Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Since we last spoke, I've been to New Orleans and Nashville. Both were lovely. In New Orleans I ate beignets, which is required, and spent time at the wonderful Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which I highly recommend.

Detail from a Rev. Howard Finster painting

In Nashville, I ran into people. I ran into my friend Nancy's husband, Rick, and I ran into YA author Sarah Dessen, who lives five miles away from my house and who I only ever seem to see in Nashville,  and I shook hands with a true American hero, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). I also saw Wynonna Judd at the airport. I did not actually run into Wynonna, but simply admired her (and her hair of many colors) from afar.

Now I'm home and settling in for awhile, at least until I go visit my mom in a few weeks. She's doing well. She's finished four rounds of chemo, with two more left to go. Her doctors are very hopeful about her chances for remission.

"The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of life."
--William Morris, The Aims of Art

I love this time of year. It's a very home-y time of year, if you're lucky enough to spend it at home. I'm back to making quilts, after a months-long pause, and already thinking about Christmas, in hopes of making it less insane this year.

Since it is my sabbath year, I've been pondering the meaning of life quite a bit (I assume this also has to do with the fact that I'm just shy of turning fifty and also that my mother is very ill). Sometimes meaning escapes me. Sometimes religious truths are just too abstract. What does it mean to love God with all my heart? What does it mean to love, period?

I'm not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with paying attention. We're making that harder and harder, what with all our addictive devices that draw us away from the people at hand. But I think one of the best ways to love another person is to be fully present with them, the way we ask God to be fully present with us.

I've also been thinking a lot about healing--as in the healing of the heart. Every day has its slings and arrows; it's almost impossible not to return home without a least a few scratches. How can we be healers and how can we be healed ourselves? Again, paying attention and being present. By creating spaces that are restorative. By telling funny stories at the dinner table.

Another concept--

(let me take a break here: one of the reasons I haven't been blogging much is because this is how my thinking is going right now--as in, all over the place and searching and not really easy to sum up; but the problem is, if I'm away from the blog too long, I miss your company. I really do. So bear with me, please!)

Soul food. Our souls need feeding on a daily basis! I think as a culture we have forgotten this, if we ever knew it in the first place. When we don't feed our souls, we lose our way. We start telling lies to our children about how the most important thing in life is getting into an ivy league college and having a brilliant career. And then we wonder why they binge drink.  Their souls are empty and they're trying to fill them up in the crappiest way possible--alcohol and porn and hooking up. But of course those things don't feed the soul, they crush it.

Soul food. Walking and talking and art and God and sitting quietly on the porch and, yes, food! Asking someone if you can help. Remembering to take care of yourself by exercising and eat fresh vegetables and listening to the Staple Singers while you're going to pick up the kids from school. 

Anyway, back to it being a home-y time of year. I find a great deal of meaning and purpose at home. If what I'm after is peace, reconciliation, restoration and healing, then I can't think of a better place for all that than at home. To hope for these things, for myself, my family and the world, how better than to start at home? To clean the bathrooms and bake a pie and to ask the Man how his day went and actually sit down and listen to what he says instead of just nodding and wishing I could get on to the next thing.

So that's what I've been pondering and that's what gives my life meaning and I hope you'll find a way today to eat a little soul food and give a little love. The end!


Angela said...

So much in this post that resonates with me. What values do we pass down through the generations?
Clearly family love is strong in your home - [I'm continuing to pray for your Mum's health]
But 'good' and 'right' living should take precedence over 'earthly success' - increasingly I come back to 'what does it provide a girl to gain the whole world and lose her own soul?' coupled with 'be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life'

Bob's just bought a book about 'spirituality in the second half of life'. Once I get a chance to read it I may blog upon the wisdom therein. [I assume there is some!]

much love and blessings xx

Pom Pom said...

I love the way that Jesus preserves and protects our souls. And we pray for each other's souls. Good stuff.

wayside wanderer said...

It is good to have you back, Frances. I am glad the doctors outlook for your mom is positive and I pray for continued healing and a good visit.

Heather said...

I've been trying to find the "soul food" in my life right now. There are so many distractions that take away from the essence of the life I'm meant to be living. That's the way I've defined it, anyway. I worry about my children. If I look at life through their eyes, I cannot say what they find truly meaningful at times. I guess I'll have to open up that conversation and ask them.

I'm glad to hear that your mother is doing better.

Susan said...

I think part of the what we're all searching for is in being present. I like how Thornton Wilder put it, "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?" I try to be mindful of that quote when I start to feel disconnected. Then I feel loved and feel love and feel loving. And I am better-for awhile.

Jo said...

Paying attention. After many, many years I have come to see that this is how to have a relationship that is meaningful, and that meaningful relationships are what makes life special.
My favourite books are ones that make you pay attention to small things.
The thing I do when I am afraid or stressed or angry is to pay attention to a small thing. You can't be angry with your 9yo anymore when you pay attention to those blue veins on the back of her hand or that freckle on her big toe..

debbie bailey said...

Great post, Frances. About your age I began ruminating, more than usual, on my life and how I was using it and how much of it I might have left. I've cut out doing many things that weren't satisfying and spend much more time reading or just being. My problem is now that I spend too much time not getting anything done when I should be working. One thing I know; life is one big balancing act!

Tracy said...

I wish I had the time to ponder and think about restoration - I'm looking forward to the coming summer holidays for this. In the meantime, in my helter skelter life I try to begin each day with both my breakfast and the Word, to feed my body and my soul as I begin the day.

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm still learning about being "in the moment." I try. I really do, but sometimes I am thinking about what to cook for supper when I should be listening to Hubs tell me what he needs to do with the cows. One of our sons, who is a golfer, told us that he has figured something out about his golf game. He says, "I totally focus on the moment, on what's right before me and tune out everything else. It works." I think that's the key to everything we do, don't you? Living totally in that moment. Thanks for telling us about your thinking. It helps me think.