""Blessings Strengthen life and feed life just as water does." Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

This blog is a digital blessing bowl, a place to record the small blessings that are often missed or forgotten but which make life holy. Feel free to add your own blessings to my blessing bowl. Or perhaps you'll be encouraged to start your own.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

". . .and ever so much life, in a word, will remain."

It's been a long hiatus - no posts in almost four years! And what follows is not my own - this just seems to be the best way to share it.

This afternoon Facebook presented me with a memory, as it often does.  But this was more than a memory - it was a link to some of the last words my brother wrote, a Caringbridge post from April 24, 2012.  He died August 19, 2012.

My brother was sharing good news from his MRI results and the heading was "The Blessing of a Clear MRI!!).  After describing the agonizing wait for the MRI results he wrote:

"Never give up hope.  To paraphrase Van Morrison on A Brand New Day: 

When all the dark clouds roll away
And the sun begins to shine
I see my freedom from across the way
And it comes right in on time
Well it shines so bright
And it gives so much light
And it comes from the sky above
Make me feel so free
Makes me feel like me
And lights my life with love.

As I contemplate the difficult events of the last several years with the death of my father, my illness, the death of a dear cousin's grown daughter, the death of a good friend's father, the death of a brother-in-law's younger brother, the death of a kind neighbor, and many other deaths and critical illnesses of loved ones, friends and acquaintances ... and their loved ones, I am counseled by the profound words of Henry James as he counseled a good friend:

We all live together, and those of us who love and know, live so most.  We help each other – even unconsciously, each in our own effort, we lighten the effort of others, we contribute to the sum of success, make it possible for others to live.  Sorrow comes in great waves, but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.  It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return, and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see.  Sorrows will pass, and serenity and the tenderness of a few good people, and new opportunities and ever so much of life, in a word, will remain.

Bless you all as you follow me in this journey through the wilderness, and as you endure your own journey, and watch and share in the tremendous suffering that we as humans are destined to encounter.  You have contributed so much and kept me from smothering in my own sadness and sorrow."

As my brother was counseled by the words of Henry James 5 years ago, I am counseled by them now.  I count it a blessing that Facebook sent me back to Caringbridge, to this memory, to these words. 

If I look at this picture of Ricky, I can almost imagine him speaking these words of Henry James to us all.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"We'd been graced"

My brother, Rick, and my son, Adam, celebrating their birthdays (May 28 and 29) together in 1983.

Today is my brother's birthday.  

He was the oldest of my siblings and just 13 months older than I. 
 I knew him longer than I have known anyone in my life.  

Last week my sister shared this article from the New York Times Sunday Review,  
in which Frank Bruni writes about the bond of siblings.  
These are the words that resonated with me the most: 

It’s as if we signed some contract long ago, 
before we were even aware of what we were getting into, 
and over time gained the wisdom to see that we hadn’t been duped. 

We’d been graced: 
with a center of gravity; with an audience that never 
averts its gaze and doesn’t stint on applause.

Today I think back on over 60 years of memories.
I think of how much I wish we were sitting on that porch tonight,
celebrating together.  I think of how "we'd been graced."

We miss you, big brother, more than words can say.
Happy Birthday.

To learn more about Rick, go here.
To read an earlier post on the bond I share 
with my siblings go here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Water and a double blessing

Last night a neighbor knocked on the door to tell us that a fountain - a broken water line - had erupted in the shrubs in our front yard.  Soon a utility worker was there to investigate, telling us that the break was on our side of the meter (so our responsibility); but that if it was close to the meter he could fix it.  If not, we'd have to call a plumber in the morning.  He shut the water off and I began stressing over the thought of going without running water overnight - no shower, no flushing, no watering the house plants.   Then I added shame to my stress, for I realized that I was distraught over no running water for less than 24 hours while there are many people who have no clean water at all.
Meanwhile, the utility worker repaired our broken line in the dark.
We are blessed with the gift of clean accessible water and we take it for granted.  And we were blessed last night by the services of this utility worker.  My husband told him before he left that he hoped his employer, The City of Wilson,  appreciated him as much as we do.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A new creation

To heal:  to make sound or whole

"You are married. Healing is not a profession but a way of life. Your spouse is not your patient but your flesh. Healing, then, is a task for your heart as well as your head and your hand. "

"Mutuality is accomplished by two whole persons; and if each partner truly intends to be but the fraction of a relationship (thinking my whole makes up half of us) he or she will soon discover that these halves do not fit perfectly together. The mathematics can work only if each subtracts something of himself or herself, shears it off, and lays it aside forever.
        — Walter Wangerin Jr. (As For Me And My House: Crafting Your Marriage To Last)

On April 23, 1971,  my whole became a half of a new creation - a marriage.  In fitting my half  to my husband’s I have been healed - made sound and whole in a new way.

As Walter Wangerin says, a marriage only works if the two shear off parts of themselves.  That happens over time, not at the altar, and the healing from it is an ongoing process, “a way of life”.  

In our first year of marriage my mother died. We became parents. My husband went away for 4 ½ months for officer candidate training in the Coast Guard.  It was a beginning that might have been too much for some marriages.  But we clung to each other and promised that after that separation for Coast Guard training we’d never be apart again.
It wasn’t a promise we were able to keep - work and life have separated us physically many times over the years.  But we also know now that the separations that harm a marriage aren’t the physical ones.  The retreat into selfishness, the breech in communication -  these are the separations that harm.  Selfishness is there every day, whether I want to admit it or not.   My attempts at communication often fall short - too many words, no words, the wrong words; a misinterpreted sigh or frown or tone of voice.  Every day my husband forgives and accepts me and loves me despite my faults.  God’s grace helps us heal the wounds we inflict on our marriage and it strengthens our love and commitment to each other.  

My husband is a kind and generous man; a devoted, steadfast and faithful husband, a loving father who continues to set a fine example for his children.   His love has carried me through every difficult moment.  It has multiplied my joy many times over.  It is my greatest blessing.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beauty and Grace

“Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. 
The least we can do is try to be there.” 

Today I was there - and I am thankful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A cheery morning song

The Robins know that it won't be long until Spring.

They're singing from the trees, 

from the grass,

and the middle of the road -

Brightening my morning with their song.

To hear a Robin's cheery song, go here.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forever Young

May you grow up to be righteous

May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

The last stanza of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young"

Rabbi Marc Gellman referred to this song in this morning's "God Squad" column . 
He writes that some popular songs can be considered modern day psalms 
and that this one tops the list.  It was a wonderful blessing to start the day.

Tonight I'm listening to Joan Baez sing it.  I hope it blesses you, too.

May your spirit stay forever young.