Tag Archives: Arlene Somerton Smith

No matter how beautiful

“. . . Show me the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.”

—A Benedictine nun, as found in Wake Up to the Joy of You by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This is the scene outside my window today. We are snowed under. Homebound.

47 centimetres of snow (18.5 inches for my American friends)

Some would say this is the ugly truth of winter. I say it is the beautiful truth.

A time for an in-breath. A time to take full advantage of my word for the year: FOCUS.

A time to seek out and, more importantly, believe my own beautiful truths.

The beauty of ew

A model tall ship covered in dust

I attended an afternoon event held at a venue usually reserved for nighttime activities. As I stood listening to speeches, I looked up at this tall ship on a high shelf, lit by a combination of daylight and interior lighting that would not normally be on when customers were in the establishment.

I was struck by both the beauty and the ew factor. In fact, the beauty is made possible because of the ew factor.

Without the dust on the delicate strands of rope on the foundering ship the effect of the light would be less striking.

Something that needed cleaning up had been hidden and ignored. Light made things clear, and somehow beautiful.

The idea helps me this week. The lesson “sailed to me” when needed, as they so often do. I hope it helps you too.

Heart engrained

Heart-shaped grain in the wood of a casket with two red roses.

I was a pall bearer for my aunt last week, so I had a close-up view of the heart that was a natural part of the grain of her casket.

I was told that this casket was not the kind that she had picked, but was substituted instead.

Just goes to show . . . Some things work out even better than we plan, when our plans go awry.

Woman surrounded by a group of people watching her play the guitar.
My aunt in her favourite place – the centre of it all.

So THAT’S what happens: Being at peace with life

Sometimes it’s difficult to find peace when nasty surprises upset our lives. Sometimes it’s even a challenge to savour fun events or exciting bonuses.

We waste time evaluating whether something is “good” or “bad.” We forget to head straight to accepting what is.

And appearances can be deceiving. Events that appear catastrophic at first can lead to unforeseen good fortune. Other occurrences that strike us as boundless good luck turn out to be the opposite.

All of us would love to have 100 percent control over what happens in our lives. But we don’t. Unplanned events inevitably derail our plans.

When that happens to me, I try to remember to rise above it and survey everything as an impartial observer. I try to view whatever comes—no matter what it is—as a big, welcome surprise.

“So THAT’s what happens!”

Stuck in the slow line at the grocery store? So THAT’S what happens! A winning goal for your hockey team in overtime? So THAT’S what happens! You’re fired? So THAT’S what happens!”

It’s easier to be at peace with unforeseen twists of fate — illnesses, riches, petty disagreements, journeys, friends, deaths or births — if all of them, no matter what , are viewed as big, welcome surprises.

So THAT’s what happens! Surprise!

I wonder what happens next?

An arrow pointing to the right with the word Next on it

The power of simple gifts

I attended the CanWrite! conference in Vancouver, BC on the weekend.

During the open mic session on Friday night, Jean Kay of Poetry to Inspire told a story that showed how simple gifts can ripple out and multiply in ways we never anticipate.

Every morning as part of a meditation practice, Jean writes a poem. She has published her poems in books, she writes poems for special occasions, and she sells printed copies of special prayers, like this “Prayer of Thanks.”

A prayer card with a prayer by the title of "Prayer of Thanks" by Jean Kay

Recently Jean was selling her work from a booth at a promotional event. A woman picked up a “Prayer of Thanks” card. “I have been saying this prayer every morning for thirty years,” she said.

Startled, Jean took a closer look. The woman—96 years old that day at the booth—was a former co-worker that Jean hadn’t seen since she presented a copy of the poem at her retirement party thirty years ago.

The woman had gone home after the party, stuck the card in the corner of her mirror and recited it every day since. Jean had no idea that her work, her thoughts and her words had been rippling steadily through all those decades.

That retirement story reminded me of another friend’s recent retirement.

My friend, Brian, retired a few weeks ago after being a United Church minister for forty years. At his final service many of the people whose lives he had touched showed up to support him and to let him know how deeply his work, his thought and his words had affected them.

In his final sermon he referenced the story of the loaves and the fishes. He had started in ministry with only simple gifts to offer. Like the loaves and the fishes, they seemed like they’d never be enough. But with time and grace, his simple gifts were enough. They more than enough. He “fed the throngs” and has leftovers besides.

Simple gifts are all any of us have to offer. They might seem like they’re not enough. But a prayer of thanks, support through grief, kind words, belly laughs . . . they ripple out over the decades.

Those simple gifts are more than enough, with leftovers besides.

Rippling positively …