Tuesday, June 19, 2007

bye bye bottles

Another milestone has quietly passed in Mouse's House. Sam has graduated to the sippy cup at 14 months. Hooray! No more milk being squirted all over the carpet (at least, until he learns to suck the milk in and spit it out his mouth, something all kids seem to try eventually). I'm almost as happy about this turning point as I was about his transition from formula to milk. No more taking bottles apart or putting them together, no more "bottle paraphernalia" cluttering up our kitchen counter or dishwasher baskets, no more scrubbing nipples with a tiny brush to get the encrusted goop out.

Still, there was a pang as I packed up the bottles and bottle warmer. My baby is growing up and doing it fast! Next thing you know, I'll be sighing with relief when he's out of diapers - but already missing (and forgetting) all the cute things he does now - his babbling, his bow-legged baby gait, and the way he throws his hands in the air when we say "Yay, Sam!" Good thing I have a brand new niece to dote on. She's cuddly, softer than silk, light as a feather and exudes that new-baby smell. Another whole "first year" to observe and marvel at.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"give to him who asks"

As I mentioned before, I've been reading this book about Mother Theresa and the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa: A Simple Path). One thing that strikes me about them is their lack of the need to control those they serve. As the sisters explain in the book, at Calcutta's home for the dying, they don't try to convert the people who come to them for help. They provide Hindus and Muslims with burial services and practices that are consistent with those traditions. Basically, they let their actions speak for themselves. "Results" - whether measured in terms of numbers converted or saved from drug addiction or healed of disease or whatever - are not emphasized nearly as much as "process". As the sign on the wall of one of their Calcutta homes says, "It is not how much you do, but the love you put into the doing that matters."

I was thinking about this kind of "love in action" as I pulled into the parking lot of Barnes and Noble on Sunday. A middle-aged man with sandy hair, glasses and a plaid shirt waved me down and asked me if I could spare any change. I don't know about other cities, but I've noticed that in Salt Lake the new story is always that the money is needed for gas. They are passing through town, they ran out of gas, they just need money for gas and they will be on their way. In fact, every time I've been approached in a parking lot in the past few years, this is the story. Anyway, all the reasons not to give money to this man went through my head. "Maybe he's lying about needing gas. He will use it for drugs or alcohol. My money won't do anything for him. It won't change him or get him a job or whatever he needs. Why should I give him my hard-earned money? If I give him money it will just encourage him to keep preying on kindhearted strangers in parking lots." Etc., etc.

But here he was, asking me for help. Another voice spoke in my mind. "Give to him who asks of you, and to him who would borrow from you, do not turn away." I imagined Mother Theresa and the missionaries, who give away everything that comes to them and make it a point not to turn anyone away who comes to them for help. There is a freedom in that. I don't need to know the history of the one in need, or the outcome of any gift I give. As Momma T. said, "We are not called to be successful, but we are always called to be faithful." I gave the man some money. Maybe I'm a sucker, but in some way it is hard to describe, it was more satisfying to know I gave something away than to listen to all the reasons not to. Maybe this is part of the meaning of "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

a new discovery

Bryan and I discovered a new hiking trail yesterday. Granite trailhead is probably no more than a mile from our house, so it's pretty pathetic that it took us over 2 years to set foot on it. I actually heard about it from a guy at work who lives out of town. Go figure.

We walked up the trail about 20 minutes to view the lake and the Salt Lake valley. Bryan is better than I am at looking at a scene and spotting things - he kept pointing out things I totally missed. If there are any animals around, he is always the first one to see them. Most of the animals there last night were of the homo sapiens variety, but we did see a pair of ducks, a lizard, and several birds, including one with a black "flat-top" (Bryan called it a "Marine"). The wildflowers were blooming. The cool breeze and the sound of a waterfall in the distance tempted us to go further, but it was already dusk so we lingered on the rocks overlooking the lake. We hope to return and make it all the way to the falls soon.

It's an amazing thing to leave the city, the house, the job, the phone, the whole daily shmeer behind for an evening and be surrounded by shining stillness.