Today is Shabbat. A time free of work world constraints. Time to absorb beauty, reflect beauty and warmth, radiate that back to others. A time for thinking, for being. A time for giving thanks. I smell like the woods, having finally finished my sun-steeping of a new body oil I created, scented with vetiver, peru balsam and lavender. I wonder how close the scent is to the incense burned in the Mishkan a very long time ago.
My faith community is small – but it is stronger than rock, more durable than time itself, and more steadfast than the rise of the sun and the moon. On this day, we gather. Sometimes for an hour, other times for four, five hours. It is fluid, like life.
When I write, my purpose is to lift others, give hope, draw out a smile, to encourage. It is who and what I am. It gives me direction. Rarely do I share what my day-to-day life is like. Today, you get a peek of my week.
Work is hell. It is a sign of the times, doing more with less; being available 24/7/365 (Okay, I am only 24/4/350 -Shabbat and Holy Days are sacred, where no job intrudes); lowest price wins; give just a little more, then a bit more. I pride myself on a good job, on making things work, on overcoming obstacles. I work with all nationalities, ages, across time zones and continents. Sample conference call today – one Chinese, one Brazilian, three Indians, a Somalian, a South African and the Scot-Irish chick (moi) – some days I think I actually work for the U.N. But that is IT today. The customer comes first, which means most of my work days end way past nine o’clock, and then I come here, to my heart work. I am often up past 1, 2, 3 a.m., because this is what I love, although I am thankful for my job as well. Then I get up at 5-6 a.m. and start all over again.
Just this week, one daughter was told by her husband that he loved her, but he didn’t like her, and wants a divorce. They have been married since March, although together for five years (and two children). I tried to counsel her that life and marriage are not what the TV, movies and songs make it to be. That it is hard work. They are young. They had no ‘growing up’ time. She is tired and frustrated, as is he. I suggested counseling; individual if needed, couples if possible. All I can do is give her strength, and what little wisdom I have gathered in my longer stay on this planet.
Another daughter, very successful and confident, brash even, suffered her first set-back in the working world. She didn’t get a promotion she has earned, with high efficiency and excellent work ethics. It was not the loss of the opportunity, but the hiring manager’s post-interview ‘chat’, that devastated her. She is probably most like me – stoic, stiff backbone, fake-it-till-you-make-it, but with the soul-destroying words of her father and my ex always lingering in her ears, it causes her to question her value. She is smart, and wise – she will make it. But she needed an ear a couple of times this week, just for reassurance. I gave it.
My youngest awoke to her four-year-old playing with fire. She too, called me, in tears. All I had was time, while juggling my work, to listen, to assuage, to encourage. I hope to get over there later today, and give them a break.
My friends, they face their own struggles – widows, partners to alcoholics, long-divorced mothers whose children never call, those uncertain in which direction they want their life to go now, after achieving what they thought success was. They too, need time, and an ear. They do give back, in spades, when I need somewhere, some place, to park my own worries, fears, troubles,or just to listen to me yammer…and to share bright notes as well.
But at the end of the day, when it is time to rest, there is no one for me. That is currently my choice, borne out of widowhood and a refusal to just light anywhere, find any port in a storm; along with a commitment to growing and exploring my artistic skills over the next year.
I share this, not for sympathy, for me but, perhaps to allow you to look at those on whom you know that you can always, without fail, lean on – in a different light. Yes, we are strong – steel under velvet, to quote a friend’s description of me one time. But even steel has a break point. When we do break, please remember all of those times we have been unfailing, supporting, encouraging. Forgive us. We too, are very human. We too, have limits. Our wells do sometimes run dry.
Continue to value us anyway, at our weakest points. We will return to strength, if we might only have a moment or two of frailty ourselves; before we dry our eyes, straighten our spines, and open our hands to you once again. We need your trust in us, just as we need our trust in you.
To be valued at our weakest, is to be given power to be our strongest.
Just me, pensive but smiling 🙂