Prayers for Japan

  

I have spent the last few days watching the situation in Japan like most other people in the world. It is a horrible, unthinkable disaster of Biblical proportions.

The loss of life, property damage, and overall destruction to the country of Japan is more than we can truly understand or conceptualize at this point. What can be said in the face of such horror? Truthfully, very little. All we can do is pray, offer our condolences and blessings, and provide whatever financial and humanitarian assistance is needed.

The New York Times provides satellite imagery of before and after in Japan. These pictures leave one speechless and stunned to the point of meditative grief.

I have nothing new to add to this situation. I simply want to join the chorus of voices that are praying for the people and the country of Japan.

  

The New York Times slides can be viewed here.

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Healing Silence

“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” ~William Shakespeare

 
 

It’s difficult to find the creative energy necessary for good writing during illness. Or, at least it is for me. So, during the past two weeks of stressful health issues, my mantra has been “no writing is better than bad writing” and I’ve stayed away from the keyboard for a bit.

I received good news from the surgeon this week that back surgery shouldn’t be necessary just yet. Instead, I’m having epidural nerve blocks done where the disc is torn and possibly minor outpatient surgery to clip another nerve that’s tangled in with the disc and arthritis. The first nerve block is scheduled for the end of this month. Overall, it’s been good news and I’m deeply happy that major surgery isn’t necessary!

I’m pleased with my orthopaedic doctor (he’s much nicer than the surgeon) and appreciate how open he was to working with me to develop a treatment plan I’d be happy with. Now, if I can just get the bronchitis to go away … another problematic area of late due to allergies to my pets (2 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit) and exposure to so many sick people at my job (dealing with 25 people a day and whatever germs they bring in the door)!

Patience, patience, patience. Yes, I know.

Coming to Be

Coming to Be

From infinite longings

finite deeds arise. . .

But in these dancing tears,

what is often withheld can be found:

our strength.

~~ Rainer Rilke, Book of Images


Ironically, I still return to Rainer Rilke during times of sadness. Maybe all poets do. His words always provide a healing balm of faith and comfort no matter the momentary pain or struggle. They come from a heart stronger, calmer, and more loving than mine. Thus, he has been my favorite poet and writer for over 20 years now.

It is winter and cold again. Those who know me realize it is my least favorite time of year. But, I do grasp the truth that Winter is necessary for renewal, both in the seasons of our natural world and the seasons of our deepest selves. It is necessary for things to die, to be reborn. That is such a continuous theme in nature and life. The dying still saddens me even though necessary and the cold is an enemy I’m unable to make peace with.

I am so much a sun and light person — I think it is that side of me, the childlike love of light and living, that makes me identify with children so well. I can understand that glorious happiness in being a child simply living, running through the room screaming and playing with crazy delight. I seem to lose a little more of that part of me as I grow older and mature into an “adult” (my rebellious side still hates that word!); but, no doubt, I still love just Being, Playing, Laughing so much! It’s the best part of life and I miss it as it ebbs away.

Life has been busy and full lately, but not bad.  Some stressful stuff here and there —

Health-Wise: I am having a difficult time with my back and am probably looking at back surgery within the next 6 weeks or so. It’s a truth I’ve been avoiding and trying to “will” my way past (we all know how stubborn I can be), but I’ve lost reflex and use in my legs to some degree now, and am having trouble walking – so, finally had to go see the doctor. I’ll have an MRI in 2 weeks and we’ll see what happens.

Truthfully, I’m more worried about the time out of work than anything. I have a vacation week to use and temporary disability, but that’s nowhere near the income I’m used to having…I figure I must have the operation and get back to work within 2 weeks! Sure, of course I can do that! How impossible could it be, right? And, of course, I’ve been bitching for months about being tired of the car business and wishing I could go back to writing full-time…I get nervous some moments about God’s sense of irony – don’t want Him to answer that request in a way I don’t want of course! Picky about how we want our prayers answered, are we not?

Work: Well, as unlikely as it seemed to me a few years ago, the move back to my home town has brought more career success than I expected. It’s actually been a good year for me at work. I’ve finally made it to Sales Manager for a store…a position I’ve wanted and felt best suited for all along after three years as a sales manager in the cemetery industry. I’m only the 2nd female Sales Manager this auto group has had in their 50+ years of business. I’m pleased with that, and very happy they’ve given me the opportunity they have. I enjoy the work and am having success in the position. My team has pulled together and grown stronger due to weekly training and interaction with them, we’ve moved 50% of the old-age units we had when I stated, and gross has been running double what it was last year. So, not really wanting to take too much sick-time and lose what ground I’ve gained.

Children: We’ve spent the last three weeks helping my daughter and son-in-law renovate the house they’re moving into this weekend. They had to move due to family drama, totally unexpected (the other mother-in-law died last year, and father-in-law decided to remarry and let the bank have the houses and land back! Out with the old… Yep, it’s been a true redneck nightmare for months!) Anyway, my ex-husband helped them find a nice place and I agreed to help with remodeling and getting them moved in.

My daughter, the Grandkids, and I picked out great paint colors and have been painting the 4 bedroom house, scraping off old wallpaper, pulling up old carpet to put down new, etc, etc.  All with the help of the two granddaughters, ages 6 and 3! We let Lauren, my oldest granddaughter, pick out her own paint colors…a bright, vivid pink and a cream (luckily, we talked her into one pink wall and three cream walls – it’s still bright though). She’s thrilled with her room and so excited! It’s been a project – grandma has rolled more walls and painted more trim…so much for re-painting my bedroom this year–think I can live with the current colors a while longer!

The house is looking really nice though. We hope to finish the trim work,  lay the remaining carpet and wood flooring, and finish painting the kitchen this Sunday – then they can start moving in. Of course, nothing can ever be that easy —

Brandi called me Tuesday morning to tell me she and the 3-year-old were stranded on the side of the road (another long two-day ordeal followed)…the engine block in her car cracked due to the cold. Geez, how am I gonna get that to fit under the Christmas tree!Thankfully, my son plans to help me out in that department ( getting the engine and putting it in the car, NOT putting it under the tree). He was even sweet enough to let her borrow his car until we can get hers repaired. So, we are pulling together and making it work, finding the solutions as we go – that’s the wonderful thing about family. I do so love my children and grandchildren, and I’m always happy that we have each other to hold onto when life gets tough.

Life:  And life does get tough, doesn’t it? It rips you to pieces and rebuilds you numerous times before you die. It’s the buffing stone that makes us shine, shows us who we really are, pushes us into who we can be. It’s the rock that sharpens us into a valiant, gleaming sword. I try to think of my journey that way – of myself as being in the process of learning to shine brighter, of being polished to gleaming beauty by all that is happening to me and within me.That view of my Being tends to take me to a place of understanding, acceptance, and great calm. Sometimes, I lose my way, can’t grasp that greater distant perspective and it all becomes too personal…the last few days have been like that. I realized today that it just means I’m standing too close to myself, that I’ve fallen into the abyss of my emotions and lost my focus. It happens…

An unexpected phone call, a new decision or crises to consider, a comment or thought, the voice of a loved one — then, Bam! I’m lost in the emotion or the confusion or the belief that it’s personal. In some ways life is the truly perfect oxymoron – it is at once both totally impersonal and intimately personal. I have to remind myself to take a step back and breathe sometimes. It WILL all be okay, or it will at least be what is my destiny, and I will come to the end of things polished and shinning like sunshine. What a great thought!

I am trying to follow Rilke’s advice to “live the questions themselves” because I’m not yet ready for the answers. Maybe the questions are all that truly ever exist, and the answers are just an illusion we dream toward.

“You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,

and over and over again you said be.


~~ Rilke, You Said “Live”, The Book of Hours, I9

Silence Screams 1

True silence is the rest of the mind. -William Penn
Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.  – Pythagoras

 

The silence is much louder than I remember.

Words are a shrill hawker of the street promoting unwanted wares and thoughts roll in thundering reverberation across a mental landscape of water, air and mist. Time has an ebb and flow about it. The concrete solid state of things wavers – there is a stillness beyond that beckons, calls, whispers, pleads…soaks into tired bones and weary mucles, flows across the brokenness of heart, the tattered rags of ego. I have lived almost a year in this place where silence screams.

It started in a hotel room in Pryor, Oklahoma. A long day moving metal – selling cars – at another store, in another town. The idea hit me when I sat down on the bed – “I will not write again.” It was a simple, resigned understanding that washed through my mind and into my soul. Sadness followed the thought, a requiem to what writing had once been to me. And then, just a dull sense of loss and the knowledge that part of me would die with all the unspoken words. A better part of me somehow, in my estimate, a part that had believed in love, justice, and mercy. The niave world of letters and words and stories was something of my past, but I couldn’t see it as a realistic part of my future. The storyteller was saying goodbye.

The thought of never writing again was a foreign concept to me. I had been writing since I could write – my first poems where published when I was nine years old. I had spent years freelancing, achieving consistent yearly publication for 13 years. I had created and published two small-press magazines and edited writers working for me from all across the country. My most treasured possessions in life were pens, papers, and books.  And I had been an avid journal keeper and letter writer all of my life. “Never writing again” would have been a funny, ridiculous concept to me prior to September 2008. 

But, that night, sitting on the bed in a run-down motel, it was a concept that suddenly seemed real and logical. After all, people grow up and they change. I was about to turn 41 the next month, and I had been working 65-70 hours a week in an insane job for over four years. There wasn’t time to write anymore, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine having anything else to say. I prayed about the realization – it seemed more like that than an actual decision, and then I started thinking about all the projects I would never complete and the books that would remain unwritten. I said goodbye to the words and the person I had been when I cared so much about them.

I kissed the stories goodbye.