July 8, 2009

Getting whopped up the side of the head

God speaks to us when we open our senses and ourselves to that possibility.

I’m not saying I believe that “things happen for a reason,” rather I believe God gives us opportunities and we can accept or reject them. Sometimes opportunity “whops us up the side of the head” as my father would say and we reel like the cartoon coyote smacked by an Acme anvil.

The ancient Chinese philosopher said a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. In the last few months, I’ve been taking small steps in a new direction.

In my new venture, I had an appointment at the local zoo on a perfect July day when wisps of white clouds lazed through the blue stonewashed-jeans colored sky. Feeling somewhat apprehensive while I waited for my appointment, I sat on a bench near fountains where children played.

I soaked in my surroundings in this restful setting.

On the back of the bench was a small plaque that read, “Dedicated to the memory of Vivie Dunn by her friends and family.”

Miss Vivie! Well, whop me up the side of the head! My last trip to this very zoo had been with Miss Vivie and other adults and several van loads of Sunday school children.

Children were drawn to Vivie like moths to a flame, and called her Miss Vivie. When my son was a child, she attended all his birthday parties and loved playing “Where in the World is Carmen san Diego?” or smacking the piñata.

No one I’ve ever known better expressed the spirit of self-reliance, faith, and childlike wonderment in one six-foot tall package. Miss Vivie and I went to church together for ten years. . Miss Vivie was an entomologist for the state and caught birds to look for signs of disease. She expressed her joy of living with elaborate hats, safari clothing, and an identical series of trashed-out station wagons to haul her birds and bugs to the lab. She embraced life to the fullest aware that she might not have a lot of time, with Marfan’s Syndrome and it’s physical and emotional challenges.

God was speaking to me as clearly, as if he sent me a telegram on that zoo plaza. I heard: “Be like Miss Vivie, step out, go with your strengths, don’t be afraid, and be childlike in your wonder of the world.” Quoth the raven.