This picture is from last year but it looks pretty much the same today only with more snow. We've really had a punishing snowfall over the last several days, and today I was stuck in the driveway and it took about 3 hours to get it cleared. Even then it's only one lane wide and the road at the end isn't great. We get a lot of drifting in these parts and it's not a bad day to stay home. There's much to be done before the holiday, but of course much of it requires going out. No worries, though.
Cleaning up at home is good therapy for me and I have gotten a few things done that have waited for my attention for months. Boxes moved from the hallway, that sort of thing.
I'm over my previous melancholy about my mother that hits me now and then. When it's daylight, I am always more forward thinking.
The passage of time, though... That's something to ponder. We are born, we live, we die. We accomplish, we give. I hope we reflect. The quiet of reflection, of prayer, gives needed direction to our activity. It's a good thing. Snow days can slow us down, divert us a bit. Just staying warm is enough.
Into this darkness, our darkness, came the One who would make all things new. Advent is a time to consider how much we needed this One. How much we need Him still.
I miss you. I don't understand myself sometimes, and I think that you would. You might be able to shed light on why I feel sad, why I feel lonely. There is a hole where you once were, where I felt known. Who knew it would still be there 33 years later? But here it is. At times I feel so needy, which isn't like me because I really am quite independent. But I always come back to you, to needing you. And then I feel badly that I didn't have more time, and that I didn't know what it must have been like for you. Now I can understand a little better, but then?... then I was still full of my own thoughts and while I thought I understood, I probably didn't understand at all. I'm sorry that I wasn't more help to you. I'm sorry that I was so wrapped up in my own life and friends and that I probably didn't say the things you wanted to hear from me at the time. I know I wish I could talk to you now. I wish I could hear you speak to me, and I wonder what you would say. I really wish I could have known what you think of me. I guess it's a good thing that I paid attention to how you did things. I probably didn't know why you did them, but at least I know some of the things you thought were important to do. Can you send me a little "hello" from somewhere, if you get a chance? Could you pop me a little post card to let me know that you're ok? That I'm ok?
It's cold outside, and dark because it's December. I miss you in December. You did a good job of making December a great time of year. I don't do nearly as well as you at making things special. In fact, I sometimes find it hard to move at all at this time of year. You'd think that because you set a good example for me, I'd be able to throw myself into this time of year with zeal. It's harder than you might think. But I don't want to make excuses. I don't know if a bowl of pine cones on the mantle would make my kids feel any better, but somehow it made me feel good when I was young.
Well, I have work to do here. But I miss you and really wish I could have talked to you today. I wonder sometimes if you ever felt like this. I suspect you must have, but you seemed to do ok.
Remember how I used to like to take pictures when I was young and dad would take my film to the store to be developed?? Well, I take pictures, now, too. These digital cameras are great! Anyway, this is a picture of an icy Queen Anne's Lace bloom. There's a field behind our home and I took this on a really cold day last winter. It sort of captures how I feel today. Maybe you know what I mean.
In honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
"The hope of new life began the very same moment that Our Lady was conceived in the fullness of grace without the slightest disfigurement of original sin."
- from Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez
"Our Lady is rest for those who work, consolation for those who mourn, and relief for those who are sick. She is a refuge for those caught in the storms of life, a fountain of compassion for sinners, a sweet relief for the sorrowful and a sure source of aid for those who pray."
- St. John Damascene, from "Homily on Our Lady's Dormition"
(page 345 Conversations with God, Vol 7)
Mary, conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent. The Communion Prayer has jumped out at me in years past, and this year, there was the same, sage entreaty: "Teach us to judge wisely the things of earth, and to love the things of Heaven."
That just about sums it up, doesn't it? If we can just sort out the value of earthly things, and place our emphasis and efforts on obtaining the Heavenly ones we'd be ahead of the game. The pursuit of Virtue, versus the pursuit of things... Investing in people rather than in accumulating wealth. Challenging considerations. No wonder we ask the Father for help in discerning what has value.
We are currently blanketed in snow, with gray skies overhead. The winter is only fresh upon us, but I am already dreaming of green grasses and warm breezes. I philosophically tell myself that the winter months are good for the soul, and that they create a desire for something greater. They reveal our vulnerability, our need for shelter and protection. They put me in touch with myself; I become more introspective and I see my faults and weaknesses more clearly. Life becomes more difficult, more challenging.
Spring and summer are full of possibilities and promise. They are months of confidence and life is easy (easier).
In the late summer we took a walk through a park which is a good thing to do. It was early morning in this case, but early or later in the evening are also beautiful times for getting out in the natural world. The pine forest filters the light and the needles make the path quiet. It is like a conversation with God. Stripped of the man-made distractions of daily life, it is healing to be alone in the woods. The mind is emptied of the build-up of worldly concerns, and our vision becomes clear.
I recently had the opportunity to see a movie, "The Human Experience". It has given me so much to think about. There are a number of excellent quotes peppered into the story line, but I had to look one of them up when I got home because it was so true, and so worth considering.
Martin Luther King had many profound and challenging things to say about the way we live. Here's a thought for now:
"We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
- James Allen
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fullness and completion?”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces a lot of grain.
- John 12:24
This image of a single acorn is about potential and life. It is about hope and future. It embodies why I am pro-Life, and why I believe in the power of suffering when born with patience, and why death is not the end. It is a sermon in itself, which others have preached before me. The acorn is food for the squirrels, and provides potential shelter for the birds. In it's smallness, it has potential to become the large and steady oak.
While I garden, he observes from the window. Eager to help in any way I'd allow, I find his assistance most helpful as a companion on the other side of the screen. His devotion is charming, though, and he is such a good friend.
He speaks to me:
"Hmm... This gardening project may take her longer than I thought..."
"Psst... Hey, there! I've got a great idea! Dog treats!"
---------- "Is anyone else ready for a snack break???..."
--------- "I think you may have missed a weed over there..."
"I'm picturing some lovely blooms by next spring..."
I saw a man with his wife today. In the past month he has developed symptoms, undergone testing, and been told he has at least one, or maybe two cancers that have metastasized to other organs in his body. He is very uncomfortable. He experiences pain regularly, and it has gotten worse. He is frustrated because the specific cancer(s) he has are not identified yet. We will determine the type, and he will have a clear diagnosis with treatment recommendations soon. It's serious. On top of this, he has no insurance, and is unable to work because of his illness. His wife does not have a job and is busy trying to take care of him. They are both very stressed by their circumstances, and all that it means. We discover he has no insurance and reassure him that we will get our social worker and financial assistance staff to meet with him. We will treat him. We will help. His wife's lip quivers, and a tear quietly rolls down her cheek. He is trying to be brave, but breaks down and weeps finally. Now they both cry. His wife says it is because he is not used to receiving help, and now he clearly needs help. It is a blow to him. He is grateful, but it is so hard to accept. He is overwhelmed by everything.
It is so important that we show compassion to others. We have no idea what their lives are like, what pressures, what disappointments, what challenges and heartaches they are experiencing. We all need help. We all need each other.
Today is our anniversary. Five years, plus the several that we knew each other beforehand. It's nice to be known; it's nice to be loved. It's nice to feel stability and peace in your relationship. It isn't like a romance novel, but it is often better; and deeper. It's nice to have someone at your side, even when you are not at your best. We help each other; he encourages me. We broaden each other's horizons. He is a good man. I am so thankful.
The picture is from Hawaii, where we spent a vacation.
The translucent orange of the poppy petals has always captured my eye, but I haven't had much luck growing them myself. I should try again, since I do love them, despite their short blooming time.
These were seen in a small but very nice garden in Ann Arbor. I was driving by but actually had to stop and go back so I could get out and take a few shots of them. I just love the color and the way they filter the light.
Shortly after the New Year, we had some snow. It provided opportunities for shoveling, and many scenic views. The rural midwest is familiar and comforting to me. It's charm speaks of hard work and character, old-fashioned qualities that never go out of style. This farm was dressed in snow.
I'm a wife, a mother of grown children, and work full time as a nurse practitioner with cancer patients. My work is gratifying often, and difficult and sad sometimes, too.
I'm average and extraordinary, just as you are. I've experienced profound failures, significant disappointments, had a few successes, and been the recipient of a lot of mercy. I try to keep perspective on what's important in life, and not get too upset about the rest.
My Catholic faith is important to me, and while I'm no theologian, it's my intention that my faith inform my outlook and values, and inspire personal virtue. I love that God desires to reveal himself to us. I love the small hints, the little bread crumbs, the multiple clues, and the pieces of the puzzle that dot the created world and point to the hand of the Creator. I love that He uses beauty, art, science, all his creatures and the invisible realm of our heart and emotions to communicate His goodness to us. And I love that the fullness of his love can be seen in the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, which makes me free.