Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Wish (56); One by One

Let the little feathers that flutter into your life, inspire you:

a Fall leaf in your path
a pebble in your shoe
the swoosh of rain under your tires
the shiver of cold that runs up your spine
a stranger in your path
an unexpected smile
a lone weed
the brush of wind on your face
a dumb advertisement turned synchronistic
words on the side of a van
a song on the radio
a phone call from an old friend
a pothole
a timely hiccup or sneeze
that butterfly in your belly…you know when

For what inspires you can’t help but inspire others, too. Magic is contagious. Don’t you agree? She says with a giggle. Yes, it sure sure sure sure is! If you believe, together we can watch the world become more magic, One by One:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Wish (55); Listen

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photo by creature_cat via flickr
She was young but her spirit had already walked many, many miles. Her voice was rough, her eyes were tired, her body dragged. I saw her in the hallway after she brought her little girl to school and before she headed back to the projects where she and her three children lived. It was November in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1997.

“G’morning, Tina,” I said to her with a gentle smile.
She looked up at me with a softness I hadn’t seen from her before, as if she needed kindness so badly, as if without it, she didn’t know how she would make it through her day.
            I reached out to touch her arm, to give it a little squeeze. “I don’t have anyone in my office right now,” I said. “If you have time, I’d love to talk to you.”
            She nodded and swallowed hard, trying her best to hold back tears.

            I moved my hand to hers and held it tightly as we walked back to my office. “It’s gonna be alright," I whispered. "It’s all gonna be alright.”

She told me her story that day, a story of hope and disappointment, abuse and tragedy, love and loss.
            “I apply for jobs when the kids are in school but preschool is only a few hours and I need a job to pay for childcare, but I need childcare to have a job. I am so tired, Miss Brynne, so tired. And it feels like no one cares a thing. I go to the store and no one looks me in the eye, no one pays me any mind. It’s like I’m invisible, something no one wants to see. I might not’a gone to college, but I ain’t bad. I love my children just like the other lady does, I just didn’t never get any help. I been doing it all on my own since I was fourteen.”
We talked for a long while that day and lit a few candles in that heart of hers to lighten up the darkest places. Tina cried and she cried and she cried. And I listened and held her, hard, the best way I knew how.

A few weeks later, it was nearing Thanksgiving. I knew Tina and her family wouldn’t have much but I didn’t say a thing. Until one day, the last day of school before the holiday break, I had to.
“Tina?” I said to her, after she watched her little girl run into the classroom to play with friends. “I have something for you,” and I motioned for her to come with me.

As we walked to my car, I told Tina a story about an old lady who had a lot of money. I told her how the old lady was angry and hurt because no one cared, and no one needed her, not even her money. But after a while, that old lady realized that for people to care about her maybe she needed to start caring herself, first. Maybe if she gave, maybe if she smiled, maybe if she looked someone straight in the eye with kindness from her heart, maybe then, what she needed herself would be returned.

            Tina listened and smiled to herself, thinking as we walked.

“So this old lady,” I said, “she knew I worked in the projects and decided that she’d try giving right away. So she gave me some money and told me what to buy.” I opened the trunk of my car.
Tina looked in at a turkey and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast. She covered her mouth and her eyes filled with tears. “For me?” she said. “Really? For me and my babies? Well, I never—”
            My own eyes started welling up, too. “She asked me to give all this to someone who was in danger of thinking no one cared. And for me to tell you she did. She didn’t want any thanks, she just wanted you to not stop believing that the world is a good and kind place. For it is, Tina. It is.”
We hugged that day in the cold, dirty parking lot of Raleigh’s toughest neighborhood. Around us there was anger and ugly, but the two of us, together we were our own little island. And that was all that mattered. That, and that Tina never felt indebted to me for buying her Thanksgiving dinner that year.

*          *          *

Listen. Listen to faces and eyes and words, and how she carries her body. Listen when you want to believe the world is a good and kind place. Listen to hearts with your own. Listen as you wish others would listen to you…and they will. Ohhh, they will. Yes, they will, indeed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wednesday Wish (54); Dare to Be Affected

He sat outside the grocery store, his head perched on a body that wanted to sag to the ground, but didn’t. Sitting on the cement curb was bad enough. He was tired and had all but given up.

I smiled at him when we went in. My daughter waved and gave him one of her heartfelt smiles. He half-smiled back with a longing, an aching for her joy to find his heart, too.

He didn’t leave me as I walked the aisles. And even though he didn’t ask for anything, didn't hold any sign, I saw the need in his eyes. His heart, it begged for care. Oh, did it ever.

What would he like? A candy bar? A banana? A magazine? What might give him a real smile?

I pushed the grocery cart out the door, his gifts in one hand. Would he still be there? Would he have caught his ride or walked to another, more friendly place?

“For you,” I said as I leaned down to give him a pad of paper and a sparkly pen, "because you're beautiful and have something to say."

He looked at the gifts, then looked up at me and at my smiling daughter, as if to see whether we were genuine. Our eyes confirmed the truth.

The three of us smiled,
Then, and for the rest of the day...

*          *          *

The giggles of your hand as it sinks into a bin of dried beans,
the sound of rain-swoosh beneath your tires,
the feel of a round, smooth rock as it leaves your hands to skip across the water...
as it plinks,
and plinks...
and plinks.
Because of you.

How will you make your week come alive? What new things will you dare to feel deeply?

Will you let the baby's belly laugh reach your belly, too?
Can you dare to let the stranger's smile touch your heart?
And the sadness, too.
Will you dare to help when you see the need
or will you turn away
to let them fight their beasts alone?

How will you transform a nameless week into a week of memorable beauty?

If you dare to be affected, new eyes grow in your heart,
gentler senses that before were ignored
come out of hiding
because now they are heard.
And a new chapter of magic
is invited to begin.

Dare with me?
My hand is here waiting for yours....whenever you're ready...