~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~
I will never forget you. You are painted into the canvas of my life, in the deepest and truest of colors, by the master hand of the great Artist who first brought us together. You are within my soul. You are light and life, vision and meaning, hope and the dreams from which all hope is crafted. I will never forget you. What you gave I cannot repay, but I can always honor. Who you are, I cannot replace, but I can forever cherish. And one day in time to come, where love finds an eternal home, I will call you again by name, and see you as you see me now. (Bishop S. Charleston)
Throughout this week we have taken time to honor and remember the men and women who have bravely served our country, defending and protecting in situations unimaginable. While flags fly high and the air fills with music of national pride, people have paused to remember.
Memories most often rise as stories As a chaplain I have listened to stories told by women and men who served in conflicts as long ago as WWI. It is humbling to listen as these memories are shared with pride and sadness. While stories are repeated – as if to get each detail in perfect place – I know not to interrupt their telling. With respect, I have heard about battles, losses and rescues from people now small in stature and frail by age. Something important happens as these stories are shared. I have watched youth and energy rise, transforming the person who is sharing. Time suspends and memories are brought alive in the telling.
I have also been present when there is a quiet pause in the conversation. Some memories cannot be told in story, either because they are bound by vow or too painful to make real once again in words. In those moments honor is given in silent presence.
This world spins at a pace often too fast for memories and stories. We are a better people to set aside time to listen and remember. By doing this we experience renewal of youth and strength.
May we find ways to slow down and listen. The stories told reveal something unknown in each of us – calling us to learn from our history and give thanks for much sacrifice – given to protect us and save others from harms way.
and so a new day begins…
We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny,
but what we put into it is ours.
Destiny’s frame may not be chosen but there is always a way to stretch its boundaries. An example is the image within the ‘frame’ reflecting my life, a life filled with curiosity and grace. Many would not believe what I have packed into my own frame and there is still plenty of room.
It is important that I begin to reflect on what ‘fills’ my frame acknowledging those who have assisting me in this work. Much of my journey has been achieved with companions willing and strong. Each day someone walks through my door to assist me. If I tried to list the names of all these companions/caregivers we could very easily end up with a small town! From nursing students to professional barrel racers (cow girl and her horse), from women who were native to Switzerland to women who have barely been outside their small, rural American town.
Germany, Sweden, Latin America, and across this country – I have been introduced to the world in a most personal way. I have learned to be surprised by nothing even when I hear the care assistant say she received her first gun at 10 (probably not the most shocking but something that can be shared). I have learned to listen, been counselor, presided over marriages and sat by hospital beds and joined care assistants in funeral homes as an advocate or a shoulder for support. Boundaries — oh yes, it is a task to keep boundaries clear with those who work with me day in and day out. Their job is extremely personal which often requires living with ‘grace in the grey’.
This is a community of people who continue to ‘walk’ the road with me, joining me as support to be independent. Their diversity keeps me on my game. Their willingness allows me to continue my work stretching Destiny’s frame. Their presence reminds me to remain grateful.