Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Three Eggs

When my kids come home from college, they seem to have an exaggerated lust for eggs, whether it’s eggs for breakfast at 3 p.m., or omelets at 3 a.m. (which, I assure you, I am not involved in making). I try with regularity to foist granola or oatmeal upon them, but the call for eggs is deafening. Thus, when I looked into my egg carton the other night, and noticed that there was only ONE egg left, I made a mental note to get to the store the first thing the next morning, before anyone might arise looking for--you guessed it—eggs.
            This feat I easily accomplished, returning home before noon with fresh, brown organic eggs, and several other bags of food.  So when my youngest son emerged from his bedroom, seeking scrambled eggs at 2 p.m., I was ready. I opened up the container where my one remaining egg was nestled, intending to add it to my newly acquired batch, and found…to my utter amazement…not one egg but three! Three perfect eggs ready for his “morning” repast.
            A Christmas miracle? Perhaps. But far more likely, when I originally looked into that egg carton, my fear that there would not be enough eggs for breakfast was so great that it clouded my vision.  Though three eggs were in the carton I only SAW one egg, went to bed thinking of one egg, and got up the next morning thinking of one egg. I completely convinced myself of something that was utterly not true.
            The next evening, in a conversation with a friend, I learned of an entire family drama that had been constructed around the simple misunderstanding of a word.  Let’s just say the word was harlot (which it was not). But if it were, let’s just say that numerous people were insulted by its use, and constructed all kinds of negative scenarios and outcomes, and argued and bantered about the misguided individual who had used the word, until it was finally discovered days later that the word harlot was never even used at all.
            The mind is a curious thing. But even more curious than the mind itself, is the way in which we allow it to race off into all kinds of crazy directions, without really thinking, and that we actually permit and sometimes even encourage our minds to make things up that are completely false (i.e. missing eggs), create unpleasant scenarios that will never happen (i.e. angry college students screaming for eggs), or to cause needless suffering (i.e. actually he did not call her a harlot—he used the word harpoon in a totally unrelated context).
It simply boggles the mind!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Season of Miracles

© Michael Beckerman |

I’ve always loved the Christmas season because it’s a time for awe and wonder. If Thanksgiving is for gratitude, Christmas is for miracles, magic, and the suspension of ordinary reality (not that any reality is really ordinary, anyway). But this season is rife with high drama—whether you take the Christmas story literally or not. The Three Kings, the manger scene, the angels, the star, and so on. And then, on the commercial side of the event, there’s Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, elves, reindeer, and all of that. Chanukah is rife with miracle stuff, too, so unless you’re a total grinch, it’s really hard to get through December without giving a nod to the miraculous.
            I know there are plenty of people (even in my own family) who complain that this season is just a big excuse for malls to stay open late. And while I agree that the present-buying mania has gotten a bit out of hand, I still think it’s useful to set aside a time just to say, “Wow.”  And I don’t mean, “Wow! This is an awesome robe from Nordstrom’s!” either. I mean, Wow, isn’t it amazing that all these years later we’re still repeating the story of Christ’s birth, and we’re still aware—whether we believe in every detail of this particular story or not—that there is something greater and wiser than we running the show here.
            This week I learned of several events that reminded me of the miracles in every day. A friend of mine just happened to be five minutes down the road when her spouse was injured in a city across the river from their home and was able to swiftly come to his aid. Another pal learned that he had to spend time with a fellow he’s been feuding with—his company “unwittingly” threw the two together so that now they must work out their differences. My kids all got home safely for the holidays from far-flung places. I returned a book to a friend who—unbeknownst to me-- needed that book on that very day. Two bald eagles I’ve been awaiting—last seen a year ago at this time--suddenly appeared in a tree overhead. The list goes on.
            I do feel awe and wonder when I think of how life works. And in this holiday season I’m reminded that whatever one believes, the very fact that there is such a thing as a capacity for believing is a blessing. This time of year is for belief, trust, and amazement. Some might accuse me of being a little “woo-woo” about things, but that’s okay. “Woo-woo” is very close to “Wow! Wow!” in my opinion.
Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Solace of Silence

© Jon Helgason |

Christmas can be such a noisy time of year, filled with all manner of fabulous sounds--the jingling of sleigh bells, the clomping of reindeer hooves on the rooftops, the carols, children’s laughter, The Messiah, and the screeching of UPS trucks delivering last-minute packages. But even better, in my opinion, than all the beautiful music and joyful jingling of bells, is the kind of silence that winter brings. As far as real stillness and quietude goes, anyone who’s ever walked in the winter woods can tell you there’s nothing quite like this season for silence.
         I  have a dear friend who loves silence and is always talking and writing about it. The reasons she loves it are many, but among them is the pure capacity of silence for self-healing. When I sit quietly on a winter morning, light a candle and gaze at the trees outside my window, all seems right with the world. With the windows closed (no, I’m not crazy enough to leave them open!) I can’t even hear the pecking of the woodpecker as he flits from tree to tree. Let me be honest—winter is my least favorite season. Yet I look forward to its arrival every year, because with it comes a sense of peace. And though I rather envy those who live out west or on tropical islands, for me, winter is a healing tonic—it’s a time to seek and fuel the warmth within my own heart, since it’s so damned cold outside!
          My favorite winter sound is barely audible-- snow falling, tapping gently against a window or settling on the boughs of a pine tree. I also like the muted sound of snow under foot—the scrunching noise under boots when I step outside to clear a path (snow blowers may be a necessity for some, but I much prefer the determined scrape of a shovel).
          Yes, I know that just a few miles from my house cars are tearing up the highways to the malls, kids are whining for candy canes and toys, and couples are arguing about how high the credit card bills will be after the holidays. But in my home, on a winter’s morning, all is silent--at least until the kids get home from college.
          Winter’s silence is somehow different than any other I’ve encountered (in other seasons there always seems to be a cricket chirping somewhere or a screen door slamming). When I imagine what life would be like without it, I realize that silence is an extraordinary gift, and a cold winter's day is the perfect time to enjoy it.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Somewhere...under the Rainbow

© Lane Erickson |

The other day was rainy, windy, and pretty darn nasty, though it wasn’t all that cold. I was inside for much of it, writing and doing household chores. Around 4 p.m. the wind died down, the sun peeked out, and I decided to venture outside. I’m glad I did, because in the eastern sky, rising up like a wide, colorful bridge to infinity, was a stunning rainbow. I stared at that rainbow for a good long while, soaking in its elusive beauty. After all, you never know when you’re going to see another rainbow again.
            The next day, I asked a number of people if they’d seen the same rainbow I did, but everyone I questioned said no. They’d been in their offices, or shopping in a store, taking a nap, or at the gym. Not a single person I questioned had seen this remarkable sight. This made me feel rather glum.
            But then a strange thing happened, or rather, a few. For one, I took a glorious walk along the Delaware River, and I thought to myself while watching the geese and ducks paddle swiftly by in the cold, rushing water, “Isn’t this almost as good as a rainbow? Isn’t it, actually, sort of like a rainbow, in a duck kind of way?”
            While I was walking, I happened upon Elizabeth Gilbert’s fabulous store, Two Buttons, and went inside to warm up and shop for a few Christmas presents. While I was there Jose (aka Felipe), Gilbert’s husband (whose fame is known to those who’ve read Eat, Pray, Love or Commitment) happened by with a bottle of Chilean wine and poured me a taste. Soon after, he brought out bags of fresh popcorn and distributed them to all the willing customers in the store. And again, I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t this sort of like a little rainbow in my day? Getting served wine and popcorn by Gilbert’s sexy (if  ‘of a certain age’), Brazilian husband?”
            And then I began to think of all the small rainbows in all our days—the hugs from kids, and the phone calls from long-lost cousins, and the unexpected whiff of hot soup on a stove…you get my drift. I began to feel less sorry for the folks who had missed the virtual rainbow, because hopefully, if they are aware and awake, they will see all those other rainbows in their days. Surely, a real rainbow in the sky is an incredible gift. But you don’t have to actually see it to know what a rainbow is.