Stones of the heart.

They’re called worry stones.  Soothing stones … palm stones … thumb stones.  

Smoothed and shaped by moving water, the Greeks chose such stones from the sea.  In Tibet, they were claimed from melting snows and high mountain river beds.  In Ireland they were most often picked up from the edges of ancient lakes.  Native Americans selected them not only for themselves, but to hand down from one generation to the next – creating a sense of sacred connectedness, of unbroken peace and symbolism to be forever cherished.  

The most prized of these stones have always been quartz. more “Stones of the heart.”

Be the gift.

“Be a gift to everyone who enters your life, and to everyone whose life you enter.  Be careful not to enter another’s life if you cannot be a gift.”

These lines were written by Neale Donald Walsch in “Conversations With God:  An Uncommon Dialogue.”  They spoke to my heart, my memories, my imagination.  They are the kind of words I clip out and file away and think about from time-to-time when contemplation is good company.  The kind of words that come back to me sometimes at the oddest moments.

Such was the case a few days ago when Quincy the dog stepped in my eye.  All 72 pounds of him.   more “Be the gift.”

Remnants of a life at the side of the road.

I saw the thin black ties of the apron first.  They were draped rather languidly along the edge of the road.  The apron itself was nearly hidden in a grassy dip in the ground off to the side, leading into the mouth of a drain pipe.  The all-black color of the apron helped to disguise it.  Even the dog had not noticed it as we walked the small neighborhood street. 

With a closer look, the apron was easily recognized as a restaurant-style server’s apron – smallish, oblong, with pockets sewn all across its lap for holding pens and order slips, notes about specials, and tips paid in cash.  Picking it up, I discovered the apron pockets were still filled with pens – at least a dozen of them.  

And then, just a few steps farther on, there lay a black plastic restaurant check folder.  Within the folder was a nearly full pad of order forms; two of which still contained orders.   more “Remnants of a life at the side of the road.”

Scraps of peace, hope, and possibilities.

It began in the mid-1800s – when Christmas trees were capturing imaginations and holiday spirits throughout all of England, and catching hold with equal enthusiasm in America.  

All manner of pine trees were being harvested from their native woods and carried homeward – hauled behind horses or by hand, dragged up front steps, and stuffed through the doorways of castles and cottages alike.  They were being joyfully thrust into the very heart and hearth of family traditions.  And, once inside, they were placed just so – to delight and be decorated and danced around.  They transported the beauty of the natural world into a sort of happy collision with civilized interiors. more “Scraps of peace, hope, and possibilities.”

One hundred and five Christmases.

Once upon a time, Christmas sparkled.  It glittered like new snow and winter stars.  It whispered with secrets, and sang out with joy to the world, and smelled of pinecones and wood fires.  It was as brilliant as red ribbons curling around unopened paper-wrapped packages.  And it was filled with grace and truth, vulnerability and hope. more “One hundred and five Christmases.”

Wipe your feet and look for hearts.

The woman stopped and wiped her feet on the tufted mat at the door.  Then she hesitated another moment longer before entering the church.  She was older, dressed in plain dark clothing, wearing her Sunday shoes.  It was a fair day.  So the wiping of her feet seemed less necessary than it was symbolic.  

She was attending a funeral.  And I began to suspect that, more than any dirt or dust from the soles of her shoes, she was somehow also wiping off any bits of worldliness clinging to the underside of her thoughts and heart – leaving it outside, shuffling it off at the door.  So that she would be open to the experience at hand.  It seemed an incredibly respectful gesture.  Terribly mindful and meaningful and tender. more “Wipe your feet and look for hearts.”

Speaking with authentic voices.

It was an old book.  Not rare or antique, but rather vintage.  Just old enough to smell of aging library glue and dried damp, and to have sepia-toned edges and dog-eared corners that marked passages now long-forgotten, in spite of the inspiration they must have once incited.

It was a book my father had given to me, but I don’t remember why.  It is titled:  “Change Your Voice, Change Your Life.” more “Speaking with authentic voices.”

Traveling with chocolate – in planes, cars, and life.

Nobody wants to travel by air with a cranky flight crew. 

Our plane had already been delayed by various unrelated circumstances when one passenger suddenly realized her laptop computer was in her plane-side-loaded luggage (lithium battery and all), and so it had to be found, taken out, and brought into the cabin with us for safety reasons.  So the flight attendant made an announcement to that effect, again.  And two more passengers came forward, exchanging their chagrin for our safety, and their bags were duly located, unloaded, and unpacked.  Happily, nothing exploded, nothing caught fire, nobody got hurt; although we were by then about 45 minutes delayed, and the flight crew was getting rather irked.  (I think the rest of us were just sitting quietly cringing with the thought:  “Yipes … those batteries are in everything … it’s hard to remember them all … that could have been me.”) more “Traveling with chocolate – in planes, cars, and life.”

Living like dandelions.

If childhood had a flower all its own, I think it would be the dandelion.  From the first time we’re plopped down onto a blanket on the lawn one happy spring day, dandelions appear at just the right height and brightness for a young, curious gaze.  They nod and dance for us, invite us to touch and play, looking like a thousand round golden faces wearing lions’ manes and green scarves. more “Living like dandelions.”

A treat for Quincy the dog.

It was intended to be a treat for him.  A play date.  One of my neighbors and I had considered the possibility of Quincy the dog staying at their house while I traveled later in the month.  

They live just down the street, and there are four dogs in their family.  The dogs all greet and interact with us everyday as Quincy and I walk past their house in the mornings.

The leader of their pack is bossy and smart and owns the entire corner inside his fence; he and Quincy trash-talk a great deal through the chainlink fence, but it’s done in good spirit and with mutual understanding.  The newest member of their troupe is a girl dog that Quincy has a tremendous crush on; she’s a flirt and adorable and knows it.  The third is a misfit who gets by on his personality; he and Quincy have hit it off since he moved in a few years back, tails wagging til they almost fall apart as soon as they see each other (perhaps that accounts for why this guy has only half a tail).  The fourth is a Corgi; the oldest, the slowest, the wisest, the real brains of the group.

So we thought it would be a treat for Quincy to be one of the gang – playing with the cool kids, sitting in with the band.  At first it was.  And then it wasn’t. more “A treat for Quincy the dog.”