The Smell of a Tuna Fish Sandwich –
My wife came home early from work on Friday. She wasn’t feeling well and had a stomach bug. I’m not a natural caretaker but was able to get her settled in the bed and bring her something to drink with saltine-crackers. She slept most of Friday and Saturday was feeling better. She still wasn’t eating much and when I asked if she would like lunch she opted for a bland bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, fixed myself a fresh can of tuna, with mayo and pickles. When Beth fixed her cereal I noted she was on the far side of the counter. “What are you doing over there?” I asked. “The smell of your tuna is not helping my stomach!” she replied and told me it was the last thing she ate Friday before getting sick. The smell of my Tuna Fish sandwich was threatening to make her sick again.
Scientists tell us that smell is one of the greatest memory triggers. However, all our senses, particular situations, certain people, can trigger pain, shame, emotional, mental and even physical reactions in us or others. This is why it’s so important making sure we don’t judge or label others who may react differently to events and experiences. The path of their life, which intersects ours, could be fraught with challenges and difficulties we’ve never encountered. Knowing each person has a unique path helps us be aware, accepting, adaptable, and non-judgemental toward each other.
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Place to Empty –
This morning I had a lot of garbage at the house which needed to be taken to the dump. Beth and I still wonder how two people can generate so much waste. The truck bed was full. On my way into town, I drove slowly, so as not to cause any garbage cans to topple over. My plan was to stop and get rid of it before my first appointment, however, when I arrived the dump was closed because they were waiting for a canister to be set in place to receive the refuse. This meant I had to carry the garbage until the afternoon when I would go back and try the dump again. It also meant driving slowly and anxiously carefully not to spill the stinky load. Thankfully, it was open and I was able to rid myself of the trash.
Afterward, I reflected on time, seasons in our lives when we need to empty the emotional, physical and spiritual trash from our lives and are unable. It impacts the way we navigate life and our attention becomes more fixed on the garbage than other, more important things. We need to regularly empty our lives of the toxicity, rubbish, and junk which builds up within us so we can be free of that which slows us down and keep moving on the road of life.
“The world today tends to be cynical about most things. We have a hard time believing in an enchanted world, a sacred or benevolent universe. Why would we if we see only at the surface level? Everywhere we turn, every time we watch the news, we see suffering. We have become skeptical about God’s goodness, humanity’s possibilities, and our planet’s future. We can’t help seeing what is not and are often unable to recognize or appreciate what is. I see this temptation in myself almost every day. I have to pray and wait for a second gaze, a deeper seeing. This is my daily bread.” (https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/) #RichardRohr
The quote above, from Richard Rohr, was part of my devotional reading this morning. I quickly took the phrase; “Second Gaze” to heart. I hadn’t heard it before but it is a primary wisdom discipline. It is the understanding that if we only see with our physical sight we will miss the goodness, the light, the continuing blossoming of creation all around us. We will also miss the ways in which we can be a part of creation by loving, acts of kindness, a gentleness of spirit and humility to each person and everything we include in the circle of our lives.
Let us look around us today without the cynicism and negativity which often plagues our sight. May we behold and become a part of the ongoing miracle that is life in all its universal glory.
This morning one of my lectures at a rehabilitation clinic was double booked which gave me a free hour until it was time for the second lecture. I needed to pick up a few items at a store so I decided this was a good time. I parked and went inside. Entering the store, through sliding glass doors, an employee was crossing in front of the doors and underestimated how much time she had until we occupied the same space. When it became obvious we were headed to a collision course we altered our current paths. We side-stepped each other and when we did a case for glasses the employee was carrying dropped from her hand and went bouncing on the floor. “Excuse me. I’m sorry.” I said. She replied it was ok and picked up her case. “Good thing you had that case!” I chirped “It sure was!” she said smiling and we parted ways.
Walking through the store and collecting the items on my mental shopping list I thought about the employee and her glasses case. One of the phrases I use when speaking to groups about healthy children and families is called; “Protective Factors.”
Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=protective%20factors)
Protective Factors shape the way we see the world, dictate a lot of our behaviors and coping abilities. The fewer protective factors the more hostile the world looks and this shapes our lives, who we are, in the deepest part of us.
The second lecture went well. Part of my presentation is to ask; “How many of the attendees come from families where drugs and alcohol were abused, physical violence, negligence, abandonment was part of their childhood?” It’s always humbling to see how many raise their hands. We then talk about how our past can determine the way we see the world, how we think and make decisions in the present. I spend the rest of the lecture, hopefully, helping them see how to begin to build protective factors into their and their family’s lives.
I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.
I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.
Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.
Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.
Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.
“Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb