Remember dawns cold light, calves calling, cows munching. Remember white foals, soft hay laced breath. Remember buckets of water, heavy, cold, fresh from the well. Remember fresh eggs still warm from the nest. Remember eggs, pancakes, bacon and hot coco, kept me going ‘till lunch. Remember hot, steaming, metal tubs of water, babies bathing first, poor dad always went last. Remember beginnings, Remember endings, Remember endings that led into beginnings, Remember, Remember, Remember.
A recent meditation had the following journal question “If you knew you were dying what would you write or say to your children or grandchildren?” That question stopped me cold. What would I say to grandson and granddaughter, Liam and Amelia? How would I describe my love, and fears, for them? How would I tell them of my life lived with my own loves, fears, and regrets? What would I say, what would you say?
During this Easter season I have been writing about the ways we express our feelings of the resurrection, and the many ways we witness to others our faith in the resurrection. Sharing ourselves with the next generation is also a witness to our beliefs in the resurrection. The question above is an important one, challenging us to inspect our past and present lives and how that information could impact the lives that follow us. I thought long and hard about what I would, will, say to my grandchildren and all of it wasn’t bright flowers and sunshine.
What might say, well I would of course tell them I love them very much, how grateful I am for having them in my life, and I will miss them. I would ask for their forgiveness in my part for leaving them a world that is wounded and in pain, and a political system that doesn’t function. I would tell them that no matter what they do in life their parents and I would always love them from wherever we are. While their future is impacted by the world I leave behind it is still their future to make into what ever dream they reach for. Following those dreams may not be easy, or always fun, but are worth the effort if they truly believe in them. I would also tell them it is OK that they don’t believe in the Divine as I do, but, discovering their own pathway to something greater than themselves is important in finding their moral, loving, compassionate lives. I would want them to stand up against injustice even when it is hard to do so, to see the good in people and all creation even when the night is darkest. I want them to climb their most difficult mountains and to not be afraid of the challenges because I will be right there beside them cheering them on. I want my grandchildren to be fearless in the face adversity, to be strong when everyone else is weak, and to be gentle when touched by beauty.
What I want most for my beloved Liam and Amelia is to live a life that is not self-centered but other-centered. I want them to live a life that sees the best in the worst, the beauty in the ugly, and love in what is hatred. I can’t leave them with much but when I make my final passage from this world to the next I want them to know I cared about them, and want them to be the best at whatever they want to be.
So that is some of what I would tell my grandchildren, what would be in your letter to your children? We live in and uncertain world and we never know when our last day in this world will arrive. We all too often leave too much unsaid to those we love the most. So my journal question to you this week is: “If you knew you were dying what would you write or say to your children or grandchildren?”
May you find the words in your heart for those you leave behind.
16But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God. 17Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well, if even death parts me from you!’ — Ruth 1:16-17
I have been blessed in the last 16 years to have had some lovely people in my life. Most of them are not related to be by blood. I seem to make ‘family’ from the people I meet rather than from people I am related to. You see most of my closest blood relatives have passed but regardless of that I was never close to them. They didn’t understand who I was or what I was. In my eyes they were often quarrelsome and petty, easily offended and really only wanted me around if I could do something for them. The very idea of simply enjoying each other’s company just for the fun of it never entered their minds. At least that is how I perceived fit. It is always possible that I was just overly picky.
So I created my own family groups from people I enjoyed being around and who enjoyed being around me. Most of the time it was a small group but over the last 16 years my ability to create family has reached new heights. Now I have a very large extended ‘family’ made up of a few cousins I’ve reconnected with, my husband’s family, and those who I have been adopted, and those who have adopted me. It is a rather happy group of people who enjoy each other’s company, even if we don’t always agree on politics or religion or liking chocolate (actually our disagreements are what is the most fun). As a result I am blessed by friendships that go much deeper than being just a friend. These are people who when I need them they are there, and when they need me I am there for them.
I have never believed the people we meet and interact with in our lives are the result of a coincidence. No, I believe we are drawn to those who the Spirit knows we need, or who need us, at just the right time. The people who are the most important to us, whether they are relatives or not, are often the ones the Spirit uses to speak to us or provide us with that essential ingredient of life, love.
The lovely people in the above photo are my husband John 2 of his sons, 4 grandchildren and a daughter-in-law what are closer to me as family than most, not all because I do love my newly discovered cousins, of the group I was born into. They have been there when I am ill, at the celebration of life’s grand markers, and when I just need someone to talk to. God blessed me with their presence and I am grateful for each of them, they bring joy into my heart. As Ruth says to Naomi “where [they] go, I will go.”
Your prayer this week is to offer prayers of gratitude for those in your life who have blessed you with their presence. They may be a relative, or they may be good friends but all are blessing in your life.
My prayer, God I am grateful for the people in my life who I call family. You, Great Spirit, have blessed my life with compassionate, joyful, generous of heart people, I thank you for each and every one of them. Amen
On Face Book I follow the Anam Cara Ministries page, which posts daily meditations. I often find one that makes me stop and think and last week the following post drew my attention:
Artistic Afternoons: Look up. (Right now.) What do you see? Write about it. Anam Cara Ministries, November 4, 2015.
I stopped and just looked around me. Looking up I saw the wind chime I made from small bells given to me by a friend and origami peace doves made by another friend, when the window is open and a breeze comes through it rings as I work at my desk. There are books, all of which I’ve read, on a shelf above the window. There is a decorative bird cage which I occasionally use to put in small special items, often my grandchildren. And, hanging on the side of the cage are 2 scarves I was given at an InterPlay session. As I looked at these I realized all of them are part of me, and they connect me to family and friends, present and past, which are part of my life. In each there is the memory of love shared. I am grateful to Anam Cara for giving me a priceless gift of memories.
I was grateful for the being reminded of loving memories I had been too busy to notice. From time to time we all need to be reminded to remember events and people in our past; to remember old hurt and forgive them, or linger on the memories of old friends. Today I offer Anam Cara’s gift to remember, to forgive, and linger over fond memories of gifts past. It is a simple practice of observation and being in the moment. So today “Look up. Maybe look around you. What do you see? Write about it.”
Numbers 23:9a for from the top of the mountains I see him, from the hills I behold him;
On this beautiful Tuesday I ask only that you take a moment of silence. Hold in your hearts, the pain, suffering and loss from the deaths in Charleston North Carolina, Chattanooga TN. To remember the loss of so many who have needlessly died from Sandy Hook, to Marysville. As we lift up our eyes to the mountains open our hearts to those who suffer; the victims, the families. Hold the perpetrators in your heart as well, pray that light will enter the dark well they live in and bring them out of the darkness of their own making. Amen
Matthew 25:36-40 (selected verses): “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me . . . Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? . . . “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the one of the least of these by brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”
I would like to introduce my home health care team. In the last they 5 days since I returned home from the hospital following back surgery they have been an awesome team and they deserve recognition.
First is John, by beloved husband. He has been amazing helping me get out of bed, up from the couch, and fixing for meals more than just macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. I couldn’t ask for a better person to be my Mobility and General Care Specialist.
Next up is Freddie, by sweet Zen natured Schipperke. His job is to sit and watch me constantly every day, every hour, every minute. To never leave my side, no matter where I am or what I am doing (get the picture). I must admit he seems to know when I am going to be in a lot of pain a beat before I do and he alerts John, the head of the team. He is a very special fellow with very special talent.
Suzie is my Pain Control Specialist. My l little blind Chihuahua is the best comforter when I am struck by a lot of pain. She snuggles up tighter and makes small sounds that fill me with calm. She may be small and she may be blind but she is the love of my life and companion that never wants to leave me. (Even visiting me in the hospital).
And then there are these two guys, George on the left is a Green Cheeked Amazon, and Cuddles (Aka Carlos the South American Terrorist) on the right is a Cherry Head Conure. They manage to keep me laughing by their silliness and funny calls. Without them our house would a lot quieter but a lot less fun.
Well there they are my Health Care Team. You might not want to hire them but to me they are priceless.
Mark 3:33-35 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
What makes a family? Is it the group you are born into or is it the people you gather around you?
I have often thought about the words of Jesus found in Mark about who he saw as family and I am coming to an understanding of what he meant. For me my family stopped being just the people I am related to by birth a very long time ago. I was never close with my sister, half-sisters, or half-brother and haven’t seen any of them in well over 30 years. Growing up I never really knew relatives of either my father or mother. So when my parents passed away it was the ending, so I thought, of family.
But over the years I discovered something amazing. Family is really more of what I make of it than what I am given. And, with that discovery I realized family means the people and companion animals who share in the life I live.
So some of my family are those who care about things that I care about such as justice, compassion, the environment, mercy, kindness and some are those who stick with me through good times and bad, no matter what. Some of the members of my family have feathers, and some have fur. Some of my family are newly found relatives of my birth family and some are the members of the family I married into. Some of my family are people I care so much about that it often hurts to be separated from them or to see them in pain. All of the them, from recently discovered cousins to members of my faith community, to the children of my husband and their children, and the dogs, birds and other creatures of God who have enriched my life, are my family. Every one of them have shared and are sharing in my life. Every one of those connecting lives is a sacred trust that God tells me to cherish, and nurture so that all live in abundant grace.
Who are your family members? What sacred connections do have and are creating? Offer a prayer for each and every one of them. Their love and friendship is what makes your life vibrant and purposeful. Give them in return your love and friendship.
This last week I heard of the passing of Marcus Borg. I was sadden not just at his passing but because I have learned so much from his writings. I will miss reading his words and having them open up my understanding of Jesus as both human and Divine. Marcus Borg’s writings were instrumental in changing how I came to look at Jesus, the apostles, and the first century Christians. He made me think and doubt what I have always believed to be true and to take that doubt and turn it on its head by searching for answers and being comfortable with finding only more questions.
Because of Marcus Borg I began to read scripture, questioning the standard interpretations, searching for what the words printed in the Bible meant to those they were written to, the first century believers in Jesus. Borg’s books were my first window into the church of the 21st century and why, and how, it is so different from the community of believers in the 1st century. Reading Borg’s books were instrumental in giving me an interest in pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree and looking at the carefully at the path leading to ordination. Yes I will miss this Master of Theology who opened doors and, through his writings, fostered a love of scripture, sacred texts, theology, and history. Whose writing led me on a search for the divine and human Jesus that I wanted in my life.
We do not go through this life alone. There are many people, our mentors, who have walked and are walking with us. Some mentors we know, some mentors we request or go looking for, some we have not known they were mentors but were our companions for a while, showing us us how to live by living their own quiet, faithful lives. Some mentors never know they mentored us at all. Marcus Borg was one of my mentors who never knew he walked with me. I am grateful for his life and his words. I never met him, only read his books, but I felt ‘close’ to this incredible theologian who made Jesus and God accessible to me.
I will never be able to thank him, so, instead I will thank all of my other mentors while I still have time. My parents, my first grade teacher Miss Wooster, they taught me courage and determination. I am grateful for Pastors from childhood to adulthood that listened to my ravings and didn’t belittle me. I am grateful for my current pastor, and friend, Laurie, who has been the most gracious and gentle of mentors as I have grown in my faith. I am grateful for friends who let me be me, inspiring me to be the best friend I could be. I am grateful for my beloved John who has supported me through thick and thin as we have traveled this crazy new journey God has led us both on in the last 15 years.
I am grateful for the love, comfort, and companionship of dogs, cats and birds who have taught me the value of unconditional love. I am grateful for being able to live and work, and play in a world of great beauty, and sorrow. I am grateful for my life as it is and as it will be and I know that whatever life hands me I know I am not alone, there is always someone standing beside me to offer encouragement.
On this Prayerful Tuesday who are you grateful for? Who has walked with you on a difficult path or a path of exploration and great joy? Who walked with you, gave you insights, taught you a lesson of life that you didn’t recognize at the time? We all have people who have brought meaning to our lives, today offer your gratitude, your thanks for your life’s mentors.
Gracious Presence, I am grateful for all who walk, and have walked, with me on my very bumpy life’s journey. I am grateful for your presence as you have been with me always, even though I don’t recognize you. My spirit is grateful for all I have been given, and thankful for all that is yet to come. Amen.
For the last three weeks I have been in constant pain due to a pinched nerve in my back. This fussy nerve has been bothering me for a long time but I refused to listen to it. So now it is fighting back to get the attention it thinks it deserves. I have never been in so much pain before. It hurts to lie down, stand up and sit and that my friends are pretty much every possible position there is. But, I am not asking for sympathy, prayers yes, sympathy no because I got myself here by not listening to my body.
It is always easier to give someone else advice than to take that advice ourselves about taking care of the temple God has graced us with. Whether we are doing our busy lives or praying we often forget the clay vessel we are embodied with to the detriment of our health and well being both spiritually and physically.
I understand the forgetting the body when we are making a living, I certainly forgot. After all we are only trying to make a living, feed our family, keep a shelter over our heads and clothes on our backs. We don’t feed the body with good food rather we go for the quick easy meal of junk food, which is high in fat, calories and low in what we need to be healthy. We don’t get enough sleep because a job needs to be done and “I, just don’t have the time to rest until it’s finished.” Stress takes its toll with worry about how we will survive if we lose our job, or add a new family member, or move to new community. We forget to take the time to talk to God, to listen to God, to offer prayers of gratitude and concern to the one, and only, who can relieve our pain and suffering.
The ironic thing is we remember our bodies when they break down, and we remember our spiritual life when we are running on empty to the next event in our lives. That is what has happened to me. I forgot to care for my body, I refused to listen and I am paying for it now. But more than that I forgot that caring for my body, caring for my spirit is a prayer practice.
It is important to care for what has been given us the best way we can. Even when we are given bodies that aren’t perfect, and whose is, we are called by God to care for this vessel as long as we are here enfleshed in this life. In order to care for this body given me I must repent and make changes to how I view my body. It isn’t an object to worship, but it is a house of prayer. Good food, exercise, rest and listening are my four healthy habits that will make my house stronger. My physical house and my spiritual house.
My prayer for all of you this week is take a moment out of your day to sit in silence and offer God your gratitude, take a brisk walk and feel the breath of God on your face, rest in God, letting the healing touch of the Holy Spirit renew your soul and eat with gusto food rich in love and low in Cholesterol.
short I know
lights on tree glow
silent prayers sent out to the world
loud whispers come from above
“shhh, do you think he’s been”
“let’s go down and look”
foots steps on stairs
children squeals of delight
parents sighs of relief
short I know