Rhonda Cagle

Posts Tagged ‘Living’

In Death, We Are Reminded How To Live

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Grief and loss are unwelcome. But, they are effective teachers of some of life’s most important lessons. For starters, one can never have too much life insurance. Trust me; I know. 

Also, even close-knit families cannot be assumed to reach consensus on what kind of service to perform and who will get the china or book collection. Taking the time to make one’s wishes known can save loved ones countless moments of second-guessing gut-wrenching life and death decisions. 

But death can teach the living other valuable lessons. The first is not defining those who have passed by the circumstances of their death. In the face of great personal loss these past few years, I’ve learned not to ask a friend or acquaintance how a loved one has died. Instead, I want to know how they lived. In those stories we find the real essence of their lives – and our own.

You can read more in my latest column for The Arizona Republic: http://t.co/NKTlf0RAA5.

The Art of Sipping

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

There is an irresistible draw to the invitation found in a deeply shaded patio and a glass of wine. On a warm spring afternoon, the combination is almost impossible for me to pass up. Unlike a glass of iced tea or lemon water which can be quickly gulped before going back to whatever task is at hand, a glass of wine must be sipped slowly, it’s complexities and subtleties demanding me to sit down and put my feet up in order to truly experience the gift of the vine and the skill of the vintner.

Just as there is an art to making wine, there is an art to sipping it. A good wine requires time – time to season, time to ferment, time to age. A good wine requires that you let it alone and let it be. At this stage of the winemaking process, there is no value in “doing,” only “being.” There are no shortcuts to crafting a good wine. And there are no shortcuts to truly enjoying the essence of the vine.

Although I appreciate the textures and flavors that comprise a good wine, it is the gift of time that makes an afternoon glass of wine truly valuable. Savoring a glass of good wine means I have to stop doing and simply be. I get to be still. In the stillness, the silence becomes filled with wisdom and beauty that is fragile and easily trampled in the frenetic pace of daily life.

Breezes bring scents of growing things to my attention. Smelling the sweetness of honeyed alyssum and lavender and the damp richness of soil warmed by the sun, I’m reminded to look for tender shoots of what might be growing in my own life and the lives of those around me. Sipping allows for contemplation and I remember the times when I’ve weeded with vigor, only to discover I’ve pulled out tiny tendrils of flowers that have seeded in the shelter of their elder specimens. It’s a good lesson in not judging too quickly and simply allowing things to germinate and grow for a season to see what is working its way out of life’s soil.

Sipping a while longer lets me see my surroundings with new perspective. The art of sipping holds a clearer vision of what presently surrounds me. It also offers time to envision the possibilities of what can be. This kind of unhurried observation gives insights into the seasons and rhythms of life. The dead, dried leaves of last year’s shade line the same branch that holds the tender sprigs of promise of respite from the coming summer’s heat. Eventually, the new growth will overtake the tree, but for a season, it is proof that death and life are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Fodder for continued thought on what this means in my own life, post-Dennis.

Swirling the last of the wine in my glass, I realize I’ve spent the last little while listening – to myself, to God, and to His creation. Sipping allows me to hear my soul’s breathing – the exhale of my hurts and fears, the inhale of heaven’s hope and healing. It lets me hear God; not in some big booming voice sort of way, but in the quiet insistence of a new idea infusing my brain with fresh creativity or the irrational reassurance that somehow, someway I will survive and find myself safely on the other side of circumstances that would have killed most people. And in the midst of my soul’s breathing is the sound of God’s creation, the steady heartbeat that reminds me that in spite of death and pain and uncertainty, life still holds moments of beauty, moments to be savored.

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