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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time to Think About Popping Your Cork?

By Micky Wolf

Yep. And I’m not talking about letting loose and erupting in anger.

A bit of explanation.

Whether we imbibe or not, most of us are familiar with champagne. We’ve likely lifted a toast or two in celebration of a special occasion—a marriage, anniversary, or promotion, to name a few.

Champagne is different than other wine. The bottling process of the sparkly requires particular attention. Because of the high pressure and the bubbles in this fermented delight, the cork has to be inserted then secured, usually with a wire cage.

When the big moment arrives, the foil is peeled off, the cage carefully loosened and removed. At which time a wise sommelier places a towel over the top of the cork and gently wriggles it free. Contrary to the high-drama of the movies, a solid, muted pop- thunk pronounces success, with nary a drop spilled anywhere. (Unless someone thought it might be amusing to shake the bottle beforehand.)

Because these corks have been under pressure, once free of their glass containment they expand rapidly, taking on a sort of swollen mushroom shape. This is a good thing.

On the other hand, some corks become hard or brittle over time and, as a result, expand very little.

The truth of the matter is—some corks lose it while others may keep their bounce for decades.

Back to you and me and the essence of the cork-connection.

First of all, the bubbly is much better savored and enjoyed while it has…well, lots of bubbles. What about you? If push comes to pop, is there some good stuff in you that would be better shared with all of us?

Secondly, popping your cork doesn’t have to mean exploding in a mess all over the place. In fact, it could mean giving yourself the opportunity to be who you really are. To let go and let the unique you inside of you burst forth and be a blessing to the people the Divine hopes might be inebriated with God’s presence through you.

And finally, popping your cork sooner rather than later may be the work of the Spirit—peeling away, undoing, gently wriggling it free—but it’s up to you and me to cooperate with the process.

Things may get a little uncomfortable. It could seem like we’re been prodded and poked, tugged about here and there. We might be afraid of what’s going to happen when everything lets loose.

But when that cork is finally free? We celebrate. We appreciate. We offer our thanks and thanksgiving. We savor the moment, the gift of that special person(s) and the whole of the experience.

So, fellow sojourner, may I suggest a toast?

Here’s to saying yes. To allowing our Creator God to undo us in the best way possible—that we may burst forth while the cork-of-our-hesitation-and-resistance is flexible, resilient—a pleasing pop away from over-flowing with new life.

Or, as the Great Hebrew might have exclaimed, “Mazel tov!”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Which One of These is Not Like the Others?

By Micky Wolf

Not hard to tell the difference, is it?

Seems the slender, roaming tendrils of the robust, healthy sweet potato plants in the large, ceramic, glazed pot sitting on our front porch have found a new spot to enjoy the filtered sun.

What you can’t see from the photograph is the eight or so feet of vine that emerges from the container, wends its way across a short section of cement, than disappears into the bottom of the shrub—only to pop out at the top. At last check this morning, it has extended its reach another foot or so.

As odd as this developing botanical pairing might be, I find that it offers some interesting insight for all of us.

Let us not define a healthy, compatible relationship on appearance alone.

Yes, there are occasions when combining certain things could be less than ideal or appropriate. I would rather not have poison ivy growing in the middle of my bean patch. 

Then again, what happens when I discover the poison of envy, fear, or hatred trying lodge a toe-hold in my heart?

Jesus goes to great length when describing this sort of thing, using no less, the metaphor of plant life.

He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” (Matthew 13: 29-30 NAB)

On the other hand, we must not miss a key difference with the potato vine and the shrub—neither is tare to the other. Each is wheat. Each is good. Together, they have established a unique support system.

And so it goes with you and me.

Maybe you see yourself as a shrub—kinda squat and sturdy, a welcoming companion to those who might drop by. Or maybe you’re more akin to a sweet potato plant—long and sleek, a wanderer, unafraid to engage with whomever you find yourself next to.

Either way, it seems that what might seem odd to us is of no surprise to God. Nor are we who He has created in His image and likeness.

May we treasure our uniqueness in humility and open ourselves to accepting and appreciating one another in ways that foster cooperation and unity, rather than suspicion and division.

Are you open to developing relationship with someone who appears to be different?

Is “not being like the other” feel unsettling? Why?