Living for the moment

I had arranged to take my five year old grandson Ethan on a steam train ride in the country. As we arrived at the rural station, the sight and sound of the engine dominated the scene, heaving and steaming like a panting bull. Ethan jumped from the car with excitement. But instead of running to look at the train, he headed for a patch of weeds growing by the car-park! Bemused, but captivated by Ethan’s enthusiasm, I dutifully followed. Together we crouched to see whatever there was to be seen. The longer you look, the more you see. What at first seemed nothing more than a clump of long grass gradually became transformed into a miniature green jungle of sleek stems, rough twigs, glossy leaves and exquisitely delicate flowers. Everything had a place and purpose in the nature of things. We watched spear grass climb our sleeves and made dandelion chains. ‘Wow Pop’, cried Ethan, ‘a ladybug!’ With all the loving care that only childlike fingers can muster, he picked up the ladybug and put it onto the back of his hand to study. All that the poor ladybug could see (I presume he has eyes) was a vast barren desert of skin. Right then we couldn’t have cared less about steam train rides, or what time it goes. Even less were we concerned about the stresses of the workaday world, or mortgage payments, or that there might be bad people in the world. At this moment time stood still while a small child and his grandfather become lost in the wondrous world of the ladybug. Momentarily I was back in my own childhood . . . Imagining, creating, wishing, dreaming, hoping, believing in magic and wondering . . . Wondering about things like ‘how high is the sky?’, ‘how come I can see the moon in daylight but not the stars?’ and ‘does the sea ever sleep?’ Somewhere along the way life’s priorities changed. Weed patches became ugly, ladybugs became invisible, trees inhibited housing developments and the sun became a source of cancer. But what really changes? Ethan lives in the same world as us adults and even a five year old boy has to live with pressures and stresses of having his life run by adults. The difference might simply be that while we adults worry about the past, present and the future, children like Ethan just enjoy living for the moment. Living for the moment opens up many fascinating, unexplored doors! Next time you see an acorn, think how that acorn contains everything needed to grow into a huge solid oak tree. All it needs is the right soil, reasonable watering and let nature take its course. Imagine for a moment when you were an embryo that size in your mother’s womb. Everything you needed to become a mature adult was contained in that embryo, including a bunch of skills, abilities and talents, a personality and lots of other highly scientific bits and pieces that make us who we are. It seems to me that we would be a sight better off if we did like the acorn and just let nature take its course. Take the example of young Ethan again. Think how spectacular his growth is in those first five years. He was lucky in that he was given ‘reasonable watering, feeding and nurturing’, so that by the time he began school he had developed much of his basic life skills in relation to things like reading, writing, physical co-ordination, motor skills, socialization, organization, negotiation (just ask mum and dad about that one!) conversation, relationships and, not the least of all, to love and be loved. All in just five years and all he did was play, eat and sleep! Once a child is let loose into the wider world, life’s harsh realities begin to take over. Like the words of an old song ‘You’ve got to be carefully taught’, society teaches children to be suspicious of people who are ‘different’, how important material things are to a happy life, the ‘right’ jobs for success, learning ‘to do unto others before they do it to you’ and how good people always come last. It’s not long before the ladybug is forgotten and the weeds trampled. Now of course we have terrorism, wars, riots, floods and disasters to contend with and all brought instantly to our attention in the comfort of our own homes while we eat dinner. Which adds more to the value of life . . . Wars or weeds and ladybugs? Where did nature and humanity so dramatically diverge? The inescapable fact that keeps wide open the doors of hope is that humanity is still, and always will be an intrinsic and inextricable part of nature. Just as the acorn grows into an oak and the weeds provide sanctuary for ladybugs, so the human embryo can grow and blossom into the role nature rightfully intended for us. Let’s keep a foot in the doorway to hope.

Golf

A cleric found himself wondering whether there were any golf courses in Heaven. He even began to ask the question in his prayers. One day, in answer to his prayers, he received a direct answer from on high.

“Yes,” said the Heavenly messenger, “There are many excellent golf courses in Heaven. The greens are always in first class condition, the weather is always perfect and you always get to play with the very nicest people.”

“Oh, thank you,” said the cleric, “That really is marvelous news.”

“Yes, isn’t it?” replied the messenger, “And we’ve got you down for a foursome next Saturday.”

Just because

Several years ago I was in the hospital for over a month. While I wasIn the hospital my job was covered by coworkers. I received flowers, cardsAnd visits from coworkers. I received a warm welcome when I returned andHelp from coworkers until I was re-acclimated. I decided I had to show myAppreciation. One day during lunch I visited my favorite florist. She had aBeautiful flower arrangement in the cooler. I bought it and had itDelivered to a coworker who had been extra caring. I signed the card “JustBecause.” No name. I swore the florist to secrecy. After lunch the arrangement was delivered and you should have seen theGlow on my coworker’s face. What a buzz went on that afternoon. Everyone was speculating about a secret admirer and I went along withThe excitement. Other coworkers had been very gracious also, so the nextDay during lunch I picked another floral arrangement and had it delivered– “Just Because.” The third day another “Just Because” was delivered. What a stir wasCreated. Calls were made to the florist inquiring who this mysteriousAdmirer was. She revealed nothing. What a sweetheart she was. What a wonderful atmosphere in the office. The whole department wasTeaming to solve the mystery. Warmth and love filled the air. The personReceiving the flowers was the special person for that day with all theAttention and admiration. With the warmth, love and excitement in theDepartment, I couldn’t stop now. The guys were saying “Men don’t like flowers — glad I didn’t get any.” The next day, one of the guys received a “Just Because” arrangement.You should have seen the buttons almost burst from his shirt. He was soProud to be part of the happening, and loved his flowers. The florist was now catching the excitement. Each day she waited forMe to pick that special arrangement for the next “Just Because” delivery.The delivery girl was waiting to make her next delivery. After lunch myCoworkers were waiting for the phone call to see who would get a “JustBecause” arrangement. Each arrangement was hand selected. I would see anArrangement and it would speak someone’s name. What coincidences, oneperson’s “Just Because” arrangement matched the colors in her kitchen, oneWas made with a coworker’s favorite flower, and another was arranged in aBlack truck which said “TOY” and matched the coworker’s own Toyota truckWhich was his toy. None of this was done with prior knowledge, it just happened. WasThere divine intervention, or what? Meanwhile the gaiety, wonder, love and warmth is spreading to otherDepartments. The joy in my heart was overflowing. People were happy,Loved, working to their capacity and enjoying the whole “Just Because”Happening. The whole event went on for over three weeks. The final “Just Because” arrangements would be delivered after aDepartment staff meeting. I wrote and distributed a special thank you toThe whole department and revealed the identity of the secret “Just Because”Admirer. The excitement, love and warmth continued in our department for quiteSome time. The fulfillment I received will never be equaled. The glow onThe faces of the special “Just Because” person each day will never beForgotten. You don’t have to be that extravagant to see and feel this kind ofFulfillment. With a simple smile, a good morning, a good job done, a hug,Or even just a thank you, you can accomplish the same feeling in others.They are special for the moment… JUST BECAUSE. — Cinda Weiss

He Was Waving Sharon Bryan

When I was a child, my grandparents had a lake place in Holly, Michigan. It was called Tipsicoe Lake. Weekends we would drive the hour and a half from Detroit to spend two days, fishing and swimming in summer.Grandpa had a big motor boat. He never used the steering wheel on the boat, instead, he preferred to “drive” by maneuvering the motor. It was a big motor. Grandma was always afraid of it, so when she and I and my brother went fishing, we always had to row out to the spot she wanted to fish at on the given day.One weekend, we were at the lake when my dad wanted to take my brother and me for a boat ride. I was ten that year, and my brother was almost seven. We both knew that the cushions in the boat also served as life preservers if we should ever fall into the lake. Luckily, that never happened, but something else did.Grandpa had walked down to the lake from his house to watch us push off into deeper water. My dad started the motor, and off we went. I always loved to sit in the boat, the wind blowing my hair, and the beauty of watching the shoreline get smaller and smaller? Until that day, I mean.We went all around the lake, waving at lake residents, who knew us. We saw other kids in boats with their parents, also. Finally, dad said it was time to get back to our end of the lake.There we were, flying, the wind swishing my hair across my face, and my brother yelling, “Faster, Dad, faster!” As we were getting closer to where we had shoved off, and where my grandpa was still standing, I watched grandpa wave and Dad waved back. But grandpa was waving wildly, unlike his usual wave he always gave us when we were heading for the shoreline. Dad never slowed down. I saw grandpa getting bigger and bigger as we got closer and closer, and I wondered when dad was going to slow the motor down. Finally he did, just a little too late?Grandpa was waving crazily, and we were heading at him very fast. When dad cut the motor, we were too close to shore. That boat flew out of the water, and grandpa ran for the big tree nearby. The boat struck the tree, and I flew out of the boat on one side, and my brother flew out on the other side. Dad somehow stayed inside the boat.I ended up by the tree where grandpa was standing. The long “ditch” made by the motor was something. So were my front teeth. My brother was OK, he had hit the ground and gotten roughed up a little, but I hit my face on the tree. Blood was streaming down my chin, and my teeth hurt like crazy. Dad got the motor stopped and ran to me, as did grandpa.I was OK, just a couple of teeth were loose. But to tell you the truth, I never wanted to go out in the boat again with my dad steering. I’d go with my grandpa, but that was it. Or I’d go fishing with grandma.As long as I live, I will never forget my grandpa that day, standing on the shore and waving madly.

THE BIRD WHO REMEMBERED ME Brad Abendroth

I work in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. During lunch hours and breaks,I always used to like feeding shelled peanuts to birds from my car.When I came outside, I would have quite a crowd of birds hangingOut on a red pine near the spot I always would park in. Other birds,Such as blue jays, chickadees, and WB nuthatches would beWaiting as well.A Northern Cardinal I named Cy, after the Iowa State Cyclone mascot,Was very comfortable with me, so I could always get pretty closeTo him. I started feeding Cy at least seven years ago. In fiveOr so years, I saw him through experiencing a couple of baldPhases, losing all his tail feathers, attracting a mate, havingOffspring, etc.Two years ago he eventually went missing. I didn’t see him for fourTo six months. I thought another male might have pushed him outOf his territory. Either that or Cy had passed away. I continuedTo feed the cardinals but I knew none of them was him.There is also a lake nearby my office. On a walk one day, I foundCy again on the other side of the lake. Since then, I would alwaysMake an effort to see him during my lunch hours.Our company moved last spring, so I didn’t make it over to the lakeAnymore, until one late-summer day this year. I was running someErrands and I decided to stop at the lake.I didn’t come prepared with peanuts in pocket as I usually do.I was trying to phish out some warblers. Then I heard the familiarChirping of a cardinal. It got louder and louder. Within moments,Cy appeared from out of the brush.I apologized to him that I had no peanuts. I teetered on decidingWhat I should do. Do I get back to work now? Or should I returnLate, drive to the grocery store, and return to feed Cy?Yes, I decided to get some peanuts. Cy followed me back down thePath, chirping away until he finally gave up.When I returned to the lake, it didn’t take long for Cy to flyToward me again along that narrow path. He was chirping his littleHeart out.I placed a pile of shelled peanuts along the path for him. He ateVery well. I love that bird.