Moving from December into 2022

We have had a mix of weather during our December stay in Michigan. We had a beautiful snow just after we arrived, but also had rain, ice, and slush. There were a few sunny days with comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately I had a multitude of excuses for not going out with my camera – most of them centered around my comfort and safety. I want to believe that I can trapes through snow on slippery, sloping ground with the agility I did when I was 40 years younger. My dream of the perfect composition of woodland, fields, snow and shadows doesn’t seem as compelling as the nightmare of falling again. I did venture out into our yard to capture the intersecting beauty of a coating of ice that foretells of hard winter to come, covering fall leaves hanging onto their branches in spite of strong winds, and buds that have formed as a sign of hope that spring will come once again.

This year Christmas was as wonderful for me as a sappy Hallmark movie – once I got my head screwed on straight, or more accurately, eliminated almost half of my healthcare appointments. I told my kids I couldn’t do our Christmas Eve family gathering this year after I realized that my daughter couldn’t be with us to help out with preparations and cleanup. As Christmas got closer I realized I didn’t have to sacrifice getting together with children & grandchildren, & one great-granddaughter. I would keep it simple. We got our usual spiral sliced, bone-in ham (left-overs for everyone and the bone for soups) and I bought frozen mac & cheese. My granddaughters love corn souffl√© so I told them I would buy the ingredients if they would make it. Emily got here first and she made two pans of it so there would be plenty for everyone to take some home. I opened a jar of my home-made applesauce, pickled beets, and made a cranberry-orange relish the day before. Jim bought rolls and a vegi tray. Daughter Carol brought Christmas cookies and an apple pie. It was so simple and instead of fussing about, I spent my energy having fun with these wonderful people who are dear to me. I don’t regret those years when there were twice as many people and I made multiple dishes from scratch. They were a lot of fun – but not any more. Now I find fun and joy in different ways.

The week between Christmas and New Years seems to be a time of reflection for me. We took the tree down a couple of days after Christmas in preparation for flying back to Florida on New Years Day. The next day I took down the wreaths and greens and packed away other Christmas decorations. It caused a small ache deep inside as I put Christmas “away.” Packing away the manger scene was a slow process as I thought about whether we could, or should, be putting Christmas behind us. It made me think about what my faith means for me, why I believe in the Christmas story, why I believe in Easter. For several reasons I have lost faith in the church (we do have a church in Florida that feeds us spiritually), but the stories of what Christ taught about peace, love, joy, kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness and self-control make for a good life. His teachings are sound, even though interpretations by humans are sometimes flawed. What we believe in is a choice, and this Christmas I reaffirmed that my belief in Christianity provides a strong foundation for facing an uncertain future. This eve of a new year finds me at peace.

Wishing you safety, comfort and joy as we navigate the coming year together.

Dreamed into Being

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The idea that we are dreamed into being by generations past is a common one among Indigenous people around the world. I realize that I hold it so deeply that I am surprised when it is new, and resonates, with others.  Michael Watson РDreaming the World

I follow Michael on WordPress and many of his posts speak to me about things I know, but know with shadows around the edges. He brings a personal perspective to what I know about being different, having unique needs in a world that very often finds people who are different scary or annoying. And he offers me insight from a world perspective that I’m familiar with only through reading novels or professional literature.

Periodically Michael talks about the role of ancestors from generations past, usually insights on how they influence mental health and relational difficulties. When he talked about being dreamed into the world by ancestors, I had to do a lot of thinking to wrap my mind around it. But I liked the concept. I just wasn’t sure I could believe my ancestors dreamed me into being.

Could I really have been dreamed into being when my being wasn’t planned by my 17 year old second-generation Polish Catholic mother who worked at a soda fountain and my 16 year old Anglo somewhat-Christian father who played football in his junior year of high school. This was in 1943 when out-of-wedlock pregnancies were a disgrace and Catholics weren’t allowed to date Christians. And Christian parents warned their adolescents about marrying a Catholic. I wasn’t planned for – maybe not even wanted. Did my ancestors from generations past on both sides of the Atlantic really dream me into being?

After months of letting this concept percolate through my brain cells I have discovered that I actually find comfort in believing that my ancestors dreamed me into being. I can support this comforting belief because I am dreaming my great-grandchildren into being and even my grandchildren’s great-grandchildren. I also believe in an afterlife and my afterlife wouldn’t be worth looking forward to if I couldn’t continue to care for and guide those who are born long after I have departed.

On this Memorial Day weekend I spent some time thinking about the people who are no longer living but have impacted my life. Because I have been loved and nurtured throughout my life, I feel better equipped to deal with the pressure of living in a world with increasing threats and challenges. Because others felt hope for me, I also have hope for opportunities for self-fulfillment and loving relationships for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they negotiate creating lives with integrity.

I am also in the process of thinking about how to integrate into my self image those who prepared the way for my birth, loving me long before I was born. “May we remember that we are the prayers of past generations, and their hope for the future, and may we carry those hopes and prayers lightly into the future as we continue to dream future generations into being.” (Michael Watson)

 

Finding Joy in our Faith

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Our faith traditions and stories give our lives meaning – they guide us in our living and give us hope for our futures. When the world around us is off kilter and scary we know we can look to the stories we have heard since we were children for comfort.

As Christians we are remembering and celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and our Jewish neighbors are celebrating God leading the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. May our shared belief in one God bring us together and give us the courage to lead lives that are compassionate, loving and joyful. May we all work together for justice and equality.

 

A Good Match: Cuban Friends

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I never met these women – didn’t even get closer than across the street, looking down from my hotel window. But I know they are a good match – close friends. Look how they are talking, how relaxed they are. And the biggest clue that they are a good match, is that they are humble enough to give and receive a pedicure from each other. I don’t know if they are religious, living here in Havana, but I know that the Holy Spirit I believe in is sharing this beautiful moment with them. After all, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

As I am growing older, I am less sure of some of my beliefs – and at the same time I am more sure of other beliefs. I am less sure of the breadth and width and depth of God because of the limitation of my comprehension, but more sure of his central message of love. I have grown to believe that the God I worship is bigger in her acceptance and forgiveness than I ever thought possible and thus maybe calls me to be more accepting and forgiving of those around me. Maybe I am being called to see God wherever I see love. Another benefit of aging is that I am better able to recognize when love is present, when things come together in a good match. A good match is respectful and allows one to be all it is meant to be, like when a plant or animal or person is well matched with its environment.

This photograph and my reflections are in response to The Daily Post: A Good Match.

Sending a Bit of Sunshine

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I seem to be low on words, so I’m sending a wee bit of sunshine to all who need a little. I hope it will shine through you to spread some joy and love to those you encounter today.

“Faith, hope, love abide; but the greatest of these is love.”