Fortune cookies

I used to have the very good habit of making my lunch every day: Sandwich, fruit, two cookies. Sadly, those days have gone into history now. It was a good habit, though.

Now, if I don’t remember to grab some of the always yummy leftovers we have in the fridge, I head for one of several great food choices in the neighborhood of the church. My favorites are the Chinese take-out places, of which there are four within just a few blocks, although I usually choose from one of two.

A creature of other habits (making my lunch not being one anymore, as I said), I order one of two things: broccoli beef or sesame chicken with friend rice. It’s not healthy, but it tastes good. And the bonus that comes with it: the fortune cookie!

No kidding! Steve and I once got the same fortune in our cookie at Sunday lunch.

No kidding! Steve and I once got the same fortune in our cookie at Sunday lunch.

I have been saving these on my desk for some time now, and periodically look them over. What I have discovered is the messages come in several categories, such as actual predictions, advice for the short term, descriptions of me that I love and hope are true, a couple that I totally disagree with as far as describing me, and the balance are kind of common sense.

And so for lack of anything better to talk about today, here are the messages from my fortune cookies over the last several years.

The common sense messages:

  • Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe. (That’s a good one. I would like to substitute “worry” for “fear” as that is one of my biggest problems.)
  • Things are not always what they seem. (Absolutely! Sometimes they’re something else. See “worry” above.)
  • Action takes precedence over words. Can you do it? (I hope my actions back up my words!)
  • Don’t forget to do good deeds as you accumulate wealth. (I might add, “or any other time.”)
  • Example is better than advice. (I try not to give any of the latter, but hope my life offers the former, in a good way.)
  • Where there is a will, there’s a way. (Or as my dad used to say, “Where there’s a will, there are relatives.”)
  • One old friend is better than two new ones. (Can’t go with this one, but will quote my old Girl Scout song here, “One is silver and the other gold.”)
  • A person is not wise simply because one talks a lot. (True that!)

Short-term advice:

  • Now is a good time to finish up old business.
  • Channel your energy into something positive.
  • Now is a good time to finish up old tasks.

Looking at number one and number three, it seems recycling is happening in fortune cookies. Recycling is always good!

Actual fortunes:

  • Good news will come to you by mail. (It did several times. Thank you Sr. Aunt Carolyn!)
  • Happy life is just in front of you. (And behind me, beside me, all around me. Thank you, God, for Steve!)
  • You will have many friends when you need them. (Thank you for Facebook! I always find encouragement there.)
  • Lucky you make this choice. Everything comes out for the best. (Strange syntax, but I appreciate the message. I try to make wise choices.)
  • Pleasure awaits your company. (Here is the one where “in bed” added at the end makes me smile lasciviously!)
  • For greater returns, avoid being too risky this week. (I am personally conservative with family and business finances, so this is sound advice.)
  • Your next business venture will be very profitable. (If you need printing, check out

Things that DO NOT describe me:

Actually I got the same one twice – You like participating in competitive sports. I must have gotten someone else’s cookie here. 🙂

And here are my favorites. Humbly, humbly, I do hope I look like this to others:

  • You take an optimistic view of life.
  • You have the ability to analyze and solve any problem.
  • You have great physical powers and an iron constitution.
  • You have musical talents. Make them known.
  • You constantly struggle for self-improvement.
  • You are vigorous in words and action.
  • Generosity and perfection are your everlasting goals.
  • You have a natural grace and great consideration of others.
  • You have an active mind and a keen imagination.
  • You are a person of strong sense of duty.
  • You are an exciting and inspiring person.
  • You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music.

I don’t need fortune cookies to help me get through the day. I know who I am in God’s eyes and that is enough for me. But I can’t help smiling when I open these up and read them as I enjoy the sweet treat of the crisp cookie. I think it would be a great ministry to be the one who puts those encouraging messages into someone else’s dessert.

Besides, now I know my lucky numbers, too!

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…

Heart for healing, heart for peace

Heart for the Middle EastIt sits in a small box on my desk, nested in shreds of paper. It’s called the “inner spirit rattle” and it was a gift from a co-worker, a sister, a woman of generous heart and deep feeling. She gave it to me because when she saw it in the gift shop it reminded her of me.

That makes me smile. With it came this little card with a quote from Billy Joel:

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.

“…an explosive expression of humanity.” What a great visual of the power of music! It meshes with my great manifesto of peace through music. (Someday that billion voice flash mob of a choir will happen. Talk about an explosive expression of humanity…can you imagine the explosive peace? I can.)

So I keep this musical heart rattle next to me on my desk and it brings me comfort and joy because of the giver and reminds me always of how we can encourage one another in this life. There is the sweet tinkle of bells and the soft rattle of its inner stones when I shake it. It’s a quiet music I can make right here in my office anytime.

There is another little card that came with it that says…

American Indians have long used rattles during ceremonies to ensure blessings upon their crops. Use this rattle to help rattle some rain into your life, some rain out of your life, to help rattle your worries away…

I use it to remind me to pray for the people I know represented by the world map just above my head to the left. I pray that peace would rain down like the deluge that came into our yard again last night. That those who have lived as neighbors for centuries in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and other parts of this globe will be able to live that way again soon. That their children would grow up to see tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. That together they will sing songs and make music that is an explosive expression of humanity. That the other kinds of explosions which have destroyed their communities, their homes, their lives, would be forever silenced. Such a rain of peace would be life-giving and life-sustaining.

The prayers that arise from my heart when I look at this beautiful little gift of a rattle are for healing and peace.

I found these words today from Pope Francis, and though they are about Syria specifically, I offer them on behalf of the entire region as I hold my ceramic heart in my hand, and the prayers pulse out with each beat.

A reading from an Angelus homily of Pope Francis

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to add my voice
to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world…
from the one great family which is humanity.
It is the cry for peace!
It is a cry which declares with force:
We want a peaceful world; we want to be men and women of peace …
and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict,
that peace break out!
There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded by what is happening in Syria and by the dramatic developments which are looming.
I appeal strongly for peace …
How much suffering, how much devastation,
how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake …
I think of many children who will not see the light of the future!
With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons.
There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which is inescapable!
Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake.
War begets war; violence begets violence.
What can we do to make peace in the world?
As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love.
All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace.
I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sister who do not believe:
Peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs to all of humanity.
I repeat forcefully:
It is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony with and between peoples, but it is a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue;
This is the only way to peace.
May the plea for peace rise up and touch the hearts of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.