Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Great Advice

"To know whom to avoid is a great means of saving our souls." St. Thomas Aquinas

My listening journal is filled with awesome little gems of advice. This particular one came to me on the heels of a discussion about trying to teach our children the difference between being kind to and including everyone and holding on to a friendship to the point of hurting our relationship with God. Those friendships are not true if they are causing us to do wrong, as in to talk about others or take time away from our families.

I've said it here before and I'll say it again, relationships are a lot of work. Life is just hard. Knowing who to hang around can be a major decision. People talk about one another and damage relationships and reputations without even thinking twice about what they are doing. Seems to be turning into a habit.

Let me just say one thing here that I know you all already know. If someone is talking to you about another, they are talking to them about you. Somehow, some way, we have to stop the madness. Gossip is all over the media. Many shows have made it popular. Children imitate. They imitate the media and they imitate their parents. I think the best thing to do for all of us is to step away. No, we cannot save these people. We are not God. We will get caught up in the trap. It can be a great source of entertainment. Trust me. I join it or fight it every day. But today, Thomas Aquinas says it best. Save yourself. Save your soul. Know whom to avoid.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Lost Boy

I guess it's been a year now since he first climbed the back stairs and wandered through the store to find me in the front. He must be about 6'11" or so and his arm span,well,as he stands at the top of the stairs, he can hold himself between what used to be a large double door opening, palms flat on the wall. He is drunk. The walls keep him from falling down the stairs to meet me.

He's from Nigeria. He's Catholic. He laughs or smiles most of the time he speaks to me. He's young and he has no place to settle in to...he's lost. We take him to get him some food but he tells us point blank that he'd rather have something to drink. He laughs with me.

He came by a couple of months ago and as I caught him down front, I noticed his nice leather shoes were untied. I walked down and spoke to him and then knelt to tie his shoes. He got right down on his knees with me and kept trying to duck his head lower than mine. My thought was that he did not want me "lower than him". May be something cultural.

This week I was cleaning around the office and came upon a few rosaries that needed taken to the front, 2 in boxes and 1 just clenched in my right hand. As I came down the stairs, I was greeted by the lost boy. "Mom! I need a rosary!" The smile peeled across his face, proud he didn't ask me for money. I opened my right hand and poured the rosary into his over-sized palm. "Thank you mom!" "The rosary has roses on the beads." "Yes mom, roses. Thank you."

My daughter and I were left alone. She said there was a Dominican sister upstairs he must have caught a glimpse of because at one point the lost boy looked up the stairs and said, "Sister Theresa." "Sister Theresa or St. Theresa? I handed him a St. Theresa rosary with the rose petals that I just happened to be bringing down to put back in stock." We just stared at one another.

That lost boy. He's always bringing some sort of happiness, some sort of joy. I never see him wandering the streets like the other guys. Once in a while, he just comes through the back door and finds me down front.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Listening

I've been listening a lot lately. I know all of you who know me and spend time around me must be saying, "Ha! All I hear you do is talk, talk, talk." But really, I have been working on the fine art of listening and I'd like to say that what I hear, the stories, their lives, could fill a library.
I have a bad tendency to half listen while half preparing an answer. I don't know if it's my concern that the person expects the right answer from me or my concern that I may say something wrong (happens a lot) or that I think I'm just a know-it-all and I don't have to listen. But true listening, staring into the eyes and stopping all I'm doing, takes patience and skill. I actually started a listening journal for the Month of May because I feel like if God took the time to send someone to tell me something then it is worth writing down. And, I can remember entire encounters because I have truly listened.
I recommend trying this. When someone is telling you something and you are extremely busy, or not, and really just want to give them the answer and move on, take the time to clear your mind and listen. Don't just hear what they are saying but listen to their life, to their words, to their voice. Treat no meeting as a coincidence but as a Godincidence. Something God sends through another may be the one thing He really wanted you to hear that day. Something God sends through another may be the one thing that makes a day or changes a life. Listen.