Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vacation Envy

Sunday. Today after church, a friend, a mother of five kids, a five-month-old in her arms, the rest racing around the lawn, told us she has vacation envy. They didn’t get one this summer and it seems like everyone else we know is texting, Face Booking, and talking about where they’ve been. It was a great rant one I understood too well. I stood there thinking – from Nantucket to Provence everyone in the world is hiking sensational mountain ranges, biking through fields of leaping lambs, eating Gruyere, and sleeping within the sound of whippoorwills. Except for us.
She went on to say she’d just finished reading Ecclesiastes “and that’s where I am, ‘everything is vanity.’” She roller her eyes and grimaced. Then she concluded God must be at work because her attitude shifted when she thought of a “stupid old 70s song* – ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with’ I’m trying to do that she said, if I can’t take a vacation then I’m trying to be where we are and somehow love it.

I wrote something similar to a friend. “I’m doing okay. A bit tired. Okay, maybe a lot tired. Am looking for some sweet spots in the Lord in the midst of these weeks. I know they are there. Hoping not to miss them because I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

One sweet spot had to be our youngest granddaughter sitting next to me reading her favorite book: Max & Ruby. We’ve read it so many times she has it memorized or “rememberized” as she puts it. Her ways delight my soul. After hearing it so many times she understands “Grocer” – a word not commonly used anymore, but the context has taught her without me explaining. The ways of children both delight and instruct. Her honesty. Can I have this book, she asks? No. I want it to be here so when you come back we can look forward to reading it together. When I die you can have it. I will leave it to you in my will. What’s a will?… and on we go.

Another sweet spot. I made two jars of naturally fermented pickles. It’s the way they used to make them long ago. You don’t need vinegar. You just put the cucumbers in a jar water and salt, garlic and dill, leave it on the counter and in three to five days a wonderful, crisp tart pickle. It worked! Love them.
Garlic Dills naturally fermented.
Please don’t stop telling me what wonderful times you’ve had. You need times away from the crush of stress. You need times of pure refreshment and joy. God will get us (me) to where we need to be. Eventually.

Our next week will bring its stresses. Some of them we know. Some we anticipate. Others are still unknown. When Denis and I talk about our days, we have a tendency to stew about the future. The words of Jesus echo in my head. Words I heard growing up about not worrying about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself. The Message translation gives it a different punch:  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Mt. 6:34) 

*Stephen Stills “Love the One You’re With” 1970.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"We're gonna do this death thing, friends"

Early this last Sunday The Great Aunt passed. It was a long battle she fought against age and death and Alzheimer’s. We will miss her lovely smile, her acerbic humor and her generous acceptance of those she loved. She was the dearest aunt and a surrogate mother to my husband. We are sorrowful, but we are also relieved that she finally rests from this battle.

Those of you who know us also know we have another friend who has fought a different set of mortal enemies – stage IV prostate cancer. Ed Hague was diagnosed a little more than three years ago, so to have lived this long probably, no it does, qualify as a miracle. 

Today he posted what may be his final blog. I don’t know. Read it and then read backwards. You may find what you need for living right where you are now. He would love that. 

If I stumble around, a bit blue and puffy-eyed, well, I just wanted you to know …  they say sadness goes, but grief stays somewhere tucked down in your heart. I wonder. Is this true? At my age, you’d think I’d have acquired some wisdom about this. And I’m thinking that perhaps for the moment, I have lost some heart. Perhaps it’s okay to not be all perky and bless-you kind of happy. For the moment. I posted the following comment on wedonotloseheart.com.

Ed. Just staring into space. Hard to believe the time has come. Death sucks. We never get over it, no matter how hard we try to “celebrate” life – it’s just not how it was meant to be, is it? In one sense, I’m glad your journey is nearly over. It’s been an amazing ride. I already miss you.

I often repeat to myself, in many of life’s situations, the words of St. Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” I take heart from this because I know she speaks of Jesus’ power to resurrect all kinds of things. Including the earth. Our relationships. Our bodies, our hearts. And now I say to myself, to God, “And Ed shall be well and all parts of Ed shall soon be well.”

For that I can say Thanks be to God.