The Sacred Meet and Greet

Somebody needs you. Don’t keep them waiting.

It happens when we leave the house, often numerous times a day. Two people who know each other pass by in a hallway at work or on the sidewalk, at school or a conference, at a bar, a gym, or in the church foyer. Our eyes meet, we recognize each other, and we acknowledge each other with a greeting. We say “Hello”, “Hey there”, or we throw out a quick “Hi”.

This greeting is usually followed by the question, “How are you?” We don’t ask how they’re feeling, specifically, unless we know they’ve been sick. We don’t usually statuechat2ask, “What are you doing?” though we may ask, “What have you been up to?” What are we asking when we say, “How are you?” This could amount to a rather lengthy exchange if we’re truly interested in how a person is faring physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

Sometimes we ask the question as we pass each other and we don’t even stop to hear the answer. Sometimes only one person does the asking and the other answers and that’s all there’s time for in the passing. We lump the greeting and the question together under the banner of the acknowledgement. In this case, we’re not interested in the answer which is why there are standard responses. We say, “I’m great”, “I’m well”, “I’m fine” or the grammatically incorrect “I’m good”, which is like saying “I’m virtuous”, but people either don’t know this or don’t care.

Maybe we give the standard responses because they don’t require anymore of us. Maybe we want to hear the standard responses because they don’t require anymore of us.menchatting2

If it’s only meant to be a pleasant salute of each other and we have no time for conversation, then why do we ask? Why don’t we just say, “It’s nice to see you”, put a cap on the whole thing and go on with our day?

As far as I’m concerned, if we ask, we’re committed, even if the response is something other than the standard. Sometimes people say, “I’m okay”, which usually means they’re not okay. When someone says, “I’m surviving”, this should give pause. One doesn’t keep walking when someone reveals they’re less than fine. You may be on your way to an important meeting or an appointment, but if you’re a decent person, you’ll say, “Sorry to hear that. I have to go, but we’ll talk later” and then get back to that person as soon as possible.girlsstatuechat2

There are times when people do stop and shake hands, bump fists, or hug, and then chat. In this instance, the standard response would fall flat, as the purpose for stopping is to connect more fully.

Being someone who believes in honesty over pretense, the standard response doesn’t fit my M.O. If I’m well, I say it, but if I’m not well, I say that, too. I assume when someone asks this question that they want to know, really know how I am. I don’t believe in faking it till you make it. Putting on a happy face when I’m not happy is not helpful. I believe in being where I am. If I’m exhausted or sad or depressed or disappointed because I didn’t get that job or frustrated at work or worried about my kids, I don’t pretend otherwise to avoid disturbing someone. If we could be real with each other and be willing to meet others at their point of need, maybe we’d have less need for doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and medications.matthew-smith-1006382

Of course, it’s important to examine our feelings and their validity. Sometimes professional help is needed. Sometimes we just need a drink, a snack, or a nap. Sometimes our circumstances have overwhelmed us and talking to a friend is exactly what’s needed, to gain some perspective, and so telling the truth when someone greets you can lead to your help and another’s service and a deeper connection with that person, if that’s something you both desire.

Hearing the truth can be awkward for the person asking strictly out of habit. If I choose to tell the truth, I’ve obligated the other party to inquire further. I admit to a certain amount of amusement on this score. When my answer is something other than fine, I’ve had looks of concern to looks of mild discomfort. With some folks, you can see the thought bubble go up over their heads.

“Okay. Here we go. I did not sign up for this.”

selfhugI don’t believe they’re being insensitive. Some people are private and closed to those outside the small circle they’ve formed around themselves. They’re deathly afraid of over sharing. They maintain strict boundaries. They wish others, especially acquaintances, would do so, as well. They approach me looking for some light banter and their expectations have been annihilated and they’re momentarily ill at ease. I don’t think I’m being insensitive by making them uncomfortable. We’re here to rub against each other, to stretch each other, to polish each other. Extreme introverts, and I say this as someone who is more introverted, need to be pulled out of their protective self hugs for their own good and for the good of those around them. Guard your personal borders too rigidly and you’ll risk the reluctance of visitors.

If, indeed, we’re here for the benefit of each other, then we should respect each other enough to tell the truth. What are we saying when we say we’re fine? We’re rested? We’re healthy? We’re at peace? We’re content? Work is going well? Our friendschattingchildren are healthy and well-adjusted? No major relationship issues? We’re not experiencing more than our share of life’s difficulties? We’re happy, we’ve managed to achieve the holy grail of all feelings? Think about what a nondescript word “fine” is and how it gets in the way of meaningful communication.

I care about the words I use and I still use words I wish I hadn’t. Words are powerful. A few kind words sprinkled liberally with eye contact and a hand on a shoulder can pull someone out of a pit. A few careless words lobbed sloppily while hurrying away can cause someone to sink further. Ignoring or minimizing someone’s pain or slapping them with a pat answer marginalizes them and creates more pain.

Think about the many encounters Jesus had with people. He posed questions, pushing people to think. He challenged those who needed challenging. He imparted wisdom. He touched people. He healed multitudes. He met physical needs, he shared lunch, he barbecued. He affirmed and encouraged. He reassured doubts. He offered forgiveness. He gave hope.Jesuschildren2

If we’re his temple, each one of us individually, the place where he’s chosen to dwell, and that’s an awesome thought to ponder, then we’re to meet each other as he met us, Jesus in you meets Jesus in me. People walked away from him with their lives altered forever. Some met him only once and never saw him again. We mustn’t diminish the importance, even the eternal significance, of these seemingly insignificant contacts. You never know what your presence will mean to someone. Your words could be a catalyst for change. Your presence could be the comfort someone needs to go on. Take the time to engage. Every chance meeting is a chance to love and impact the world for Christ.

Complete the experience. Listen to Jason Gray’s Every Act of Love.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Birthday Grief

So far the days have strayed since when we were together
Oh, how the hours have flown since I last held your hand
I long to hear your voice and trace your face and hold you nearer
And wish to never lose you again
Now time is marking days we spent in celebration
But in your absence, I am at a loss for joy
The day that you first graced this place, now a reminder
That you will tarry elsewhere evermore
Oh, God, who watched his closest friends desert, betray him
Oh, God, who died alone in agony
Oh, God, I clasp your promises in weakness and hang my head in heart-sick misery
I plead, though feebly, with the psalmist
Come satisfy as only you can do
I stumble onward, tearful, faithful, and in earnest
And trust that you will see me through

 

Author’s Note: This poem was written for a friend who lost his spouse.

Complete the experience. Listen to Danny Gokey’s Tell your Heart to Beat Again.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

When All is Said and Done

I was in a waking dream once. I was at the interment service, at the graveside, where the dearly departed had the most ornate coffin I’d ever seen. When it came time to lower it, the most unlikely man came out of the fog of tears. Elmer, wearing a sparkly, red satin, baseball jacket with his name bedazzled in white across the back, began to crank that baby into the ground. That was rough.

 

todolist2Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of doneness. Everyone has their own idea as to when they’re finished with something. Some people are all about the details. A task is not finished until every conceivable angle is considered and dealt with. Some people only care about the outcome and do what they have to as efficiently as possible to reach the destination quickly. Some people enjoy the process so much that the end game may be put off repeatedly or indefinitely.

My “done” is my husband’s “just getting started”. He’s an extreme finisher. His idea of being done involves closely following carefully predetermined steps to their conclusion. He deviates from his plan only when necessary, monitoring his progress to make sure he’s continually moving forward. When he’s completed the steps and reaches his goal, and he always does, he’s done. He feels a sense of accomplishment and pride.

I’m done when I decide I’m done. If I’ve lost interest or I’m tired or bored or distracted, I_Dont_Care_(cover)2I’m done. I may come back to it. I may not. Those things that don’t really matter to me, and that category is rather broad, may not get done. My good feelings come when I’ve stopped doing that which pains me.

For example, I finish cleaning the bathroom when I dump out the pail of dirty water the next day, after I’ve tripped over it a couple of times. I have a box full of pictures that will never make it into an album. I don’t even look at the ones that I took the time to put in an album. (What is it with people and their pictures? When asked what they would grab if their house was burning down, pictures seem to be in the top three responses. I’ve never heard anyone mention their kids.) I never finished my wedding memories book and I have no regrets. It was a beautiful, happy day and that’s all I need to remember about it. It’s impossible to take it all in, this life. I’m doing what I can.

justmarried2I finish the important things, the things that would pain me if left undone. I pay my bills. I finish my work so that my employer will give me a pay check. I take care; I complete the steps when it comes to my kids. I’m planning to finish my marriage and I’m a good 25 years in. No one gives me money to put the scissors back and, therefore, the scissors may remain where I’ve used them for awhile. My husband calls our house a treasure hunt. You’re welcome, honey.

I don’t know how anyone can say that anything is ever done anyway. Someone is always toiletpaper2coming up with a way to improve something. We all undo things all the time. We may finish a project, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished with projects. Technically, we’ll not be done doing until the day we die.

Nobody’s going to stand up at my funeral and talk about all the things I’ve left undone. In fact, it will be the opposite. If my eulogy is like any other I’ve heard, it will be about what I’ve done; where I grew up, where I lived, my family, my education, vocation, accomplishments, and hobbies.

I want my eulogy to be different. I’ve asked my husband, if he’s still puttering around, to tell them who I was. I want my love, compassion, creativity, and zest for life to be celebrated, rather than having a list of my choices read out flatly. I hope that when they fire up the furnace and my fleshly dwelling goes up in flames that I’ll have attained a sizzling essence that transcends the dust left over. I want to be well done.

epitaph
I can hope.

 

Complete the experience. This song’s a party, as it should be. Listen to Moriah Peter’s Well Done.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram @pollyeloquent. 🙂

 

It’s a New Day

We’re always trying to mark the passage of time. We’ve defined a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a month, and a year to keep track of the rising and setting of the sun, to quantify our inhale and exhale, the beating of our hearts. We celebrate when a fresh human being clocks in and when an old-timer moves on from the here and now. Ourclock-1274699_1280 birthday parties are records of our continuing existence and our age, among other things, defines us. In a culture which prizes the beauty and strength of youth, many of us try to keep the number of our days a secret through hair dye, wrinkle creams, trendy clothing, fitness, plastic surgery, and furious denial. If you don’t want others to know your age, I suggest you hide your photo albums when your friends come over or you’ll be providing them with before and after photos. From time cards at work to the renewal of our driver’s licenses, we’re reminded that time is passing.

Now that we’ve partied in another year, I’d like to wish you a Happy More of the Same! Putting the word new before the word year would imply that there is going to be something fresh or different about 2018 or even that there is a difference between December 31 and January 1. At least we hope there is. We want the day we sit down, pen in hand or fingertips poised on the keyboard, to plan an overhaul of our less-than-glowing lives to be nothing short of magical. We need what help we can get, after all.

Many individuals have given up on the New Year’s resolution arguing that most people who make resolutions become trapped in a circle of failure. They make earnest promises on New Years Day, quit the program three months in, and make the same resolutions nine months later. I’ve been ralphing on my own resolutions merry-go-round for years and, yet, I believe that resolutions are important. As a human being and a member of society, we owe it to ourselves and merrygoroundeach other to be the best people we can be, but how do we turn resolutions into realities? These are my thoughts:

1) Write your dreams down and be outrageous. Don’t censor yourself. Be open to exploring your deepest desires. Imagine you’re a painter who has an abundance of vibrant colors to choose from. Splatter the canvas with goals to nourish and enliven your body and soul and be specific. Vague notions will never come to fruition.

2) Prioritize. Ask yourself, “What really matters to me?” Pare down to the imperative. No matter how gifted, wealthy, and free we are, most of us have limits. Too many resolutions will obscure your focus and deplete your resources. Once you’ve plucked the gems from the pile, chunk them up into the steps you’ll need to take to reach your destination. Then, get moving.

3) Be realistic and gentle with yourself. Change of any kind is hard. It takes time and patience to create something or acquire a new skill. Ditching unhelpful behaviors is especially difficult. Bad habits are like pesky farts that stick to our butts. Those who escape the prison of their negative patterns are heroes in my eyes. Don’t dwell on your slip ups. Celebrate every entry in your ripped-1806471 (1)agenda you’re able to cross out, recount every day all those things that you do right. Rewards are motivating. Do the hard thing and then follow it with something you enjoy. If encouragement from others isn’t forthcoming, DIY! For awhile, before I went to bed, I would say, “Congratulations, Polly. You didn’t eat yourself into a coma today!”

4) Take care of yourself. I’ve acknowledged all the ways I abuse and ignore myself. I expect my body to run on inadequate or substandard fuel. I don’t get enough exercise. I fear the day my family will be unable to distinguish me from the couch. If we can put a man on the moon, surely I can wash my face before retiring at night. Self care is an essential ingredient for success of any kind. When you neglect your own needs, it hampers your ability to think clearly, erodes your self-esteem, and dampens your energy level. Let yourself go and you’ll be good for nothing.

5) Take care of others. Our resolutions should include others. We were meant to share the good goods we’ve been given. What will you do for the sake of others in this new year? You won’t need to look far to see need, but don’t burn yourself out. Do what you can with what you’ve got.

6) Resolve to resolve on a regular basis; make New Day resolutions. Remind yourself of the value attached to your commitment and re-commit over and over. A well-conceived proposal will be shredder fodder, if you never refer back to it. Monitor your progress, identify what isn’t working for you, and consistently update your plans.

7) Ask for help. Tell a trusted friend what you hope to accomplish, someone who’ll surely annoy you by pestering you about whether or not you’re following through. IMG_4915 (2)Don’t underestimate the power of having a sounding board, a muse, a collaborator, and a cheerleader. When you realize your dreams, you’ll have someone to celebrate with.

I could spout that old cliché, “today is the first day of the rest of your life”, but that doesn’t work for me. Maybe that whole “rest of your life” stuff overwhelms me, so I’ll just say, today is the day. One day, one standard serving of 24 hours. Don’t spend more than a few minutes lamenting yesterday’s mistakes. Don’t worry about what may come tomorrow. Focus on this day and what you can do to make it peaceful, joy-filled, creative, and life-giving. Happy New Day, my friends, and many more! 😀

Complete the experience. Listen to Avalon’s “It’s a New Day“.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram @pollyeloquent. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Knock Knock

Oh, hello.

How nice of you to drop by.

I wasn’t expecting you.

I hear the sound of a baby’s cry

And the bleating of stable animals.

Something smells.

But, no matter.

Come on in.

I’m sorry, I’ve nothing prepared.

Life is busy. You know how it is.

Can we get personal?

You don’t mind, do you?

Cuz, I’m a bit surprised.

Was this your plan

With all your power

To enter in this mess

Helpless and completely at our mercy?

Yes, it was?

How interesting!

Was this your plan

To form a band of rag tag nobodies

Confer on them a mission and an other-wordly kingdom

Placing all possibility of success squarely on their wobbly shoulders?

Let me guess, the answer, yet again, is yes?

How curious!

Was this your plan to end up nailed, spiked through hands and feet, to weathered stakes of wood

In front of all of those you healed who thought you were the one to free them?

You have my rapt attention.

To breathe your last and pass from heaven into hell

And, then, to rise again, ascend to sit at God’s right hand,

To make your home with us where you will reign forevermore?

What’s this?

A resounding affirmation

Oh, yes, there’s no mistake, no lapse in judgement, but celestial wisdom.

Oh, I didn’t know, I didn’t see, I didn’t understand.

The tears they blind my eyes.

You came to live with us, with me!

I bow my head.

I get down humbly on one knee

And offer up my heart, my life.

It’s all I have to give.

You lift me up and hold me for a time.

Then we let go, but still I feel aglow.

I’ll show you to your room.

 

Feature image graciously provided by Άννα Καράκοντη (@anna_karakonti) on Instagram.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Thank you for reading my blog! You give me the gift of your time and attention every time you do and I’m so grateful. Enjoy your holiday!

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram @pollyeloquent. 🙂

 

Good Tidings

I’ve a hole in my heart since the day I was born

I knew it was there and while I’ve grown the hole grows, too

It’s now a rift, no, more a chasm

I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to fill

And I fear someday as I tiptoe on the edge

To deposit yet another futile offering

That I will stumble on the slippery shale

And fall within myself and disappear

 

But at this time of year

I’m reminded there’s hope

I’m reminded that my hole is nothing more

Than the feeling that I’m desperately alone

And the anguish that I suffer now

Was remedied one Christmas morn

When the Father of the universe, the lover of our souls

Sent the Son to be with us

God is with us

 

It’s why the angel choir sang

And what the shepherds felt compelled to tell

And why the wise men left their palaces

To wander miles across the desert sands

Their eyes transfixed upon a glorious star

Somehow they knew the coming of this tiny babe, this most unlikely king

Would satisfy and make them well

And they would never be alone

God is with us

 

Remember now, rejoice and celebrate

The radiance that pierced the darkness on the earth

Remember now while it comes easily

And take it with you into a mysterious new year

It’s why we lift our voices in the carol song

And swathe the evergreen in beams of light

It’s why we give our gifts to meet the needs of one and all

It’s why we live

To breathe and bear this sacred tale

God is with us

God is with us

God is with us

 

Author’s note: There will be another Christmas poem posted on Christmas Day. 🙂

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Giving that Hurts so Good

When many people think of Christmas, the first thought that comes to mind is presents, packages wrapped up crisp and neat in festive paper, be-ribboned, and tucked awaygift1 under the bows of the Christmas tree to mingle with the low hanging ornaments. Gone are the days when sugar plums danced in childrens’ heads and shrieks of glee could be heard over a stocking filled with an orange and a couple of candy canes. Now, it’s iPhones and PlayStation consoles cluttering up kids’ noggins and taxing parents’ already stretched bank accounts.
Continue reading “Giving that Hurts so Good”

All I Want for Christmas is You

airjordanWant is rampant in our culture, particularly during the holiday season. I’m not talking about the want of poverty where people are subsisting on found food, begging for discards, and suffering and dying of starvation. I’m speaking of the disease of desire, the “must have more” mentality, the mission of acquisition.
Continue reading “All I Want for Christmas is You”

Out of the Mouths of Teens

new-years-eve-1911483_12802

My son and his junior high band class played Christmas carols at City Hall one year. Before angeltinsel2they began, the band teacher turned around to explain that the students had only been together for a paltry few weeks. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that my son had played the saxophone. The teacher added that with the limited number of students and, consequently, instruments, the melody may be carried by instruments we were not accustomed to hearing carry the melody.
Continue reading “Out of the Mouths of Teens”

Footprints in the Snow

For my husband

Walking together in the chill of a winter’s eve

Bodies craving warmth are bundled into obscurity

Breath hangs like icicles

You trudge on ahead

Diamonds sparkle at the crunch of your heavy boots

I follow sure-footed the glittering path you’ve made for me

I thank you for those footprints in the snow

For the many things you do for me

To make my life a little bit easier

 

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂