1/27/09

Noticing


Aloe vera blossoms taken in my backyard last week. The former owner of this house must have planted a house plant she'd grown tired of. The aloe is located all by itself in an odd corner, but it grows well and blooms like this a couple of times a year.
I am stalling today, slowly avoiding doing the things I know I need to do. It is warm here in Texas, and at 90% humidity. This makes me a little crabby. Updating my address book just now, I am reminded of a few small gestures that seemed to mean more to the recipients than I anticipated. I want to remember these, to remember that something that seems small to me can mean so much to someone I’m thinking of. In one instance, I wrote a Christmas card/thank-you note to the woman who volunteers as the bookstore coordinator at our church. She left a very warm, touching voicemail for me later that day thanking me. It stopped me in my tracks and made me wish I’d done more than just give her a card: perhaps brought in something baked or a gift certificate. Likewise, I took a loaf of banana bread to a woman in our neighborhood who keeps our phone list updated. Again, I later found an extremely warm, grateful voicemail from her. Their thankfulness was so touching to me and was almost humbling; I felt that my little gestures did not deserve such thanks. But it was also affirming and reminded me that it is worth it to do little things. So often it seems that most people don’t notice small courtesies or bother to really listen to each other, but moments like these remind me that it’s worth it to strive to let others know that we appreciate them, even if it’s just sending them a card. To me, a big part of Christianity is stopping to notice others for real, not with just a passing glance, to listen to them and acknowledge their presence by being fully present myself. Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done, depending upon how tired, preoccupied, or stressed out I am.

Have you found yourself in either the giving or receiving end in these sorts of situations? I’d love to hear.


11 comments:

ELK said...

my aloe bloomed for the first time this year ~amazed me!
I recieved a note from a group of friends who went on a weekend retreat that I could not attend...it touched my heart so...

working on my valentines!!

Shawna said...

usually i'm on the receiving end bc i simply forget to mail out letters i write. my best friend and i send mail back and forth quite a bit and i love to get something randomly in the mail box. my (adult) cousin once sent me a sympathy card that she made herself and i felt such peace as i opened it. at a time when i was avoiding people and many of them were avoiding me for fear of saying something wrong, receiving a letter was very healing. there's just something about having a tangible connection in your hands, something that the sender also touched, something you can pick up and reread at any time. emails just aren't the same.

elizabeth said...

there is a lovely East Indian man who runs a small grocery mart near by to where I live. When ever I come in, to buy eggs or bread or other "didn't make it to the grocery store this weekend" purchases, he always remembers me, asks about my new job, my boss and how things are going. last year, when I was esp. discouraged and tired, in the long months of winter, he simply reminded me that this season would pass.

I have thought of this different times and been encouraged by it. not only that winter will go, but that our trials here do not last forever...

he is such a lovely man! and he's like that with everyone I think... when I was moving, he offered me boxes!

I pray that I can be an encouragement like he is...

Meadowlark Days said...

You gals are making me misty-eyed with your lovely and honest comments. Shawna, I agree, snail mail is so special. Elk and Elizabeth, it sounds like you know some wonderful people. Thank you so much for sharing these!

renee said...

wow, what a thoughtful post.

I don't have nearly of me to give to everyone I want to. Even small gestures are sometimes beyond the realities of my time.

I give what I can and try not to feel guilty about what I can't.

I still don't have holiday letters out yet, never mind thank you cards and such... But it just doesn't bother me anymore.

peaceliving said...

You know, I think I needed that reminder today. I was just lamenting that I wish I were the kind of person who remembered to send little notes and things to people. Maybe it's about time I just become one of those people.

Marfa said...

I'm usually the recepient of good will. Probably because of those 2 daughters of mine...

Shockingly lovely...I had no idea aloe had a blossom! I have one inside, because I know it wouldn't make it outside...today we got thick ice on top of our snow!

Janelle said...

I've never seen an aloe bloom before! It's so pretty!

I always feel very humbled when someone does something for me, whether it be big or little. I hope I do a good job of conveying that gratitude.

I agree so much with what you said about seeing people for real and being present and listening to them with your whole attention. It's so easy to just sweep past people sometimes.

Mimi said...

Can you harvest the aloe? Interesting.

Andie said...

Love the softness in these photos. Sigh...yes, it's the small things. Even in parenting I find the smallest gesture towards the kids sometimes have the biggest impact.
Good for you trying to remember to stay in the moment and notice the details. It is something I have to remind myself daily.
xxoo,
a.
http://www.andieedwards.com/

Letters From Midlife said...

One thing I do every week is send notes to people who are listed in our church bulletin as being sick, facing surgery, recovering, etc. I pray for each one then write a note letting them know I'm thinking of them.

It is therapy for me to reach out to others this way. The smallest things seem to mean so much.