AnnV
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Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.
Vulnerability, trust, and grace.
Walking to the train station this morning to purchase my ticket to Southern Portugal, I passed four women, each dressed in black, long full skirts, shawls and scarves.  Two of the women balanced large bundles of sheets and blankets on their heads, hands free; the other two carried baskets of vegetables in their hands, heads free.  They proceeded down the street in a cluster, laughing, conversing, gesturing, turning and bending towards one another as if they were walking without their unwieldy-looking loads.  In the afternoon I set out again from my pension for the train station.  This time I carried a 50 pound bag on a wheeled cart and my day pack on my back.  My load bumped along the cobblestone streets, and I paused every 50 meters or so to rest.  Half-way to the station, the wheels broke off the cart.  There I stood, five months pregnant, with 60 pounds of luggage and no mechanical advantages.  I hailed a taxi.  The taxi dropped me at the station and I hefted the bags, one step at a time inside the door.  As I entered the doorway, an elderly man with a faded grey uniform and hat and faded brown eyes approached.  He was tall and thin.  His eyes had taken in many of the world’s loads and laid them to rest.  He pulled a luggage cart and asked me in Portuguese if I’d like to check my bag across the harbor and onto the train.  I was still puffing.  ‘Calm, calm” he said and waved his hand slightly through the air, “if I take it, you won’t have to carry.”I was at that point where I would have permanently relinquished my entire accumulation of earthly possessions just so I didn’t have to carry them on and off a ferry boat.  I tried to bring myself to a more sensible perspective.  “Thank you,” I said. “Will I get my bag on the ferry or on the train?”  I didn’t comprehend his response, nor did I care.  He asked to see my ticket and wrote the number of the carriage and the seat in chalk on the bag, then handed me a small metal tag.  His eyes said, “you won’t regret this.”  I boarded the ferry, found a seat and scanned the dock for my bag.  Finally, after all the passengers had boarded, the tall man with the brown eyes pulled his cart aboard.  Mine was the only piece of luggage on it.  He stored the bag and cart and entered the second class cabin where I was sitting.  The cabin was full, so he stood for the half-hour ride.  On the other side of the harbor he unloaded the cart, pulled it alongside the train, lifted the bag without apparent effort, and carried it to the front of the carriage.  I followed him.  “Your bag is here,” he said, pointing.  “Thank you very much,” I replied, and handed him a 100 escudo note (65 cents).  “Do you want something smaller?” he asked.  “No.  Thank you,” I replied in a humbled whisper.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.

Walking to the train station this morning to purchase my ticket to Southern Portugal, I passed four women, each dressed in black, long full skirts, shawls and scarves.  Two of the women balanced large bundles of sheets and blankets on their heads, hands free; the other two carried baskets of vegetables in their hands, heads free.  They proceeded down the street in a cluster, laughing, conversing, gesturing, turning and bending towards one another as if they were walking without their unwieldy-looking loads.  In the afternoon I set out again from my pension for the train station.  This time I carried a 50 pound bag on a wheeled cart and my day pack on my back.  My load bumped along the cobblestone streets, and I paused every 50 meters or so to rest.  Half-way to the station, the wheels broke off the cart.  There I stood, five months pregnant, with 60 pounds of luggage and no mechanical advantages.  I hailed a taxi.  The taxi dropped me at the station and I hefted the bags, one step at a time inside the door.  As I entered the doorway, an elderly man with a faded grey uniform and hat and faded brown eyes approached.  He was tall and thin.  His eyes had taken in many of the world’s loads and laid them to rest.  He pulled a luggage cart and asked me in Portuguese if I’d like to check my bag across the harbor and onto the train.  I was still puffing.  ‘Calm, calm” he said and waved his hand slightly through the air, “if I take it, you won’t have to carry.”I was at that point where I would have permanently relinquished my entire accumulation of earthly possessions just so I didn’t have to carry them on and off a ferry boat.  I tried to bring myself to a more sensible perspective.  “Thank you,” I said. “Will I get my bag on the ferry or on the train?”  I didn’t comprehend his response, nor did I care.  He asked to see my ticket and wrote the number of the carriage and the seat in chalk on the bag, then handed me a small metal tag.  His eyes said, “you won’t regret this.”  I boarded the ferry, found a seat and scanned the dock for my bag.  Finally, after all the passengers had boarded, the tall man with the brown eyes pulled his cart aboard.  Mine was the only piece of luggage on it.  He stored the bag and cart and entered the second class cabin where I was sitting.  The cabin was full, so he stood for the half-hour ride.  On the other side of the harbor he unloaded the cart, pulled it alongside the train, lifted the bag without apparent effort, and carried it to the front of the carriage.  I followed him.  “Your bag is here,” he said, pointing.  “Thank you very much,” I replied, and handed him a 100 escudo note (65 cents).  “Do you want something smaller?” he asked.  “No.  Thank you,” I replied in a humbled whisper.

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Beware of Zeal. A Cautionary Tale.

Being safe and feeling big -- a common dilemma.

Marley Mae Apple Ames is my first grandchild. She turns one year old this week. She lives in Arkansas with her Mom (my daughter) and her Dad in a little house on a pretty street lined with old hardwood trees that are chock full of birds, including cardinals. Marley Mae is a peanut, meaning she’s little. She weighs a scarce 18 pounds. Even though she is small, Marley Mae is mighty. She notices what’s going on around her and wants to take part.

I had a week long visit to Arkansas recently, and she and I walked each day to the nearby playground. If there were other children playing, Marley Mae would make a big sound to announce her arrival and shout, “Ball!” and expect the other children (usually 8-12 years of age) to find her a desirable playmate. Every time we got into the car to drive somewhere, she protested sitting in the back in her baby car seat facing backwards. But the problem was that Marley Mae didn’t weigh 20 pounds. And on all of the front facing, up sitting, carseats is a sign big as day that says, “for children 20 pounds and older.”

So…BALANCE. Being safe and feeling big. A common dilemma parents, adolescents, even old people face. Often we need to heed both needs, and they call upon us to take opposite actions. I bought a front facing car seat for Marley Mae even though she was 2 pounds shy of 20. Why? Because developmentally…in her mind, her emotions, her soul, she was bigger than her weight. It was time for her to look forward with the big people.

Beware of Zeal. A Cautionary Tale.

Marley Mae Apple Ames is my first grandchild. She turns one year old this week. She lives in Arkansas with her Mom (my daughter) and her Dad in a little house on a pretty street lined with old hardwood trees that are chock full of birds, including cardinals. Marley Mae is a peanut, meaning she’s little. She weighs a scarce 18 pounds. Even though she is small, Marley Mae is mighty. She notices what’s going on around her and wants to take part.

I had a week long visit to Arkansas recently, and she and I walked each day to the nearby playground. If there were other children playing, Marley Mae would make a big sound to announce her arrival and shout, “Ball!” and expect the other children (usually 8-12 years of age) to find her a desirable playmate. Every time we got into the car to drive somewhere, she protested sitting in the back in her baby car seat facing backwards. But the problem was that Marley Mae didn’t weigh 20 pounds. And on all of the front facing, up sitting, carseats is a sign big as day that says, “for children 20 pounds and older.”

So…BALANCE. Being safe and feeling big. A common dilemma parents, adolescents, even old people face. Often we need to heed both needs, and they call upon us to take opposite actions. I bought a front facing car seat for Marley Mae even though she was 2 pounds shy of 20. Why? Because developmentally…in her mind, her emotions, her soul, she was bigger than her weight. It was time for her to look forward with the big people.

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Contribution #746