A Written Word: A Small Thing

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.

Psalm 34:18 MSG

Among the precious notes written to me by my colleagues and students is a touching letter and beautiful tulip sculpted by my multi-talented student Tyhara Rain.

I’ve read the letter many times in the quiet of the night and when I pause during the day. Tyhara’s soothing words remind me into Whose arms I can fall when the darkest despair descends:

When you feel too emotionally worn out to get through the day, when your heart aches too much to let you fall asleep, I encourage you to close your eyes…breathe…imagine yourself cradled in the loving arms of our Savior. Feel free to bury your face in His chest, and feel free to feel the ache and sorrow of loss.  Sob if you have to. He understands. Feel his arms wrap tightly and protectively around you in your broken state. Listen to His whisper as He reminds you of His promises of life eternal, everlasting joy, comfort during trials, and His nearness to you always. Stay in His embrace as long as you need. When you’re ready, open your eyes, know God is always with you, and claim the power of God through Jesus to get you through…

I carry Tyhara’s letter with me throughout the day. It remains in my “pouch of pretties,” available when I need to refer to it. The tulip, Lori’s favorite flower, rests on the mantel. In Tyhara’s words, “a small thing to bring comfort […].”

A Written Word: What Is Necessary

“Believe,” by Catherine Anderson

Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible–and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

St. Francis of Assisi

I live the words of this quotation these days–when getting to the other side of grief seems impossible. In stages. Today…what is necessary. What is possible…in time. The impossible…eventually, through Christ’s strength.


Postcard Note: The St. Francis of Assisi quotation accompanies a black and white version of the image above on the back of the card–which is as gorgeous as the front. This inspired card came from my Love Notes pal, Connie F.  The photo was crafted by creative photographer Catherine Anderson who “shares ways of using photography as self-expression.” Check out her website for inspiration and workshops.

A Written Word: Seven Days of Inspiration and Comfort

“A Bundle of Notes” from colleagues and students

It’s okay. It’s okay to bleed a while. –from a note written by Linda W.

In the quiet of night, after I’ve stirred restlessly and aimlessly all day, I find calm and peace as I unfold a note or open a card written to carry me through this difficult period in my life. The note Silke sent five years ago, which I’ve read and shared dozens of times, is read repeatedly again.

As I work through my grief, I’m moved by my friends, penfriends, colleagues, and students who put pen to paper to offer words of comfort and encouragement. There’s something sacred in those notes, in individuals’ choosing to take part in someone else’s pain and loss.

Often, people can’t find the words to say or they speak one sentence more than they should, but somehow, the pen helps them find words that possess power to soothe and heal.

The precious words offer the humanity I need when so much of my grief is trapped in an aching silence.

Someone else needs these words, so I’ve decided to share some of the beautiful, inspiring, comforting words on the blog this week–sometimes, an image and a quote, sometimes an excerpt from a card or note, sometimes a reflection.

Always in the evening…when I have a moment to “just be.”

This evening’s quote comes from the note written by a new friend who suffered her own loss not so long ago. It’s a reminder that it’s okay to be “not okay,” and ultimately, we pay the price for pretending we are.

Raindrops and Perfection

He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. –Matthew 5:45 MSG

It seems appropriate to talk about rain today–this 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina–but I have no desire to revisit that horror today. The photo above features my favorite line from R.H. Peat’s poem “Perfection.” When I “encountered” it on the blog Sightseeing at Home a few months ago, I decided to create a series of photos using lines from the poem.

Every oak will lose a leaf to the wind.
Every star-thistle has a thorn.
Every flower has a blemish.
Every wave washes back upon itself.
Every ocean embraces a storm.
Every raindrop falls with precision.
Every slithering snail leaves its silver trail.
Every butterfly flies until its wings are torn.
Every tree-frog is obligated to sing.
Every sound has an echo in the canyon.
Every pine drops its needles to the forest floor.
Creation’s whispered breath at dusk comes
with a frost and leaves within dawn’s faint mist,
for all of existence remains perfect, adorned,
with a dead sparrow on the ground. –“Perfection” by R.H. Peat

The photo above is the first in the series. I even photographed a dead sparrow I happened across one afternoon. There was nothing poetic about that image, so we can probably forget about adding the last line to the series–unless I approach it less literally.

The incongruity between the poetic lines and the actual image of the sparrow reminds me of our tendency to use language to “pretty up” some really “jacked up” aspects of life. I’m learning that such language doesn’t minimize the ugliness and does little, if anything, to help. In some instances, what appears to be encouragement or inspiration is actually damaging. There’s nothing glamorous about struggle. Nothing to celebrate in being strong enough to withstand the blows. People who struggle with mental and/or physical illnesses don’t need platitudes. They need help. They need support. They need love. It is easier to come to grips with life when we realize, no matter how hellish, life is just that. . .life.

Isn’t that the point of Peat’s poem? Life with all its “stuff” happens to us all–whether we’re good, bad, nice, nasty, or somewhere in between. That is part of our messy, perfect existence in this world.

Possibilities

“Possibilities” by Diane W., Midteacher on swap-bot

The academic year began with far more drama than I expected, and I’m finally finding a few moments on a less crazy night. I’ve been reflecting on the mixed media photography piece Diane W., Midteacher, sent for the “Raindrops” swap I hosted a few weeks ago.

Last Monday, I marched into my office after dropping my son off for his first day of school, happy to have a full seven hours to transform “possibilities” to realities. I had such plans! But one obstacle after another hindered any progress on anything day after day for almost the entire week.

When my own classes began two days later, I was not prepared. I “faked the funk” and pushed through, but by Friday, I was deflated–my only solace was knowing I had the weekend to recuperate.

Today, I took a short walk after my morning classes, annoyed by another hindrance. Through some connection in my thoughts, the words Diane worked into her photo surfaced–“today is full of possibilities.”

Was I going to let one thing gone wrong ruin a whole day filled with possibilities? Was I going to allow my week to be hijacked again?

Of course not! There’s too much at stake.

I shook off the icky feelings, returned to my office and got to work…chipping away at the possibilities.

Adventure Time: Tag! I’m It!

I’ve been tagged in A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!‘s “3.2.1. Quote Me!” challenge. It involves quotations, so I can’t resist. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you (Thank you, Darren of The Arty Plant Man!)
  • Post two (2) quotes for the dedicated “Topic of the Day”
  • Select three (3) bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

Today’s Topic (from a week ago): ADVENTURE

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. –Jawaharlal Nehru

When my son was much younger, he loved going on “adventures.” Everything was an adventure–walks in the neighborhood, playing in the park, road trips, a trip to the grocery store, nap time. When we were headed “nowhere,” he created adventures for us, complete with a filled backpack, a map he’d drawn, binoculars for spying, a compass, and of course, canteens filled with water.

His approach to life illustrated so clearly that every moment offers adventure and that we don’t have to go out and find adventure. Sometimes we have to create our own wherever we are and with the means available to us.

I’m not always as adventurous as he is, but perhaps that’s because parenting is about as much adventure as I can handle most days.

Parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure. –Brene Brown

My nominees are:

Note: Although adventure is the topic for today, there is no specific deadline for it. You can address it whenever you wish.  In fact, feel free to use the topic “adventure” or the latest topic, “chic.”

Have fun!