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Until It Is Carved In Stone [an Excerpt from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach]

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.
~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Visiting old cemeteries can be very illuminating. They are so still and silent. So quiet. Old cemeteries remind us that until it is carved in stone, realizing our heart’s desire is possible every day if we recognize what it is that makes us happy.

In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town a deeply poignant scene takes place in a graveyard. Ghosts comfort the young heroine, who has recently died in childbirth. Emily, still longing for the life she has just left, wishes to revisit it one ordinary, “unimportant” day in her life. When she gets her wish, she realizes how much the living take for granted.

Eventually her visit is too much for her to bear. “I didn’t realize,” she confesses mournfully, “all that was going on and we never noticed … Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners … Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

This is the season of Epiphany, when the renewal of light and revelation are celebrated in the liturgy of the Catholic, Episcopal, and Eastern Orthodox churches. On our new path we seek everyday epiphanies — occasions on which we can experience the Sacred in the ordinary — and come to the awakening, as Emily finally does, that we cannot longer afford to throw away even one “unimportant” day by not noticing the wonder of it all. We have to be willing to discover and then appreciate the authentic moments of happiness available to all of us every day.

[excerpted from the book Simple Abundance; A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach]

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Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet

Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?

via Daily Prompt: Teacher’s Pet.

I have had many really good teachers in my life, but the one that comes to the forefront of my mind was my elementary school librarian – Mrs. Rayburn.  Our friendship blossomed because of an unusual situation; my elementary school had a lady come in once a week and tell bible stories in class. Because of my unusual biblical education as a Kindergartner, I often ended up in theological disputes with this little old lady. Because of that, she wouldn’t have me in the classroom when she told her bible stories, so from that point on, I spent those days in the Library with Mrs. Rayburn. I could already read in Kindergarten, and she took that ability and turned it into a serious love of literature. We began to meet before school every morning, to review the book I had taken home the night before and to get a new book for that night. I devoured everything she gave me. By the end of that year, I was already reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and other young fiction. That love of reading has never left me. In addition, Mrs. Rayburn became a fixture in my life outside of school, as I would often be invited to spend weekends at her home with her and Mr. Rayburn. You see, Mrs. Rayburn was estranged from her son, because he had embraced the very religion I was raised in. I feel really good because I helped her understand the religion more, and to become reconciled with her son after she realized it wasn’t bad, like she had been predisposed to believe. She had a real affection for me, and the feeling was mutual. She took on the role of a grandparent to me, as all my grandparents were passed on by the time I was 3 or 4 years old. I stayed in touch with her over the years, even after I moved away from Appalachia and to Cincinnati. I loved her dearly and respected what she did.

A little bit more about Inez (that’s her first name): She was a teacher in one-room schoolhouses when my parents were little. She taught my father in the 40’s in one of those schoolhouses, and she had to travel a long way each direction just to teach there. She was head librarian over several schools and often traveled from school to school visiting the libraries.

Now, as an adult and a parent, I have been volunteering in our elementary media center for three years. Every day that I’m there, helping children find literature to light up their imaginations, shelving books, setting up displays to catch their eyes, I feel Mrs. Rayburn with me. She always went above and beyond her simple duties as an educator and loved all the kids she worked with.

A Funny One For Today

This is a really good one . . .

In the year 2005, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said, “Once again the earth has become wicked and overpopulated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans, thy sons and their wives.”

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, “You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.”

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard but no Ark.

Noah!” He roared, “I’m about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?”

“Forgive me, Lord,” begged Noah, “but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I’ve been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system! . My neighbors claim that I’ve violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.

Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark’s move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.”

“Getting the wood was another problem. There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls — but no go!”

“When I started gathering the animals, I got sued by an animal rights group. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodation was too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space. I am required to apply for 834 different licenses to keep wild beasts on private property.”

“Then the EPA ruled that I couldn’t build the Ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on Your proposed flood. Further, the pitch to water-proof the ark has been banned by the EPA as inimical to the environment.”

“I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I’m supposed to hire for my building crew.

Immigration and Naturalization is checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work. The scaffolding to build the super structure is not OSHA-approved and is forbidden to use except for private structures less than 5 cubits…”

“The trades unions say I can’t use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience. To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species. So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 100 years for me to finish this Ark.”

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, “You mean You’re not going to destroy the world?”

“No,” said the Lord. “The government beat me to it.”

LOL, how true!