Tag Archives: Daring Greatly

Wildflowers Live Here Too

I was riding on the back of a motorcycle in Asia when I glimpsed it.  The “motorcycle taxi driver” had taken the long way home. Tired, I wished I had remembered to tell him about the shortcut back to my host family’s place.  I was staying with them for a month while researching their city, and it had been tough– beyond anything I had experienced in the previous year of living in the country.  But we were too far in to take a shortcut.

This route brought us to a different horizon, on the city’s edge.  Instead of smothering smog and sun-concealing concrete, I saw low houses and fields lit up by a glorious orange sky, that was fading to pink, then to dusky blues.  My breath was caught.  Now I wanted the ride to be as long as it could be.

A talented friend, Shawna Handke, gave me a piece of her artwork while I was still in New York (you can see more here at her website).  Wildflowers Live Here Too, she calls it.  I love the movement, the color of the flowers–IMG_1082 and the stark beauty of the solid buildings.

The stories this week include some large piles of concrete, hard edged, pretending they possess power to delete the sun from the sky and keep the ground without life.  I will tell you only one: from a woman who eagerly helped our group pack first-aid boxes to give to refugees.  She is also here in flight of that war.

She showed pictures of her two kids, her mother, her sister, all smiling.  Then she showed a picture of dust and rubble.  “That is all that is left of our home,” she told me.  The difficulties of displaced people go far beyond material provision– loneliness, lack of family network, loss, insecurity… Although now she has become part of community exercise, she said she would go for weeks with no one to talk to, when she first arrived here.

The Wildflowers picture looked bare on my wall, and I found no frame.  So one night, inspired by Brene Brown’s challenge in Daring Greatly that gratitude is a PRACTICE, I grabbed a post-it note, jotted one thing to be grateful for that day, and stuck it on the edge of the picture.  Same thing the next day.  Two days after that.  The frame is a work in progress– sunset-colored notes reflecting the flowers that, in Shawna’s art, tower over black-and-white buildings, and somehow seem far more permanent.

  • My friend’s 6-year-old daughter smiling and greeting me as “Khalto,” the Arabic word for “auntie.”
  • A quiet place outside to sit with my music, journal.
  • A trio of messages from dear friends, coming when I needed them.

A fistful of wildflowers.

And perhaps, I can be a friend– a wildflower to my new acquaintance– as she, with her dedication to helping other displaced people in this town, is a wildflower in my eyes.

 

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Daring Greatly

IMG_0024Daring Greatly.” That part sounded good.  A trusted friend was recommending a book. Then he said its subtitle: “How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.”

I groaned.  All it took was the cover of the book to make me feel uncomfortable and say, “Why would anyone want to read that?”  Which was, I was willing to admit, clear evidence that I probably SHOULD read the book.

Started last weekend.  Dr. Brene Brown breaks down the mentality of “scarcity” that pervades all around– the message that we never have or are enough. People, she writes, tend to respond to the fear that they aren’t [doing, performing, succeeding, looking attractive, acting courageously, being smart, experiencing love from one another…] ENOUGH in three ways:

1) Shame

2) Comparison

3) Disengagement

Ouch.  This week, a couple from the US came to lead us in some times of teaching and seeking God.  A theme that kept coming up in my soul, during these sessions, was my impatience.  I want to accomplish much for English classes and refugee projects; learn Arabic; develop close, fun friendships with coworkers; have quality relationships with local ladies; and have amazing times with God. NOW.

When I don’t feel like I am _____ enough, I tend toward 1, 2, or 3.  Or maybe a couple of those at once.

They were leading similar talks in a different city, and I joined them, lending some music to the sessions.  (Sidebar: my experience in a much larger city in this region can be summed up in: hipster coffee shops, green grass, strange “zoo,” Chili’s, try-not-to-wince-because-we’re-this-close traffic… very different, but quite fun.)  I brought my guitar.  I listened to the talks again– many of them underlining the need for vulnerability among teams, colleagues, and families.  And I kept reading pieces of Daring Greatly.

Acupuncture via concepts: scary, sharp-looking points, poking into the soft places of the soul.  But surprisingly, relieving some of the tension that has been building, and bringing release (at least, I’ve been told that acupuncture does).

I found myself tripping into 1, 2, or 3 that week… stumbling, catching it… and choosing differently.  Because I know something that shame, comparison, and disengagement can’t contain.  And I am increasingly aware that 1, 2, and 3 do not belong as my responses,  if I really believe this something.

After all the talks, we gathered at a large body of water, at the lowest place on earth.  We went in, held up by the salt.  Before entering, we smeared mud on every exposed portion of skin.  People travel from around the world to experience a smelly, muddy, gritty cleansing ritual… We floated together, surprisingly buoyant, laughing at the mud on each others’ faces and limbs.  Mud that cleanses.  Salt that stings, but holds us up.  A low place that gives a fresh perspective.

Dare greatly, and let this vulnerability drench your soul with the truth: that you are held by Someone who is enough