Archive for the ‘Snacks for the Spirit’ Category

Respect for All Beings   4 comments

It doesn’t matter who we are … or where we think we need to be

Sometimes you just have to stop with respect for who was there first 

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Summer Hummer   Leave a comment

Every car that flies by
There’s loud music from inside

It’s the beat of summer comin’
Every passerby is hummin’

No more pain – No more rain

The melody’s the same
Warm weather finally came

No more pain – No more rain

Bring the sun – Bring the shine
Oh thank God – for summer time



For All You Pet Lovers Who Know They’ll Always Be With Us   1 comment



One day while sweeping outside my Inn in Provincetown I noticed a dog tag and collar lying on the ground.  I was really busy with already too much to do and decided to sweep around it knowing that somebody else would come along, pick it up, and know better than me, what to do with it.  Owning an Inn has enough of its own interruptions.


The next day I went outside, again with broom in hand to make a quick sweep so I could get on with the much more important things that were on my list for the day.  As I turned to walk back into the house I noticed that someone had put the dog collar on the picket fence where I could no longer avoid coming in contact with it.


The dark blue, leathery collar was worn and shred. Only about a two-thirds piece of it remained intact but the tags were still legible. One was a dog license and the other, an I.D. tag, with a name inscribed, Zoe, and a local phone number.  I had no time for this but neither could I leave it on the fence; so now it would find its way to my desk for two days until I did something about it. That dog collar had become an uninvited, unwanted item on my already too long to-do list, but the nagging sensation that I should call the number on the tag was greater than the time it would take to finally do it.


I dialed the local phone number and got a voice message. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll leave a message that I found this collar and be done with it.”


A couple more days went by. The dog tag and collar had now become like an ornament on my desk.  In the quiet of late evening during that welcome undisturbed time of catching up, the occasional wandering thought would lead my eye to that collar to wonder about who it might have belonged to and how it got to me.


In the flurry of a busy morning and constant calls I was snapped into the moment when I answered a call from a man who said,

“Someone left a message about a dog collar that was found?”

“Oh, yes…that was me who called…I’m one of the owners of the Inn at Cook Street and it was dropped in front of our house,” I said.


“I live in California now but still have my local number in Provincetown. I just heard your message when I called in…I can’t believe you found Zoe’s collar in front of your inn. I threw it into the sea at the Moors with her ashes two years ago after she died. She loved the Moors,” he said.

“Two years ago?!?” I asked….”The Moors?”  That’s two miles away… How’d it get here in front of the Inn?

“I don’t know…maybe seagulls?” he asked, trying to make sense of it. “I’m so glad you found it and that you called me – I think it’s a message from Zoe…that she wants me to know she’s alright.  I still think of her, a lot. I miss her.”


Time was suspended in the silence between us. There were so many messages for me in that experience.  How often do I push away something that’s not on my timetable because I think I’m just too busy?  Time after time what I need to know is right in front of me, and when will I get that so often the way I experience God comes after resistance and surrender?


When I hung up the phone I looked up the definition of the word Zoe. It’s a Greek word that means, “Life.”


I still have that collar as a reminder of the lessons learned, and one day I look forward to meeting Zoe to thank her for her message.


Doreen Birdsell






Zoe Definition

zoe { dzo-ay’} 
Strong’s Lexicon: Greek Origin
- the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate
- every living soul
- of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through Him
- life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, and to last for ever.

Posted March 16, 2012 by doreenbirdsell in Snacks for the Spirit

A Snack for the Spirit – “User Error”   3 comments


I listened to many songs while pumping it out on the elliptical at the gym.  One song, whose lyrics were sung by a little girl, stood out above all the rest – I’d heard them before but something was different — I was hearing these words with my heart.

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

The spirit pulled on invisible strings at the corners of my mouth forcing a smile.  I pumped harder and my heart rate quickened.

Later that day an unexpected phone call came from Comcast Cable asking for Accounts Payable.

“That would be me,” I said with pride knowing I was diligent about paying bills due at the middle and end of each month.

“You have an overdue balance,” the woman who identified herself as Corrine had said.

After double-checking my check register and then online banking to make sure the payment had cleared I was transferred to someone else to dig a little deeper.

“My name is Zollin. How are you today?”

“Just fine Zollin,” I said, again feeling self-assured and even added,  “My business has three Comcast accounts — maybe the payment was applied to a different account.”

After a brief silence Zollin said, “You submitted the payment to the wrong account.”
I could feel my neck hairs bristle.  How is it that only in these moments do I become aware that I even have neck hairs?

“Who could I blame? Why would I?” I thought.

“User error,” I said.

“You’ll need to resubmit the payment now to the correct account to avoid a temporary disconnect,” he said.

“Wasn’t admitting my error enough?  Couldn’t they just work it out with my misapplied payment? I had to pay again?” I thought.

I decided to bypass muscle spasms associated with unnecessary battles like this one and opt for peace.  It seems the more willing I become to take responsibility for things going awry the more user error applies.

After I made the payment Zollin asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you today, Doreen.”

“Yeah…you pray for me and I’ll pray for you.  ‘Cause that’s how it works,” I answered.

“Ooh, that’s so good,” he said.  “I was just reading my bible.”

“What were you reading?” I asked.

“Isaiah 40:30, 31,” he said.

“Read it to me.”

“Read it to you?”

“Yes.  Isaiah 40, right?”

“Okay….Here goes, ‘Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’”

I told Zollin how I heard those very words earlier in the day and I thanked him.

At one time I thought that admitting a mistake was heavy and shameful. I now believe that the truth is light and God’s strength is within me to give me courage in spite of what I sometimes think. This is what makes me strong.

User error means nothing more than try again.

Posted January 17, 2011 by doreenbirdsell in Snacks for the Spirit

A Snack for the Spirit – “The Diner”   1 comment

Well Said

The Diner

“Business highs, business lows, business is going nowhere unless it’s on a spiritual track,” I said to one of my friends during an early morning phone call.  I first read this in a pamphlet more than twenty years ago when I was one of the many self-employed struggling for stability.  Repeating it compounded the message that staying on track meant including God.

Later that morning I traveled to the outskirts of Boston from Connecticut with my partner Lisa to prepare for a meeting with an attorney who came highly recommended to represent her in a lawsuit concerning her mother’s recent death. Four months had passed and, of course, Lisa was still very raw having lost her mother and her best friend.

It was a two hundred mile trek that would take three hours by car. This was the beginning of an unknown journey – to defend someone who no longer could defend themselves.  Many questions lingered – the answers were yet to be revealed.  How could we know if we were on the right track?

To live up to my word of being “supportive” I had to agree not to make or receive phone calls or check email.  It was easy to say yes especially since I was doing the driving.

The early December morning came with bone chilling cold but was tempered with sunshine and story-telling clouds.  I hadn’t yet become accustomed to temperatures below freezing. Thank God for heated car seats and that I only had to pump gas once while standing in the cold.  Bracing myself against the wind, I glanced at the driver’s door while I filled up and wished I could be inside. Then I thought of others suffering in the cold this morning without a warm place immediately available to them.  Whatever happened to those latches on gas pumps that would maintain the gas flow so you could jump back in your car to get out of the weather?

By  9:30am we were ready for a real breakfast.  Lisa was on her IPhone navigating to the app “Around Me” that led us to the Track Nine Diner in Willington, CT less than a mile from I95.  Named appropriately for its location next to the railroad tracks and across the street from a weather worn vacant barn this was the perfect stop.  Scrambled eggs, spinach, and cheese with unlimited coffee pours fueled our jets.  When Lisa momentarily left the table taking our conversation with her I was left with only my stomach and ears to fill.  My interest lit upon two male diners across the room when I heard the word, “Spiritual.”  It was like being in a foreign country and suddenly hearing someone who spoke my language. One was white-haired, forty something – the other, ten years or so younger, in a navy blue hoodie was bobbing his head in excited agreement like he was hungry for the words to spill out.  I strained to tune in to the conversation  – able to pick up pieces as the volume peaked and fell.

“Chapel….Sunday…We should do more . . . “

When Lisa returned to the table I asked her if she had noticed them. She too had overheard bits and pieces of their soulful comments.  We smiled in silent agreement. For me the breadcrumbs of their conversation offered assurance that perhaps we were on the right track.

After taking some photos to mark the occasion we were back on I95 headed to the Mass Pike.  An hour or so later we were traversing the hillside streets of Newton, Massachusetts being led by the GPS through a working class residential neighborhood.  At the end of a dead-end street amidst tall late autumn bare trees was our destination.  A 1960s three-story concrete boxy office building towered over its neighbor; a white aluminum-sided single family home whose front yard was littered with toys and a bright pink and yellow swing set.  Bordering the office building on the opposite side were railroad tracks. I wondered if they ran all the way back to the Track Nine Diner.

I don’t always get the answers I’m seeking but God always lets me know when I’m on the right track and strengthens me to keep on going.

Posted December 16, 2010 by doreenbirdsell in Snacks for the Spirit

A Snack for the Spirit – “A Bite Out of the Apple”   4 comments

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”

For more than twenty-four hours I was having a problem with callers being able to hear my voice when I answered. I was about to turn my IPhone into a Frisbee.

After fifteen minutes or longer on the phone with an AT&T representative who tried to resolve the issue by prompting me to restore settings I was still muted when the next call came in.

The only solution was to take my defunct IPhone to the nearest Apple store. At least it was under warranty.  I was issued a new “device.” That’s what the tech at the genius bar called it.  My device needed help to be restored to the personalized, customized friend it once was. Having returned home to my bigger device, the mother-ship, MacBook Pro, I needed help from phone support at Apple to restore all my settings. It would still require a further investment of my time to get it back to where it was a day and a half earlier when I knew it as a “phone.”  In the detailed process of restoration, the familiar blue cylinder at the bottom of my computer screen was filling slower than the mercury in a thermometer in February.

I could only wait and follow the prompts of the representative.  To break the silence I asked, “Apple’s probably a Fortune 100 company now. Right? How do you like working for them?”

“Very much,” she said. “I was skirting bankruptcy before I came here.”

“Wow…You know…I was just with a group of friends and one of them was talking about bankruptcy. She said, ‘There must be a God because I don’t know how I’m paying all my bills and getting by without using credit cards anymore.’”

“Yeah…I’m really grateful,” the rep said before continuing. “Okay, let’s find the latest backup file. First, we’ll need to delete the older ones.”

Step by step I carefully did whatever she said.  Suddenly, I lost the screen I was working on. I had made an incorrect selection.

“Oh shit,” I said…”Excuse me…I’m sorry…I didn’t mean that. Thank God I’m not an astronaut.”

“That’s okay,” she said, “We’ll just go back.”

At last … There it was … My most recent back-up was ready to install but before I pressed the key of no return I asked, “This will be okay. Right?”

“Yes, just go ahead.”

In a flash I saw the text of a familiar app pop up as the install process began.

“Bible,” I said, “Thank God. Every IPhone should come installed with a bible app.”
The blue cylinder at the bottom of my screen was now filling at a slow but steady rate.  The text blinked, “10 minutes.”

“Okay, we’re going to be here a while,” I thought.

“Do you read the bible,” I asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“When I’m stuck on a line I’m so glad to have my bible app – If I need something inspiring or comforting to read – It helps me a lot.  I have a Big Book app too – That’s Alcoholics Anonymous. Do you go to church?”

“I do.”

“What denomination.”

“Episcopalian…My mother’s a recovering alcoholic for nineteen years now,” she said.

“Wow. That’s great. I’ve got twenty-six years.”

“My mom has lung cancer. I was really worried about her when she got diagnosed. She started to lose her faith…Blamed God…Didn’t even want to go to church anymore.

“I’m so sorry.  That’s the hardest thing. We’re all going to pass on one day but it’s so hard when our loved ones struggle with not knowing where they’re going and sickness challenges their faith.”
“Well, she’s much better now. The chemo is shrinking the tumor. She’s still not going to be cured but she’s come back to church. She even calls me on Sundays to ask me if I’m going. I’m so glad. It makes such a difference. She’s so much lighter.”

“That’s so good to hear. I believe that faith can heal everything. Maybe not the way we’d like but I know that everything is spiritual. I know people even struggle with the existence of Jesus but who can argue with a calendar that’s based on the death of one man.  B.C. – Before Christ.  I believe we’re all going to see Jesus again on the other side – Sometimes I imagine Jesus as a greeter or a ticket-taker at the door of this great party – Whether you believe or not – He’s there.

“I know,” she said, “I believe we’re all here to learn lessons and when we’re done we get to go.  I do a lot of work with the women in my church helping people.”

“Really! I am so glad you told me this.  Now, I know there’s two branches of Episcopalian since Gene Robinson, the gay priest was made bishop.  I hope you’re on the inclusive side because I’m also gay.

“Oh! I am. Only God can judge. How can I say that someone’s choice is a sin?”

The blue bar was filled up. My “device” was restored and so was I.

Posted December 2, 2010 by doreenbirdsell in Snacks for the Spirit

A Snack for the Spirit – “No Thyme”   2 comments

Turkey, stuffing, stuffing me with turkey – Not this year folks – And for that I am truly thankful. Some people really look forward to the feast and family.  This Thanksgiving Eve I’m looking forward to a day in New York City with my partner to just see what we will see.  No big plan except to take in the sights and get some healthy food wherever serendipity leads us – without falderal.

Today’s snack is truly just that. Although life is a banquet I need to be careful not to get so stuffed that my appetite for more puts me to sleep and renders me useless. It seems to be a diabolical plan.

I am so blessed to have so much, which for me, is being content with all that I already have.  For this I thank my Creator who gave me eyes to see and a heart to love.

Posted November 24, 2010 by doreenbirdsell in Snacks for the Spirit

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