An Elder’s Meditation: Accepting and Giving Thanks

Mark 4:26-29  He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

Walking though the  Huon Valley & Tahune Forest Hobart, Tasmania, Australia April 15, 2015, ©Ruth Jewell
Walking though the
Huon Valley & Tahune Forest
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
April 15, 2015, ©Ruth Jewell

This past spring John and I were on a 6½ week pilgrimage of sorts.   Unfortunately 2 hours before we were to be picked up by Shuttle Express I fell in my office and tore or badly bruised the calf muscle of my left leg and also  I refused to go to the emergency room because we would have missed our flight. Well, along with back issues, that fall meant I spent our holiday with a cane and walking as if I was 250 years old.

The fall and my, seemingly forever back problems, meant modifying some of our activities and learning to depend on the graciousness of people in New Zealand and on board our cruise ship..  I was helped by strangers I would never see again to walk up hills, across sand dunes, into cars, buses, and boats.  All they asked for was a simple thank you and a smile.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude to these angels in disguise.  They made our visit to NZ and back to the states a trip of a life time.

Now many of you may also have noticed that I often have a motor mouth (in the case of blogging, motor writing) and when I offer thanks to someone I will chatter on nervously for 10 minutes.  It took 6½ weeks for me to figure out that saying ‘thank you’ or ‘you are a blessing’ was all that was needed.

Learning to stop talking and listen has always been hard for me but what I have discovered this late in my life is when I stop with a smile and thank you I SEE the face of the angel who helped me.  It doesn’t matter what nationality, or skin color, or language they speak, the light shines through.  It isn’t just their job anymore it’s that they have been recognized for who they are.  If I am not speaking or thinking of more to say, I see them for who they are.

You have also probably noticed I have just as much trouble, maybe more, in receiving gratitude.  I am self-deprecating to the extreme.  Probably because I was taught that nothing I did was to be done for any expectation of thanks. But on this trip I was more aware of not just offering thanks but of receiving the gift of graciousness and help.  You see to offer thanks you have to have received something and that gift is hard one for me to accept.  But I learned to stop explaining that I fell, or have a back giving out on me.  I learned to simply take someone’s hand and lean on them for help without explaining how independent I normally am.

The scripture of Mark is one of giving and receiving.  It is giving your time to sow and the harvest is the receiving of God’s blessing (didn’t think I’d work that in did you).  What has finally sunk into my rather thick brain is giving and receiving God’s blessings comes in many forms and I am grateful for the giving and receiving of all the blessings from God’s hands I have received not just on our trip but in my whole lifetime.  It may seem like a small thing but graciously accepting the assistance from a stranger gives me a gift of love and the giver a gift of grace.  The Importance of keeping the ‘thank you’ short and sweet is that it focuses on the gift and the giver rather than my own ego.  It works the other way as well.  Keeping assistance I give to someone else also focuses on the gift I give and the receiver of the gift instead of me.  The giver and the receiver receive the gift of grace and love.  That is a beautifully thing and passing that gift on grows the grace between me and you and opens wider the door of the Kingdom of God.

To all of you, Thank you for being who you are, and many blessing on your many journeys.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 15, 2015

The Spiritual Gift of Slowing Down – Prayerful Tuesday

tree of life labyrinth

 

Last Friday I had foot surgery to correct arthritis damage to two toes.  I have had day surgeries before and in general they go well, just as this one did. But as I waited to be taken in to surgery I began to think of the consequences of my doing this. The benefits are easy to name, the primary ones are, being able to wear my shoes comfortably again and being able to walk without pain in my feet.  But there are also consequences and benefits I hadn’t considered.

For example, I wasn’t going to make an InterPlay group on Saturday that I really wanted to attend, and I wouldn’t be able to make it to church on Sunday.  In fact not until next Thursday will I be able to leave the house.

In addition to being stuck in the house my foot hurts, a lot, and because I can’t take the more popular pain killers, I have a pain medicine that, while it works well, has some drawbacks like extreme dizziness and fatigue. However, I have begun to see some real benefits, other than walking, that I hadn’t taken into consideration.

First of all I have to slow down, something I don’t often do, and think if what I want to do is really important and necessary.  I have been surprised at how much I do during the day that really is busy work. Simply letting go of those fussy details has been a great relief and I think I am going to continue with that. The things I am able to do right now have real importance, mean something to me, and are getting done better and with less effort.

I also have to say “no” to extra tasks when I am asked for “help.” Setting of boundaries has always been complicated for me.  I never want to “offend” anyone and so often take on tasks that I know I don’t have the time to do nor the energy and strength to do them. Saying no is one of the hardest things I am trying to learn.  I overextend myself all the time all because I can’t set boundaries and tell someone “no, not today.”

There are benefits of saying no such as more the time for meditation, and pausing to take the time for myself.  I don’t mean a short meditation I mean sitting down, which is all I can do anyway right now, for a couple of hours and meditating over a passage of scripture, or something I’ve just read.  Instead of worrying about what I can’t do I have been rediscovering the joy of what I can do in the moment, the return of silence and quiet peace.  Holding Suzie, my Chihuahua, in my lap I have been reconnecting with the Divine in art, literature and music and letting all of it wash over me and renew me.

I have also relearned the joy of receiving the generosity from others.  From hospital staff, to friends, to family, especially my beloved husband John, I have been graced with an amazing amount of love and care. These lovely people have helped me slow down and have given me the space to be right here, right now without feeling guilty.

I am grateful that I am not seriously handicapped or so ill I am unable to learn from this slow time. I am learning to accept with joy the gifts others give me and not feel embarrassed or feel I don’t deserve such grace. I know at some point I will grow impatient with being unable to do exactly what I want, but right now I am grateful for this time of rest and recovery.

Now I know I am not the only one out there who has difficulty in accepting gifts. Therefore, I offer this spiritual practice of saying “thank you” for the gifts you receive this week.  Simply say thank you, don’t elaborate, just accept.  Allow someone to do something for you, or do something for someone else and receive their gratitude with grace.  Recognize the joy of being in the moment and offer a thank you.  Offer your gratitude to the Holy for this time, this place, the people, creation that is the now.  Let the gifts of others to you renew your spirit and let the grace shine out from your heart to those around you.

May your week be filled with joy of gifts unforeseen, and may they bring you peace.

Ruth Jewell, ©October, 28, 2014

Gratitude for Home – Prayerful Tuesday

The From My Deck
The View From My Deck

 

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

I returned home yesterday from a week of traveling.  John and I joked that we could now give recommendations for 4 hotels and 4 different beds if anyone wanted such a thing.  It is not that we didn’t have fun,  the Turner Lecture’s in Yakima was very informative, with lots of insight and just plain good conversation, we loved visiting the Maryhill Museum and had a delightful time at the Maryhill winery (if you like winery’s this is one not to miss).  And, I couldn’t ask for a better end to the trip than the wedding of my beloved cousin Sally to the love of her life, Maggie.  However, I agree with Lin Yutang, home is best for a good rest.

When we returned home we were greeted with barks of joy and two wiggly furry bodies, screeches of mom and dad are home from two excited parrots and the inviting comfort of our own bed.  I am grateful for the comfort of my own bed, the steamy warmth of my own shower, and the cozy comfort of husband and dogs on the couch.  But most of all I am grateful for a silence that feeds a soul drained of its energy by activity and the presence of others who, while I love them all, are a bit needy.  Here at home I am grateful for being alone, but not lonely, for silence that speaks to me, and for rest that feeds me.

So today I am asking you to spend time each day in the coming week with, at least, one gratitude for home.  Every day offer up a prayer of gratitude for something about your home that you are grateful for and let your heart soar with thankfulness for that space you call home.

May your journeys always be so eventful that you are grateful for the return home.

Many Blessings

Ruth Jewell, ©October 14, 2014