bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: spirit

Happy #GivingTuesday

I wrote this a few weeks ago.  It first ran in The Winchester Star.  Today is #GivingTuesday, a day devoted to service and philanthropy worldwide.  I’m really proud of my children and their buddies for participating and wanted to share the story of their inspiring philanthropic efforts.  If you don’t know what #GivingTuesday is check out the hashtag on Twitter or Google it!  You will absolutely want to get with the program next year!   Here’s the story…

It’s a quiet evening in the Gobes household.  The autumn sun sets early as the rich aroma of Barefoot Contessa’s boeuf bourguignon peaks our appetites.

With a click of the mouse, my cozy, quiet, comfort-food kitchen is suddenly infused with emotion as my family quickly transitions from hunger to contemplation to tears to determination to inspired action.

My children and I are wrapped around the sound of a news story aired by NPR online, brought to living color by Paula Bronstein’s stirring photo of a Filipino expressing his raw suffering after Typhoon Haiyan.

For a long moment we four are suspended in stillness as we connect with his suffering.  His tears flow through our eyes as we watch the computer screen in silence.

I break the hush and spend a few minutes talking about what it means to be human.  This man is a stranger.  He is thousands of miles away, but his pain is as familiar to us as our own breath.

My youngest children are 9, 7, and 5.  They know suffering, or at least they think they do.  Their low points are dredged up by missing sneakers on gym day, by two green brussel sprouts on a dinner plate.  But their imaginations are fertile and their capacity for compassion is immense.  They examine the man’s expression and begin to list emotions he might be feeling.  They, too, feel those things.  They connect the dots.  He’s just like us.

“How can you help him?” I ask.

“We can send him blankets!” suggests one.

“He’s not cold, he’s wearing short sleeves,” says the other.  “How about pillows?”

“How can we get the pillows to him?”

“Maybe the best way to help him from so far away is to raise money.  He can use it to import what he needs,” I suggest.

“Can we color him a picture, Mommy?” my little one requests.

“You bet, babe.”

My 9 year-old seems to be experiencing a paradigm shift.  She picks up the house phone and begins to dial with great urgency.  She’s recruiting her besties to lead a fundraising effort – a good old fashioned coin collection.  Empty your piggy banks, fellow third graders!  The people of the Philippines need our pocket change!  She disappears into her bedroom, chittering quickly, hashing out details and coordinating collection locations.

My 7 year-old has settled back into her book Big Nate, but upon absorbing her big sister’s charitable enthusiasm, she ditches the read and picks up a marker.  “How do you spell typhoon?”  She churns out several posters as I type emails to friends soliciting support for the children’s mission.

My 5 year-old is on the edge.  He’s constructing cannons out of Tinker Toys and monitoring the commotion cautiously.  “Mommy,” he ventures, “Can I ask Jack and Billy to give quarters to that man?”  I respond in the affirmative and hear his barely audible, “Yessssss.”  He continues to quietly play with his cannons.

“Can you believe that a 5 year-old boy like you can do something important like this?  You have the power to help a grown man feel better.  You’re like a superhero.  What do you think about that, buddy?”

“Good,” he mutters, not lifting his head.  But I can see past his long bangs that he’s smiling.  The enthusiasm for this project is contagious.

Big sister returns to the kitchen, placing the cordless on my desk.  The plan is a go.  The  primary players are enlisted.  We decide to collect change until Thanksgiving and have a coin counting party on #GivingTuesday.  They’re excited to be part of such a special day.

Dinner is hot and it’s time to eat.  I take a moment to reflect.  In the time it took a pot of stew to boil, my children adopted a cause and took action.  I’m reminded of a quote by Seneca, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste of a lot of it.”  No wasted time here.  Giddy-up.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

**********

photo

A few of the kids sorting, counting, stacking, and rolling today. They pulled in $450 in pocket change for the survivors of Haiyan! They feel very accomplished and their moms feel very proud!

this one goes out to the nobodies

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I’m a house frau.  I live a relatively ordinary suburban life in New England.  Technically speaking, I’m a nobody.  My name has never been in lights, I have about 14 Twitter followers, I have a moderate talent for writing.  But I do have something that makes me very special.  God lives inside of me.  Yep.  Crazy, right?  I mean, I’m not religious.  I don’t even go to church.  I’ve never read The Old Testament or worn a yamaka and I don’t celebrate Ramadan.  But God still hangs out in my heart.  Who’d imagine He’d make time for a nobody like me?  But He does.  Somehow He remembers me.  Everyday He encourages me to be better, to try harder, to do the best I can with the time I have.

Like I said, I’m a writer.  I write about spiritual awakening.  I hope to share my experiences in hopes to inspire others to live more mindfully.  This is my contribution to world peace.  I’d like to grow my audience and my peaceful contribution, but that’s hard to do when you’re a nobody.  But I keep on posting blogs and mailing article submissions to Oprah and creating slightly embarrassing YouTube videos because I care.  Because I want to do my part.  Because if God is going to grace me with the opportunity to live a whole lifetime with His beautiful energy in my heart, I want to do my very best.

I have an affirmation card hanging on my refrigerator that says, “It’s happening.”  I love that card.  It’s powerful.  Every morning I pull out my Stoneyfield Farm Banilla yogurt and think, “Oh yah.  I’ve got to pull my load today because it’s happening.  Can’t let God down.  He knows that I know that He knows that I know.  Time to work.”

So I pick up my phone and reach out to people who know I’m a nobody and cross my fingers that these are the people God wants me to call.  I send emails and fumble around over-designed social media sites, strike up strike up overly-honest conversations after yoga class and take advice from my brilliant sister – all to create connections with the just-right people to help me on my mission.

Sometimes it works (ding ding ding!) and sometimes I’m rejected.  But the rejection doesn’t feel like failure to me.  Rejection isn’t personal.  It’s just a sign that I’m not ready for that experience yet or that I’m sniffing out the wrong lead.

I’m not afraid.  Nope.  No way.  I’m not afraid to try.  Trying is risky because buried inside of the word “try” is the word “fail”.  But also hidden in that word is “Congratulations!  You did it!  You passed!  Now jump back in the game and try something else – there’s a lot of work to do with your life and time’s a-ticking!”  This Nobody’s got her eyes trained on the latter.