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day 60: golden rule

April 2, 2011
I thought a lot about Day 60 on this morning’s sparkly-skied, dogwood-shaded run.  In so many ways, Day 60 was just a really great day.
It began with some casual blog-surfing, an activity that has replaced morning television news for me in recent years (I eventually listen to news on the radio, I just find I can’t begin my day with it and maintain a hopeful outlook).  I regularly read blogs for recipe ideas (A Year of Slow Cooking, The Schell Cafe), simpler living tips (The Frugal Girl, Small Notebook), and general Mommy ideas (The Pleated Poppy, The Driveway of Life).
I visit each of these occasionally, so don’t always catch all of their posts.  When I landed on The Driveway of Life, a sweet blog written by a Christian mother of a young child with Down’s Syndrome, this quote immediately caught my attention:
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior:
Ask yourself what you want people to do for you,
then grab the initiative and do it for them.
Matthew 7:12
The Message
That simple quotation about the Golden Rule stuck with me all day on Day 60.  In part, it resonated with me because the previous Sunday, this book was read as a part of the children’s sermon at our church:

The illustrations in this book are beautiful.

Written by Ilene Cooper, it chronicles a discussion between a little boy and his grandfather about different ways to practice the Golden Rule.  It addresses the universality of the Rule, explaining that many religious traditions — from Christianity to the Shawnee tribe — have their own practices for treating others the way we all wish to be treated.  In the book, the little boy wonders how the world might be different if more people practiced the Golden Rule.  His grandfather’s response is, “It begins with you.”
I watched my son as the book was read to him last Sunday, all wide brown eyes and hair askew, chin tipped toward the reader.  He was captivated by its message.  When my mother asked what she could buy him for his upcoming fifth birthday, I immediately referred her to this book.  Not only a beautiful story, it is a conversation-starter.
Amid the insanity of soccer practices and birthday parties and spilled milk and scraped knees, I want my children talking about what really matters.

I also thought about the Golden Rule on Day 60 because I had a meeting with our church’s lead minister, Deb.  After services last Sunday, she’d approached me.  “I’ve been enjoying your blog,” she began, “and it sounds like you’ve been having some really compelling experiences with your ‘a gift a day’ project… would you ever like to meet and talk about them?”
Would I?  I jumped at the opportunity to check in with her, and scheduled a meeting with her on Day 60.  Tranquil and wise, Deb’s very presence welcomes.  I find her sermons consistently meaningful, with just enough humor plugged in between elegant thought and spiritual grounding to keep me at the edge of my pew.
We talked for an hour about God, giving, children, creativity, and building a substantive foundation.  We talked about a lot of things, but what was most striking to me about our meeting was her ability to so fully engage with me, even as I rambled incoherently.  She gave me a reading list.  She gave me lots of ideas that I immediately shared with Steve.  Most importantly, she gave me her very precious time.  I was — I am — so grateful.
When it came time for me to leave, I tried to tell Deb how much I appreciate her sermons… how both her theological perspective and her sense of humor really speak to me.  What came out of my mouth, however, was reminiscent of what I said to Dave Matthews when I bumped into him at a Nashville bar at age 19:  “Um, you are just so, um, great.  I just, uh, think what you do is, uh, so great.”
In other words, I was not as, uh, articulate as I might, um, wish to be (really, I’m better on paper).
Arriving home after my meeting with Deb, I realized that she was to be the recipient of Day 60’s gift.  This print from Etsy shop Oiseaux Noir summed up my feelings perfectly.
The hand is a favorite symbol of mine, and the message — “You are a gift” — says it all.
I hope, one day, I can do for someone else even half of what has been done for me over these sixty days.  The gifts I’ve received overflow from my outstretched hands.  They cannot be carried in my arms alone.
Hey, I hope your day is golden and sparkly.  I thank you (again) for showing up.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb Cayer permalink
    April 2, 2011 3:40 pm

    I read this through tears, Anne. I know that “being lost for words” feeling. What I’ve come to trust in myself and others is that our souls “download” truth instantly, but it takes our minds and tongues time to process and make meaningful statements…and it’s all good. I trust that genuine smiles and kindness cover what words can never convey. You have that, what some call “great presence;” it speaks louder than words. It was lovely to spend time with you on Friday; thank you for the gift of your time, your good company, and your trust. (And I love the print–thank you! I’ve had a thing for birds the past couple years–they’re everywhere in my dreams as well as in my home these days.) Blessings, Deb

    • April 3, 2011 7:48 am

      I love your response, Deb… thank you so much. I am so glad you like the print, also — your ring tone should have told me that birds are an appropriate symbol for you, I guess! I look forward to its arrival.
      Best wishes,
      A

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  1. day 90: synonyms for “grateful” « a gift a day

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