Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

A Gift of Cookies

I’ve been going through a challenging time, really for the last year and a half, but especially in the last couple of months. A time of opportunity to go deep, and deeper still. A time of breaking open whatever has been closed. A time of emptying out on the inside and stripping away on the outside, thinning the walls of the container that is me. A time of answering sorrow’s call. A time of grieving, grieving the loss of thinking, of thinking that I know who I am.

So when a dear neighbor, who knows some of what I am experiencing, asked how I was doing, I responded that I was having a hard time, that I needed something sweet and sugary (how enlightened). Later when I stopped by her house, her counter was covered with ingredients. She said she was making cookies. I was perplexed.

“Were you making them anyway, or because I said I wanted something sweet?” I asked.

“I am making them for you,” she answered.

At which point I burst into tears.

Wow, I really needed cookies. No, I needed someone to make cookies for me. That simple gesture of caring crashed into my heart with love. I was crushed with overwhelming gratitude.

I’m reminded of a story I read somewhere about a boy who went to a restaurant with his parents. When he ordered a hot dog and fries, his mom quickly overrode his request, telling the server he would have some chicken with vegetables. The server turned back to the boy and asked, “Would you like mustard and relish on your hot dog?”

As the server walked away, the boy turned towards his parents with a big smile and said with amazement, “Did you see that? She thinks I’m real!”

The simple act of caring is heroic. ~Edward Albert

16 thoughts on “A Gift of Cookies”

  1. Challenges come from all directions. Glad to know you found some relief through a simple act of awareness.

  2. I love this post. It's filled with the importance of caring and the difference our actions can make in our lives. Sending you lots of love, Galen. 🙂

  3. How sweet it is to have a caring neighbor, especially when life is hard. Just knowing we are not alone helps.

  4. A line in a Leonard Cohen song just came to mind, the one about the cracks – that's how the light gets in. "A time of breaking open." Letting the light in. I've always maintained that people don't always need help; they need to know there's help when you need it. And it presented in the form of a kind, caring neighbor and a plate of cookies. I can only trust that you will find your way through this time. I relate to cookies. They are my currency to repay kindnesses, favors, to offer recognition and comfort. A little fellow in our community association acknowledged that I often bring baked goods to the work bees and send them home with the kids. He returned in a few minutes to ask, "Do you bring them because you know we're going to be here?" Of course.

  5. I am a giver, especially of food and handmade items. It's my love language as they say. Your neighbor is probably the same. My late husband's was gifts of labor. I pray that you will get through this difficult time.

  6. Thanks, DJan! And that is so true. Baking cookies was not a big deal to my neighbor, but her caring was a VERY big deal to me! And of course the cookies were delicious.

  7. I know that line about the cracks. I always add that the cracks are also how the light gets out. It's where our own light shines out to others. I like to think of those cracks as an opening for light to move both directions. Great cookie story. Thanks, Mona!

  8. My daughter had me take that love language test. I respond to "acts of service." Like cookies! Acts of service is another way to say acts of caring. Thanks, Barbara.

  9. '… crushed with overwhelming gratitude.'

    I like that .. I sense the emotional intensity in those words. Normally we are not crushed with gratitude. Maybe we take gratitude for granted or simply misunderstand its power to transform us. We all seem to say thank you often, about everything. But, gratitude is so much deeper. Gratitude is when the whole body mind and heart are touched on a profound level. Its interesting that its the feeling of gratitude, caring and love that are the language of the spiritual heart.It does not speak in words but responds to and transmits feeling. Maybe that's why the prayer of the heart is more about the feelings in the heart rather then any words expressed from thought. Gratitude is also directly related to happiness. Its hard to be happy without gratitude.

    Good to read a new post from you Galen.

  10. My first blog was about developing habits to grow a joyful spirit, and gratitude was definitely one of those habits. You described different levels of gratitude in a way I hadn't thought about before — everything from the simple thank you in a casual encounter to the deep heart/soul/body experience I had for the cookies. Thanks, Brian.

  11. What you describe, Galen, that being – 'emptying out and stripping away' – I experienced something so similar to this when I was going through the bad part of my midlife crisis with anxiety and depression holding sway. I was undergoing counselling with a lovely lady and was peeling away what wasn't working in me or for me anymore, what was controlling me – my view of myself and my expectations. I felt almost transparent after the worst part was over. I told a good friend about this sensation of being totally open, like anything could flow through me, and she said, its sounds nice. Well, it didn't really feel nice, it felt exposed, and if someone had hurt me at that time, I'd have taken it hard because I felt my defences were gone – well they really were! If someone had baked me some cookies, I might well have cried too. Also, some time before that, when I was doing my solo walks, I felt like nothing, like nothing was holding me together – there was no new me to rely on at that point. I told a different good friend, and she grimaced – sounds nasty, she said.

    But I later realised I was letting change happen by having to let go of wasn't working and while that change is happening, one feels in a state of suspended animation, like a pupa – waiting to change and working on the new form. And it was taking its time too. So I had to learn to accept the nothingness as a kind of friend. And now I know that place of nothingness can be there, it feels like a strength.

    I hope I'm making sense – this post really spoke to me and I wish you a good transition, if that is what it feels like. Whatever it feels like, whatever it is, I know you will make it to where you need to be.

  12. Lynne, thank you for sharing your own story of transformation here. I love what you said about accepting the nothingness as a kind of friend, as a place of strength. Your description of feeling transparent is one I can relate to. I sense it as a thinning of the walls of the container that holds "me". As the walls become thinner still, what is "me" is released and merges into all that is. There is an experience of surrender.

    Someone in my No Way Cafe group used the term "spiritual warrior" in a different context, but I like that image. Chogyam Trungpa described the heart of a warrior as being so exposed that the lightest touch of a feather would burn like fire–the way you describe having no defenses. I appreciate your words of support and encouragement.

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