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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The First Cut Hurts the Most

By Micky Wolf
If that just-out-of-the-wrapper-inch thick-maple board could talk, it would have surely hollered, “Ouch!” (The whitish splotches are water droplet reflections.)

The surface was perfect when my beloved and I placed it on the counter. And then we preceded to chop away. How did we ever get along without this helpful kitchen tool?

Now, a few weeks later, that same surface bears witness to countless strikes of a sharp blade.

Kinda like you and me. Time and life events have a way of leaving imprints on our hearts and souls.

The first criticism…

The first rejection…

The first betrayal…

You and I, however, are not powerless when such things happen. We have a choice as to how we will respond.

Cuts have the power to change us—for the better, if we allow them to be worked in us by the Divine—or for the worse, if we see them in the singular light of uninvited pain or suffering.

Apart from that, isn’t it interesting that a simple maple cutting block needs a bit of maintenance to remain in good working order. We have a special oil to apply on a regular basis to keep the surface sealed and protected.

Not unlike the work of the Divine. We may be on the receiving end of various and assorted blows, but God is in the business of healing and restoration. If we choose to cooperate with His grace, we will be covered with the oil of forgiveness and gladness, the balm of compassion and love, the breath of acceptance and tenderness.

If it’s true that board has been cut upon again and again, it’s also true many a meal has been prepared on its surface. When I see those marks, I savor the delicious memories. How many vegetables, seafood, or poultry have been carefully sliced or shaped for yummy appetizers or entrĂ©es?

It is your choice and mine as to how we perceive the scars we carry about in our being. We can dwell on the hurt and anger that accompanied the blow, or we can turn our focus to the One who desires to use those experiences to help us grow and become all that we’re created to be.

It is wisdom to know that a cut can destroy.

It is even greater wisdom to know each one can be used by our good and gracious God to create something far more beautiful and holy than we could ever understand or envision.

How will you respond?


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do Woodpeckers Really Smile?

By Micky Wolf

No, that is not a woodpecker. Yes, it is a big, beautiful blue jay.

No, this is not a bait and switch of beaks and feathers.

You see we have three species of woodpeckers who visit our feeders. And every darn one of them is so skittish the slightest movement (from our favorite viewing spot on the other side of the glass deck door) is more than sufficient to send them skittering off (thus far) before we can snap a picture.

Maybe contemplating the idea of smiling woodpeckers is an exercise in silliness. On the other hand, my beloved and I have needed to persevere through some challenging days in recent weeks. Seasonal sickness and an extended family member in crisis have diverted our attention and consumed our energies. Ergo our gratitude and appreciation for the lighter moments.

The truth is I couldn’t say I’ve ever seen a woodpecker or blue jay smile. For that matter, is such a behavior even possible for our winged-chirping friends?

What I do know to be true is that God created the birds and the bees and all the creatures of the land, sky and sea. While many serve what could be considered utilitarian purposes, I’m of a mind the Divine never intended they be reduced to little more than entertaining targets or gourmet meals.

I’ve learned that when I take a little time to notice, God’s creatures make me smile. And more. Their antics lift the spirits. Observing them for a few moments can be tonic for the weary body, balm for a frazzled brain.

For example…how is it a bird of any description can hang upside down and swallow a seed without collapsing in a frantic-feather-flying-fit of choking?

Or why is it a dozen of them show up at one time—a crush of hungry critters, notwithstanding our five feeders—and then dash about in fits and starts trying to secure an open peg to stand on?

There’s no doubt such goings on make us smile. Which could also mean it takes little to amuse my beloved and me.

Yet it could also be true God is smiling as well. Which is why I’d like to believe that is one delightful explanation for why those woodpeckers and blue jays exist in the first place.