On the other side of anxious possibilities, Sandy has come and gone and left in its wake the amazing capacity of the human spirit. While the storm lashed and pounded, reshaped coastlines and battered trees and houses, people are out all over the city today cleaning up and carrying on. It is an amazing testament to the indomitable human spirit. We go on. No matter what the damage, what the cost, what it will take to accomplish “normal” again, we go on. There is enormous grace to be found there!
I saw folks out sawing down and picking up broken tree branches; cleaning up the muck off their cars; and raking leaves away from street drains. I saw Comcast and Verizon; Potomac Power and Tree Services parked throughout the neighborhood. Things are slowly coming back to normal. On the other side of all the possible damage the storm could do, we pick up and we carry on. We humans are incredible creatures.
I do have to admit it was scary! The winds howled and the windows rattled as the rains poured and the lights flickered. We did not, however, lose power. We were some of the lucky ones. We “shelterd in place” and, at first, watched movies. Then, in solidarity with those without power, we went to “old school” – reading. I got lost somewhere between New York and D.C.; Berlin and Moscow in a spy thriller where the courier is an expert in languages and disguises and the assassin is yet to be discovered. And, now I must return . . . they won’t be able to carry on without me!
Hurricane Sandy is approaching and everyone here is preparing for the worst. Keep the people of the East Coast in your prayers as we ride this one out.
I just heard from my son in Seattle who heard that one of the tall ships from Boston has been abandoned at sea with two crew members missing.
There will be many more stories to tell of these rain soaked and windswept days and I’ll be back again when the weather returns to normal or the power is restored, whichever comes first. Please say a prayer for the safety of all affected.
I’ve just come from a magnificent walk outside in the falling leaves. I don’t remember ever experiencing anything like this before. It is a virtual storm of falling leaves – and they float down gently on the uncharacteristically warm fall breeze on this overcast day. Everywhere – yes, everywhere – the leaves are falling! And as I walked the words of one of my son’s songs kept repeating itself in my head:
“Outside the leaves are falling/ all the Mysteries are calling/ me to live my dreams/ and find them out.”
The Mysteries are definitely calling today! And They call to each of us. Are we up to the task? Let the leaves be a symbol of letting go and dare to live your dreams to find them out! Grace is the result of our efforts. Don’t be shy!
Is there always a calm before the storm? I think perhaps it’s true. Yesterday it was 84 degrees, sunny, and beautiful. Today it is foggy, soggy and colder.
So, I am appreciating yesterday all over again today!
Yesterday I took Metro downtown to find the National Navy Memorial amid the shining sun and colorful falling leaves. Everyone was out in their shirtsleeves and enjoying the unseasonable weather. The colors of the day were extraordinary. I found the Navy Memorial and to my delight there were a few men with an impromptu band playing in the square. General Hancock sat atop his horse in grand fashion watching the movements on the plaza below. The seaman waited with his duffel bag and and the sun cast shadows as it retreated for the day.
It was lovely to see such a beautiful memorial to the women and men who have served in the Navy and Coast Guard. It was a bit hard to find – off the beaten path, if you will – in a city of memorials, but I’m so glad I found it. The adventure was fun and the day was exquisite. As all the workers poured from their office buildings I met my husband and we found a little hamburger stand for dinner.
Today the effects of Hurricane Sandy are heading our way. Yesterday’s beauty was a reminder to enjoy the grace of each day. Because we never know what tomorrow may bring.
Have you ever had a new idea? And then done absolutely nothing about it because you were sure it couldn’t really be a new idea at all? I know I suffer from this particular form of madness!
But I was truly inspired last weekend by the ideas of someone who was not hesitant to put them into practice. On our continuing weekend investigations of Civil War sites, we returned again to Sharpsburg, MD and the Pry House Medical Museum. Somehow we had managed to entirely miss this most amazing site on previous trips to the area. This is the site of one of the Army’s first organized battlefield hospitals. It was dreamed up, set up, organized, stationed and run by the new ideas of Dr. Jonathan Letterman. To this day he is considered the father of modern emergency medicine. His ideas and the actions it took to carry them out resulted in an organized ambulance corps, the idea of triage, and an organized staged evacuation and treatment system that became the norm for hospitals throughout the Army and the country. Somehow, he knew his new ideas would be beneficial to wounded soldiers and he didn’t hesitate to put his ideas into practice. They are ideas that continue to influence medicine today.
When I realized this was where Letterman got his start as Medical Director of the Federal Army of the Potomac, I also knew that Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco was named for him and his work in Army field hospitals. His ideas were embraced, put into practice, and survive to this day as effective measures during battles and emergencies.
So, the next time we think that our ideas can’t possibly be important, or will never affect anyone else, or are not worthy of further consideration – think of Dr. Jonathan Letterman and the grace that he left as a legacy of his ideas, his compassion, and his care for others. Our ideas – if we develop them and act on them – could have a similar effect.
Today, some more fortune cookie wisdom. With the political debates continuing, I thought I would share this fortune that I’ve been carrying around. It actually did come out of a fortune cookie and it speaks to me profoundly today.
To think is easy; to act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all.
Discipleship requires that we not only think, but also act as we think. And, yes, that is the most difficult of all. Unless we can do that – act consistent with what we think – what we think alone makes little difference.
Reflect on that for a moment! Then absorb the grace that is bestowed from thinking and acting with one mind, one heart, one will, and one determination.
Author, poet, and retreat leader, Jan Phillips, has written in her book God is at Eye Level that all we see can be a window into the heart of God. Her words:
My eyes find God everywhere, in every living thing, creature, person, in every act of kindness, act of nature, act of grace. Everywhere I look, there God is, looking back, looking straight back.
I find it to be true – especially on a beautiful autumn day with egrets in flight and reflections shining to meet the fine line of reality. Everywhere we look, God is looking back and grace abounds.
Take a look. Take a closer look!
Where do you go for inspiration? Last week I spent the entire day at the National Art Museum. Even at that, it was difficult to see the entire museum! Still, the experience was one of total inspiration.
There is something about art that makes me remember that nothing is instant. It took years of practice and learning and doing and doing again to perfect the beauty that hung on the walls of the art museum. Few of the paintings there were the first product of their masters. Claude Monet painted over 100 versions of his lily pads in his garden! Can you imagine working on the same masterpiece over 100 times? There is inspiration in that for me. I can keep at it. I can try again. I can do something – be it painting or writing or poetry or pottery or sculpture – or whatever – over and over again and maybe, just maybe, with time and patience, our skills will improve and our masterpieces will be recognized as well.
Sometimes inspiration is hard to come by. Just go to an art museum and see what grace you find there!
Watching the presidential debates sometimes it is hard for me to believe that a person has such self assurance that they could enter into such a debate! But we do have amazing qualities, don’t we? And we enter into experiences that we may not be able to accomplish or even succeed at. Such is the spirit of the individual.
I couldn’t help but think of this when my kids casually took the podium at the Smithsonian. “You Be the President” was the name of the display. What does it take to have the skills and self-assurance to speak our mind to the public? What does it take for us to speak our mind and still be honest with ourselves? What we desire, in ourselves as well as others, is the ability to be consistent in both arenas, public and private. It is not an insignificant thing!
Belief in ourselves needs to translate into action and that action needs to be consistent with our beliefs and our abilities. Simply saying what we think someone else wants to hear will not effect the action that we may need to be taking. Only honesty with ourselves and personal commitment will do that.
What are your special gifts and talents? What can you share with others? With the grace of God, most of us are capable of whatever we believe we can do!
It was so much fun to play tour guide and take our kids through the sights and sounds of the city while they were here.
The grace I remember the most was their thrill and excitement at seeing the monuments for the first time and recovering the history associated with each of them. It was like seeing with new eyes to share in their amazement and amusement. And, the fact that we spent so much time among the monuments allowed the day to pass and the sun to set and a whole new world revealed itself and became possible in the fading light. While we had been to the monuments at night once before, we had never before been there at sunset.
There was something holy and sacred at that time of day. The people were dispersing and the shadows were lengthening. It allowed for a whole new perspective. A beautiful and softened perspective. A graced and silent perspective. A reflective moment.
When have you taken advantage of the sunset hour to see the world from a new perspective? When have you allowed grace and holiness to fill your eyes?