Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nourish This Awakening World #1: Wake Up, My Love

Yoo-hoo...anybody there?

Yes, you with the eyeballs scanning this page.

Wait...don't flit away.

Stay a while...please.

Take off your to-do's
stretch your gotta-get-going
make yourself comfortable.

What can I get you:
Some reflections to ruminate on?
A story to slowly digest?
A snippet of poetry or prose to savor later?

Come in, stay a while, enjoy your visit.

Um, but first, could you please wipe your feet a few more times on the welcome mat?
(You won't take it, when you leave...right? Welcome mats cost so much these days.)

Oh, and one more little thing: if you could just put your hand on this inkpad..? The fingerprinting won't take long. I promise.

No, really, I mean it. Come in. (Just don't take what's not yours.)
Stay a while. (Just don't steal anything that's mine.)'re leaving so soon? (Make sure all my words are put back where they belong, okay?)

Fear is an awful host.

Ah, but you're just being realistic, you might tell me.
This is how the world is, you might advise.
People steal stuff, defraud, make a profit from what belongs to someone else. The news proves this everyday. You gotta protect yourself. That's the truth.

Except that for me it's not...the whole truth, that is.

Sure, daily doses of names, dates, and deeds factually document the dangers of those who turn over their savings, creations, hearts to others. Suckers. Wise up, people. Don't show anyone (except maybe your family) anything valuable without first padlocking it, copyrighting it, or attaching an alarm. People will steal your stuff, you know, given half a chance.

Well, yes, they might.

But here comes the whole-truth part: if I don't freely give what is deepest in me, dearest to me, I can't be received—by you or anyone.
And if I'm not received, I can't fully unwrap the gifts that I am.
I remain securely bound by wrappings and decorations. Boxed in. Safe. Intact. And unopened.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, before the night of his ghostly visitors—and his eleventh hour rescue from his smallest, fearful self.

In Charles Dickens's 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol, Scrooge—"a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner"—clings to his Midas-touch for conducting business and making money. Piles of it.

No welcome mat lies at Scrooge's door. Only misery. A mother who died in his childhood, an indifferent father who sent him away to school, a loving fiance who broke her engagement with him—all stockpile Scrooge's fear of personal relationships and stoke his fierce determination to lockbox massive amounts of money. All chain his heart, imprisoning him. He can't give to those who need his generosity, and can't receive from those who want to love him.

Enter the chain-clanking, moaning ghost of Scrooge's dead partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob Marley, former excellent businessman who learned too late that humankind was his true business. Jacob Marley, a zombie forever condemned to walk the earth helplessly witnessing human suffering without being able to help in any way. Jacob Marley, who tries to save Scrooge from the same hellish fate by arranging three hauntings from Christmases Past, Present, and Future.

The Scrooge story has a happy ending, of course. After seeing a vision of his own grave and no one to celebrate his life or mourn his death, he throws off his smallest, fearful self, deliriously dancing and whooping his glee. Freely and lovingly sharing his wealth, himself. Forevermore.

Nice story. But what's wrong with making lots of money, especially if you're fantastically good at it? Nothing. It's just that making money isn't Scrooge's deepest, dearest gift—which remains unwrapped and unopened until the hauntings scare him awake.

What is? A heart-singing trio.
And giving these gifts with no strings attached, in turn, saves him.
Not just because the eventual recipients of his wealth are healed (Tiny Tim), grateful (the charitable men and Bob Cratchit's family), and joyful (nephew Fred).
Because their gratitude, joy, and willingness to receive the real Scrooge, despite decades of mistreatment by the former skinflint, heals Scrooge.

Unless I am received, I remain unclaimed, unwrapped, uncirculated. Alone. Miserly. Miserable. Sort of dead.

Money, words, hearts: all need to circulate, "to follow a course that returns to the starting point." When circulation—whether within an individual body or among billions of people—slows, clogs, ceases, we become ill. And what if no one loves us enough to awaken us from our grasping, scraping, clutching little selves to be the gifts we already are...? We shrivel and die.

So does the world, a little at a time, each time you or I shrink into our smallest, fearful selves, holding back the awesome attention and deep-gladness gifts we were made to offer to each other.

I'm seeing and listening to more and more good news lately. The world is yawning, slowly waking from a centuries-old comatose belief that what I do "is none of your business." That if you are not in my family or other approved tribe, I am separate and unrelated to you. That stockpiling my fame and fortune at all costs is "job #1."

Little by little
we're stretching into a heart-singing knowing
and connecting with
and celebrating
that we, everyone of us together, are job #1.

Look around:
See us standing on welcome mats
holding out minds, hands, hearts
with money, words, ourselves
ready to be received
by a world that deeply needs us.

I have heard it all my life,
A voice calling a name I recognized as my own.

Sometimes it comes as a soft-bellied whisper.
Sometimes it holds an edge of urgency.

But always it says: Wake up, my love. You are walking asleep. There's no safety in that!

One day, I am sitting at a children's book fair, with two of the books I wrote stacked on the table in front of me. A mom walks into the room with her daughter, who is about seven years old. Surveying the books on the tables nearest the door, where I am located, the mom spots my first children's book, I Hate Goodbyes.

"Oh, look," she says to her daughter, "the author has written another book. We'll have to get this one too, won't we?"

Her daughter nods eagerly, taking the book from her mom, beginning to read it.

The mom looks up, noticing me. "Are you the author?"

I nod that I am.

"I have to tell you. We moved here recently, which terribly uprooted and upset my daughter. She didn't like her new school and didn't want to learn. Then we got your book, which I read to her many times, at her request."

I am pleased; I know my book must be hitting an emotional home run with the little girl. Exactly the kind of reception an author wants.

The mom glances at my nametag. "Kathy, there's more. My daughter learned to read with your book. It's the first one she ever read by herself. Now she's doing fine at her new school and loves to read."

Her daughter looks up at me, smiles shyly, then returns to reading my—her—new book.

I swallow, trying hard not to cry in front of them.

Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs you want our children’s children to remember. And I will show you how I struggle
not to change the world,
but to love it.

Yoo-hoo...anybody there?

Ah, there you are.

Please come in
take off your smallest, fearful self
and stay a while.

What can I get for you?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Good-news goodies:
* poem excerpt from
The Call by Oriah
** poem excerpt from The Dance by Oriah


  1. Great post! I love the Oriah quotes. I am staying awhile and I promise I won't take anything ;-)

  2. Oh, please DO take away, Jaime. :o)

    More Oriah to come. She's given me permission to include a story she tells that I love: a letting-go ritual after each book is published so others can receive her work.


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