Archive for Thursday, December 10, 2009

Five-second vacation’ brings calm in chaotic world

December 10, 2009

The season in which we find ourselves is a season of peace, a time of hope. In a war-torn world, with an economy in chaos and health care reform seriously challenged, it may seem difficult, if not impossible, to find a sense of inner calm.

I am reminded that we find such islands of hope in small ways. It is what I call the five-second vacation: Finding a moment of beauty and holding it close in view for five seconds, as we used to say in holding our breath — one Mississippi, two Mississippi and so on.

There is a garden of flowers off Renner road that I pass in the spring and summer that is so lovely — reds, and yellows, standing tall and proud right in the middle of a concrete divider between a four-lane road. It is an island of serenity, if only for five seconds.

I have a picture on a dresser of two of my closest friends, a friendship that goes back 30- some-odd years. They are picking gooseberries, looking up and laughing. I pause for a moment, and in that moment am filled with the blessings of longtime friends.

I have a more recent picture, cut from an article in the KC Star, with a caption above it that reads “Making Christmas Wishes Come True.” It shows a man, streaks of grey in his hair, squatting behind a bike, with one hand resting on the bike’s back tire. I remember his first bike, assembled from the parts of other discarded bikes, put together by our local policeman who ran a bike repair shop in his garage.

We grew up poor in material possessions but rich in family. The man in the Star photo is my only brother, and he still takes my breath away when he walks in the door. He resembles my oldest sister and all that is fine about growing up together and growing older in his shadow.

We had a Christmas one year in which my mother explained that Santa was unable to come to our house. We spent the day before a gas heater, being read to and snuggled in an old, green, wool army blanket. I thought I was the luckiest kid on the block. I had my mother and brother for a whole day of reading and being close.

I have a stop sign on my kitchen counter. It’s about three inches in diameter, bright red and white in color. I have one in a desk drawer as well.

In the hustle, bustle, whirlwind of a day, when I come upon one, I am reminded to pause for five seconds, breathe in and breathe out, let the power of inner peace sustain me through another day.

It is the season of peace, a time to celebrate that small, sustaining memory of family loved, friendship cherished, five seconds at a time. It is a season of hope.


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