Everyday Spirituality

Archive for September, 2012

Thrift Store Surprise

The Laced Edged Plate…

When you are living the simple life you learn to also be frugal. You become serious about bargain hunting.

When you are living a ‘temporary’ simple life your decision making processes are different. You are more aware of what is really necessary. You assess the available space for storing each item.

This particular day we decide to locate the nearest Good Will Store. We are on the hunt for old fashioned TV trays. You know the ones with the beautiful painted scenes of still life or the country farm house. Apparently they are now vintage and the monetary equivalent of a collector’s item.

When I was a kid these little trays were handy for using in the living room while watching TV. Duh!

The kitchen was another room back then and there was no television. So someone came out with this new invention…a portable collapsible individual table. They were light weight and could easily be tucked away when not being used.


After looking on line it was clear that we were not going to easily find these little trays on tubular legs. This is when we got the idea for the Good Will Store. We are not frequent thrift store shoppers it just seemed appropriate.

They have nothing close to what we were looking for….but none the less there were some hidden treasures on the shelves.

In life you often stumble upon something of value while you are actively looking for something else. That is exactly what happened as we walked leisurely up and down the aisles.

We have moved across the street to a smaller room now. We have nothing that could be considered appropriate for drinking wine; before we had the cute juice glasses. We used those, just fine.

There were many glasses sitting on the dusty shelf. Some were even engraved with  people’s names. What happened to ‘Dick and Jane’? I wondered. Why did they get rid of these wine glasses bearing their names? Did they get new glasses? Were they stil together? Paused to send blessings to these two people wherever they were…

Eventually we agreed on two plain crystal wine glasses. It was important to my husband that we find matching wine glasses. He finally was able to locate a pair of matching wine glasses.

Just below the shelf of glasses the real surprise lay in hiding…beautiful china dinner plates. These were fine china white with a lace pattern rimming the edge.

The plates in the hotel are; well let’s say dull and boring. These were delicate and beautiful. Even my husband thought they were perfect to go with his wine glasses.

Oh, there was only one question; nothing was marked with a price tag. So we agreed on a certain amount we would be willing to pay and proceeded to the register.


We presented our new found treasures and asked, ‘How much?” To our surprise she said ninety-nine cents each. We were thrilled. Now we had two proper wine glasses and two real china plates for dinner.

Simple does not mean you must sacrifice the finer things in life. You may have to change your attitude about what those finer things truly are.

Sharing a glass of wine together and eating off of these beautiful lace edged plates; today translate to some of our finer things.

Allow yourself to be surprised when you least expect it.

Life can be as wonderful as you want it to be or as miserable as you want it to be.

Which do you choose?





Leaving the Dark Forest

Just on the Edge

~~~ Part 3 ~~~

One day as you are walking you notice something is different. You are no longer fighting with the dark forest. Either you get to the other side of the forest or the forest itself lifts from around you. You gradually begin to see brightness. The heavy forest foliage is thinning…tiny beams of light are making their way to you.

Not sure if it will last you search for the source of the light. Sometimes the light and the darkness dance with each other. Sometimes they play tug-a-war with each other.

It is clear that the light is becoming stronger. The light wants to lead you to a place of even greater light. Part of you finds comfort in the dark forest. Part of you detests the dark forest. Part of you wants to hold on to the somber feelings of the forest. Part of you wants to run joyfully through the field of flowers singing at the top of your lungs.

You eventually come to that moment when you realize that the person you miss and love wants you to experience joy. They want you run through the fields of flowers. They want you to hear the birds singing again. They want you experience the joy of a butterfly in flight.

I want to leave this dark forest behind. It has been exactly one year…365 days since we lost a special person. She is beckoning me to come be with her. She is not in the dark forest. She is part of the light. She is the child running through the wild flowers with total abandonment and joy. She is in the melody line of the bird’s song. She rides on the wings of the soaring butterfly.

If I close my eyes

I can almost feel her beside me.

To leave the dark forest is honoring a loved one’s memory much more than staying there.

You cannot really live in the dark forest. That is why it is so dark; life in there barely exists.

You cannot grow amidst decaying debris.

Emerging from the forest initially feels odd. This forest of grief has become a way of existence…notice I did not say living…just existence. When you come out and begin living again…living in the light…living in the joy you feel clumsy.

But when it happens and you leave the dark forest you keep walking deeper into the light where the flowers are blowing in the breeze. I know this is where I should be…this feels right…I can feel the sun smiling and warming me heart. I can hear the bees buzzing from flower to flower. I can enjoy the freedom of the butterflies.

I can appreciate the beauty surrounding us. I can hold her with me every day. She is a part of my heart and not even the dark forest can take that away.

As St. Paul wrote so well…Love endures all things, believes all things….Love never fails. Recently while sitting quietly in church I experienced a rush of deep peace and joy entering into my body. It was so strong that it almost had a tangible effect on my body. For a moment time was suspended. I wanted to hold on to the feeling but it was gone almost as quickly as it had appeared.

I firmly believe it was my friend letting me know it was time…

If you are grieving over the loss of a loved one I urge you to trust deep in your soul. Trust that you loved one does not want you to be sad. Believe your loved one wants you out in the sunshine. The dark forest is no place to build a permanent dwelling.

I look forward to the days ahead as the dark forest gets farther and farther back in the distance. This journey has changed me forever. If nothing else I now have a much better understanding of the whole process.

We all experience deaths in our lives all the time.

Sometimes these deaths are not even people we love. You can experience death in a relationship, even a broken promise. Writing about this process carried me to the edge of the forest. Writing kept me grounded while enduring the dark forest. Writing encouraged me to keep moving on.

In Memory of my dear friend.

I will always love you.

May you dance among the angels forever!

Just on the Edge

~~Part 1~~

I am beginning to see the clearing at the edge of the dark forest. This whole journey of grief has been filled with pain and blessed with joy. Since as you know I like analogies; I will use the image of a forest for the purpose of this writing.

When her illness was initially confirmed we could see the dark forest, but it was ‘over there’. We were still in the field where flowers bloomed, birds sang, and the sun was shining brightly. As the months progressed clouds began to fill the once clear sky. Soon these white puffy clouds would be replaced with gray clouds. Some days the thunder and lightning would crash all around us.

Then came the day when the dark forest seemed closer than ever. It was impossible to ignore that the field of flowers was losing its vibrant color. The grass was withering and the ground was splitting apart.

Finally we could not pretend that the dark forest was the only thing we could see. We could not avoid this forest. It was imperative that the only option was to freely enter into this dark forest.


~~ Part 2 ~~

The forest was not only dark it was eerie. It was strange and foreign. It was disorienting. Which path should we take? Grotesque creatures would suddenly appear out of nowhere. The trees felt as if they could reach out and grab your arm. The vines hung low brushing against your face even though you could not see them. The path was covered with decayed vegetation. Stumbling on rocks was expected but not anticipated. The sounds were often like blood curdling cries from afar.

In the movie Snow White and the Huntsman there is a part where they are in the dark forest. This was a very close depiction of the forest we experienced.

As we walked deeper into the forest it was more and more difficult to see any sunlight. It almost seemed to be nighttime 24 hours a day. We had to keep moving. It was not safe to stay still in this forest. There are things in this forest that can rise up around you and trap you there…hold you prisoner…even against your will. If you get trapped in this forest only another passerby can show you the way out. So we just kept moving. Not really knowing if we were even going in the right direction. The right direction…what did that mean? Days, weeks, and months passed while we were in this forest. The forest began to get into our head and play with our mind. The darkness was too dark to even see your own hand.

Why was this happening? How did we end up in this forest? Were we going to be able to find our way out? Was there even a way out? Were we doomed to live in this foreign place indefinitely?

Keep moving. Do not stop. Moving offered the only chance of finding a way out. You must keep clearing the path of the fallen debris and rotting leaves. You carefully scan the forest hoping to find some sign that joy and beauty are still possible. Keep moving. Do not stop.

And then one day it happens…..to be continued….

The Sands of Grief

In a few days it will be one year since losing my best friend. As we tend to do when looking back I have tried to process the last twelve months.

At first there was the acceptance that she really was gone. The days when I missed her physical presence…The times I wanted to pick up the phone and call her…The questions I still had to ask her…The advice I missed getting from her. And so much more; like just being able to hug her and feel her hugging back in response.

At first part of me felt so paralyzed…almost lost. I knew that life would go on with or without her. I knew we would survive even with this huge void in our lives. But I did not like it one tiny bit.

When I was a young child we would often go to the beach early in the morning. If we could not be there by eight o’clock mother was not happy.

My mother wanted us to be on the sand and in the water before it got terribly hot. I remember being fascinated with the way the water would fill up any whole you made in the sand. You would dig your fingers into the sand and just as quickly it flowed back to fill up the whole. The sand on the beach has the quality of holding water in itself.

In the early days following her death I would go about my daily routines. Thoughts of her would rush in to fill whatever space available. I could be driving and thoughts of something we did together would rush into my mind.

Just like the sand on the beach would fill the hole as quickly as I could dig.

I could be alone in the kitchen cooking and thoughts of times we cooked together would rush into my heart. I could see us standing together chopping and sharing our dreams. Or discussing how to cut the cucumbers. Thoughts rushed in just like the sand on the beach would fill the hole as quickly as I could dig.

I could be praying in our church filled with Sunday worshippers and thoughts of the many times we prayed together would rush into my heart. I could feel her presence as we joined together in praying to Our Father in heaven. These thoughts and feelings would rush in just like the sand on the beach would fill the hole as quickly as I could dig.

You cannot stop these thoughts and feelings from filling the spaces in your heart, mind, and soul. You cannot control these thoughts and feelings any more than I could control the beach sand. I could not stop the sand from rushing into my little hole unless…I moved farther away from the shore line.

As time passes it seems as though you have moved farther away from the shore line. The thoughts rush in less frequently, but still present.

One of the interesting facts about sand is that it is made of remnants of the past…               So it is with grief.

Sand actually comes in different sizes. Most sand feels gritty between your fingers. But some sand, like silt, feels as soft as baking flour… So it is with grief.

Because of the chemical makeup of sand, usually containing quartz, it is weather resistant. Just as it is with grief, sand comes in several different colors depending on its physical contents.

One day grief feels like depression…one day grief feels like gratitude…one day grief feels like regret…one day grief feels like solitude…one day grief feels like overwhelming love…one day grief feels like deep peace and one day grief feels like profound joy.

We find sand in many environments from the seashore and the desert to the mountain tops. The waters of grief can flood your heart and soul when you least expect them. Grief can leave you in the desert to face and wrestle with your feelings of being alone and empty. Finally you realize it is grief that makes you appreciate the mountain top. It is the grief that guides you to seek out the mountain top. The beauty of grief is that it enriches your future.

On the mountain top…you can rejoice in what fills your heart and soul.

On the mountain top… you can let the sands blow.

On the mountain top you can be content in knowing that your heart will always hold the one you love.

If you ever want to amaze yourself about sand just go to the Wikipedia where you can learn how sand is used in things from concrete and bricks to beautiful transparent glass. You can even smooth your toes while at the beach by digging them in the sand.

Beauty lies within the wholeness

of the grief we experience…

be on the lookout for its presence.

Grief can became a treasured

piece of sculpture.

God is constantly surrounding us with his goodness.