Um… No! But I might design some shaped like stars, moons, hearts, and clovers, just for fun.
It’s hard to see the stars while in the city with all the light pollution. Of course, it’s difficult to see stars in the daylight too, but they are there shining. It’s easier to hear stars and talent converse in audio books and electronic sermons. Why, some stars arrive as questions, from the mouths of babies and Little Princes. Some find place in jingle like bells, blown in the wind like shells and children’s laughter. Some break apart and fall to pieces. Others reappear as matter reorganized, discovered as planted planets in a distant galaxy.
Star Girl Caloway was not feeling her usual glittery self. She was feeling jilted, and befuddled. Responding to crisis, a trusted neighbor gave Star Girl spiritual advice from what she remembered of the teachings of the Tao. That is, “to embrace the uncertainty.” Dootsie would have rebutted, “Dog poopy!” I have to admit, agoraphobic MaryLou was a strange one to be giving this advice, but it was good advice. Ha ha, so here in lies the irony. Life is full of paradox to be felt.
As one, more accustomed to driving the open freeway, I wasn’t prepared for the intersection. I braced myself in time to brake suddenly for the quick changing stoplight. Pearl lurched forward and everything on the front passenger seat spilled on the floor mat. It was during this punctuation I sighed and realized Jerry Spinelli was writing about Contentment. I tried not to be upset by the unforeseen change of tragic light. I was glad for quick reflexes and decent brakes, once I realized I had stopped and I was safe. I only wished I felt more safe and at peace about other uncertainties in Life.
Change and disconnection freaks me out these days. More so since the hysterectomy. Knowing I am in control of very little is also unsettling. Life requires adaptability and self calming. Ar times I’m not good at this. Sometimes I feel I am hanging by the thread worn sinewy neck of a rubber chicken adorning my daughter’s red Ford Focus’s rear view mirror. Like the car, I am making payments for my words and deeds.
I used to feel confident, and more the Super Hero in training. Like a gloved Title Champ, not just a pretender. Maybe I really did miss my calling to be a bull rider or Nascar driver, two professions that require risk and rely on holding on.
I try to get a grip. I wrap the rawboned leather strap tighter to my strong hand and squeeze with strong quads and abductors as Life pitches and spins. I try to be content and grateful and to look for starry starry blessings, cuz they are there among the shifting range of gears. . I realize that Contentment personified is not meant to be proud and bold, as much as it is to be meek, and elusive. It is a quiet introvert. It is a trusting, shy, knowing child.
Shh. It turns its head, diminishing volume from low to barely audible, like an elf owl hiding in a prickly saguaro trunk, high, and out of reach. Still, I can hear it peep, and as if possessing the echolocation of a fruit bat or pink dolphin, I seek with sonar and climb to claim it.
I go up, up, up a prickly pegboard as if playing Plinko, even at the risk of falling to a cacti impaled death, just to get a look at those soft tiny feathers. Risky. This is me, sometimes, not always, but more Frequently than not. I am the answer choices to a gallop poll or a school district parent survey designed to improve ratings in spite of the limp. Ahhhhhhhhh!
So in welcoming the Sabath I sat listening to a favorite Pastor share some thoughts on Contentment. I settled in, trying not to try, only to hear. This felt Grande peaceful like doubly starred Starbucks mornings do, only better.
So in that Sunday, go-to-church -meeting, just down the aisle and just up the road from mile marker Johnny eat world, I found myself with my thoughts and impressions. I half listened and half drew what I was visualizing the Pastor saying. Contentment sounded a lot like Peace. I tried to remember pieces of Peace, like shiny golden stars on foreheads. Like a disappearing string of Reeses Pieces, forming an alien trail to the mother ship; like someone making a soft, silent get away from chase. Distance from the jang, jang, jangling keys and eardrum burst of shooting stars.
I attempted to ascertain when I last felt really at Peace. It did not include candy or Pizza, but it could have involved a massage with an aroma touch upgrade.
“When do I most feel this way?” (outside of my psyche and external influence) the voice in my head silently demanded. I do feel it sometimes and it is something Holy. A hymn I used to sing in my LDS tradition called, “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” came to mind. I immediately knew the answer. I feel Peace as I turn to Christ. I imagine turning into His loving arms. I imagined and I prayed.
Then I loosed my pen and drew a container forpouring out and holding in Contentment and Peace. I drew a three-dimensional heart container…my cartoon self’s cartoon heart. I fashioned it sort of like a glass candy jar, or like a heart shaped Ziploc container without a lid. I wanted this creation of my mind, as I want my own heart, to be fully open, fully fe-malleable, shapeable, and open to gifts from God, and for me to be …ha ha…a “Peace Keeper.”
The more I listened to the sermon and read, the more I felt the verses of scripture filling these inner spaces, and the more I realized Contentment is a Gift which comes as a product of Love and Loving. It is a Gift of the Spirit.
Peace comes from growing and exercising Faith in God and in allowing Grace to wash over me like a Son-rise. It comes from turning from Sin. It comes in being Generous and Kind to others. It comes from thoughts of Gratitude. As I attempt these more, I am being more Generous and Kind to others and to my Soul. Being present with believers is sometimes the best thing I can do for my mind, heart and soul.
I finish listening to the Pastor’s wise words. I continue feeling open and humble for some time letting Love endorphins circulate through me. As I join with these believers, some with hands raised up, in singing lovely lyrics, I feel good. One man, who was handing out pens and programs, greeted me by name. I look around and with my eyes and heart I drink in the expressions and emotions of all the singing and lip-sinking people around me. What I see on the faces of the young and old and in-betweens is a sort of serenity, and blissfulness. Joy. I have seen this look on the faces of my students from time to time. I marvel and stand all amazed at God’s Love. I too, can feel it as I remember, “He makes beautiful things. He makes beautiful things from the dust,” and I realize “It is well with my Soul.”
I walk slowly to my car. Pearl is waiting in the distance, through the lovely rain. Passed the churned up, pasty fall leaves and thick mud. Today it is not a dusty day. It is a wet, silt and clay day, and a far cry from last time’s slick, treacherous ice. There is a car stuck in the muck not far from me in the extended parking lot. I can see a big yellow (tow) Toe-truck. Help has arrived. I am reminded of how I am often stuck… and of how exhausting this is, but Hope is rising on the horizon, on this blessed Son-day and all is well in this moment. I’m glad for this.
In less than twenty-four hours my mind starts playing tricks on me and I begin to doubt myself. I try to remember the sermon, but I’m too lazy to dig for my notebook in my athletic over-night bag in the other room, on the floor of my Sister’s guest room. No. I’d rather play with the baby. Instead, I try to visualize Peace as the small one jumps on my lap, giving me a circuit training routine, which isolates my already sore arms.
I remember some of the times and places in which I felt the warmth and healing of Peace and Contentment: in the rhythm of a lap swim, in Nature, hiking up a green, fragrant mountain Heaven-bound, resting silently in a tent, in a meadow spread with wildflowers just for me, watching a lightning storm, listening to rain, waking to the sound of the singing apple tree, meditating, relaxing into so many drives to and from the city in Pearl listening to K-LUV radio, holding my babies, and other’s babies, and my Sister’s baby, feeding them warm milk, watching them sleep, waking from just such a rare sleep (myself), witnessing God painting the sky, praying in the school parking lot amid the bus drop-off, lighting my smile to the smiles and greetings of parents and children who are hugging and waving good bye, teaching something I love and believe in, breathing in email from my missionary, and calls from my college- gone child telling me he’s okay, hearing the confirmation of such in the happy skip in her and his voice, reading lovely books, being read to, and opening to encouragement from cherished friends.
As much as I find evidence of Peace around me, I know it is truly an inside job. God has placed a spark of His divinity in me, and much like a pacemaker, I have to take care of it. I must keep the hearth light burning.
Peace and Contentment are Sisters to Joy, Generosity, and Gratitude and their parents are God’s Love and Grace. I am a keeper of light. I would do well to be wise. I’m not great at patience or wisdom. I would do well to open the eyes of my heart to them and to all those who would light my days and illuminate my night sky with His holiness, finding Peace and Hope in Him.