Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
He said throughout school in Mexico he had no interest in learning English. So he'd ditch class for soccer, a more worthwhile pursuit, but I'm sure he was mentally kicking himself just a little when he upped and moved to Seattle some years post-college. A successful businessman in Mexico with a degree in computer engineering, here he was back to ground zero. He worked several jobs in construction, landscaping, auto detailing, dishwashing; picked up English on the streets; slept on a ragged sofa for several years; walked miles in the rain when he had no money for the bus; went without food when money was scarce.
In the beginning, when he spoke no English, he remembers working for a Vietnamese man with a landscaping company. His boss picked him up in a truck one morning and proceded to explain the job to him as they drove. Ricardo remembers his boss speaking a lot, but he remembers nada, nothing, of their conversation. When they arrived at their client's residence, Ricardo unpacked a few tools from the truck and watched as his boss used his fingers to sign that it was 9am and he'd be back at 5pm. Then he drove off.
Being the smart, resourceful engineer that he is, Ricardo quickly figured out he was installing a sprinkler system in the client's yard. I couldn't have even figured that out with a "Sprinkler Installation for Dummies" handbook and an instructional video. He, on the other hand, mentally calculated the dimensions and details, dug and dug and tinkered and assembled all day until the job was finished.
When he decided he was done with these jobs, he approached some Brazilians who owned a graphic design company, asking for work. "Do you know graphic design?" they asked. "Of course," he replied without hesitation. "Good! We'll talk with you next week about possible jobs for you to do." That night he called his older sister in Mexico, running a graphic design company he helped her start. "Can you teach me graphic design in a week?" She laughed, called him crazy. And he was.
Not long after they hired him to help with sales, after introducing him to graphic design in Portugese, they decided it was time to sell the business. Did he want it, they asked? He did. And now he really does know graphic design, and he's rather a whiz at it.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Dramatic layers of texture, shades of eggshell and charcoal, pillowing high above. I sit, dreaming of running through tunnels of cloud, of dancing barefoot on pillows, of swimming in billowy seas, of grabbing fistfuls and tossing them in the air. Cloud-ball fights.
I think of young children, of one mom who recalled with fondness a time when she stepped out the front door in a hurry with her small son, him fresh with new language. Pointing up, his voice filled with awe, he exclaimed, "Look, mommy! Sky!"
Where I sit in the car, I feel like that little boy, want to reach my arm out the window and strain to touch, "Look, everyone! Clouds!"
Is this part of perspective, learning to become small again to see things so big?
The bridge rises, engines start, cars creep forward, and I whisper thanks.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The thing is, I never noticed how much the flavor and pure enjoyment of food is enhanced when chewed by the whole mouth, passing over all the tastebuds. Not just swallowed or gnawed on gingerly with the front teeth. I have a newfound appreciation for the process of chewing, one that will hopefully teach me to slow down and savor the experience of eating, thank God for my tastebuds and all my working teeth.
Who knew losing my wisdom teeth could gain me this wisdom? Well, wisdom only if I am able to practice it. Otherwise, it's just four useless teeth and a nice hunk of dough lost.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
We stroll. She's talking about concerns with her memory loss again. I'm immediately on edge. So quickly it happens, this rapid descent. It tumbles out in irritation, but I know it for what it is. Fear.
Ever since Papa died, I've heard the concern in her voice about memories lost. Simple things, and not so simple things. I hear the panic straining, pushing back. I want to brush it off. Reassure her, it's just grief. Stress, grief, trauma, they affect our brains. They can affect memory. I know this from my studies, from people I've worked with. But seeing it in my mom, hearing it in her voice, the fear niggles.
We reach the stairs, and I take the bench.
The thought finally materializes like a black vapor: But when? When will the next tragedy strike?
I sigh with the invisible elbow that lovingly pokes my side. I know. I know. I have to let go, have to live now.
I watch her back, heading for the stairs, until those red curls peeking out beneath her pink baseball hat disappear with each bounce.
I cheer her on as she takes on the steep flight of stairs, five times. She's on a roll tonight, and I smile. Our conversation home, I hear her voice cutting in and out of my thoughts. She just said "Lexus" or "Toyota" but I have no idea why. My thoughts are still on Alzheimer's or dementia. On what would be worse, losing her quickly like my dad or gradually watching her slip away over years, memories gone before her body?
I shake myself out of this dark cloud. I must practice another way to live than fear. Reaching for her arm, I remember. She is here, now. But I am not, and I can change that. I can choose trust.
"Listen to those birds," I breathe. "They sound so happy."
"They do what God created them to do and they do it so well." Mom doesn't miss a beat.
"Rain or shine." I envy them for that. I could learn a thing or two from the birds.
Friday, June 3, 2011
"Only self can kill joy." It's Ann Voskamp again, throwing up one spark after another. I'm still not all the way through her book, the sparks fly too fast.
I say the words, feel them around in my swollen, wisdom tooth-less mouth: Only I can kill joy.
Work frustrations don't kill my joy. Relationship troubles don't kill my joy. Medical issues don't kill my joy. Rain and gray clouds don't kill my joy. Not being where I thought I'd be in life doesn't kill my joy. I, my friends, am the only responsible party for the murder of joy.
Harsh truth or endless freedom? Perhaps a little of both.
Accepting responsibility for my own joy is painful at times. Easier to blame something or someone else. Easier to feel frustrated, depressed, angry or down. Accepting responsibility for my own joy is also empowering. It means I am the deciding factor, the only one that stands in the way or swings wide the door to joy.
I'm learning in the counting of graces in my "Thank-full" journal that joy is to be found in going lower. The opposite of the flow of the world. The world wants to reach higher, stand taller and prouder, climb the ladders and the mountains. But joy, like water down a mountain to the valleys, flows lower and lower. I must stoop down to catch the joy and drink it in. Stooping low in the small things to see. Bending the knee in the hard things to drink. This is the path of joy, and I'm the one who controls the knees and opens the hands and lifts the eyes to see.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Catholic, meet Christian.
How I’ve grown to dislike the taste of those words in my mouth, the sound of them in someone else’s. Nails on a chalkboard. I grew up with the impression that those were different sides of the fence. Neighbors that didn’t talk to each other, certainly didn’t cross into each other’s yard.
I’ve been dating one of these neighbors for almost a year.
He came in the backdoor of my life one evening. While I was dancing. Or trying to (I wasn’t that good yet). He took my hand, asked me to dance, led me onto the floor. Gently, decisively, he guided my turns, invited me to follow. His smile, so radiant, filling up his whole, dark skinned face with joy. His eyes, so deep and warm, sparkling, gentleman with a glint of mischief. Watching him dance effortlessly, feeling the music in his skin, I felt the tingle of joy in the movement of dance, washing over me. So much conversation passed between us without words, the mystery of dance.
All this before I knew he’s Catholic. And I’m not. We’re two different ends of the same spectrum. The enormity of God.
The struggle to understand God is a bit like two people standing in different places, staring at the same elephant. One notices the elephant’s long, curvy, wrinkled trunk. The other notices the elephants muscular flanks, extending to solid columns of leg. Same elephant, different angles, different eyes, different perspectives.
Any more, I question my previous assumption in life and relationships. That two people staring at the same square inch of elephant in intricate detail shows greater spiritual compatibility than one person seeing the head and the other studying the tail. I’ve wanted someone to see the same square inch of God as me.
True, this can certainly make for an easier relationship, and even here, no two people see with the same eyes. Yet, how small of me. Maybe it’s every bit as complementary for me to be with someone who gently tugs at the corners of my lens, stretching, stretching, always stretching, pointing to a different part of the elephant, helping me to see more.