Words from Carole Duff

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All about You

by Carole Duff | Oct 18, 2021 | FaithNatureWriting and Reading | 2 comments | Afton Rorvik Getting to Know YOu Living Connected Rodgers and Hammerstein The King and I

“Do you know what this is?” Keith pointed to something growing on the slope behind the dining deck. I set the steamed asparagus and the tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil bruschetta on the table next to the steak Keith had grilled and walked over to take a look.

“Some kind of fungus, don’t you think?” I said. 

“Take a picture, why don’t you.” I ran inside to get my phone and took this shot. Then we sat down to our Friday evening dinner.

This weekend, the words to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s song “Getting to Know You” from The King and I kept playing in my head: “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” So, to get to know more about the maybe “fungus,” I did a little research. Indeed, it’s a type of coral fungus called Artomyces pyxidatus, which forms on the ground, on decaying vegetation, or on dead wood. This coral fungus is widespread and apparently edible, though I think we’ll pass at least until we’re sure.

Sometimes it’s wise NOT to get to know ALL about things.

Getting to know flora AND fauna

Keith and I run into all kinds of curious flora and fauna here on the mountain. Last Thursday afternoon, I had a “getting to know you” encounter with this mantis. Notice the triangular head, bulging compound eyes, elongated body, flexible neck, and enlarged forelegs for catching prey. Autumn is egg-laying and dying time for mantises; we’ll likely see the hatchlings next spring.

Mantises have tympana but only hear ultrasound. So, my conversation with the mantis went unheard. But when I approached, my motion was perceived and tracked—the mantis’ head rotated to bring me into its visual field. I was carefully examined in stereo, no less. Mantises feed on live prey—lizards, frogs, fish, small birds, and each other—but are no danger to humans.

I felt comfortable getting to know all about this mantis. In fact, some people keep mantises as pets.

Getting to know others 

According to fellow Perennial Gen contributor Afton Rorvik in her newly-released book Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship, being curious is one of the best ways to get to know people. Or as Anna sang to her students in The King and I, “Haven’t you noticed, suddenly I’m bright and breezy, because of all the beautiful and new things I’m learning about you, day by day.”

I’ve written about Afton’s thoughts about generosity in relationships, but there’s much more to learn about getting to know others. There’s honesty about our self-centeredness: “Why do we worry so much about how others perceive us?” Afton asks. I thought about trying Anna’s tactic: “getting to like you,” first then “getting to hope you like me.”

Then there’s Afton’s suggestion about approachability online: “What might happen on social media if we reclaimed it as a place to connect, to build bridges, instead of a place to vent? What if every time we posted, we asked ourselves one simple question: How will this post help me build a bridge to another person?” Or, as Anna sang, “Getting to know you, getting to feel free and easy; when I am with you, getting to know what to say.”

And Afton on empathy: “Sympathy implies feeling pity for someone else, a fleeting emotion; empathy describes a sort of mirroring of another’s feeling, digging deep to understand and enter into another’s situation… Prayer and empathy make such a powerful combination… As I pray for people, God gently nudges me toward them.”

In truth, no one is precisely our “cup of tea,” and we never get to know ALL about anyone—not even ourselves.

Getting to know ourselves

About self-knowledge, Keith often says, “There’s always another layer deeper in the onion, another layer of meaning.” You know, those “ah-ha” experiences. Finding our purpose. Discovering the impacts of where we come from—starting points, separations, sources. Sweeping away self-deception and making good use of our time.

Enjoying the journey.

Getting to know all the beautiful and new things about ourselves, others, and God’s creation.

Day by day.

Have a good one, and please leave a comment so I can get to know you!

Giving Care, Receiving Care, Taking Care

by Carole Duff | Sep 27, 2021 | FaithWriting and Reading | 4 comments | Afton Rorvik Living Connected The Perennial Gen

Giving Care to Others

Neighbor Care: I rolled the shopping cart up and down the grocery store aisles, placing items in the cart or the tote balanced between the folded-out baby seat and the handle bar. In my hand, two shopping lists: one for us, the other for our neighbor. 

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

In the past several months, Keith and I have been blessed to be able to care for our neighbors. Shopping or driving them to the grocery store, picking up mail and prescriptions, staying in closer touch as they recover from various misfortunes. We might miss opportunities to befriend strangers but tend to be openhanded with neighbors, as they are with us.

“Openhandedness and openheartedness act like newborn twins, who thrive when connected,” writes my fellow Perennial Gen contributor and author Afton Rorvik in Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to FriendshipIn the past few weeks, I’ve had the honor of reading an advance copy and serving on Afton’s launch team. Her book releases on October 5th.

Most of us like being on the giving end of care, but recently I’ve been wondering. 

What about being a good receiver?

Receiving Care from Others

Afton: “We cannot assume that if we want friends, we just have to do more, give more. We must also learn to accept the gracious gifts others offer us.”

I’ve received my friend Sarah’s hospitality often, and she has visited us at Vanaprastha, too. Our friendship has grown because of his giving-and-receiving connection.

Jesus often received hospitality, and gifts. Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honorMartha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:1-3 

There’s intimacy in this story—and vulnerability. When in need, we are especially vulnerable. Depending on others for help is not a bad thing. As my colleague Afton writes, “…living openhanded… means we must not hug our own need to ourselves, hiding it from others. We must let others step into our pain and need and then cheerfully and gratefully accept their generous offers of help.” 

We must not take opportunities to help us away from others. 

Taking Care of Ourselves

We also must not interfere with others’ opportunities to take care of themselves. Afton: “Let’s face it, we like to rescue. We like to fix. We like to take on the role of hero. But if we step in and mount a rescue with our generosity, we just might deprive a friend of the satisfaction of succeeding on his or her own. Great growth and strength come from struggle.”

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means giving and receiving AND taking care of ourselves as Jesus did. One of the ways he took care of himself was to withdraw from everyone for spiritual refueling time alone as here: After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone. Matthew 14:23 And here: But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16) 

So, this is my prayer for today: Lord, may I be a gracious care giver, a grateful care receiver, and take good care of myself.

Link up with Five Minute Friday: https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/75ffe2bea478401a983fb2c702e446eb

A bonus for today’s post: I played “What a Friend I Have in Jesus” during yesterday’s service.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDi18mFnNhI The 3-minute clip starts at 41.30.