Symbols

Symbols

 

My husband has heard the name, Sue Monk Kidd flow from my mouth over and over again. It was two years ago that an editor suggested I read The Secret Life of Bees, and immediately I fell in awe of Mrs. Kidd’s ability to reach my soul with her writing.

 

Christmas Day I opened up, When the Heart Waits. I had forgotten she had written this book. For the past two months I listened to her stories in Firstlight and I asked Eric to buy me a copy of the book for Christmas. Checking out the audio version from the library for the fourth time seemed a little too selfish.

 

When the presents were opened and the banana stuffed French toast joyfully eaten, I climbed back into bed and opened up my cherished book. As I read, something from within glowed. That’s how I knew I was on the right path.

 

This glowing feeling is like a light on the inside that illuminates your heart and calms your mind. When you are still and aware it tells you that everything is going to be okay.

 

The challenge for me is to live my daily life consistently aware of this light. In other words, leave behind my old way of living and live with a renewed sense of wonder and joy. Mrs. Kidd points out that the word cling comes from the Anglo-Saxon word clingan, which means “shrink.” When we cling to routines to feel safe, or a job we loathe, or even to a child who needs to discover life on their own, we shrink.

 

Learning to live in the moment is difficult but from everything I’ve read, with practice it becomes easier. Mrs. Kidd uses symbols from daily life to help her understand her inward journey and to remind her to be present. Because she is aware, she is able to see the symbols presented to her and learn from them. I too have kept my mind open to symbols.

 

Our family loves to travel. We have been overseas and to many different states. Planning vacations has been a highlight of every year. In 2008 we decided to make it a year of traveling only within Florida, our home state. Both kids have not been thrilled with this decision and I have to say that I have felt some guilt over deciding to stay close to home. This guilt has led me to search out inexpensive ways our family can be together, have a unique experience and enjoy the day.

 

Last week we decided to go the beach. It was seventy two degrees and we couldn’t decide whether to wear jeans or a bathing suit. We didn’t know if we would simply walk around or if we would sit on the sand for awhile. That shows how often we have ventured to the beach in our fourteen years in Florida. We were clueless. Both kids wanted to know exactly what we were going to do. I felt the guilt creeping up in the form of frustration. Who was I fooling thinking a trip to the beach could compare to Switzerland?

 

 A giant bridge guides all the traffic to Ft. Myers beach. We inched up the bridge with all the other cars. It reminded me of riding a rollercoaster, slowly making your way up hill knowing excitement was on the other side. We reached the top and I had a panoramic view of the sunlight bouncing off the surface of the Gulf, my mind calmed. This was better then any rollercoaster ride. I grabbed the camera to capture the moment, but quickly realized I had forgotten to replace the memory card. A voice from within told me  to enjoy each moment fully without worrying about saving it so that sometime in the future I could view it from a computer screen. The moment would be captured in my soul. Live and BE!

 

We found a spot on the beach. People were everywhere, in the water, playing catch, building sand castles and quietly reading. Little children chased sea gulls. A man tried to fly a kite from the pier. A parasail slowly carried passengers across the cloudless light blue sky.  I opened up, When the Heart Waits and read.

 

I heard someone nearby mention dolphins. I looked up to see people lined along the wet sand watching several fins glide through the water. Most everyone had stopped what they were doing to see the show. The sun was just beginning to set. One of the dolphins did a flip. I was amazed at how close they came to the beach. It was obvious they were just as curious about all of us as we were of them. This was a perfect moment. No amount of planning could have ever deemed such a result. This was of the Universe.

 

We decided to get an ice cream before leaving. Elle climbed the ramp to the pier with Eric and Kai while I stood and watched the sun set serenely below the water. People gathered again, the sight was enchanting. An old woman came and stood beside me. “Isn’t it funny how nature entertains us?” I nodded my head and smiled. “Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful.” She spoke and walked away.

 

Nature entertains and teaches us countless lessons. The sparkling water, dolphins, setting sun and the old woman were all symbols telling me that one doesn’t have to travel far or spend money for entertainment and enjoyment.

 

I often discuss with Eric ideas that intrigue me in my reading. He listens and as is his nature constantly questions. Yesterday’s topic was, letting go. I told him that while I believe letting go is crucial to happiness it is a very hard thing to do. My entire life I have strived to meet goals and succeed and now I am trying to let go and trust. He said he didn’t agree with me. He finds comfort in striving. So I asked him to give me an example. That morning he had run nine miles and he said he needed to strive constantly to accomplish those nine miles. This I believed to be different. He had already decided to run and while he was running he was focused. The striving I was talking about was a constant thinking about what you’re going to do in the future. It’s almost a relentless nagging that leaves you feeling incomplete. I’ll be happy or whole when…..type of striving. This striving does not allow me to be in the moment or aware because I am thinking about the future. Eric said he sort of understood and the topic changed.

 

Later that day we were cooking an afternoon meal together. I mentioned that I hadn’t had enough coffee that morning and was getting a headache. I poured the leftover coffee into a mug and set it in the microwave for a minute. I went back to making my tofu crescent squares without giving it a second thought. Eric and I chatted while we cooked. When the crescent squares were ready for the oven I decided to melt some butter to place over them as they baked. I popped open the microwave and there was my coffee! I had completely forgotten about it. It was still warm. I laughed at myself for forgetting so quickly. Then I questioned. Why did I forget when it was so important to me to have the coffee? Everyone who is addicted to caffeine in the morning knows of the ensuing headache that follows an insufficient amount of caffeine. The answer came like an unexpected doorbell. I forgot because I completely trusted that what I needed was on its way. I took action and then let go. There was my symbol. Excitedly, I explained my coffee experience to Eric and related it to our conversation that morning. “Now I understand.” Whew!

 

Symbols seem to come once a question is posed. Sometimes I ask questions from my reading and sometimes I question things I hear or see. I would venture to guess that symbols are there for us always answering our questions. However, we may not always be paying attention. I liken it to a teacher having to come up with many different ways to help their students understand.

 

While I was on the computer a few days ago a survey questioned popped up. The question was.. Am I more concerned with…the economy, Iraq, gas prices or health care? Iraq was my first thought. Then I hesitated and thought about the economy and health care. I really am unhappy with our lack of health coverage for our daughter who is paralyzed. So I questioned myself, why Iraq. The answer came…because people are dying and even though I don’t know anyone over there…I care. I checked Iraq over the other concerns and went on with my day.

 

The next day I opened my Facebook account and a friend had sent me a friend request for someone she thought I may know. I saw a man in uniform who had attended the same high school many years ago. On his status update he had mentioned that he was finally leaving Baghdad for the last time and returning home to his family. It had never occurred to me that we could communicate with soldiers in Iraq through Facebook. I sent him a message wishing him a safe journey. Apparently we were online at the same time. He sent me an instant message and we talked about high school twenty years ago. We knew some of the same people but had never actually met. Our conversation ended with me wishing him personally a safe journey. He was about to leave Baghdad.

 

 Suddenly I remembered the survey. There was my symbol, my confirmation. I had questioned and the answer was given. Or it could be viewed as, I asked to know someone in Iraq, and the very next day I spoke to M. just before he was about to return home.

 

Sue Monk Kidd likens our inward journey to the caterpillar who builds a cocoon. I was surprised to learn that there is no set time that a caterpillar must build their cocoon. Some put off the change for years. They grow into a butterfly only when they are ready.

 

Symbols are everywhere. Our uniqueness allows us to see and understand the Universe in our own way. Symbols help us to let go. Here are the words of Eckhart Tolle, Your inner purpose is to awaken. It is as simple as that. You share that purpose with every other person on the planet-because it is the purpose of humanity.

K.D.Rausin

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The Picture Book Review

Picture book reviews, reviews of books with pictures, and pictures of books!

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