As is his pattern, Mac woke me at 5 this morning with his cold muzzle and high-pitched whine. Okay, okay, I muttered, easing out of bed so as not to wake Keith. Mac whacked his tail against the bed-frame and bureau. In the great room, Cato rose from his nest bed, stretched, and hound-yawned, ready to join Mac for a morning outing.
I flipped on the kitchen door’s outside light, let the dogs out, and retrieved my phone to take this picture. The Polar Vortex— the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles—had expanded in the past few days, a common weather pattern that sends cold air southward with the jet stream, causing yesterday’s high winds and today’s snow.
And changing my grumpy morning narrative pattern to embrace this miraculous scene unfolding before my eyes.
A pattern for experiencing weather
Keith and I are avid weather-watchers but not quite amateur meteorologists. Still, we know that wind patterns drive air masses, both hot and cold, and when two collide, a front is produced. Cold air replaces warm, or warm replaces cold. Then there are jet streams and cyclonic systems, all of which factor into weather patterns—which we can predict if we study them.
Sometimes it only snows on the mountains, the Blue Ridge across the Rockfish Valley. How lovely to experience this miracle!
To stop and listen to the wind, look at the snow, to feel and really see.
A pattern for seeing people
With “listening” as my word for this year, and while researching caregiving for the women’s spring retreat, I read New York Times columnist David Brooks’ most recent book, How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.
“In every crowd there are Diminishers and there are Illuminators,” he writes. Diminishers are self-centered and seem to be unable to step out of themselves or show any curiosity about others. Instead, they do instant size-ups when meeting people. Also, they tend to be anxious, naïve—everyone sees the world as I do—think other people have lessor motivations and minds, adopt detached objective stances, make generalizations about groups, and have static mindsets.
As I read, I found myself convicted of the Diminisher’s less-than-helpful behavior pattern: not seeing the miracles in people.
Illuminators, on the other hand, “…have a persistent curiosity about other people. They have been trained or have trained themselves in the craft of understanding others. They know what to look for and how to ask the right questions at the right time. They shine the brightness of their care on people and make them feel bigger, deeper, respected, lit up.” Illuminator behaviors include tenderness, receptivity, active curiosity, affection, generosity, and a holistic attitude.
Although some people seem to be naturals, we can all improve our social skills by practicing an Illuminator’s pattern within our relationships. That takes growth—and healing.
A pattern for healing emotional wounds
Diminishers are likely passing along never-healed emotional wounds they experienced early in life. After all, what is not transformed is transferred. The tip-offs: overdoing, under-doing, hiding, and craving the limelight.
“…the patterns that you can’t shake aren’t character flaws,” states Kobe Campbell in her book Why Am I Like This? “They’re evidence of trauma—deep wounds longing to be healed and crying out for the divine touch of God Himself.”
To heal deep wounds, we need to look back to move forward, get help, and practice. “Healing happens in the everyday moments and patterns of life, not in the margins of it… Sharing our experiences with others begins the process of healing.”
Changing the pattern of our narratives to that which embraces the scenes of miracles in God’s creation and His people.
In honor of God and on this day one of His illuminators Martin Luther King, Jr.
Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2024/01/11/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-pattern/