Talk about Noticing! Only my Wife can go to wash her car (the old fashioned way!) and have a deeply meaningful conversation with someone who until that moment was a total stranger. Here is her account of yesterday’s ‘chance’ encounter:
I frequently wonder about those daily encounters we have with people and how they might affect our lives in the future. It seems God is always at work, and it is what we do with what he puts in front of us that makes us who we are. There was a lady drying her Suburban as I pulled into the bay to dry the VW. I said “you’ve got that looking really good…I’ve had Suburbans and they are great vehicles”..here began a chance meeting, and then wondering where (if anywhere) it might lead. We were discussing the attributes of the Suburban (i.e. hauling various finds) when she explained that she uses her Suburban to haul furniture. She is an artist and through the downturn of the economy, she has had difficulty selling her canvas paintings. She explain though that she woke up at 3am one morning to realize that she could put her paintings on furniture. Meet Cindi. She shared with me that she had been a victim of domestic violence and how at 42 she is finally seeing that she is a person with talents and abilities. Having been married at 18 and her divorce sounding recent, her abusive relationship had left her with very little in the way of self esteem. Today, I found a woman excited about her life and where it was heading, and by sharing a little of her story she was more empowered and that empowerment is contagious. She also shared that she was learning as she meets people and tell them what she’s doing, wonderful things happen; like the lady she met at the laundromat who is giving her some furniture to paint. As she drove off, she waved out her window and wished me well, I did likewise. People touch our lives, and we touch there’s and sometimes we never realize it. I had asked for a card and she gave me two. Her furniture business is call New Life Furniture Art. Hmmm. New Life multiple meanings. Nice to meet you Cindi. Hope our paths cross again.
Thank you, Cathy. After 32 years, you continue to amaze and inspire me!
Matt Ridley, author of the best-selling book The Rational Optimist, had his work summarized by the Reader’s Digest on March 21, 2012, and updated on Saturday, April 14, 2012, in an article titled “17 Reasons To Be Cheerful.” Here is his reason No. 17 that stated “optimists are right:
For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines — even though optimists have far more often been right. There is immense vested interest in pessimism. No charity ever raised money by saying things are getting better. No journalist ever got the front page writing a story about how disaster was now less likely. Pressure groups and their customers in the media search even the most cheerful statistics for glimmers of doom. Don’t be browbeaten — dare to be an optimist!
I know that I’m not as optimistic about things as I was when I was younger. Today, I use words like ‘realistic’ and ‘pragmatic’ more than I ever used to. However, not too far beneath the surface so as to be completely lost, I still look at folks and think they mean well and do good. I am intentional about noticing the nice things that people do and the very good things that happen in our world. To do this requires Stopping, though. I have stopped watching Cable TV with its non-stop negative news. I have stopped following politics closely because politics is the farthest thing from anything approximating reality. I have stopped looking at the homeless as ‘losers,’ which they most certainly are not. In fact, on that last item, I have gone way outside my personal comfort zone and sat with folks on the street to engage them in conversation. It’s my way of bringing this concept of ‘Noticing‘ to reality.
So, to be an optimist requires a few changes–most of them pretty easy to implement. Stop. Notice. And, for the record, I believe in you, your service to others, your love of family, country and God. I just do. No apologies from this optimist!
The title of Rachel Carson’s classic work, The Sense of Wonder, made me think, what if we approached our life’s work not with the anticipation of challenges, deadlines, profit, and problems but rather with WONDER? Perhaps, like Carson, we would begin our day’s journey of service to others as a walk through a vibrant forest full of sights and sounds that evoke awe and a sense of wonder! It’s not so hard to be inspired by the wonders that surround us in nature. Visualizing a serene body of water, perhaps a slow moving stream, we don’t think of the volume of water, erosion or floods. Rather, we hear the musical tones of its flow and delight in the deposits of cool spray on our faces. In a word, it’s wonder–ful! (Click ‘Tonto Stream’ under Blogroll)
Patients in hospitals are not ‘admissions,’ ‘visits’ or ‘frequent flyers’ but rather ‘souls’ with stories to tell. And if we, whom they have entrusted their whole self to, approach with wonder, how much more likely is it that healing–their’s and ours–will happen?
There are many lists of things to do to improve the patient’s perception of care (perceived but not necessarily real). In my vision for the future, we will approach souls with the sense of wonder reserved for the highest form of God’s creation. And we will step into these precious lives, walk alongside them quietly and create the opportunity of healing!
“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for the scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.”
The Sense of Wonder
Is that a mountain stream that I hear in the distance?