Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

Harry Edenfield, a Christian author, offers a thought-provoking daily devotional for this season of Lent.

Today’s verse is from Genesis 19:16: “But Lot lingered. So the angels seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”

Edenfield reflects, “Lord God, your servant Lot lingered in Sodom. Sometimes I love my chosen place too much. You urge me to leave my sin spot.

I linger.

I linger even if it may be injurious to my loved ones. Remember me: I, too, need an escort from the magnet of sin.

As we leave together, Holy Spirit, urge me to have no regret about the exit from sin. Urge me not to look back.”

Amen.

Read Full Post »

Tonight our church observed a new tradition, holding a service of the Longest Night, marking the coming of the literal longest night of the season which immediately precedes the coming of the nativity of our Lord.

I’d never heard of it before, but during some of the moments of silence in the service, I reflected how it mirrors other challenging times that precede other celebrations, such as the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter.

I suppose I’ve had some years of merriment, a seven year Mardi Gras of sorts, leading up to this Longest Night. But through the darkness and in quiet solitude, God is faithful to fill our horizons with bright crimson Sonrise.

This morning’s walk was breathtaking…

Psalm 46 was read tonight, one of my favorites: “Be still, then, and know that I am God…”

I decided to try out the service for 3 reasons: that I lost my mother last year and continue to grieve the deaths of both parents, that I work 70 hours a week helping the mentally ill, the suicidal and others who grieve, have lost, are hurting or are lonely…and that I myself have a fresh loss that has been a long time coming but just yesterday confirmed that it is a forever loss.

And yet, by God’s mercy, all 3 are gains.

Yesterday’s loss was punctuated by the sting of being told that only merry emotions and memories were welcome during this season, that my needs for afore-promised comfort, attachment and reassurance were interfering with the celebration of a dear one’s Christmas…

”So why would I want to be available to your mood swings during these precious days celebrating the birth of Christ, detracting from it?” the email sharply read, banishing me into the land of coal and switches, for even daring to darken the doorstep of one picture-perfect American Christmas. A fantasy blog to which I was apparently, blatantly and abruptly blocked. Unfriended. Unfollowed. Deleted.

My arms got tired holding up the happy mask 24/7. I flunked Christmas Perfection 101. Failed to leave the party while it was still rocking.

My Longest Night had begun, and the service could not have come at a better time.

The intercessor began with, “In the spirit of the season, let us now ask God for what we need for ourselves as we participate in the Season of Christmas as people coping with loss, pain, suffering, loneliness, grief and sadness.

“God, we come to you as Christmas dawns with pain growing inside us. As the nights have been growing longer, so has the darkness wrapped itself around our hearts. In this season of our longest nights, we offer to you the pain in our hearts, the traumas that some of us cannot put into words. Loving God, hear our prayer.

“Compassionate God, there are those among us who are grieving over what might have been. A death or loss has changed our experience of Christmas. Once it was a special day for us, too, but someone has died or moved away or abandoned us. Or we have lost a job, or a cause.

“We find ourselves adrift and alone, lost. Lord, help us find our way.

“The Christmas season reminds us of all that used to be and cannot be anymore. The memories of what was, the fears of what may be can overwhelm us. all around us we hear the sounds of celebration, but all we experience is a sense of melancholy Please be near us this season.

“Compassionate God: You loved the world so much that you sent us Jesus to bear our infirmities and afflictions Through acts of healing, he revealed you as the true source of health and salvation. For the sake of your Christ who suffered and died for us, conquered death, and now reigns with you in glory, hear the cry of your people. Have mercy on us, make us whole, and bring us at last into the fullness of your eternal life.

“Each of us comes bearing our own hurts, sorrows, and broken places. We want to invite each of you to offer your wounds to the God who loves each of us deeply and wants to carry our pain. God waits, patiently, gently calling out: ‘Give me your pain, come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, I will refresh you!'”

We were invited to either stay put and observe silence, come to the altar to receive a blessing or go to the back and light a candle.

I appreciated the options since I could have easily benefited from all 3. But I couldn’t go to the altar because I would have wept openly (what was I thinking, not packing Kleenex in my purse for this?!), and I didn’t want to passively stay put in silence.

So I made my way to the back and lit a candle and said a prayer for my parents and their parents before them, all godly people who fucked up and righted themselves at some point and somehow made their way back to God.

And, after looking around to see if it would be greedy to light a second candle, grabbed another one and quickly lit it, mourning the loss of my bff and noticing the brightness of that candle, there in the darkness, committing it to God and thanking Him for the salvation of a marriage and a family.

I quietly returned to my pew, kneeled in reverence, was washed over with peace and gratitude for God’s mercy.

Thank You, God, for Long Nights, for they signify that daybreak is near.

Thanks God, for Things that matter most. Sometimes the Long Nights are the Things that matter most.

And letting go (of things that matter most) IS letting God.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Read Full Post »

It has literally been years since I created a new header, but I was inspired to freshen things up a bit by my (Irish) bff who recently treated me to a yacht excursion.

The “recommended pixel dimensions” and limited cropping windows prevented me from capturing the true moment, so I wanted to share the essence of the day…including the captain casually but expertly steering with his feet!

(Blessings beneath the pics)

Cloudy but calm seas

Thanks, God, for smooth sailing!

The common Irish blessing (and a few others) come to mind here:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

May good luck be with you Wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow.

 

May your days be many and your troubles be few, May all God’s blessings descend upon you, May peace be within you, May your heart be strong, May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

 

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been

the foresight to know where you’re going

and the insight to know when you’re going too far

 

…and, in that vein:

“May you be in Heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you are dead!”

Read Full Post »

Updating the Playlist

Yesterday, mother, bless her dementia-ridden heart, wept about two lost friends. They weren’t really lost – they were there all along. In fact both of them had written her just days ago. But she couldn’t remember, and had hopelessly misplaced their letters.

The grief of the perception that they had abandoned her was all too real, perpetuating many rationalizations to try to make sense of these dear ones choosing to leave her life. They can’t handle the reality of my illness. Fair-weather friends. They must be busy with their better-than-mine life. Some people get scared and don’t know what to say.

Anything but looking inward and/or right in front of her nose…She had the answer all along, but it was just shy of her grasp.

Interestingly, she repeatedly rejected efforts to correct her perception; nothing could deter her from her determination to grieve about friendships lost that weren’t, really.

Perhaps she was aware at some level of her condition robbing her of her friendships and, still not wishing to embrace her demise, pawned it off on them instead so she could engage in this displaced grief – to grieve without having to own her part in not being able to maintain the friendships, as she gradually slips away.

So all I could do was validate her misguided reality and go along with it, agreeing that people can be cruel, mmm-hmming that a disability surely will expose who true friends are and aren’t, and reminding her that like children and their playmates, people change and grow and move on.

She concluded that while the pain of “losing” these friends was real, she took solace in knowing she now has some wonderfully interesting, new friends who enrich her life in different ways.

As such, our “play”-list necessarily evolves and changes.

Later this week a girl suffered the loss of the friendship of a-much older man after a telling letter was intercepted. Sometimes good therapy involves shaking up and opening Pandora’s Box, letting the chips explode all over the place and letting them fall, so they can be stacked up and organized in the light of day. So a white-knuckled, box-shaking, out-in-the-open meeting was held.

This meeting was followed that evening by a stormy call she prematurely ended with her angry father who was trying to explain to her why the relationship was inappropriate; he’d crossed a line, should have known better, blahbeddy-yakkedy-blahX3. Trying to reach out to her in a relative way, she would have to delete that song from her playlist, he’d said.

She told me yesterday that after sleeping on it, she had started to feel grateful that everything had come to a head. But the grief of losing her friend had left a big, dark, black hole in the center of her being. “He was the only one who really understood me, the only one I could ever talk to that openly,” she cried.

She didn’t feel ready to delete that song from her playlist…and yet it was made clear at the meeting, it would have to be. No, it already had. Though she’d searched the archives and knew the song had been there not long ago, it was no longer there to be played. He had been dropped from her play-list; she knew it was time to acknowledge the update and move on.

And then she incorporated her father’s wisdom regarding the relationship, arriving at the same conclusion: the loss is real, but real, too, is the future with new people and places, and the comfort and hopeful anticipation that brings.

Like good friends and good music, both people and playlists are fluid, ever-changing.

My birthday is coming up and each year one of my gifts is an iTunes gift card. I only keep songs on my iPod that propel me on my runs. Some of them wear thin after several months and give way to newer, must-have songs that spin me around. Yet I always keep a small handful of songs on there that allow me to pay homage to the unspoken depths of my heart. The key, I’ve found, is keeping it on “shuffle;” this way I can be assured that I will never spend too much time wallowing in those depths and can discover new energy in the latest additions.

God, thank You for updating and shuffling our play-lists as we go through our lives; for forcing us to play new songs and to carve out new depths in our hearts with new experiences as You move us on.

Read Full Post »

2012-05-26_12-36-23_136-1

 

Speaking of friendship, I send a hearty thank you to Mrs. Lora for passing along the brand-spankin’ new Blogtastic Blog award. Be sure to pay her a visit!

Read Full Post »