Everyday Spirituality

Archive for June, 2012

Green Eggs and Ham: Temper Tantrum

I admit that I am old, but I think you may never be too old to have a good old fashioned temper tantrum. This is exactly what I feel like right now; acting life a toddler. As any parent can confirm a two year old’s temper tantrum may make no sense at all. Things are not going their way…they are overwhelmed…they are out of control…they are just plain tired.

Well that is where I am with one huge difference;

I am not two.

 In my old age I can recall many times in my life when I did not understand or like the situation I found myself in. I recall the worst year of my teaching career was caused by an administrator who was determined to make my life miserable. I literally almost left teaching because she was on a mission to destroy me even if she lied about situations. In the long run that year from h _ _ _ made me a stronger person. I did not let her win. I continued to be the best teacher I could be in spite of the circumstances. One school is just that ‘One’ year.

 Intellectually, I think, I believe that all things happen for a reason and have a purpose in my life journey. I just do not like some of these situations. It seems for the last few years I have found myself more and more often in the midst of situations where I would like to have the ability to rewrite the script. At the top of the list for the last four years would have been to remove the illness that took away my best friend.

Now I am once again in a situation where I not only want to rewrite the script that is unfolding in my life, but I want to shred this script. A toddler’s temper tantrum is simply a mechanism in which the little frustrated body can release some pent up energy. Bingo that is exactly what I need to do…this is perhaps why I write.

I have energy all sorts of energy inside that needs to be released. Too bad this energy is not working to make me skinny…no such luck.

So as I humbly submit to this current script handed to me I am on the ground face down kicking and screaming. I am at the feet of God hoping he will ease my pain and give me some understanding as to why. Don’t get me wrong…I do have much to be thankful for…and I know others have it much harder.

 There are, however, times in life where you look up at God and say or even scream “BUT” I do not want to do this…I do not want to have this experience. There are times when you ask, “How is this going to be good for me?” There are times when you just cannot help but feel you are being punished for something; who knows what. And yet you know that God does not operate that way. We do not have a God that sends trials into our lives as punishment.

Today I do not want to be a grown-up…it is not all I thought it would be when I was a toddler. That is the life; someone else eventually solves all your problems.

Someone else picks you up and tells you everything will be alright. Someone who loves you is there when you need them even if you cannot tell them why you are kicking and screaming. 

I am reminded of the Dr. Seuss book…Green Eggs and Ham

The character, Sam was so extremely insistent on not wanting green eggs and ham until…in the end he finally gets a taste. I can only hope that once this present situation passes I am able to say, I now understand.

But for now I still want a new improved script. Notice I said ‘improved’ because I know you have to be careful what you wish for. (smile)

Things can always be worse…Please Lord, not now. I pray.

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The Gift of a Dream

 

I just woke up from having the most wonderful dream I have had in a really long time. You know the kind of dream where everything seems so right and put together. The details are vivid and tangible. The sense of touch was believable and comforting.

I do not really know how often I dream since I do not usually remember my dreams. So you can understand why I am so excited by this dream. The other reason I am excited, as you may have guessed, is because it was about my dear friend.

This dream makes me so happy.

Come with me as I try to reconstruct the details of the scene. We were in a house but not necessarily her house. Right as you walked in was a large dining room table much the size of hers when it fully extended for the whole family to fit around it. Someone, not a family member, was decorating the table with a white table cloth.

In an adjacent room was her bed. She was in bed but she did not look very ill as she had for so many months. I was happy to see that she looked more like herself only in bed. The funny thing is she was crocheting. I could see her hands carefully working the crochet hook and the white thread. There is a rhythm to crocheting.

Interesting that she was crocheting since the last hand work she did was counted cross stitch not crocheting.

I was on the bed beside her, talking with her. It was a weird conversation. I seemed to know that she was already dead but she didn’t know. In fact she may have thought I was the one dead because she waved her hand toward me. She waved her hand to see if I was a ghost; which would have no substance. It was comical now that I think about it.

She was looking at me so lovingly so intently. I told her she was going to die in a few months. She did not seem too concerned. She just raised her eyes up glancing for a moment toward me.

The bedside lamp was shining brightly down on the bed. She was dressed mostly all in white and the sheets were soft and white as well. She was covered up to her waist.

If she was in heaven she did not seem to know. Really she did not seem to know that she was even dead.

To prove to her that I was really there I moved close enough to hold her near my heart in a long embrace. It felt so good to hug her again…even if it was only in a dream.

I was able to share what was the future for her. I was the one who had gone back in time but yet she was not aware of all that had transpired. Perhaps it is true that when you die the constraints of time are no longer binding you. After death time has no function no purpose…you simply do not need time.

Her husband was there working in the house since there seemed to be a plumbing problem. Too funny since most men dread having to work on plumbing.

Midway through the dream I go outside to get into my car. It is dark now. The police are in the process of towing my car away…I do not know the reason. I stand there powerless to stop the towing process and away my car goes.

I ask the officer exactly how I was supposed to get home. He suggests I let this stranger passing by take me home which I strongly object to. I was not getting into the car with a stranger. (I learned that as a child!)

So I return to the house. When I go in no one notices that I have been gone. But it seems that I had been gone for some time, maybe a year judging from the conversation I then had with my friend.

I went directly to her side. We once again exchanged eye contact. I could see how the light was dancing off of her pupils…dazzling were her eyes really.

This time our conversation was how she had been dead for nine months. She listened without showing much emotion. She did not seem alarmed or concerned that she was dead. She seemed content and comfortable. She was not in any pain, but she was still in the same bed.

I could hear others in the next room once again making the table ready for another meal. She loved to have people over and entertain. She loved to feed people. It was her way of making you feel accepted in her home. She was always ready to feed you something even when she went vegan. Tofu is not really a favorite of mine.

The part of this dream I really want to hold on to the most was my hugging her. As humans we thrive on touch, as many studies have revealed. We need to feel the warmth of another living body. We need to feel the closeness of another life.

I cannot explain why this embrace is so important to me except that it represented her being alive to me even in a dream. While I do miss her very much I do not long for her to be alive again. Maybe I am just selfish, but I would not want to repeat the last four years of her illness.

The beauty of this dream was also that while I knew she was sick she looked like her cancer free self. Her hair looked healthy once again. It had body to it…it was almost fluffy…light and airy.

I am so thankful I had this dream and that I have recorded it here. I know that with the passage of time details fade into faint memories. I will come back to this entry often and remember how I felt love and peace during this dream.

Not sure where dreams come from, but I do believe they have some valid content for the dreamer. Maybe dreams come from deep within your soul…the brain then draws up the details into your subconscious and creates the personalized dream just for you.

In my waking days I carry her with me;

what a gift to have her with me in my night of restful sleep too.

The Precious Gift of a Dream!

Keeping Memories Fresh

The older you get the more opportunities you have to encounter death. My mother, now in her mid eighties, is often heard lamenting that all of her friends are dying. When in reality throughout our life we have had the experience of death. Making an appearance at the funeral home and visiting with the family members was just something you did…it was expected.

Besides my best friend I have been reflecting this week on those I have recently lost. I have been appreciating the person they were. I have been appreciating how they touched my life…in so many different ways. They represented different facets of my life…a co-worker…a retreat team sister…a class mate.

They each enriched my life in a unique way, because each relationship we develop is unique and will never exist again. I hope that my remembering their friendship with me is in a small way honoring the life they led.

I have been writing for months now about my journey and the ultimate death of my best friend, whom I still miss every day. I have a confession to make, but don’t tell anybody else. I have kept a small Tupperware container from her kitchen simply because she wrote her first name on the outside of the bottom. She wrote her name in her handwriting, well really printed her own name. I witnessed her marking her little containers this way many times, but now I look at it a whole new way. I no longer take it for granted that she was able to write her name.

When I look at her name it means more to me now that she is gone. I don’t want to take it back to her kitchen cabinet. I want to use it every day. I want to see it in the refrigerator. I want to see it filled with carrot sticks or red bell pepper strips. Of course it must be filled with fresh healthy items, for she could be a little health nut at times. J I want to take it out of the dish washer clean and ready to use once again. I doubt if I will ever just put it away in the dark cabinet. It is meant to be used to hold something nutritional…to preserve it…keeping it fresh.

What does this all really mean? I guess it means that I am still willing to keep her with me not just in my thoughts and words, but also in something as insignificant as a sandwich sized plastic container.

Keeping her memory alive is nutritional for my heart. It preserves all that we shared and all too that we would have shared had we had the opportunity. It keeps my love for her fresh so that it never grows stale.

This little container is semi opaque allowing you to see at least the color of what it holds. Perhaps some would say I am hardly even semi opaque about my feelings for her. It is joyfully and painfully obvious how I felt about her and how much I continue to miss her.

My memories stay fresh and well preserved.

What are you doing to keep fresh the memories of your loved ones?

Fields of Gold

Today was filled with mixed emotions. I had four personal encounters. Each one of us had/ has a strong connection with my friend. I felt so wrapped in the love she scattered in her wake. When she came into your life you were never the same.

The first encounter was with the person closest to her. We stood together sharing our impressions of her presence in our life today. I have felt the presence of her love around me as a golden color.

Several years ago sting recorded a beautiful song titled Fields of Gold. This song came to my heart today; not so much for the words but rather for the melody. Some of the arrangements are lyrical like a lullaby and others are very strong and powerful.

When you love someone there are those times of tenderness and times of powerful emotions. Of course emotions cover a wide range of variances. Today I am feeling the tenderness.

As I encountered each person today for very different reasons I felt embraced almost held by her spirit. It was as if she knew that today I needed to feel her with me.

A shared lunch was one of today’s encounters in a tiny Chinese restaurant. We laughed and shared stories about what was happening in our lives.  I felt our friend was sitting with us enjoying our conversation as much as we were. The meal ended with the traditional Fortune Cookie. Not really thinking too much about the words on the tiny paper I glanced at them as we continued to talk. How very special to see these words ‘Look up an old friend if you’re feeling down’ hidden inside the cookie. Oh, my gosh!

There we were, two old friends sitting together, held closer together by our shared friendship. How beautiful is that? As I think back it brings tears to my eyes…tender times of friendships past and present. I read my fortune out loud and we smiled at one another nodding affirmatively. I will keep this fortune snug in my purse.

Months from now when I am purging my purse of useless tidbits I will come across this subtle message and joyfully remember this day.

Four friends graced my path today as if they had all four corners of my life covered. Even as I was having my health checked the peace of her presence was evident. It is surreal how all of this intersected on the same day.

The drive home was blessed by fields of golden yellow flowers, which made me think of the Sting song. He was not singing about Black Eyed Susan flowers but there they were shining brightly faces turned up to the sunlight.

The final encounter came with the ringing of the phone…another close friend touching me with her words of understanding and concern.

I was carried through the day from one person to the next like a sweet symphony.

I can honestly say it was a most beautiful day.

If you are one of the four people who touched my life in a special way today please know how much I cherish each of you in my life.

You covered my day with golden flowers and please know fortune cookies know what’s best.

‘Look up an old friend if you’re feeling down’

safely tucked inside my purse.

Time in Desolation

Sometimes I do not know what happens to the time. Time is such an elusive concept. When you are young time seems to drag from year to year, month to month, day to day, hour to hour, and even minute to minute. But it almost seems that as you get older time seems to speed up, before you know it another year has passed by. You turn around and all those things you were planning on getting done have slid down the time slide.

I read once that when you are young time seems to drag because you have so many exciting things to look forward to. When you are young life is about looking to the future. When you are young you really do not think about getting old.

Even when I have things I can look forward to in my life they come and go; vanishing right before my eyes. And typically what plays out in my head is more satisfying than the real time event.

I try to cherish the time I have with loved ones, but sometimes I wonder does it really matter. Time goes on and the busyness of our lives spins the clock hands into a blur.

There have been times in my life when I have wanted to pause time…to hold onto a special occasion. We tend to recreate our memories in a most glorious fashion. Have you ever noticed once a person has died we tend to remember mostly the good things. These good things eventually come to be far more important than the disappointing ones. And I guess it is as it should be for in reality the good should be what you would want to be remembered for after you die.

Occasionally I think it is okay to feel sorry for yourself. To think about the past and long to have moments back to relive them…even in slow motion. Going back would allow you to be more absorbed with the details. Going back would allow you to cherish your loved ones a little more.

There is this saying ‘live like today is the first day of the rest of your life’. Well I am not sure I can fully embrace this thinking today. Sometimes the rest of my life seems like a barren wasteland. At times it even resembles a parched desert. But there is still life on the dry parched cracked desert. Time in the desert is distorted and riddled with confusion.

I found this little poem I’ve added below. It seems to put the days of our life in perspective.

We all exchange the time we are given each day with the things we do. We each have only so much time to spend before our life is a part of history.

Today Is The Very First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

This is the beginning of a new day.

I have been given this day

to use as I WILL.

I can waste it… or use it for good,

But what I do today is important,

Because I am exchanging a day of my life for it!

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,

Leaving in its place something that I have traded for it.

I want it to be gain, and not loss;

Good and not evil;

success and not failure;

In order that I shall not regret

the price I have paid for it.

I will try just for today,

 for you never fail until you stop trying.

May this little Desolation Angel stay by our side with tender care and attentiveness.