Just an hour ago, I was hanging out in the blackberry patch. Literally.
Because the berries need another week to become succulent, I was in the patch, across from my home, hoping to capture a photo of one perfect, sunlit, gleaming blackberry – possibly a Fall Fair entry.
In spite of the sweltering heat, I had donned appropriate clothing to prevent my skin from front line exposure to merciless thorns. But I wore the wrong shoes. I slipped on a grass-hidden incline. Snagged.
My 86 year old neighbour, Ruth, suddenly drove up to the stop sign, coming within millimeters of me.
“Are you alright?” she asked through lilting giggles. It’s true. She came from Ireland as a young bride and the smell of peat moss still permeates her hair and “Irishness” runs riot in her laughter.
“Well, you’ve come close enough to give me a tow, that’s for sure!” I clutched her car’s window frame and pulled myself forward as I freed my pant leg and camera strap.
Ruth was coming home from doing her angelic duty delivering the communal wine and bread to Catholic shut-ins. The flush of her smile suggested she’d been visiting quite a number of shut-ins. Good thing the local RCMP were doing other important business like eating lunch at the Chinese restaurant.
“There. Now I’m fine,” I said, “but I’m not so sure about you.”
Ruth has some decades on me, but her spirit is as vital as the day she was wed. Married to a Doctor who looked after a vast countryside of patients in Western Canada, it’s quite obvious, from her stories, that Ruth did most of the raising of a very large family. She did it with joy. Though she is now widowed, she maintains a home that can accommodate multiple visits from her cosmopolitan offspring who arrive unexpectedly from various adventures. She thrills over every scrap of conversation. The gallantry fortifies Ruth and helps her put up with neighbours during family droughts.
“Come and ‘ave a cuppa tay,” she said, defying years of importation.
“Thanks, but I’m being disciplined. I’m going back to my writing right now. I wanted a good shot of a blackberry, but
someone’s been raiding my berry patch. All the good ones are buried back in the far reaches of thorn hell.”
“Are you writin’ about blackberries, for goodness sake?” she asked.
“No, Ruth. I write about spiritual stuff.”
“Good.” And I knew she meant it.
With an impish grin, she said, “Well then I’ll leave you to tell the masses about your spiritual experience with a blackberry bush today,” and sped away. She drove the narrow, hilly and windy road perfectly according to Ireland’s road rules; completely on the wrong side of ours.
So, my Guides, as I think of Ruth, I question myself. She is such a great neighbour. She’s invited me to join her family and her at Christmas, she’s called me to come over and enjoy concerts available on her satellite dish, and she can’t offer me enough to eat or drink when I do pop around to see her. I feel like a dried up hermit by comparison.
What good is it to compare? The Beloved, our Infinite Creator, has spoken though various messengers that comparing is a form of self-abuse. Have you forgotten the message to remove the words “better and worse” from your vocabulary? Replace them with “different”. Truly, there is no ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’. There is only ‘different’
I remember that message. It’s in “Conversations with God”. Yet, I forget to live it. I forget that I can accept me as I am.
You forget that those who love you and want to be around you have chosen you. They have not chosen a facsimile of components that belong to someone else. They have chosen you. You need do nothing more than be yourself.
I’m sensitive about this because my nephew is coming to visit me tomorrow and is bringing his new woman friend. My home could be a 4 million dollar mansion and I’d be worrying about it being good enough or perfect enough.
You have a Virtues Card in front of you at this moment.
Yes, It’s “Consideration”.
Consideration is perfect. It addresses what you need to realize so you will relax and savor every moment with these two souls who are coming to see you. Your nephew wants to have his special love meet the aunt he loves.
I want the visit to be fun. Here I am in a knot about being able to adequately provide perfect hospitality. See, I’d like to be a better cook, a better hostess, a better society belle, a better aunt. Wow, this is self-abuse, isn’t it?
Any time you are not accepting yourself or loving yourself for who you are – the bare and basic you – it is abuse indeed.
I think about the diversity of my friends and how they all appreciate so many different aspects of life. I can see how these differences enrich the lives of all of us. I love our diversity. The differences serve to vitalize, challenge, and question who I am. That’s good.
It is good. A challenge is not a comparison. Imagine life without the variety of flora and fauna. Imagine different species giving up their ‘specie-dom’. When you eat a pea, do you want it to be a turnip?
When you put it in those terms, it’s clearly an absurd habit of humans. Imagine all writers writing with the same style. What a drag for people who love reading. This comes back to contrast, doesn’t it?
Let the contrast lead to appreciation and acceptance. Imagine people knowing they are enough; different, but enough. Imagine people knowing they are loved, lovable and loving. Why it is recognized more easily in others, for example, the way you see it in Ruth?
A blogger I admire, Kikipotamus the Hobo, wrote about coming home to find the silverfish family had overtaken her kitchen. As hungry as she was, she let them have the kitchen and took the opportunity to be more mindful. When I read that entry, I immediately thought to myself, ‘oh, I’d let them have the kitchen alright’, but not in the spirit with which she intended.
Reverence for life and living is expressed differently by different people.
The quote on the back of the Virtues Card “Consideration” is from Zoroastrianism: “Blessed is one…who adds to the happiness of another.”
And further, the card says, “We carefully observe their preferences and needs, then do things to give them ease or bring them joy. …It is one of the most meaningful ways to show love.”
That’s what I will do during my nephew’s visit. I know it’s what Ruth would do.
Did you just give a comparative statement?
The card said ‘we’.
You really are lovable, you know.