Day 150: A Tribute to Dr. Angelou in her own words

I woke on Wednesday to the news that the woman that taught so many of us to love ourselves was no longer a part of this mortal world. I was deeply sad, and yet so very grateful that I had heard her speak, read her poetry, witnessed her poetic moment at President Clinton’s first inaugural, and loved her words. As I said, she taught me to love myself — warts and curves and all.

She was ours, she belonged to this world, for a time. Just for a time. In that spirit, I share with you her words.

Just for a Time 

Oh how you used to walk
With that insouciant smile
I liked to hear you talk
And your style
Pleased me for a while.

You were my early love
New as a day breaking in Spring
You were the image of
Everything
That caused me to sing.

I don’t like reminiscing
Nostalgia is not my forte
I don’t spill tears
On yesterday’s years
But honesty makes me say,
You were a precious pearl
How I loved to see you shine,
You were the perfect girl.
And you were mine.
For a time.
For a time.
Just for a time.

(from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou, New York: Random House; 1994, p. 135.)

 

Day 76: Love the ordinary.

You never know when some small thing will lead to a big idea. Travel is very inspirational – but it’s in the ordinary that I find my themes of love and work and family.  (Adriana Trigiani)

Everyone who knows me knows that I (we) love to travel. We are always planning our next trip — whether it is to a nearby beach or a far-off destination. We love the whole planning process about as much as we love the travel itself; learning about the places we will visit, reading about the history and the culture, imagining the sights, sounds and tastes we will encounter there. Travel is inspirational — it challenges us to be more than we are right now.

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Visiting the Palace in Versailles, France.

But at the end of every trip, every adventure, I am ready to return to the ordinary, the mundane, the quotidian. I love the rhythm of our daily lives. There is comfort in getting out of the same bed every morning, having coffee with my spouse, exercising, working, writing, cooking, doing the laundry. There is something special about even the most mundane aspects of our lives.

Through this rhythm, I have come to more and more appreciate, and even love, the ordinary moments of our lives. As I get older I enjoy the ways in which these rhythms mirror life itself. Indeed these are our rhythms, the drumbeat, the pulse that echoes through all that we do and all that we are.

I have learned that these rhythms are not bound in time or space. They are not determined by location. They stem from our heartbeats — regardless of where we live. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I move every couple of years, and in our short marriage have already lived in two places. But the rhythm is more dependent on us and how our life flows than it is about where our life flows.

Traveling is inspirational, but I truly have come to love the ordinary in every place we have lived. I appreciate the small joys in life: hot coffee in the morning, a long walk, time and space to write, clients who are a joy to work with, a set of tennis with my husband.

What do you love about your day to day life? Who do you share that with? Do you celebrate that love? If so, how does that come about, and what does it look like?

Day 31: Don’t be afraid to live.

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” ― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

 I’ve had a lot of folks in my life die lately. Too many. I’m tired of considering death. I’m tired of feeling the loss of people who I love – the spouses and partners and children who are left behind. I don’t fear the Reaper (so to speak) but I wish he’d take a break.

Enough already. I’m ready to live.

No waiting for me. I love travel and seeing the world and experiencing other cultures. I hike and bike and spend time in my own backyard. I am blessed with a career that gives me maximum flexibility to set my schedule and make my hours and it doesn’t matter where I live to do it. My husband and I move for a living (ok, so that’s not quite true, but we do move every couple of years; in order to make our living.)

When we moved to Manhattan in 2011 we made a decision that we would try to do as much as we could while we were there, because we knew we wouldn’t be there forever. And then 7 months ago we moved to the Hudson Valley – and now we are trying to “conquer” this area as well. We want to experience all that life has to offer while we are still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. And we will likely be moving again in 2014.

People live life fully in different ways. We travel and live an active life – hiking, biking, enjoying the blessingings of  friends and family, drinking good wine. Other folks love to hunt or fish, do martial arts, paint or draw, write and speak, go to movies, walk their dogs. But we all have to find those things that give us joy, and then do them. Live life full out

As I’ve mentioned before, I turn 50 this year. I’ve likely lived more in the years that have past than years that I have left. But I plan to keep on living until I die.

If I think too far in the future, I get afraid – of illness, of diminished capacity, of death. So generally, I don’t think that far ahead.

But I was challenged to do that last evening by an acquaintance of mine Geradine Sweetman. Gerry invited me to become an “elderette.” As we spoke she shared how she loved to consider herself and her friends as “wise older women.” The word “crone” has far too many negative connotations, so she’s come up with “elderette.” It sounds sassy and a bit sexy and very energetic – a lot like a 60’s girl group — not unlike the Supremes. Who doesn’t want to be Diana Ross in their older age?

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So let Gerry and I know if you want to join the party. And it will be a party. Bring your wisdom, your experience and your love. And your music. What would a party be without music?

But leave your fear at home.

Day 17: Travel lightly.

 “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong.”
—Mother Jones

Travel lightly. Home is wherever you are. Stand for justice. There is something about the words, “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me,” that ring so true for me.

I’m reminded that Jesus was an itinerant preacher that traveled from place to place, and I am called to follow in those footsteps. I’m reminded that when Jesus sent out his followers that he sent them out by twos with a minimum of possessions – trusting on the kindness of friends that they had yet to make.

In our present life, my husband and I are itinerant preachers. My husband is an intentional interim pastor – a pastor that serves congregations in transition between the last installed pastor and the next installed pastor – who leads the congregation to envision where God is calling them to serve the world. In the same way, we go where God is calling. In my current vocation, I meet with my clients by phone or by Skype/Face Time so for me it doesn’t matter where we live. For us, the preferable answer to “Where do you live?” is “Together.”

We move every couple of years (more or less) and so we probably travel more lightly than most folks that we know. When is the last time you asked yourself before you made a purchase, “Do I really want to move this?”

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We don’t often talk about conspicuous consumption in our Christian context, I think because it is so imbedded in our culture. But Jesus did call his followers to travel lightly. Get up and move. Go where you see injustice in the world. Don’t get too comfortable. You never know when you might need to go.

And thanks to electronic address books, my friends and family members no longer have to erase my addresses so many times that it leaves a hole in the paper, or cross out so many addresses that they’ve run out of space in their ‘K’ section. But it is common at Christmas time to get a text or message asking, “What’s your address now?” or “Where do you live?”

Maybe I’ll start answering, “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong.” May it be so.