It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. I have learned–and been reminded–of a lot of important things. Most of them I learned not by doing something, but by quietly and attentively observing. I want to share a few of them with you:
Last week, I had an opportunity to watch the painting of a monumental icon inside of a Catholic Church. I had hoped to be able to assist in some small way, but to make a long story short —
I was unable to do more than watch. That observation turned out to be just what I needed to be doing. I felt overwhelmed, looking at the scale of this work. It’s absolutely enormous. Life size figures. Scaffolding. A projection of years before it would be complete, along with 2 more huge images. And as I watched, the iconographer worked carefully on the foot of one of the apostles in the icon. She painstakingly brushed on the details on that foot, redrawing and repainting, until each toe was just exactly right.
It was amazing to me that she could focus so closely on such a small thing, making every inch of this icon exactly right, when the big picture was so intimidatingly . . . big. What a lesson in patience, diligence, and attentiveness, treating each little detail as important, not forgetting for a moment how every individual part is vital to the whole effort.
Yesterday I was working at the store as a cashier, and my next customer stepped up to pay for his purchases. He was all smiles, so cheerful and pleasant that he lifted my tired spirits. I asked him how his day was going, and he replied that it was wonderful, every day was wonderful. He shared with me that he had almost died a couple of years back, and he had learned from that awful experience that every day, every moment was a gift. No worries were that important, nothing else really mattered, he was just so grateful and filled with joy at being alive. He filled the store with light and happiness, and left everybody there smiling along with him.
Today I worked at the library, and saw a frequent patron come in today. She might be homeless, certainly is very poor. She says she is a poet, rather vague in her conversation and wanderings, perhaps a bit slow, or perhaps with some mental illness or both. Or neither. Haphazardly dressed, not too clean, but quiet, acquiescent, and polite. Today she brought a child with her, a clean, well cared for, neatly dressed little boy. She evidently was taking care of him and bringing him on a visit to the library. Who would entrust their child to her, I wondered, judging her on sight as an unsuitable babysitter. As they approached the self-service checkout, I could hear her and the child interacting. She spoke lovingly, kindly, attentively to the little boy. She taught him with patience and clarity how to check out his books. He listened to everything she said, and obeyed. There was obvious trust and affection between them. He had her full attention at every moment, and she had his. How wrong I was about her, how judgemental. I have rarely seen a “nanny” as devoted and kind as this one. Whether he was a relative or a neighbor of hers, how fortunate the child’s family was to find such a good caretaker for him.
One last story: one of my dogs is epileptic, and he had a very bad day last Monday. His seizures make him cry out in pain. He runs to us for help. There is nothing we can do for him, besides be there with him to comfort him until it is over.
I feel so powerless when these events occur. I petted and hugged him, so unable to help, yet so wanting to make it better. This is not something that I can ever fix, it is totally out of my control. I need to accept that sometimes all you can do for somebody is to just be present, that love can be comfort enough.
Ivan feels better now, and has put his distress behind him, and I need to do that also. Let them all go, those things that we cannot change. Do what we can do as well as we are able without seeking perfection. Stop judging others. Fill our hearts with joy, gratitude and love–and share it with one and all.