01 September, 2010

Love and Connectedness: Raoka

My fingers glanced over the leaves of my plant as I walked into the office this morning noting its renewed peppy appearance.  “My plant is happy.”  It wasn’t looking so “peppy” when I took it home last week to give it a new pot with fresh soil; and then I worried about it as it continued to look ill while sitting at my house, an unfamiliar environment, waiting for me to bring it back to the office.  Yesterday I brought it back.  Today it looks more itself.  Next week I believe it will be as green and as lively as ever. 
The relationship I have with this plant, with nature, is simple – I care for it, nurture it, and sometimes baby it – I give it all I can… and in return, it lives, it blooms, it brings life into my office… This plant has shared my frustration and my tears as well as my laughter and accomplishment.  It judges not; accepts all; and is always itself – never putting on airs or pretending to be anything it isn’t. 
A simple relationship and yet, it is love. 
Throughout the month of August, I have seen love expressed in big and small ways.  I have seen the lack of love as strongly as I have seen its presence.  This month has served as a reminder that love is so simple that it is complicated – and how I envy those languages and cultures that do not clump everything together under the word love and call it good as we do in English!!
Love as Connectedness
Early August – I became one of the masses; the commuters.  Removed from the daily grind and the same people and routes, I found myself smiling at strangers, reaching out to have conversations with others, holding doors, slowing down, chatting with service people.  I found myself feeling thankful for the littlest things – the garbage men laughing and shouting with one another as they did their jobs.  The woman and hers on who had just arrived from New Hampshire and were standing in line with us for cupcakes… we took their picture for them… and it was raining! 
When we spend our days in a car and then in an office – or in a car and in our homes telecommuting – we are not feeling the connectedness that we are to others, to nature, and to the world at large.  We are increasingly isolated.  Love lives in that isolation; love thrives in the world beyond that bubble and outside those walls.  Love is the smiles and the faces and the trees, birds, and plants.  And it in our interactions with people – the give and take, the respect, and the compassion. 
Love in Action
I traveled to Florida – open mind, open heart, and without  expectation.  I had no idea how I could love Florida in August, but I was ready to do it all the same.  And… no surprise, I am sure, but Did love Florida in August.  In fact, we didn’t want to leave Florida in August!!  Yet it had more to do with my daughter’s aunt and her husband and the love and openness and acceptance they are over the state itself because, well, Florida is kind of hot and humid in August!  But Florida embraced us.  Florida had us laughing and sharing tears and meeting friends. 
It would have been easy for me to have found reasons not to travel to Florida in August- the first being that it is super hot and humid in Florida in August and such weather is not exactly my idea of fun.  It seems that we can find reasons and excuses not to open our hearts or not to love or share or give.  I wonder why that is?  I considered not going to Florida for about… thirty seconds.  Despite my uncertainty about the trip, I had to go.  I had to take my daughter to see her aunt; I wanted to share my daughter with her aunt and allow her aunt to love her in return; and I have to admit, I wanted to get in on that giving and sharing thing to.  Thus the state, the heat, the humidity… none of it mattered.  It was about the opening of the heart and the choice to share and be a family.
Love in the Face of Fear
August was full of love in my house and in my life.  My plants flourish, the furry friends that share my house are back to their spirited selves, and family filled much of these summer days.  With all the love and the family around, it surprises me to reflect on the month and find that fear played a significant role.  Not fear in my life but the general fear of different parts of the community and the country. 
By the last Saturday in August, I found myself “done with fear and ignorance.”  I found myself wondering, aloud, how it is that people choose to allow fears, big and small they are all fears, to control their lives?  My daughter attends an ethnically diverse school with as many religions as there are ethnic groups if not more.  Her best friend, and the sweetest girl ever I might add, is of a different religion.  In my house, in my world, none of this matters.  And yet, in some areas and to some people, this matters.  While I am surrounding my daughter with this diversity and modeling appreciation and acceptance and even, love for the differences and the similarities… there are other families removing their kids from diversity afraid of the differences and the unknown, and seemingly blind to the similarities and the connectedness. 
There are days when I want to turn off the news.  I don’t want to hear the stories or feel the frustration that comes with my desire to fix it – to help; to make a difference.  I can turn off the news; but, the fear that is expressed within those communities and around this country remains.  Turning off the news doesn’t make the challenge go away. 
Love was the RAOKA theme for August… and August was a month of love for me. 
The month started with a recognition of connectedness and the love that we express in and through that connectedness – and ended with a recognition of fear – and how fear and connectedness can march hand-in-hand as well.
I am still working through many of the aspects of love that appeared in my life this past month.  One of the observations that resonates – the connectedness.  I can’t change the world as I once thought I could.  I can do my part; I can give what I can and do what I do.  I can recognize my connectedness and take responsibility.  I can chose love – to give, to share, and to accept.  And that – that give, share and accept, that is what  August has given me. 
My daughter and I sat together, sharing a space without touching.  “We are both sitting on the bed.” She said, “Does that mean we are connected?”  and “If we are connected, is everyone connected?”
(It is hard to not live and choose love, when love lives and breathes and shares my home!)

RAOKA is founded on the idea that we can do little things to make a difference. The little things in life, the little things that we all can do and do daily – like laughter, express passion, gratitude… These acts are noted by various people in accordance with a theme chosen each month. August's theme was Love; The theme for September is Grace!
For more information on participating and RAOKA, please contact Lori and Jane Be Nimble!!


Sara said...

I loved this "Love" post:~)

I am also glad you enjoyed your visit to my state, Florida. Yes, you are right it is HOT and HUMID in August, but it sounds like you got in touch with some good people.

Keep that plant and your other little one flourishing with your love:~)

I'm glad August was a month of love for you!

Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point said...

What a heart-warming post brimming with love!

And my absolute most favorite part is your daughter's big yet simple questions at the end of your post. How very astute of her to recognize that distance does not equal unconnectedness. What a lovely girl she is!

The Exception said...

@Sara - It was a lovely visit... and I am already planning our trip back - this time in january! There are shells just waiting with my name on them (I couldn't get them all in one visit) and there are many more laughs and stories to share!

@Belinda - She is wise beyond her years such that it is hard to remember that she is just a little girl still! She is "love" as I have told her since before she was born. I hope that she never forgets it ;)

Keith said...


I can feel the energy that radiates from your post on love. It is obvious you had genuine experiences with love that has left impressions on you. It is a blessing to live as you do, with an awareness of the people around you in this world, and the impact that seemingly simple acts of kindness can have. Ripples that keep spreading outward.

Thank you for sharing this. :-)

Lori (JBN) said...

Hi M,
I enjoyed this post and reading your journey centered around connection.

From my perspective, I think that's what this month of love did for me, too, to remind me that we are all connected, living in one big house (called Earth). We're all doing our chores, picking up, mowing the lawns and our share should also include smiles and connection to each other.

Thanks for being a part of this group of lovely people effecting change one smile and small (or big!) act at a time. I appreciate you and all you do.

Love to you and your family.
P.S. I love that you took a photo in the rain...

Tim said...

Hi Exception:

Wow...some great observations about the power of both love and fear...so good to read that love really overpowered fear for you. I would have to agree that fear sometimes really gets in the way of love.

I loved to read in your post that one of your daughter's closest friends is of another faith...and how unimportant that is to both you and your daughter. I know a lot of people who are very fearful of getting to know their neighbors who may be different than them somehow. Regardless of race or religion, like you said, we are all connected...I truly believe that. I'm glad that August was a great month filled with love for you and your family. Thank you for this post!