

And yet, there’s an unavoidable truth here that we must pay attention to if we call ourselves Christians—not a single person, past, present or future—exists apart from the will of our Creator God to breathe us into being.

The variations in our outward appearance, along with a host of other exterior things we might observe, have little to do with the person we are on the inside, or, maybe more importantly, are in the process of becoming.

When we choose to carry that truth within our hearts, the greater the possibility we will give less time and energy to searching out what we consider to be imperfections—in others or ourselves.

Accepting different as the same is to embrace what makes each of us unique and special from a Divine perspective. And in the process, live out our piece of the greater plan.

Do I tend to look for the variations/imperfections in others? In myself?

How do I feel about embracing my unique self?

Of giving the gift of acceptance to others who appear different?


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Kindness of Creatures

By Micky Wolf
We’re talking two legs and a set of wings. The cardinal kind that fly, not the ordained species.

It’s easy to assume, or believe, that creatures—other than human beings—lack intelligence, wisdom, feelings, or emotions. Or that if they do have these attributes, they don’t measure up to, or equate with those we have been given by our Creator God.

In other words, birds, insects, reptiles, primates and so forth are just that—animals without a soul or spirit, or a decent sized brain that equips them to think and behave like we do. With all due respect and given the way we act sometimes, thank God!

However, my beloved and I witnessed a beautiful exchange between a cardinal-couple one recent afternoon. Given their cautious and sensitive nature, we couldn’t photograph the actual moment. (The female is pictured above.) But observing them caused both of us to ponder.

Who could have imagined the male would be so attentive to his partner (Cardinals mate for life) that he would carefully pick up several seeds in his beak, one by one, and pass them to her? Interestingly enough, it turns out this behavior is part of the courtship ritual.

And you thought we humans were the only ones to gaze longingly into the beak--ah, eyes—of another during those early encounters of you-are-my-one-and-only-forever moments of young, romantic bliss.

There are likely a multitude of explanations for how and why these gorgeous feathered, winged, companions behave the way they do. In this instance, it could be as simple as “I’m trying to impress you, honey. You in for the long haul or not?”

Nonetheless, it seems our Creator God has imbued these creatures with their own unique sense of caring and kindness. No doubt, something we as humans could certainly stand to seed more fully into many of our human relationships.

In the meantime, if we’re a little self-conscious or uncomfortable with more demonstrative ways to be kind, extending a hand will work just fine. It’s not the trail mix or gentle caress that matters so much—it’s the loving intention that motivates the action in first place that is of greater meaning and value to the recipient. 

What does being kind mean to me?

Am I comfortable/uneasy with being demonstrative toward my spouse or others?

Am I aware of the ways God reaches out to me in kindness and caring?