One of my gifts is seeing into people, beyond their exterior and deep inside. I didn't recognize it as a gift for a long time and assumed that we all had that ability. We probably do, it's just that some of us have honed it.
The other afternoon, I lingered around my studio as I noticed the stone mason working to remove the Rookwood drinking fountain from the school, site of my studio, that will likely be torn down this summer to make way for apartments. I wanted to chat about his work and if he'd mind keeping it clean for a big Saturday event I was hosting. The dust had settled everywhere and, especially, just outside my door.
He was a robust German-American as crusty as they come and more than willing to lecture about life and history – his perspective. At first, I listened intently, then become uncomfortable as he pounded away at me. I felt he was taking advantage of my good listening skills. When I listen, I do so completely and it can be draining when it is entirely one way. I kept telling myself to look for that of God in him, then I decided God would not want me to be suffering through this harangue. I screwed up the courage to tell him that I wasn't interested in an argument, even put my hands up in the air as if to create a barrier. He backed off and said he wasn't arguing. I responded that, while I appreciated his perspective, it wasn't everyone's, including mine.
Slowly, his demeanor changed and I got the real story. At 18, he'd apprenticed himself to an Austrian master stone cutter who had survived Hitler's Youth and losing his family during WWII. He was a survivor who demanded nothing less of his students. The stone cutter I met had assumed his mentor's personality. Even he admitted it. We wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't been willing to look inside, then confront him. That of God in me was responding.
I had been trying to sort out the man from his message.
Not being seen is one of the wounds that I carry. Our gifts often arise from our wounds. In this case, I am certain that mine does.
Serendipitously (but maybe not), I had the rare privilege of being seen twice this week, all in the same evening.
Last post, I wrote about a new, local church congregation interested in partnering with me for Artsy Fartsy. The first time I connected with the pastor, we both knew Spirit was at work. Monday we were set to discuss Artsy Farty's needs and how the church could help. I truthfully told them that I was burned out and needed a little break before making decisions. They agreed and put no pressure on me, except to say that clearly saw God working through me in this effort and would encourage me not to lay it down. They saw my compassion and creativity. Wow. The day before my own faith community, motivated out of kindness, told me it didn't matter whether I laid it down or not. The community I have been part of 16 years doesn't see me the way almost strangers have.
Recharged after that affirming meeting, I danced over to my amazing bool club and our annual Christmas meeting and small gift exchange. I treasure what these women provide every months year after year. And these gifts come from the heart. Our newest member, Phoebe, said what she had to give was poetry. I was excited because she's a deep, talented spirit. And her poem blew me away. She sees me. I want to share it:
THERE IS A PLACE
A poem for my friend, Miss Cathy
She tells stories with strong colors,
offers hospitality with tea
and the way her soul stands –
with an elegance to rival the stars.
I see these: thoughtfulness, and spunk.
Thoughtfulness to observe,
to plant compassion like one would plant
flower seeds in spring.
Spunk, to fling snowballs at teenage boys,
to start a new adventure,
trusting One beyond herself
to form the rhythms and extend the roots.
Her life is a gift
to the rest of us,
less because of what she does, and more
because of who she is,
one who knows there is a place,
and offers it.
When I saw my shaman/pastoral counselor yesterday and we talked about what was happening in my life, even before I shared the above experiences, he said, "You really don't feel seen, do you?" and he has mentioned that before. "Ah, but I did TWICE this week," I responded.
• When have I felt seen?
• How have I been wounded when I haven't been?
• How do I see others?
• How have my wounds become my gifts?
• How do I express gratitude to God for my gifts?
Listen to this post: