Tom’s April 4, 2008
I’m home! Amazing that it’s only been four days since my surgery. Recovery went smoothly. I was up walking in no time and although the 9 inch cut into my torso is serious—pain is little and it will heal nicely I have no doubt. Rehab will be a challenge and I’m sure I’ll wonder for a while how this new heart will actually perform.
Sitting in the comfortable blue chair looking out to an icy, windswept backyard. I just picked a red geranium from the pot by the window. I smell it and think of spiritual writer Barbara Crofton’s Geranium Farm website
She said most people don’t think much of the geranium’s scent but she does. “They smell of dusty sunlight, of the tangy, spicy energy of life.” I think so too. I enjoy their speading blooms in our flowerbox hanging off the porch each summer. The deep red against the black dirt and the black shutters against the white stucco provide pleasing contrasts.
The flower is red—“not blood red”, reminds Thomas Merton. Always liked that line from his journal. His point (I think) was that we don’t need to call something as authentically red as a geranium “blood red”—the red connected to geranium is enough. And powerful in itself.
Good lesson there for all of us. We are who we are—and that is a soul loved by many and by God with great potential to love and receive love—and rich opportunities to use our gifts for others. That should be all we need to know. This surgery and all its components have helped move that truth to a more central spot in my life. Where it needs to be.
We struggle with the changes that slam into our work lives. Big ones like downsizings, reorganizations, firings. Smaller ones like meetings which fail; colleagues who miss our points, interviews and presentations which come up short. Opportunities which don’t materialize. It’s not easy to act like these challenges are meaningless in the bigger picture of life and death. Everything is relative of course, but we put our heart and soul into our work—and when things get difficult, they take an emotional toll. We lose confidence. Self-doubts creep in.
I’ve referred to Henri Nouwen’s book, The Inner Voice of Love before, the one where he wrote “spiritual imperatives” to himself each day as he struggled with all aspects of his life. One key takeaway is his point about “taking in love.” When we feel disempowered in our work or transition, our initial impulse is to take action—work harder; or change the strategy. Basically, get more out of our work. Henri says do something different—to take something into our lives; take in love. How do we do that?
We all treasure the love we have in our lives. It’s integral to all we cherish and strive for—but we have few practical ways of viewing “love” when making decisions or doing the tasks of making a transition. Paula D’Arcy writes about placing herself into a play and God says, “Look at yourself, Paula. Really see yourself.” She encourages us to respond to that important edict with valuable questions like, “Are my eyes and heart really open to the possibilities. Do I see what’s right before me or only what I’m programmed to see? What would it take to look with eyes of love.”
That word again. How do I factor love into this situation?
Paula provides direction…..”Life seems to follow this pattern: the journey unfolds as we live it out. My part is to let go with both hands and take the first step. The first step sets everything in motion. I think of Paul’s journey through Greece and Turkey. Over a thousand miles on foot, searching for fertile hearts. Start walking, the Spirit demands. You’re not alone. Love will lead the way. Take the first step. You are not alone.”
Whose love in my family or circle of friends can I really count on and how can that translate to practical help in my transition?
Who are the people I love and how is that love affected by this transition? What difference does it make as I make choices or find the courage to move ahead?
How can I really feel the love of people in my life so it can inspire me and help me know my true self, my best self, my strongest self?
What do I need to do to look deeply at this transition I’m in through “eyes of love” and how can that make a difference in my actions?
How do I define God’s love and how do the examples of God’s love in my life have an impact on this transition?
What are the most powerful ways in my life for coming in contact more intimately with God’s love for me?
How do I love God? And what does this have to do with these decisions I’m facing?
When and how will I put away my existing insecurities and connect to more lasting, authentic ideas or ideals? How will my faith help?