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Archive for July, 2011

He pushed his metal cart slowly down the suburban street. Stopping at the end of a driveway, he opened the lid of the recycling pail, dug through, pulled out a plastic soda bottle and placed it in his cart.  Closing up the pail, he moved his cart toward the next driveway.

He’s a regular every Wednesday, Recycling Day,  in the neighborhood where I work. An elderly man, he uses the cart to help him down the street, holding onto it with one hand while he digs through a recycling pail with the other. His weekly travels include a stop at the empty lot in the middle of the block, picking up beer bottles, soda bottles or plastic water bottles, all of which can be turned in at the store for a deposit refund. At the end of the long road, his cart is full. He turns his cart in the opposite direction, heading toward the local store’s  bottle return machine.

On this particular Wednesday, while The Bottle Man was at the empty lot picking up items to return for deposit, the neighbor who lived across the street came out of his house with a bulging shopping bag . Crossing the road, he handed the bag of empty soda bottles to The Bottle Man, who took it with a wide smile. Placing the bag into his now full cart, The Bottle Man turned his cart around, and slowly headed to the store to return the bottles for the deposit money.

A God in the Ordinary moment: this elderly man, cleaning up the neighborhood where he lives. And a neighbor showing his appreciation with a small kindness.

 © Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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 My five-year old nephew Charlie and I were spending the day together. We were exploring the local village, visiting cool places like the motorcycle shop, had played on the space shuttle and slides in the playground, ate ice cream, and were now heading toward the “kite store”. My sister had given me the heads up about Charlie’s favorite places, and this one topped the list.

It wasn’t so much the store itself Charlie enjoyed, but the displays on the outside: colorful garden spinners lined the banister along the boardwalk leading to the store. Dozens more were stuck into the ground in a large area just off the sidewalk forming a garden of spinners. Many varieties of colorful circles, spinners in the shapes of cars, planes, a dog riding a bicycle, and a train cheerfully whirled in the summer wind.

Letting go of my hand, Charlie gave a squeal of delight and quickly scampered up the hill into the garden display. His excitement was infectious as he pointed to each in turn, laughing and running with them and the breeze. In a short while another little boy came up the hill, joining Charlie, and the two played through the garden, laughing with the spinners.

The boy’s mom and I chatted while the boys played. We were concerned about what the shopkeeper would say about the boys playing in the display, but the shopkeeper was too busy to notice. The boys were such a great advertisement for the garden spinners, the store now had many customers looking to purchase a spinner for their own gardens.

A God in the Ordinary moment: two little boys, strangers, enjoying a simple pleasure together in the summer breeze.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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Her name is Mary. She sat in the hospital chair, next to her bed, shivering.

“I’m so cold. They’ve turned off the air conditioner, but I’m still cold.” Two blankets were covering her thin hospital gown.

She then listed a few of her current medical problems, any of which would have produced a different statement than what she said next:

“But God is good. Any day I wake up and have another day is a good day. God is good.”

Her smile was infectious, and we laughed together. The two of us  tried to wrap the blankets so they covered her better in the chair, but she still couldn’t get warm. We visited a little longer, and as I left the room to look for another blanket, “Yes, child, God is good” were her departing words.

A little while later I returned to the room to find her shoulders wrapped in a beautifully crocheted Prayer Shawl: large rectangles of greens, surrounded by beige edging, with a stripe of burgundy running through it.

Responding to my “That’s beautiful!” Mary cheerfully told me one of the nurses had just brought it.

“There’s a tag somewhere on here that says where it’s from.” I helped her find the tag, and then read off the name of the women’s guild from one of the local churches.

“God is good. I’m so warm now.” She said with a contented sigh as she pulled the Prayer Shawl back around her.

A God in the Ordinary moment: In the faith of this hospital patient. In the kindness of a stranger who spent countless hours crocheting the Prayer Shawl. I wish the creator of this special gift could have seen the contentment in Mary’s face, her soft smile at finally being warm, and hear her words:

“God is good!”

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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Why couldn’t she see things from my perspective? I asked myself as I wheeled my bicycle out of the garage this early summer morning. My daughter Kathy and I were taking different views on a particular issue, and neither one of us was budging.

I snapped on my helmet, got on my bike, and headed down the driveway. The early morning sun was streaming through the trees, just rising just over the rooftops of the houses in this suburban neighborhood. The weather wasn’t too warm yet, and the humidity was low.

My usual morning exercise bike ride route was a couple of 2 mile laps in a clockwise direction around my neighborhood. Bored with that routine, and somewhat frustrated by the disagreement, I took a deep breath of the clean morning air, and turned my bike in the opposite direction.

The usual chorus of songbirds accompanied me. The rabbits were out feeding on front lawns, the squirrels chasing each other around.

Going in this counter-clockwise direction, my eyes were drawn to a different side of the street, and I saw gardens, trees, bushes and other sites I didn’t see in my usual direction. I got fresh ideas for my own front yard, and saw some beautifully decorated porches.

During the second lap, I reflected how simply changing my direction gave me a new perspective of my neighborhood.

What if you tried to see things from Kathy’s perspective, instead of insisting she see things from yours? asked the Quiet Voice.

The question made me a little uncomfortable, because He was right. Instead of insisting on my own way, I’d try to see it from hers. A different perspective can open my eyes and mind to new ideas.

© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011

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