Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Inspiring birthday story

I have had a wonderful birthday week---friends and sibs and kids all remembered my special day. At a “girlfriends” party, each of the 20 women guests shared aloud their favorite birthday memory.

My favorite story came from Ruth. Twenty years ago, she was new to the city, and had just accepted a job as the Religious Formation Director at a local church. On her birthday, Ruth didn’t yet know any people to celebrate with. But at about ten that morning, her doorbell rang. Standing outside was the pastor of the church where she had started working. He waved toward a red convertible at the curb where three women passengers sat, all waving to Ruth. “I noticed in your personnel file that today is your birthday,” he said. “So I invited three of our parishioners that I think you’ll enjoy knowing, and I’m taking you all on a birthday picnic.”

Sure enough, Fr. David had packed a picnic lunch and he and the four women enjoyed a splendid outdoor feast at a popular local park. Where did he get the convertible? He rented it! Did Ruth and the three women connect as friends? “We’re good friends to this day!” she said.

Here’s a question for you: Do you know someone who is about to celebrate a birthday? At any age, we love to be remembered on the anniversary of the day we were born. Maybe now is a good time to phone or send a birthday card.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Quick Way To Give Up Resentment---Before it Occurs!

Today, while I was in the fitness center’s swim pool doing a water walk, a swimmer hopped in to share the lane. He was a splasher! And as his splashes hit me, I felt a moment of irritation, quickly followed, I am thankful to say, by this thought:

"No one owes me anything. But I owe all good to all people.”

I learned this years ago from my friend Don Campbell, who started each day by saying those words aloud. “It’s like giving up resentment in advance,” said Don. Instead of holding on to expectations for another’s behavior, we only hold on to an expectation for ourselves.

One of his favorite examples is a trip to the grocery store. “So, the checkout person is irritable? Hey, she doesn’t owe you a smile. But you’re going to smile at her because that’s the way you want to live.”

This morning, Don’s words reminded me that the swimmer didn’t owe me a non-splashy swim. I could simply turn my head as he swam by, and smile in a friendly way when I left the pool.

And the swimmer smiled back!

Try these words as you begin your day. It might give you a new way to respond to a whole host of petty irritations.