Share, for your journey can give hope

I needed to pick something to read for lent. I like to tackle something that encourages me to grow. I may add something along with the one I have picked: The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. I read this book a long time ago and I have decided to revisit Nouwen’s wisdom. I have pulled out several others but I haven’t made up my mind about which one to tackle. I always have a few books on the shelf that I planned to read but never got to. I have chosen Plan B by Anne Lamott and Dreams, God’s Forgotten Language by John Sanford to choose from. All three are totally different and I will have to see what works for me after the Nouwen. The front of the Nouwen book say “In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”

shareI am reading this again because I have seen this to be so true in my own life. When we have experienced painful things we are more able to help others who have had similar experiences. They are helped to heal by our woundedness. If you have had no problems in your life it is hard to understand and empathize with the problems of others.

It is so important for us to share and reach out to others who are wounded by life. We can share the things that we have done to survive and give hope to those in pain. Others who suffer with anxiety and depression have said to me that if I have managed to live a life that has given me joy along with the pain and survived that they can too.

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From The Servant Song

Do not be afraid to share your ups and downs, pains and sorrows, and the things you have learned along the way It can help someone have hope.

Memories

memoriesMemories. Today I have been thinking about memories. God willing we do not lose our memories. There are so many that we have to share and we need to do them before it is too late.

I wrote this poem about memories in 1996

 

 

The Button Box

As I look for a shirt button
In my button box
The memories come flooding back

For in that box are buttons
In many colors and shapes
Sizes and textures
Buttons that tell the story of my life

A button from
the dress I wore
To the christening
Of my first born

A mandarin button
From the elegant bathrobe
My husband gave me
When our son was born

An extra button from the dress
I made myself to wear
To my youngest daughter’s
college graduation

I hold each button in my hand
And relive the day
When the button
Was worn

I didn’t expect
When I opened the box
To find memories
Memories in a button box

Memories are important. They take us back in time. They sometimes come unbidden with songs or smells or buttons. They can be good or bad, sad or happy but they belong to us. And let’s pray they will never be taken away.

 

 

 

 

Ethical aging

possible futureAging brings some interesting dilemmas. Ones we don’t face until we are older. A friend of mine who is older than me has severe back pain. Today he was told that surgery for his problem is out because of his age. He is pretty healthy otherwise. I can’t imagine being told that I am too old to get help for constant pain. Something more than medicine or pain management. I’m sorry but THIS SUCKS! Medicine is reaching the point where implementing decisions based on age become the norm. If you haven’t read or seen the film ….this begins to sound like “Soylent Green.” At a certain age we will just be shuffled off to become food for others.

I do understand that resources will become more and more scarce and that there will be those who decide that the young must be saved but who gets to decide? Should we kill off  an Einstein or Grandma Moses? Is experience and wisdom no longer needed?

who decidesThe ethical decisions that we already have to make are way beyond the wisdom of Solomon. How will we begin to face the ones that will come in the future? How will we decide to not give birth to a child who will be at risk for Alzheimer’s? What will the ability to choose the sex, hair color and maybe even intelligence do to God’s creation. Are we taking over or will this make a better world?

I know that I have no idea and in some ways am glad that I don’t have to face that future.

man-creates-machine

Kindness

Today I went to church with my husband. Our favorite retired minister was there. I always love his services as he melds the liturgy in different ways and it is always beautiful and meaningful. His sermon was wonderful. It is seldom that I take notes from a sermon but today I did because I wanted to think some more about the ideas and to share them.

one kind wordHe started by reading a short excerpt from one of his favorite authors whose name I didn’t get. The story was about a man who brought a newspaper every day from someone who was grumpy and rude yet this man was always pleasant and kind. “He said that he had no control over the grumpy man but did have control over himself and he chose to be kind. To return good for evil is a prescription for our own emotional/mental health.”

Pastor said ” we were created in the image of God and are called to behave like him. Life is not about how we act with other people but how we react.”

I found this to be very powerful. Too often we do react to the mood or actions of the person we are faced with. We return rude with rude, sad with sad, etc. The interesting thing is that if we do the reverse things change.

My father was not only a wonderful father but a unique man. I never heard him say something negative about someone else. People who knew him said the same thing. He always responded with kindness even with someone who was very angry. He told me that two things would happen….the whole situation would defuse or all hell would break loose. Either way he remained calm and kind.

be king 2We do have control over our behavior. I visit a physicians office where one of the employees was always a little brusque and not really pleasant. I made it my intention to make that change and spent time complimenting things (only genuine things and getting to know her. Be genuine for false is easily detected) and we now have a great relationship. I enjoy her and she always greets me with pleasure. A little kindness on my part well spent and a new relationship formed.

How we treat people makes a difference. We have to be genuine but we can be kind. I hope this is a step toward becoming the person God wants me to be.

 

Beyond ice there is warmth and hope

We are in the middle of a winter storm. Since I live in the south this weather is unusual. I can’t remember the last time that it was below freezing here. Ice covers the roads and everything is closed. No problem for me. I will stay inside and enjoy the fire. Kids are delighted to have a day off. It seldom happens.

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(Marsh grass covered with ice.)

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but then do we ever?

Life itself can be icy  and leave us in a shivering in a cold place. There are so many things in life that we can’t control and weather is one of them. Maybe some day science will find a way but I like it this way. It doesn’t make things easier (when hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. happen) but it is real. If we really think about it the only thing that we actually control is ourselves and our reactions to things. Choices bring consequences good or bad and that choice is up to us.

This fact makes it doubly hard when dealing with some mental aberrations. It is easy to feel that we are in a morass and there is no way out. It doesn’t seem as if we have a choice and that there is nothing left to do. The only way out becomes suicide. For those of us dealing with anxiety and depression suddenly not being there at all seems like a relief.

However, there are people who are doing away with themselves slowly by means of alcohol and/or drugs. This way can be devastating as it strips the person a little at a time. Each day they slip away a little more until nothing is left but the drug of choice. The drug takes away their ability to think clearly and reduces the chance of making a different choice.

hope lightWith all these depressing thoughts we need to look toward the light because we do have a choice. We can decide to reach toward the light. We can seek help from others whether friends, communities or therapeutic help. Hope is still out there. As long as we are breathing there is hope. Life can be difficult but we are alive and a new day is out there.

My granddaughters have said that I give them hope since I have found ways to cope for 77 years. I am still here. I have joys and sorrows, good and bad but life is worth it all.  Mostly I have found peace. Gather your strength and hope.

God with us!

birth of christChristmas is about here. I think today ( Christmas Eve) may be one of my favorite days. Sometimes anticipation is better than the actual event. However, I know that tomorrow will bring joy.

There are different thoughts about the importance of Christmas. Some theologians see Christmas as the central focus of their theology. They are called Incarnation Theologians. I am one of those (although I don’t consider myself a theologian). Somehow I like the idea that the greatest sacrifice on the part of Christ was leaving heaven. This doesn’t mean that his life, death and resurrection were not important.

There are others who see the resurrection as most important. I guess in reality I see his birth, life, death and resurrection as a whole….no one part more significant than the others. I don’t know what kind of theology this is but it is the complete image that connects me. His whole being and all that he offered is amazing. He truly is “God with us.”

ImmanuelHe came as an infant, vulnerable and fragile. He grew up among us learning from those around him. His life and ministry showed us how to be wholly human. (Notice that the word wholly contains “holy”). He was radical in his time…accepting women, lepers, tax collectors and other outcasts as equal human beings.

If only we could follow his path of acceptance and love the world would be a different place.

Center down

day

I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.”  The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.

A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.

god-in-the-middle-of-itThere are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.

Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.