While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.
Sarah Ban Breathnach
How is it tears and laughter always seem to intermingle? I believe there is a grace-filled dance between these two emotions. A dance where we can move finding solace and strength. While we take these steps, there is comfort in knowing the bigger picture may not yet be seen but with all certainty – is out there.
Practice the dance of tears and laughter – if just may offer the balance you seek and plant the assurance that the larger landscape will unfold.
Much has been lost and much has been gained. This is the thought that remains near as I move through each day. In the midst of times when I cannot imagine adapting to one more change – I am reminded of the beauty that surrounds me.
Each evening this week, I have enjoyed long walks with Lilly. There are hints of spring all around us. As always, the change of seasons draws a whole new personality out of the mountains. The sun is shifting–my apartment is filling with unexpected light. Where there was no sign of sun through the windows before Christmas, now the sun peaks around my living room windows earlier and earlier each afternoon.
Today I started working on my balcony. It is a perfect size for a table and chairs, a place for a dog to lie down and room for me to relax and enjoy the scenery (if I can stay awake!). At night, the stars are bright and the moon – the moon is near and strong.
Often I wonder what else I could ever need. And then I remember–I came to this place having had so much. The choices made were not easy. I said goodbye to many objects that had been a part of my life for a long time.
Throughout this transition, I have been reminded of a Zen koan:
barn’s burnt down… now I can see the moon.
After a full week of focusing on so many details to help with my move, I said ‘see you later'(never say goodbye) to people who had given every bit of their energy and strength to unpack, arrange my things and offer their emotional support. I miss them terribly but know that their time with me had to end. They have returned to their own homes and I have begun the process of making this new place – my home.
It has been a long time since I have moved to a new town. I think about all of the people who I met along the way while living in Greenville NC for 20 years. They helped shape who I am today and I know they will always be a part of me. Even though we are far from one another, we will stay connected – that is the way of friendships.
Tonight I write as Lilly sleeps next to me. No kennel will confine her right now. She is by my side with an alert eye to the changes around us. We belong to one another and in a place filled with new faces and routines, this bond brings comfort and strength.
The stress of establishing ourselves is evident. Lilly always loses her appetite when there is change of any kind. I feel easily overwhelmed as I meet incoming assistants and begin training for my care. I feel easily overwhelmed as I continue to look for pieces of my life still packed or stacked in undiscovered places throughout my apartment. I pray for patience as this transition takes place at a pace set by the length of each day and the schedule of those who are with me to help.
Through it all I am grateful for the support and structure of the community around me. This retirement community is beautiful – out every window there is a view of trees and mountains. The food is great and I am never alone – but I have moved into a retirement community. At the age of 54 this was not what I anticipated.
This was, and still is, a big decision. Each day I talk myself through moments of challenge and, in turn, give thanks for the chance to make such a move. This community has welcomed both Lilly and I. Even though the work of resettling can only be done by me, I know it would have been more challenging without the support and resources available in this place.
Why the fishbowl? The image speaks to my feelings. Like that fish, my leap to make this move is a stretch and risky. The new bowl is larger and full of possibilities. Taking this leap has been an act of faith. An act of faith filled with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings.
And tomorrow is a new day…
Can I open my eyes yet? Is God here yet? Do we have to wait four weeks?
Welcome to the season of Advent! In the midst of all of our efforts to be watchful and prepare for the coming of our Lord, many of us find ourselves stretched in so many directions; it is hard to know how to focus. This picture above speaks volumes to our dance between excitement and apparent stress!
Advent calls us to open our eyes. Look all around to see what we have and to understand what we need. The four weeks of waiting is to remember, reflect and refresh ourselves as we prepare for the celebration of God’s presence among us. When we open our eyes we see God’s presence in one another and all of creation.
And so we prepare — in the midst of our own apparent stress, we prepare for the delight of a child in our midst, in our hearts. To do this each of us needs a little time — to breathe deep and listen, to open our eyes and see. There is wonder in the quiet dark of winter. The four weeks of waiting, preparing, allows us the time to experience this wonder.
May we share this joy with all creation—as we celebrate God in our midst.