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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another Turn In the Road of Life

As 2012 warms itself up, I feel the tinglings of newness in my very soul too.

So much grief, so many challenges, so many obstacles were navigated in 2011. Into the winding path, some sparkling goodness fell too. It was not all a downer. For that matter, in all things there is at least some good, and in the midst of the struggle of mountain climbing through life there are still rainbows and flowers.

It's fun to think of this being the year of the dragon in Chinese mythology, but beyond the fun of myth, there is actual life. It is always the year of God. It is always the year pregnant and bursting with opportunities for all sorts of things from spiritual growth to prosperity to new ideas, etc.

My usually good intuition tells me that some very amazing goodness is on the edge, ready to fall into my life. 2012's surprises will fall more on the side of Light than of darkness. I really do feel it in my bones. I also feel a sense of relief. There are those years that are almost more than one can bear. I've had several of those years, including last year. In the dance of life, in the swinging pendulum, a turn toward the good has happened.

I eagerly watch to see the good God has prepared for me this year -- and for you too. Thank You, God, for this new year and new Light. With open arms, I await.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aunt Eleanor's Ring - A Bit of Family History

For a long time I have been praying intensely for my son and family who have vanished, for healing, for reconciliation, for truth to be known, to be able to release it all to God, etc, etc etc. I have been grieving anywhere from sobs to lonely tears running down my face. In the past 6 months or so, there have been no sobs but have been many trickles of tears. He did some things that made it clear it does not work for me to be in his life, and he or someone he prodded on did a particularly nasty attack. And he has escalated to his sister with his anger. So somehow I have to accept that he is gone and my beloved grandchildren are gone and his new wife I will not get to know and love.

This morning in the shower, God spoke and gave me a smidgen more of understanding. It involves my mother and her sister, Aunt Eleanor. No one, with the possible exception of me, could upset my mother more than Aunt Eleanor. They were pretty much opposites. Where my mother thought if I laid on the living floor reading the Sunday comics, I had made a total mess of the entire house; Aunt Eleanor sometimes had so much stuff in her home you could only walk through it in a narrow pathway. She was creative, but rarely finished anything. She would make me adorable dresses, but bring them without a hem. Mother grumbled while hemming them. Aunt Eleanor was inspired to begin hundreds of projects and disband them before they were fully explored. So there were the bejeweled piggy banks, some of which we got and some of which stayed undone; there was the knitting machine that only made a few garments; there were piles of projects either forgotten or pushed to the back burner in favor of the latest inspiration. She had discombobulation regarding money too. I remember being awakened in the night and having to sit dozing in the back seat as we drove to Glendale or Eagle Rock or some such place to pay the rent so they wouldn't be thrown out in the street. My parents paid, but did not like doing it.

To me, Aunt Eleanor was fun. She painted my nails red and put my hair up with a thing they used to call the "rat", which was a net covered sausage-looking thing. On the rare occasion when I got to go to her house, I got to stay up late, jump on the bed and have Dr. Pepper and donuts for breakfast. She paid for me to take art lessons and bought me my first textile paints and later oil paints. I loved Aunt Eleanor and cherish the memory of her.

Well, she got breast cancer. It metastasized. Before she was bedridden, she was at my home and took me into the bathroom. I can still see her. She opened a beautiful bag of stunning jewelry. She said she was going to die and wanted me to pick what I wanted to remember her by. I picked a star-burst gold necklace with a diamond in the center. Then she asked me to pick a ring for each of my children but to not give them the rings until they were old enough to appreciate them. So I picked a platinum, diamond and sapphire ring for my son and a gold and diamond ring for my daughter. It was a very tender, joyful and also sad day.

I must inject into this story that for whatever reason, yet to be understood, my mother worked tirelessly to turn my children against me. This comes to play in this insight, so stay with me.

1976 was really, really, really a hard year. My beloved Aunt Eleanor lay bed fast, down to just a skeleton, and passed on in October. Oh how my heart hurt. Then in November our dog died, my first dog, my children's first dog. Double sad. Then on Christmas my husband had an aneurysm in his brain and I became a widow. Deep sadness. A year that was on the edge of too much to bear.

In 1978 my son went off to college. I had showed him the ring and told him I would hold it for him until he wanted it or needed it. We both thought maybe one day it would be an engagement ring. To me it was a very sentimental piece. Well, my dear mother, began calling my son and telling him that I had sold Aunt Eleanor's ring. He would call me angry and accusatory (he always believed her for some reason). I would tell him I did not and would not sell it. When he'd be home for vacations, I would show him the ring. This scenario repeated numerous times. Finally, I got so tired of it, I gave him the ring, which he eventually sold, to my sorrow. I don't know, I have a thing about family history and sentimental things.

So fast forward through many variations of this story, and a bit over a year and a half ago he once again accused me of taking something that was his. He refused to listen to what really happened. A year and a half ago he shunned us and told us he was done with us. Six or seven months ago he vanished.

The story of Aunt Eleanor's ring seems to be a myth (something that never happened but is always going on) that defines our relationship. I guess the seeds my mother planted in his subconscious win out.

I find myself quite confused as well as sad. But, I do see that this is a larger version of the same story "you sold Aunt Eleanor's ring." I don't know why we have to live out this myth over and over again. I don't know at this moment how to stop it or if it can be stopped. I only know I didn't sell the ring and have been accused of this and similar things a hundred times or more by someone I love so very much.

Dear God, thank You for this insight. Now I ask You to show me what I am to do with it. Bring the Light of Your Clarity upon us. If it be possible, if it be Your Will, help this myth to end and cease to define us. Set us free from the false shadows of the past. I trust that Your Good will come out of this in this life or the next.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Living Life Fully, and Yet...

So, if you know me, you know I'm a participator by nature. I like to be part of life. I don't have to be in charge, but I want to play at the things that interest and intrigue me. At this, shall we say, mature time of my life, I am focusing on participating on things spiritual and things sewing/quilting. These keep me really busy.

This week and this week-end have been a full example of participation. Not forgetting the busy rest of the week, I just want to mention briefly the week-end. Yesterday I took an all day class through our quilt guild, taught by Shelley Swanland, on a new to me technique. It is really different, involves folding and lots of accuracy. I had to focus like a laser. When I got home, I was exhausted --- good tired and beyond. I really dislike the reduced stamina that seems to stalk me. Today was church with lots of participation during and after plus a home visit taking the Eucharist. I love it all.

I finished the Lenten Prayer Journal, printed copies to hand out at church for Lent and sent it off to be looked at by a publisher. The new book I'm writing is coming along pretty well too.

In the quiet moments I notice that there is an inner point in me still grieving. It seems like it is going forward with the grieving on its own, even while I am fully engaged in participating in life. There is a deep place that perhaps will never be quite able to reconcile the confusing absurdity of the things that have happened in my family. I just cannot seem to wrap any satisfactory understanding around it. I have released and released and released to God, yet there is a shadow, an echo ringing sorrow in my soul. Oh, the moments that are missed when estrangement happens. Memories not to be made. Explanations never made. Hugs unhugged and kisses unkissed. Never able to go back and recapture the moments. Life only moving forward. Deep sorrow grieving itself. No, life will never be the same -- was it ever? The joyous memories, were they real? Was it all theater? What happened? Will I ever know?

Nevertheless, life continues. Smile, pick up the feet and move forward, what else is there to do? God is there in it all, even though it seems clear as mud right now to my limited human eyes. Somehow, even if the intention was evil, the outcome will be good because I know I'm all right with God.

Lord, help me do my best and not be hindered by the inner grief. Help me do what You would have me do  - no excuses. I'm not the only one on earth with grief. Help me rise up and live the rest of my life in the way You would want.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 Just Getting Started

We're 10 days into 2012, and I feel encouraged so far. I also have kept quite busy.

I'm busy at church with leading a Bible Study (the Bible in a year), a monthly spiritual discussion group, Prayers & Squares prayer quilt ministry, prayers before church, writing a prayer a week for the bulletin, putting together a prayer journal for Lent, President of Daughters of the King, and assorted other things.

I'm busy at the Quilt Guild as President this year and also editor of the newsletter, although I'm trying to get someone to take that one over. Tonight is our first meeting of the year, and I am really looking forward to it.

I'm learning to be able to quilt on my home machine and am actually getting better at it. I'd still really, really like to have a long-arm machine though. And I have hopes that some new sewing toys are in my near future.

I started a new book. The working title is "What On Earth Is Going On?" I feel excited about it.

My health is soooo much better than last year. I have hopes I'll be fine in this new year. If it continues, maybe I can make at least one more trip to see my friends in Russia and present another round of spiritual seminars. Some of my dearest friends are over there. You'd kind of expect that since I started going there in 1991.

We've finally discovered what caused some of our challenges and froze a part of our lives. We think that has been resolved and all should flow at any moment.

So, we could say it's only been 10 days since 2012 began. On the other hand, as you can see, a great deal has already happened in my life. Time is not a particularly concrete thing.

Dear Lord, I ask You continue to bless our lives in 2012. May it be all You would want it to be. Lead us, guide us, help us to live as You envision.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome 2012!

I welcome you, 2012, with open arms and high hopes.

I sadly say good-bye to old 2011. It is a sad good-bye because it was such a difficult year for my family, my nation and my world.

Healing of some things I had fervently prayed for did not heal, at least in the way I had hoped. The answer was endings. God does not always say "Yes." Someday, perhaps, I will know the full reason for the "No" answer. I have a partial answer. I am on a path of Love, of gentleness, of giving, of serving, of reaching out, of compassion, of endeavoring to awaken spiritually. I am more focused on the New Testament than the Old. I strive to discover the 1st century, the original intentions, the before theology and control set in. I am more in the vein of seeking to be Christed, The Imitation of Christ, the Christ within expressing. The one for whom I prayed so deeply is on a more harsh path, a more Onward Christian Soldiers path, a more Old Testament, more hard sayings of Jesus. More listening to recent teachings that have been added in the past 100 years or so. We can not see eye to eye. Perhaps our souls require these different paths for growth and completing our purposes for being here on earth. It has been with tears, heart-break and deep prayer that I move closer and closer to release, to letting go of my wishes and accepting the way it is.

At the same time, 2011 saw some astounding physical challenges and healings. As for me, I was diagnosed with a variant of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, GBS, and went through numbness, pain, difficulty walking, etc. Then it turned around, and it is about 85% gone, although there are days it is more difficult than others. My son in law read that Turmeric helped numbness, my doctor said try it. It and prayer worked. My doctor said I am a miracle. Then I had elevated aldosterone - the 1st patient in 28 years of practice that my doctor had seen. Fortunately it is not caused by the usual suspect, tumor, so can be controlled by medication. So far so good health wise.

There were other deep and difficult challenges in 2011 too, but enough of that.

2011 also saw some wonderful things at home, in family, in the quilt guild and at church. I am glowingly thankful for these mighty blessings that honored my life.

It is, nevertheless, a relief for that year to be over. Of course, I don't know what will unfold in 2012, but I have a feeling, a sense, maybe just a hope, that it will be a really good year. I could use a really good year.

Lord, I give thanks for Your help in navigating 2011, leading me through the valleys. I give thanks that You have led me to 2012 and will walk it with me. I listen for Your guidance. I promise to do the best I can to follow You. Here I am Lord.