Posts Tagged With: safety

 
 

Finding Somewhere Safe

“Just take me somewhere safe.”

If someone answered that way when you asked them if they needed a ride, what would you do? Where would you go?

MSH saw a man looking a bit lost and bewildered, carrying a backpack and a sleeping bag. He bought lunch for the guy at McDonalds and chatted some. Said he was a veteran but hadn’t seen combat. He said he had a family out of state, five kids and a wife. He seemed nervous and a bit uncertain. Parts of his story didn’t make sense with other things he said.

He didn’t want to go to a shelter, or to a VA hospital, or a food kitchen. He finally just asked MSH to drop him off at a shopping center, near a spot where a group of guys had gathered with their restored cars. MSH asked them if any of them were Veterans. A few were, so he explained about this man he’d tried to help who, in the meantime, wandered away and couldn’t be found again.

When MSH told me about this encounter my worry meters buzzed. Such things make me wish I could fix the world. But of course, that isn’t possible.

I’ve read recently about Mother Teresa who, when asked about the huge task before her, replied….

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m surely no Mother Teresa, but I do try to make a tiny difference where and when I can. I help at a local Food Bank from time to time. I donate to charity. I offer my services regularly in a variety of volunteer opportunities. On occasion my home has served as a sanctuary of sorts.

notre dameWe have a family friend or two who drops in from time to time. They see our home as a safe place to land, or a spot to score a slice of bread, which really means a slice of caring and a listening ear. Once, on sitting down at the kitchen bar to some fresh homemade bread and strawberry jam, one of these friends said something about finding sanctuary in our home.

That caught me off guard.

Sanctuary sounds like somewhere sacred and set apart and rare. My home? A sanctuary?

Another friend I know has told the story of a man at church who asked her why she sat in the hall during part of our worship service. She replied that she felt awkward and out of place because she’s single and so often seemed left surrounded by empty chairs rather than by mostly-married worshippers of our congregation. This kind, younger, married man, sweetly put his arms around her and hugged her tight. She proceeded to sob. She said she hadn’t been hugged by a man in decades and felt his kindness in that platonic squeeze. From that day forward if he is at church he has saved her a seat next to him and kept a lookout so he could pat the chair and let her know it’s saved just for her. My friend found sanctuary in a house of God in the most unexpected of ways.

I know this man, and he’s no Mother Teresa either. But he saw a need and has done his best to fill it. He’s a saint in one person’s eyes.

The word sanctuary finds its roots weaving through Middle English from French. Before that it started with the Latin word “sanctus” which means “holy.”

Anything we do to alleviate another’s sadness, to lift a person’s burdens or to cheer a weary soul is a holy act.

We can all provide sanctuary, if not in actual brick and mortar, at least in deed and action and maybe even in word.

Perhaps the sanctuary we provide is simply the small space around us as we provide a reassuring hug, a human touch to a person aching to feel loved in some small way. Maybe we rub a set of tired shoulders for a few seconds to push courage and fellowship into weary shoulders.

Perhaps the sanctuary we’re in is a porch swing where a heartfelt conversation takes place, temporarily lifting the weight of worry or sadness.

Perhaps the sanctuary we create is in the holding of our bitter tongue, the forgiving of long held grievances, or a word of thanks. Perhaps our smile creates a sanctuary that carries someone through to the next way station for disillusioned travelers.

Mother_Teresa_1985_croppedAnother quote by tiny but powerful Mother Teresa says, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

Are we tossing coins when a slice of bread is needed? I hope not. Are we giving out bitter sponges soaked in vinegar when a glass of cool water is all that’s required? I pray not.

To be completely honest, I have turned away when a need was evident, mostly because I doubted my ability to lift or cheer or make a difference. Sometimes my own needs kept my eyes looking inward and I simply couldn’t or refused to see another’s need. Sometimes I’ve just been world weary myself and needed my own sanctuary.

We aren’t always on one side of the equation. As humans we often find ourselves on the other side of needing. That helps us feel compassion when the roles switch places again.

Hopefully I learn and apply the knowledge when facing a person in need of sanctuary.

“Take me someplace safe,” the weary one says, “wherever that is.”

I hope I know where that place is and how to get there. I hope others are also willing and able to help as well.

~~~~~

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.” ~Rachel Naomi Remen

Acuminate_Leaf_(PSF)

 

 

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Categories: Being Human, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hidey Holes and Other Scary Times

Friday Letter to My Kids – October 3, 2014 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When we moved to Oklahoma one of the first things anyone said to us was, “Welcome to Oklahoma. If you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes.” That sure proved true. Blue skies could change to threatening wall clouds and potential destruction in just a matter of minutes. Then sirens could start blasting and we’d tune in to the local news to see where the radar signature of a tornado might be traveling.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Do you remember hidey holes?

The first time we had to crouch and hide from a tornado it was in a one and a half-story home with that odd loft. The smallest and most central room in the house was the bathroom. That’s where we hid out when the tornado sirens blasted.  I had all four of you climb into the tub where I covered you with a big  quilt. Then I hunkered down beside you. Dad must have been out-of-town or at work.

Lucky for us the sirens proved unnecessary and no tornado touched down anywhere. I imagine the adrenaline of that first time kept us all awake late that night.

There’s an odd sensation of wanting to stand at a window and try to see this phenomenon live and in person. It seems to outweigh the logic of hiding out in a closet or bathtub. Nowadays with smart phones, weather cameras and non-stop storm chasers we could snuggle safe in our hidey hole and still see what’s going on.

Our second home in Oklahoma had a bigger, better sheltering spot, in that big weird closet that wrapped around the back of the rock fireplace. Remember that closet? It could have served as an extra bedroom it was so big.

I have to admit I’m glad we didn’t have a storm shelter. The idea of crawling into a glorified hole in the ground and waiting out a fierce storm scares the heck outta me. Remember how I don’t like basements, dark places or small spaces? But we’d have had a better chance if our house had taken a direct hit by a twister if we were underground.

The closest we ever came to real danger was a cluster of tiny tornadoes that sort of skipped over our neighborhood, tickled a few rooftops, took out a few small trees and then dissipated. And once a gas station in the town just north of ours took a direct hit. Phew.

I see news footage of some of the havoc from big storms that sweep through towns and feel grateful we never saw anything like that firsthand. Moving to “tornado alley” turned out okay for us, but the idea sure sounded ominous at the time.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Even in Wyoming you’ve encountered scary stuff. How could you ever forget the time you were staying at Grandpa and Grandma’s house Big J? Lightning hit in the middle of the night and blew the TV out. Grandpa said you made the leap from your bedroom to theirs in one bound.

I suppose anywhere you live there’s some kind of danger. Some areas habitually rock and roll with earthquakes. Others experience frequent flooding. Then there’s the coastal threats of hurricanes and tsunamis. Not to mention volcanoes, drought, landslides, ice storms, sinkholes, dust storms, hail, blizzards. There’s always something.

Life itself plays out as a risky undertaking. Knowing that, we brace ourselves for uncertainty and bumpy roads while enjoying the ride and scenery as much as we can in the meantime.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself less willing to risk even simple things. I’m sure I’m missing out, I’m just not sure how to combat that inherent fear.

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hard to believe this now deathly-scared-of-heights woman, your very own mother,  is the same one who introduced you to rock climbing and rappelling you when were four and five years old. Who was that woman and where did she disappear to? (Remember days spent at Spire Rock?) Little J picked up the nickname Arachnid for her mad climbing skills back then.

Maybe it’s a hormone thing. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s actually sanity finally settling in. Staying safe, avoiding risk and searching for a solid footing seem to make up a significant portion of my daily efforts. Feels a bit like I’ve taken up permanent residence in a hidey hole.

That’s silly.

So far, each of you have braved new adventures with eyes wide and anticipating what’s next. Fortunately, I can also see your wisdom in “setting protection,” like a smart rock climber would. You’re on belay and working your way up to new, fun and spectacular vistas.

It’s scary and exciting to see you progressing. I want to save you from rock fall, wild weather, and anything that might prevent your happiness. But I can’t. Even if I could it’d be unfair of me to deprive you of the learning opportunity of hardship. (Have I mentioned how much I hate learning from hardship? You should at least know that much about me by now.)

About all that I can do involves praying for you which I do daily and fervently! Wherever you go and whatever you do I wish you courage, calm winds, safe passage, sturdy shelter, and plenty of joy.

 

Love Always,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Safe, Secure and Sleeping Like a Baby

It’s Gratituesday! I’m grateful today for a sense of security and safety.

By Zuzu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

By Zuzu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Early this morning, four a.m. or so, MSH asks, “What’s that sound?”

A sort of low rumbling reverberated through the walls of the house and vibrated just so. I replied, “That’s just a car stereo.”

“Oh, right, of course,” he mumbled in his half-sleep.

“Or,” I said, jokingly, “someone’s doing some bombing not too far off.”

His sleepy non-chuckle left me smiling in my less drowsy state.

I know in many areas of the world that’s not a laughing matter, and more likely than not the disturbing sound that wakes a person isn’t something that someone shrugs off. I recognize, but not always, that I live an incredibly sheltered, safe life in the way-out suburbs of a fairly decent sized city, and I seldom worry about such things.

My sister-in-law and niece are in Kenya volunteering in a medical capacity. When I read “Kenya” in a news headline yesterday, my radar buzzed and hummed and worried. Fortunately they aren’t anywhere near Kenya’s coastal town of Mpeketoni. They’re in Nairobi, an inland city ten hours away. Here’s the thing. Kenya’s coastal towns used to be some of the most stable and secure areas in East Africa. Tourists flocked there with abandon. Do you think that’s changed now? Yeah, me too.

But that’s Africa, is what I want to tell myself. That continent has always been unstable, uncertain, scary. Uh huh.

I can just keep telling myself that. Or I can face reality.

Is it just a matter of time before my safe little pocket of suburbia becomes unstable? Or am I worrying about nothing? Fifteen years ago we boarded planes without a thought about safety or security. Less than twenty years ago, schools seemed like bastions of stability and safety, where we blithely left our children in the care and keeping of school staff. Malls, post offices, movie theaters, buses, cafes, on the road, at work, in your home. All seem safe but haven’t always been for everybody.

I wish, I wish, I wish it were so. Safety, security, peace, lack of fear.

Here’s the thing I find weird about today’s topic. I hesitated posting it. In fact, it’s after eight in the evening and I’m still hanging back.

Why?

I don’t want to jinx things. Kind of like praying for patience, you end up having to practice it to get it. I’m not wanting anything like that today. I’m simply grateful that I feel safe, that I live in circumstances where I’m not holding my breath at loud noises, sudden movements, scary things.

I know it can change. Suddenly, irrevocably. But for today, for now, for what I’ve had so far, I’m so aware of how rare and rich and free I feel in my safe little coccoon.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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