Beth and I just finished moving furniture around in the living room. Couches, bookshelves, chairs, stools, everything. The reason we did this is that the bookshelves were given to us last week and the way we currently had our living room arranged wouldn’t work with them added. So, we moved and looked, moved and pondered, moved and finally have the room the way we think looks nice and is functional.
The last couple of hours have been a good reminder that anytime we add things to our lives, positive or negative, there is adjusting required. Each of us has a finite amount of time, energy and passion. The more stuff we have in our lives the less we have of the three. This is why mindfulness is so important. We must make sure what we add is worth the readjusting and investing of time, energy and passion.
Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.
The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.
Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.
I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.
Punishment or Provision –
This morning, at a County Jail Resource Council Meeting, the group was discussing the different programs and services offered to the residents of the facility. It was stated that we want to do more than incarcerate men and women, we want to rehabilitate them so they can gain the skills and talents to give them the best opportunity to get out and stay out.
One of the programs is an art program. The residents come together and work on a project. A person who works at the jail said the first time he heard the announcement; “…report to the art room,” he thought he was in a school, not a jail. This and other programs offered at the facility have not been without their detractors. “Jail’s for punishing! It’s not for the inmates to have fun, be comfortable, doted on by the staff!”
What most of the naysayers don’t understand is if these folks don’t learn good, responsible lessons from the teachers and mentors at the jail they will learn not so good stuff from each other. I’ve seen the cells, the pods, the lockdown rooms. Trust me they’re far from comfortable. As far our treatment of them, some have never known what it is to be loved, cared for, respected. To understand they are of value is the greatest lesson we teach. If they can grasp the truth that they are of great worth, the rest is easy.
Walking Forward Glancing Back –
This morning, between two lectures at a rehabilitation center, I ran a few errands. Pulling out of a parking lot I took a look at the time and realized I didn’t have long before I needed to be at my next appointment. As I pulled out of the parking lot an elderly couple was walking hand in hand towards their vehicle. They weren’t in a hurry, weren’t glancing at watches, didn’t seem to have anywhere else to go, content just being together.
I watched them and smiled. I thought about how quickly life has passed before them. I reflected on similar subjects Beth and I talk about. We make noises when we get up and sit down. A quiet night at home is a Godsend. We fall asleep on the couch before nine at night and we’re only forty-five! We are amazed at the people we know and the life milestones they pass. We think about teenagers we were blessed to share our lives with and how now they’re parents with little ones of their own. We are humbled by how quickly the years pass and saddened at how many folks we’ve loved and lost already.
Sitting in my truck, watching this couple, I was reminded it’s not the hastily gathered things of life which last. What has real meaning, what endures, what is truly valuable and worth our life’s investment are those things which take lifetimes to build, are never taken for granted and are appreciated glancing back over our shoulders as we walk forward.
Thursday I wrote about a piece of reclaimed lumber I picked up and hoped to use. I knew it would require cutting away the decaying pieces to see if there were any useful parts.
This morning I grabbed my jigsaw and went to work searching, hoping to locate the good. Truth be known there wasn’t much. Time, dampness, bugs and weather had stripped it of its strength, sturdiness and purpose. I was able to salvage a nice sized piece in the middle where nature and neglect hadn’t yet destroyed.
We’re similar to the wood. Our outer edges, the parts of us the world corrupts and compromises so quickly. The inner, the center, the part of us that’s protected, shielded, and remains good. This is worth finding and worth saving.
Earlier this week the Mrs. stopped by Lowe’s to pick up a few things. As she was perusing the Garden section she noticed a few Palms were on sale. They were drastically discounted because of being out of season and the damage they had sustained over the course of the summer. The plants had been treated badly, passed over, pushed aside, limbs bent, broken and now almost given away for free. Their value to the store was decreasing each day. To see them go out the door was good news for the bottom line.
Beth picked out a couple, brought them home and now the recovery begins. We will replant, prune, add nutrients, give them love and tenderness. It will take a commitment of care from us if these discounted, almost discarded, plants are going to survive and hopefully, one day, thrive.
In our lives we come across people who have also been discounted. They’ve suffered pain and abuse, heartache and trauma. Folks have tried to help, attempted to assist them, but they seem beyond aid. Others have written them off as a loss and hope someone will take the burden of a wounded soul off their hands.
People all around us have been set aside, discarded, seen and treated as less than. The question becomes; “Are we willing to take a chance on a ‘discounted’ life?” There’s risk and responsibility involved. It takes effort, passion and patience to try to help someone find meaning, purpose and worth again.
What they need, each of us need, is hope, a chance to live a full life, someone who will help us when we can’t help ourselves and the belief everyone is worth saving.
This morning, on my way to a father event planning session, something caught my eye and I pulled into a Mom-n-Pop grocery store parking lot to have a look. Thinking more about turning around then my surroundings I almost hit a van which suddenly pulled out from behind the store. I slammed on my breaks, coming to a sudden stop and was thankful my distractedness didn’t harm me or others.
Life has a way of distracting us, focusing our attention on other things and pulling our gaze away from what’s most important. Then, through a tragedy, series of mishaps and setbacks, physical or mental ailments and diagnosis we’re thrust back into the now, the reason we live and what we truly love becomes crystal clear.
In the moment our focus becomes laser sharp many other things fall away. It’s not that these aren’t good or even necessary they just pale in comparison to what has captured our hearts and souls, the reason the road of life is worth travelling.