Birthday gift ActNow: Symbol of a seed for her soul friends
"None of these people really need money, but it was the symbol of a seed and a little bit of a nudge I hoped."-Judith Lies
by Kathy Magnuson
"I never thought I would live beyond 25, given all the abuse in my life before I was 20," Judith Lies said upon reflection on turning 60 years old. "I felt immense, immense, immense gratitude for my current life, the teaching and experiences that I have had, the great fortune to be in my life."
Lies wanted to mark this significant occasion by honoring those she had learned from. She wanted it to be meaningful and even unexpected. "In some way, I think turning 60 I am wanting to do things that even surprised me," she mused. She wanted to plant seeds of new possibilities as she grew older in her life. She reflected on the fact that most of her significant friends were her age and wondered how many more years she and they would have ahead of them.
"I wanted to nourish a seed in them." She planned a surprise gift for each person on a weekend together on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Each guest received a copy of "Anam Cara: The Book of Celtic Wisdom" by John O'Donohue. The title of this book about love means "soul friend." Inside each person's book was a gift of cash from Lies, to which she added verbal instructions. They were to use the money to do something that they always wanted to do, something they never got around to doing or allowed themselves to do. "None of these people really need money," Lies said, "but it was the symbol of a seed and a little bit of a nudge I hoped.
"These friends are not known for being speechless and there was silence and people's jaws dropped and there was a bit of a shock. I think they were stunned," she said. "I think partly because they were there to celebrate my birthday and I am giving them something. It was pretty quiet."
Since her birthday celebration Lies has heard back that one person used the money towards living in Mexico. Another loves horses and is taking riding lessons, in spite of not being able to spend much time with horses for the past 15 years. Another put it in her kayak fund to paddle with manatees and dolphins. Lies' husband, who bikes 10,000 miles per year, put his in his fund for a new carbon fiber road bike. One friend wrote to her, "Thanks again for providing the gift that lets us dream of what can be in our lives."
"If you live to 65 you have a great chance to live much longer," Lies said. "Given that I don't have good genes and every woman in my family has had dementia ... If I really open up to those two realities, it is a wake up. It's time. It is important for us to listen to those dreams, those hopes and desires and bring them to fruition."
Lies looks ahead, "The next stage of life will be a lot of letting go of dear, dear friends and abilities. This was a wonderful step into that. A reminder to be letting go as we move forward."