loving old

Growing Older  by Kaze

Cicero got me to thinking. He talks about the disadvantages of being elderly. “As I give thought to the matter, I find four causes for the apparent misery of old age;

First, it withdraws us from active accomplishments;

Second, it renders the body less powerful;

Third, it deprives us of almost all forms of enjoyment;

Fourth, it stands not far from death.”

 

So I rise to the challenge.

 

1st. My accomplishments have been based on my organizing and implementing plans. I had to turn to intensive mentoring of youth so they can do what I did. Then, I moved to Albuquerque and spend three days a week with the homeless who live on the streets or in the parks. Accomplishments are no longer my goal. Spending time with vulnerable people with no agenda gives me delight. All I have to do is show up and sit with people who see themselves invisible.

 

2nd. I find aches where I didn’t know I have bones. I can’t do what I used to do I can’t balance in the ocean. I can’t carry heavy boxes. I can’t drive all night and sleep on floors. So what happened? First, I was forced to depend upon the youth to take responsibility for everything I could not do. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. Then when my energy diminished and I needed more time to recover on doing little, I discovered that just sitting and talking with people gave me a window to the Holy. I don’t need the body I had at 20.

 

3rd. My capacity for enjoyment has expanded. I spend more time reading and writing. I encounter different groups of people. I sit and listen more. I enjoy the little things on streets rather than fly to other countries to view unusual things.

 

4th My friends are dying. I am so aware that if I am to enjoy life, it is now and not in the distant future. Death releases me to live fully in the immediate.

 

     The greatest benefit in growing old is that change is my friend. If I am to drink life to the last drop, it is going to be with new encounters  and keeping my face to the sun.

 

     I love being old.

 

 

 

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Abundance

Abundance by Kaze

     Cold weather is here.. As I sit on a park bench, different street people come by to talk and to pick up socks.

     I laugh as that is what I usually ask.

     Harry stops to talk. “How are things going?”

 

     “Everything is going well,” I say. “How is it for you?”


     “Things going well,” he says with a big grin. “I had a good breakfast and I have a good sleeping bag plus a blanket. So I am fed and warm. I can’t ask for more.”
It intrigues me sometimes when I start a conversation and the street people have such vitality. I expect them to have desperation or depression and often they are filled with energy instead.


     I am reading a story about the early Colorado mining days where the grime and lack of amenities abound. Yet families managed to find something beautiful like a colorful cloth used as a curtain, or dried flowers to put on the mud walls. It seems that during the worst of times in our human history, we still find a way to bring some color, some comfort into our lives that inexplicably cheer us.


     I think that is why I like to hand out assortment of things with different colors, like hats or scarves or rain hats or candy. Those on the street get such joy at choosing something with different colors.


      Sometimes abundance is in color or smell not in numbers.

     I believe more and more that inner abundance or contentment is tied in to identification as kin  with those who suffer

 

Enlarge by Kaze

Capacity by Kaze

Rabindranath Tagore “Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.”

     I love Tagore. This sentence makes me think and reread. It goes to the depths of my being. It’s something to chew on.

     If I create the capacity to receive it, everything will come to me that belongs to me.

     Whole worlds spin in that phrase. What will come to me if I enlarge my capacity to receive good things.

     Yesterday I sat at a table after Church services for a study and coffee hour. I am always uncomfortable at a table with people I don’t know. I don’t like small talk. So I enlarged my capacity to connect with people with whom I feel I have little in common. It was mainly listening. It was a lot being open to their humanity. I felt connected.

     Then I went to the street corner where many homeless people sleep. As I handed out socks, Henry laughed out loud. “You are always giving us socks. What do you get out of it?”

     I had to think for a bit. “I’m not sure. When I see others suffering from the cold and rain, my little suffering doesn’t seem so much. I think I anticipate my own suffering more than I feel it so being with you puts my life back in perspective.”

     Bobby says, “That’s deep. I often feel that others suffer more than I do even if I can’t stay dry or get food when I want it. God bless you.”

     “God bless you” echoes around the men huddled there and once again, I feel connected.

     I think this is the way I am connected to the Holy. I enlarge my capacity to discern the Holy, the profound, the inclusive and especially the suffering.  I do not have to endure my small capacity. I can make it larger.

 

 

Content

Content by Kaze

     Dalai Lama “When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes—I already have everything that I really need.’”

     Recently a Native young adult (Allen0 posted that he had everything he needed. Private chats began to bounce off the internet electronic waves.

     “Does that mean you have already achieved everything you want? You don’t have no bucket list?” sent Shelly..

     We all laughed at that.

     “I still have dreams and a lot I want to do. I just don’t feel like I am missing anything with what I’ve got,” he replies.

     Larryt says “I know what you mean. I’m not angry any more at what I don’t have. I’m filled up with what I do have and I am really thankful for it.”

     The older I get the more that I realize that it doesn’t take a lot to make me content. I think the key is both gratitude for what I have and the discernment to see the sacred in many more experiences.

     I feel like I miss so much of what life offers and yet I am moving toward that which is good.

     At the gas station, I found myself moving slightly with the rock music blaring in the store. The clerk saw me and laughed saying “It’s all good.”

     Contentment is in small things that open us up to that very declaration, “It’s all good.”

 

 

Trusting

Trust

Trust is a tricky subject to youth with whom I work.  It is the question asked for any relationship whether or not it be casual, intimate or a working one.

Who has proven worthy of trust?

We had just avoided being hurt when violence erupted in the home we were staying. We all got outside and started walking away. I muttered as I often do, “God have mercy.”

“What do you trust God to do exactly?” asks Keith.

His question was not an idle one. It is core to our understanding of the balance between what we do and what God does. We talk about it for a long time in the dark.

Gerald says, “I think that when we turn to God when we are in trouble, we are looking for something we can do rather than becoming a zombie.”

Janet adds, “I trust that by turning to God, a way of thinking clears up because I am not just thinking about how bad it is or complaining.”

I didn’t think of it at the time but later I realized that something gets triggered when I use the metaphor to trust in the Lord. I don’t trust that my problem will be solved. I trust that I must learn how to discern what is next. The youth are right. When I trust to being open to what is good and possible, somehow I find a new direction and calm. I trust that calling on God is the smartest thing I can do even if I can’t articulate to whom I am praying.

Go figure, the older I get, the more I don’t know about  and yet the more I call upon God.

 

Not Enough Food

Not Enough Food    by Kaze

     Driving up to the Train Park to distribute socks to street people, I see two young children and an infant being carried by their parent. As the weather warms up to the 30’s, more and more homeless children appear outside.

     I keep a stash of children’s clothes and find mittens, scarf, socks and a stuffed animal to hand out, as well as some chocolates. The little girl hides behind her mother when I offer them so I hand them to the mother in a plastic bag.

     “Thanks,” she says. “We got a warm coat and beanie for her but other things are hard to come by. I lost my job cleaning at the motel so we are staying temporarily at the shelter. I didn’t think it would come to this but I knew if I lost one paycheck, that there was no other place to go.”

     She stuffs the plastic bag in her backpack.

     “What hurts is the government cutting off food stamps in February. We can scrounge around for food but it won’t be healthy. I fill her up with chips when she gets hungry. When the food stamps go, no more apples or oranges for her.  Are you with some church?”

     “No,” I assure her. “People donate stuff and I hand them out on the streets. For some reason, a lot of people are scared to meet homeless people face to face. I’m retired so I can do this. No sermons, no worthiness tests, no papers required. If you want it, you can have it.”

     She sighs. “I really hate it when we stand in line and then have to listen to someone preach in order to get food or watch a video on Jesus. I wish more people just cared that we are cold and just like they are.  This is my first time homeless and we are treated like trash. They will get it when they lose a few paychecks. I feel sorry for them. They don’t know how many poor people are in this city.

     “God bless you for coming to the park rather than being someone faceless in a food lineup. Sometimes, I just want someone to talk to that doesn’t think we are trash for being here.”

     They leave and I resolve to bring more food the next time. Usually, I carry a can of Spam with me but I had already handed it out the day before. Span is high fat and can be eaten easily for those who are hungry, and it has a tab to lift off the top. It used to be cheap but now, like everything else, it has become costly.

     People ask me if I think some homeless people are really just poor and are taking advantage of me. I don’t care. If they want it, I give it. I refuse to be in a position where I demand that someone tell me if they are really poor.

     The older I get, the more I realize that no one has to prove their worthiness.

     Life is getting more fragile for all of us who are elderly and on social security. I will do what I can as long as I can.

Sleep Safely

Guard Us While We Sleep” by Kaze Gadway

“You look sleepy,” I say to Alvin who is nodding over his coffee.

“Yeah,” he replies, “There was a lot of drama last night. I didn’t get much sleep. Several people were sleeping off a drunk on my floor.”

So what does this metaphor mean in light of all the abuse that happens at night, often to young people who sleep in their own beds, hoping for safety but not expecting much.

I asked a Sandra what this could mean while sleeping in an alley.

“I guess it means that I hope I wake up if anything bad is about to happen,” she says.

“Guard us while we sleep” does not seem to be a realistic expectation. Anyone who is in danger while sleeping cannot take this at face value. Abuse does happen at night.

When I used to do sand play to counsel children who do not talk about being raped, the abused ones most often chose the owl to be in their play. The owl is a metaphor deep in our DNA that someone sees everything at night. The children place the owl above their bed in the sand tray. It is not to warn them, it is to tell them that somebody know what is being done to them.

 Guard us while we sleep is a metaphor, yet it is a strong prayer in my life. It is more a prayer of “let me depend on one place to be safe” even when I know that I am not safe.

Perhaps this is a plea that I raise to consciousness that God will be present in every situation, no matter how rough it gets. The more conscious I become, the more I see it as real.

Perhaps “guard” does not mean to prevent injury. Maybe it means to stand as a sentry, always being present.

I have mixed feelings. I strongly respond to the plea that all of God’s children will be guarded in their sleep. That doesn’t happen. But I know in depth that I depend on the presence of God even in the midst of harm. So I want both meanings.

I want abused children and street people and myself to be guarded from harm and I want to know that when there is harm, that I will be protected from damage to my soul, that place where the awesome dwells.

It’s a metaphor. I am not going to be able to explain it any more than I can explain what I mean by the presence of God.