Charmed Living

Tag: Thanksgiving

Appreciating Our Differences

Editor’s note (This is a slightly revised version of one of the most popular blogs from 2015. Hope you enjoy)

Image courtesy of NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_329.html

Here we are; 7.2 billion of us spinning on this big rock in the middle of infinite space. That’s 7.2 billion quirky ways of living life.

Each of us with our individual preferences in food, music, politics, religion, the clothes we wear.

Your preferences, when different from mine, irritate and annoy me.

Sometimes our differences of opinion lead to bombs and bullets. It leads to people who are trying to eat dinner or listen to music dying.

It’s hard to understand, confusing and frightening to think that differences of preference lead to bombs and bullets. I don’t like this.  I don’t like this one bit.

I want to make my Thanksgiving grocery list not worried about gunfire, millions of innocents displaced, or angry men exercising power in the most brutal way possible….by cheating someone else out of their life.

My Preferences

My preference is for peace and brotherly love.

I’d want to cling to my preferences. I’ve spent a lifetime collecting, curating, fine tuning so that I know I prefer a gin to vodka martini. I enjoy the hit of sauteed onion and herbs of provenance and loath dill. I prefer chocolate sauce on vanilla ice cream.

I prefer my own bed at 9:15 p.m. to any gala, concert or party, even on a Saturday night. I prefer the company of people I know and love to strangers unless they’ve got a French or Scottish accent.

Maybe this list of silly preferences takes too lightly the differences in our beliefs about what the God to whom we pray requires of each of us?

I cling to a belief in one  God who speaks many languages and accepts many beliefs, but insists on one thing: that we love each other. Loving each other, if you ask me, precludes bullets and bombs as a way to convince someone that your faith or ideas are correct.

I  understand rage, frustration, exasperation with the way the world works.  The world feels like it is coming apart at its seams.  Don’t we want to keep the world spinning in one piece? Who told us the world should spin according to our preference, that’s the question?

 

It’s exhausting trying to get the whole word to twirl the way I think it should twirl.  Not only is it exhausting, but after giving it my very best effort for over 50 years, it isn’t working. Nobody is paying attention.

I’ve decided to give up on my preferences…..ow, even writing that hurts.  It’s hard to give up what I want, what I believe in my heart is right.

The Practice

So I’m going to practice first.  I’m going to practice on this maple tree in my yard.

I love maples just as I love my children, family, Prince Charming, friends and neighbors.

Except this maple has issues, as do my children, family, Prince Charming, friends and neighbors.

The leaves on this maple change late and they only change to yellow.  Our neighbor’s maples change to give a good six weeks of color as they shift from a gorgeous gold (deeper and richer than this pathetic yellow) flushing to crimson.

The Neighbor’s maple

Our maple is planted too near the power lines. Every few years the power company comes by with saws and lops off half the tree, ruining its symmetry.

Accepting Things As They Are

Year after year the maple insists on being what it is–a yellow, late changing, lop-sided tree.  Both life circumstances and its nature make it what it is. I’ve been asking myself  is it easier to change the maple or my thoughts?
What might happen if I shifted my thoughts to appreciation for its deep, summer shade, its interesting bark, the way it cleans the air and gives me oxygen to breathe?
What if, in practicing to accept the world as it presents itself in the maple, I learned to accept my children, family, Prince Charming, friends and neighbors–colorful, independent-minded, lop-sided, kooky characters all?
What if I stopped trying to fix the world and everyone in it to suit myself? I’m practicing.  I’m practicing accepting the maple.
What are you practicing accepting? Leave a comment.

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