Thursday, January 7, 2010

Connecting With a Fast Moving Friend

Oh, To Be Young Again

I received an email and a link to this blog post first thing this morning from a friend, who slipped off the radar a while back.  Sort of explains why I have not heard from her in some time.  This is one busy young woman, and she is about to get much busier.

I had met Ellie Moss when we were both doing a retreat on native land in the summer of 2008 in Northern Ontario.   It was not technically, or vaguely even really, a Catholic retreat for my Catholic friends out there, and my mother rolled over in her grave a time or two.  Good thing she's dead, or the rolling over in the grave bit would have been much more difficult.  However, it was for me a very catholic and very Christ centred retreat.  I cannot speak specifically for the others in attendance.  But, I do know that everyone was inspired by what transpired.

Anyway, one of the special people I met there, not that there were any unspecial people there, was Ellie Moss.  Ellie taught me at least one very valuable lesson that week.

Those who have read my blog may have noticed from time to time that I pick up on what I think is a throw away line from someone on another blog, or in a comment, or perish the thought, as true as it is, in some of my own writing.

At the retreat, Ellie and I were speaking with some others on a patio deck early in the week, and she commented on something said by someone.  As I am, and was at the time, almost twice Ellie's age, I somehow deemed it appropriate that I respond to her comment with a throw away line.  It was the assumed (by me) privilege of my age, as I have daughters on either side of her from an age standpoint.  My throw away was to the effect of the "naivete of youth."  In defense of myself, I offer this feeble non trivial statement: "There is a limit to how smart you can be.  There is no limit to how dumb you can be."

Ellie was offended by what I said.  Frankly, I cannot blame her, and I had never thought about the words coming out of my mouth as I did that day, and have since.  This is a young woman who, at the time had just left a job as a consultant with the prestigious Boston Group, and was a Wharton MBA grad.  Dumb bunnies and the naive don't successfully apply to either place.

That's the day I learned a lesson in the steps to the process of communication, and there are 5 as near as I can tell.  1) Engage brain.  2) Pause to reset brain on proper communication channel.  3) Listen to what is being communicated.  5) Think about what has been communicated.  4) Speak with love and kindness, as though you were speaking to Jesus Christ himself, because you are.

It was both appropriate and necessary for me to apologize to Ellie, and then to absorb what I had learned from the experience.  Ellie, I hope I have.

We were each required to bring something to the retreat, that we were prepared to give up in our lives, as a gift to be taken by another person there.

Well, when I was about Ellie's age, I dated a woman that I really cared about, and she had given me the gift of a seal carved by a native of northern Canada.  I had kept that reminder of her with me for the past thirty years.  It was time to let go of that memory, in no small part to honour my dear wife, to remove something that might separate my thoughts of love from being about any woman but her.

Ellie was the one who picked that carved seal up, and I was delighted that it was her.  I hoped that it completed the apology and that it would bring new meaning to her, connecting her to the experience that we had shared as a group on Bear Island that week.

Since that time, Ellie has moved to San Francisco, found her dream job, married her dream man, and in March will give birth to her first child, a son.

Me, I have fallen more in love with me dear wife every day, and with God, My Saviour.  And I savour the memories of people I have had the chance to walk a mile with like Ellie and the others on Bear Island that week.  I keep them all in my thoughts and prayers, requesting that God grant them the true desires of their heart, and that He surround them with abundant love, and protection from the evil in the world that would steal that love away from them.

God Bless You Ellie, your loving husband Eric, and the child in your womb, "Belvedere."

If, by any chance his birth date is March 13, maybe you could add Michael in as his 3rd, 4th, or 5th name.  There is an important Guardian Angel by that name. 

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Michael, I'm so honored that you chose to write this post! I have the seal here on my desk at work and I treasure the memory of our time in Temagami. I am glad to know that since we were last in touch you are finding even deeper love in your life. I learned a tremendous amount from our time together and remain grateful to you and the others for the amazing openness to learning and generosity of spirit I experienced there.
I will keep you posted on Belvedere's arrival!