I just wanted a cup of coffee. A dark chocolate latte—to be more precise—from my favorite cool, quirky, Baroque and Celtic music playing, Catholic icon decorated, contemporary art covered, fantastic smelling, local coffee shop. I exchanged pleasantries with the owner/barista and was about to hand over my debit card to pay, when I heard a deep, rumbly voice behind me. “Excuse me, sir. Her money is no good here.” I felt confused and shocked and readied myself for a confrontation. But, in the matter of seconds as I was turning to face my accuser, my brain also registered a lilting warmth in that voice. It was then that I saw a familiar, welcome face . . . An older gentleman who was a friend from the church where I serve as an Associate Pastor. A friend who is a kind listener and encouraging supporter. “Her money is no good here.” Oh, hi, social cues. He was joking. And he was wanting to buy not only my cup of coffee but the one I was getting for my husband, too. Sometimes, I take things so seriously. Sometimes, I’m quick to assume the worst. But I’m discovering that Love and Goodness always, always break through . . . Often in ways that surprise me.
I laughed and bantered with my friend, and, as I left the coffee shop and took a sip of my drink, I found that latte to be the sweetest, warmest beverage I’ve had in a while. And that’s part of the reason I want to write, to share.
It’s also because of a dear friend who knows my love of words and who recently looked me squarely in the face and straightforwardly proclaimed, “You should write a blog.” How could she have known that only a few days prior that same idea flitted across my brain, and I had quickly shoved it aside? I’m thankful for friends who have vision and courage and enthusiasm and don’t put up with my silly excuses and hesitations.
It’s also because of my husband who adventures with me in this life and brings out the best in me as a human being. It’s because of my daughter, who views this world with wide eyes, open hands, and squeals of joy.
It’s because of all of my family members and friends-who-feel-like-family. And my acquaintances. And the people I happen to meet. And the people who don’t like me. All the people who shape my life and help me to grow.
And it’s especially because of one dear friend who passed away only a few weeks ago. A friend we affectionately call “Scotty.” He was a well-respected Physician’s Assistant in neurosurgery. But, outside the operating room, he had a passion for light—stage lighting in particular—and photography. He taught me to capture the moment in pictures. And when you take a photo of a child or a baby, for goodness’ sake, don’t just peer at them from above. . . . Get down on their level and discover the light and sparkle in their eyes. And when you place lamps around your home, create warm, soothing light with just the right bulbs. You don’t need those harsh, clinical-looking fluorescent lights glaring down on you all the time.
In addition to light and photos, Scotty taught me about what is good. I loved to chat with him about food and recipes. Recipes that his sweet little Mama from Mississippi (or “Miss’ssippi,” if you’re saying it right) taught him years ago. Recipes for delicious meals made from simple ingredients but with lots of love and would make you feel like you were surrounded by a big ol’ hug. From Scotty, I learned which brand of canned green beans was good. Where to get the best frozen spanakopita bites so that it tasted like you’d gotten them fresh from a Greek bakery. How to make barbecue shrimp in the oven with these certain herbs and spices. It’s easy but tastes like it took forever to make. And don’t forget some good, crusty bread to sop up that extra barbecue sauce. All the words of wisdom about good food and how to make it.
And when you’re at a restaurant, don’t immediately put in your order and be in such a hurry. Take a moment. Have a nice, glass of wine and an appetizer. Talk (and listen!) to the folks gathered around you. People-watch a little. Take it all in. Savor the moment and savor your meal. Enjoy what’s good.
And, as you go about your day or make plans for something important, make a list. Jot down all the little details. Because the details matter. Details like bringing what Scotty would call a “sack of biscuits” to the technicians servicing your car. Not necessary at all, but it made a difference. It showed gratitude. Or making and bringing a chicken and rice casserole to a neighbor in need. Or just because you were neighbors. Or caring about all the elements of a stage production—from hair to make-up to costumes to the singing and dancing—and, of course, the lighting. Always the lighting. Always about illuminating what was good and what the world needed to see. Even the little things. The often-overlooked things.
And that’s what I want to share and write about. Good things. Love, light, and little details. In honor of the people who live Love and make this world better by being in it (or by having been in it). People who engage this world with integrity, hope, good humor, and joy. These will be my reflections on the big things and the small things of life, through the lens of Love and Light. With eyes and heart open to all the little details.