Day 21: Self-Acceptance and the Mysteries of Grief

The last few months I have been living the stages of grief, swerving from anger to depression and back again, barely catching my breath. I only momentarily live in the broad open spaces of acceptance before being pulled back into the vortex.  Grieving is exhausting and messy and triggers other places of deep brokenness yelling, “aha, and you thought you were more together, more healed!”

 

Yesterday I found THIS BOOK and through the lovely, authentic writing of Leanna Tankersley began to remember the deep, velvet gift of self-acceptance. Crazy that last January I would know that self-acceptance would be this year’s key…and crazy that by December and through one more move I would completely forget.

 

 

Self-Acceptance is nothing fancy, it’s just finding yourself on an emotional map and looking and saying, “Yup, that’s where I am…and Yup, I’m not sure where to go from here” and then just sitting down in grace.

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Sunday I cried through the entire church service like a crazy woman. Andrew had to go in search of tissues I was such a blubbering mess. He came back with 10. I used them all and then left during the exchange of peace to go out in search of more.  Later we escaped through a back door because once again, I couldn’t stop the tears.

 

Before the escape, I lay my head down in front of a small side altar and just looked at the crucifix there. I gazed at He who gave up and kept giving up until there was nothing left to give up. We stared at each other for a while…and then I kept on weeping.

 

Today? The opposite. No weeping. Stillness. Even a small lovely ounce of Anticipation. This is the serious crazy of grief, wide pendulum swings of emotion catching you by surprise.

 

Things I have learned through this season:

 

1. Grieving is circular. It doesn’t get wrapped up tight in 31 days…or 40 days.  Just the idea that I tried to will myself towards 31 days to rootedness makes me feel nauseated now.

 

2. Nourishment is essential. I need serious amounts of Jesus to make it through. My sweet priest friend, Carrie Klukas put me onto this one. Sometimes it takes 10 chapters of the Word to come right through the smothering tunnel to the light. Sometimes tapas meals of scripture just doesn’t cut it. There are seasons of malnourishment where we will need long slow feasts.

 

3. The senses are like a valve for deep emotion to pass through. Music, beauty, art, love-making. They are all triggers.

 

4. People who haven’t gone through this process of moving, loving and leaving, over and over just plain forget. It’s like the forgetfulness of a young mom who just through labor looks in her husband’s eyes and asks for another one.  My favorite question: “So, how are you getting settled?” I just don’t know what to say.

 

5. Grieving just means there was something lost which was of great worth. The truth is that I wouldn’t be grieving so deeply if I hadn’t been given the privilege of loving so deeply. When we do the work to move past the masks to the beautiful, soft underneath with people, we fall in love hard.  Hard.  The loss then becomes more of an excruciating tear. Jagged. Nothing clean about it.

 

But tonight I had to share because for the first time in this crazy ride, I’m realizing that this too is the gift. We give ourselves. We love hard. We choose a wide “yes” over the easy, tightfisted no.

 

We are ushered into the holy of holies with the image of God written all over the dna of a human being and we are hushed into silence. We take off our shoes and share bits of the real over cheddar biscuits at a table at Red Lobster, over a candle flaming in a small prayer room, over a conference table cluttered with thick binders where together we have been seeking wholeness.

 

So maybe this season of brokenness is inevitable after imbibing so much joy and knowing that the well…that particular well…can no longer be reached.

 

And this is perhaps our only taste of the cross following life…of stretching our arms to purposefully love in spite of knowing we are all walking slowly towards another loss.

 

So, here’s to being truthful with our stuff,

to the unexpected surge of anticipation which trusts that empty arms will someday be filled again,

to self-acceptance being the path to wide open spaces,

…and knowing that through Christ, resurrection always follows the cross.

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2014 One Word: Acceptance, the Root of Honesty, Part 2

The snow had fallen heavy on the world, like a down blanket one feather at a time. We woke up in the week after Christmas in a suburban Narnia, our world stilled. Even the shrubbery wound tight with lights outside my parents’ door was muted by the snow. We were stuck. Stopped.

 

But there is another reason why we could not fight our way back home. The minivan was at the local Garage after lurching and coughing up each incline of Central PA on our way to my family Christmas.  We heard words like catalytic convertor and numbers that made us feel kicked in the gut.

 

And so plans slowed like the cars that inched past the house until we crossed out hours and days and each day there is a new agenda written which I had to accept.

 

And acceptance must come before the gifts can be unwrapped.

 

And I’ve learned that true joy must be birthed.

 

And that snowy week, what emerged were gifts piled high:

  • chats in French/English with my belle soeur (isn’t “beautiful sister” so much lovelier than sister in law?) around the island chopping vegetables,
  • my brother leaning over to hear my four year old’s stories on the ski lift in front of me,
  • my daughter’s flushed cheeks, her not wanting the mountain to end,
  • Caedmon cuddled on his Grandpa’s lap by the fire, talking low,
  • salmon in poached wine with an especially earthy Pinot Noir,
  • my six month old nephew’s gasping laughter, Xavier laying next to him, eye to eye,
  • and the conversations that left us all full of hope.

 

And when the garage finally re-opened, had time to work their magic, our car traversed the mountains like a young-un. And then when we opened our front door late on the fourth, we were able to enter back into life restored.

 

But it is not just change I find hardest to accept…honestly, it is me.  I entered the Christmas season exhausted and instead of tucking myself in, I pushed hard. I didn’t want to accept the truth of fatigue, of an end to myself. I didn’t want to slow, to take healthy steps toward self-care.  Instead, I rummaged around in the kitchen for more sugar, more caffeine. I forced smiles.

 

This quote always makes me drop the shoulders, sigh deep, resign myself to a new honesty:

“The act of self-acceptance is the root of all things. I must agree to be the person who I am. Agree to the qualifications which I have. Agree to live within my limits…The clarity and the courageousness of this acceptance is the foundation of all existence,” Fr. Romano Guardini.

 

When I accept myself and my limits, I am being honest.

 

And who am I if not finite?  Any plastic mask of perfect comes directly between me and Jesus.  And it’s not Him I’m kidding.  I’m the daughter of Eve. I’m the one who’s hiding. True acceptance must begin at the beginning.

 

I’ve recently picked up this ancient prayer again: Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. It’s known throughout the Eastern Orthodox world as the Jesus Prayer. I put it down four years ago after yelling it out in the delivery room where my sister was seriously freaked out. But, I’ve come back to the cry of the blind man.  This single prayer is the essence of acceptance. I am a sinner and I need mercy from my Savior. Every. Single. Day.

 

It is the end to the superwoman and the beginning to mercy. It is the end of powering through and the opening of the door swung wide to grace.

 

 

This lovely photo with text found at This Lovely Truth here:

And you, Friend, what word or words have you chosen?  Is there a resolution you are beginning to fight for? Do share with us.

And by the way, your presence here is pure gift.  I hope you know that. If you want to receive more of “a thirst for God,” slip your email into the Connect box on the right side of the home page.  Let’s pilgrimage together.

linking with the lovely storyteller Jennifer Dukes Lee here. Did you hear she has a book coming out…all about people pleasing. I’m going to have to get my hands on one.

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Prayers Watered, Answered, Savored

Dear friends we are in the process of scrubbing our house for renters and interviewing at a new parish but even in chaos I still need to take up this journal and write words, black on white to make sense of my life.  Thank you for being here, for being patient through this journey and for praying for us through this transition.

For Linda and Roy

 

We schlepped the card table and four chairs down the wooden stairs at Oval beach to the water’s edge, spread the Indian cloth, set out four goblets and the Italian picnic: a loaf of Como, Pesto to spread, cheeses, salami and cherry tomatoes.  Later I we glopped nutella  on paper plates and ran strawberries through the small mound.  The four of us indulged as if we were Dickens characters starved for the feast of life.

 

It was my birthday dinner and this year May 1st still came on the calendar, even when I’m wrung out.  I am full-on grieving the losses of a quaint town, an amazing church, (the beach where we camp out all summer) and a long string of friendships dug deep.

 

I was hungry for beauty because beauty heals.

 

And this year, this night, these two friends were my gift and our celebration of shared life these last four years.  My husband and I have glimpsed the faithful, intentional life lived long and the joy of simple, quality living.  Roy has been Andrew’s fishing buddy and together they memorized the last lines of TS Elliot’s Little Gidding.  Linda has been my writing/soul friend and she was quite simply the embodiment of hundreds of flung out prayers.

 

It was one of those prayers I started praying from desperation.  You know the kind.  A prayer that you can’t imagine could be answered but that your heart can’t stop whispering: “God please send me a writing friend.”

 

Sitting in creative writing classes at Asbury College, I thrived on the critique of Dr. Devon Brown and a class full of word smiths.  Together we unlocked the puzzles of interwoven words.  Seminary too I luxuriated in classes of students who pushed me and professors who opened their treasure chest of knowledge and I ran my fingers through down the luminous strings of tightly-bound wisdom.

 

After seminary, we moved to the shores of Lake Michigan, a sandy paradise, but an hour from any large town, had babies and was no longer portable.  I felt a bit, well, stuck.  I learned to sit still.  I learned to be needy and to pray.  I learned that God loves to answer be the Giver, the Source.

 

That’s when I learned to pray seed prayers, drop the need before God and water them liberally with prayers, patience, and time.  Nine months later I met Linda.

 

Linda, with starched white shirt and big, colorful earrings, walked  into my Tuesday night Bible study and began dropping those wise words strung together and I recognized her, a writer.  She slowly opened her heart and mentored me with enough vulnerability which became an invitation to friendship.  She was a writer who had been there and back, publishing books along the way and learning to fight for her daily art.  She was thirty years my senior but quickly became my best friend.

 

At first we would get together once a month just to talk about writing, and the creative life free of the guilt of production.  I was big and uncomfortably pregnant and she invited me to sink into a comfortable chair, luring me with cups of hot tea in a tea cup.  She pointed out the swans in the pond across the street as I sat on her screened-in porch and enjoyed the breeze coming straight through from the apple orchards across the yard.  We had an easy friendship, tossing around books and quotes and encouraging simple steps of creativity.

 

One of her great gifts to me?  This guilt-banishing wisdom: Summer, don’t worry.  When you are not writing, you are writing your life and it will seep out onto the page when you least expect it.

 

This was my luminous birthday gift, sitting toes in the sand for hours side by side with this God-given friend.  We gulped up warm sun and chatted easily, as we always do, of glimpses of God.

 

We celebrated His resurrection appearances in our ordinary lives and watched as answered prayer once again unfolded into joy, light shot through our grief-filled lives.

Picture found here.

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Getting our Grooves on Every Wednesday Morning

We swing our hips, the coins sewn to our hip scarves jingle and we are transported.  And how we crave our weekly passport stamped!  We are living in a Western Michigan Winter.  The frigid cold has taken over our sweet little lakeside town and we wrap ourselves tight against the fierce wind putting our heads down as we travel from warm house to cold car to WalMart and back again.  Our world has shrunk, the grey clouds hang low heavy with snow and our skin, every inch covered, hungers for sunshine.

 

We are the 9am Zumba class at the Shoreline wellness center.  Six generations of women smiling, shaking, shuffling, sweating, bopping and sometimes busting out laughing into a dance room mirror.  We play dress up putting on colorful scarves and sounding like a troupe of gypsies ready for a performance.  Our resident male, very cooly plays hollow sounding sticks, keeping us on rhythm.  And how we truly need the help!  The dark days of winter have slowed down our cycles, and all we want to do is crawl under electric blankets and hibernate.

 

We are short women, tall graceful women and everything in between packed with color and getting our grooves on to the sound of warmer climes.  Most of the time we glue our eyes on our fearless leader, edging us over country border lines but sometimes, just sometimes, a woman finds her eyes closed and lost in the steel drum beat gets carried off in her own imagination and we all nod having been to that same locale.

 

Bollywood and hip-hop and salsa compel us to move in ways my strict Christian School upbringing would not have approved.  Prom at my high school included a “Grand March,” no jazz or techno beats to get endorphins surging.

 

The Latin beats take me back to the park in Dominican Republic where I was taught to Meringa with a class of children in uniforms after a long day at a Medical clinic with my dad.  Or the time when I was 15,a nurse from our medical mission trip held my hand and two Ecuadorian guys led us deep into Rio Bamba to a pulsing bar to teach us salsa.  Every once in a while one of my middle eastern belly dance jiggles comes out on the kitchen floor before dinner and my husband, Andrew, raises his eyebrows and grins wryly.  Straight faced, I honestly say, “honey, I’m working on my abs.”

 

They remind me of that bachelorette party last summer here and Maya Angelou’s story of women overcoming female competition and learning to celebrate the womanhood of each in the driving drumbeat one hot evening in Egypt.

 

I love these women, courageous and unassuming, unique and beautiful… and never taking themselves too seriously. One wears crazy tights and another a sequin dress and we are allowed to bring our full person-hood out on this dance floor where we are never judged, black biking shorts and all.  I love their bold moves and the laughter between songs and imagine that Jesus adores watching their peppery personalities come out in a celebration of joy, Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9am.

Summer Gross

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Mary, The Promise of God Inside

Life leapt.

God kicked

and what at first she had held tight within faith’s fist,

now bounced,

small mass of God-cells somersaulting against internal walls.

 

Laughter must have rose up deep from that womb as God’s seed played in motion within her.  Worship had consummated, (My Soul proclaims the glory of the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior,) and she was filled, growing large with Joy.

Because what is Joy except God’s Presence in full banquet form?

And she was carrying the Master of the Feast within her belly.  She would never be the  same empty virgin.

But joy marked by God-full Presence has its sacrifice.

In Sunday school this morning, we colored icons of Mary holding an infant Jesus and talked about her saying “yes” to God.  She stood holding faith-fueled courage in a world where stone throwing was common for knocked-up girls.

Her great “yes” – Be it unto me as You have said – was bravery incarnate and I look into my heart and see a faith that wavers when the god of comfort ducks behind the clouds.

Young Jackson reminds us that she was the first Christian and I nod because she was the first human “yes” to Christ, the first to bear God in the world within her flesh.  Our icon coloring page reminds us that her hand was always pointing in Jesus’ direction, showing us where to hold our gaze.  Jesus’ infant hand always holds out a blessing for those who seek Him.

When we walk pregnant with God-full Presence, our orientation changes too.  We become pointers.    Bill Bright wrote a beautiful tract, the Spirit-filled Life, in which he illustrates the change that occurs when we are filled with God.  A simple circle of the self, a simple chair in the center, a simple cross drawn on the chair, and we take a joyful leap off the chair and orient ourselves in worship.  We are no longer our own hero demanding homage. No longer a god demanding ambitious sacrifices.

How many times a day do we have to remember to climb down off that chair, listen to Spirit’s Voice, breathe in Pneuma pure and breathe out the toxic of Self-centered pollution?

How do you climb off the chair?  How do you listen, my friend?  How do you make room for God within you?

(Reposted from Feast of the Annunciation last March)

Summer Gross

Counting gifts, always counting, because thanksgiving invites the Presence:
1. wonder and lights, the hunt through the town
2. my girl, joining the wonder with lit-up fairy wings…I match, mommy
3. mild days and time to turn on my camera in the open air
4. God is at work in my beloved friends on the Journey
5. He invites me to be a treasure seeker and promises that it will never be in vain
6. The advent candles lit and theology handed on a platter to my beautiful little ones, come to drink with wide eyes
7. Poetry magazine’s podcast. Pure joy of rolling words.
8. Advent, emptying and preparing and the drumms along with O Come O Come Emmanuel.
9. The Artists’ Way and God’s giving confidence that He will keep lighting the darkness
10. Precious girl practicing prayer of being with Jesus before bed. Lead me, Mama.







Also linking with the beautiful Laura Boggess @ www.lauraboggess.com Go check out all the wonder gathered.

And always enjoy linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood under Jen Ferguson’s gracious hosting:


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A Simple Practice: Feasting on the Present Day 5

So, friends, let’s make this feasting on the present moment crazy simple.

 

This is how I usually start:

 

Open one sense at a time for about a minute.  Allow your usual pattern of thoughts to fall away and instead use all of your attention to focus on that sense.

 

Start with sight.  Scan your eyes around your environment, stopping to focus your attention on details. You may spend all your time on a detail, focusing on it with your eyes.  It doesn’t have to be a meaningful detail, just a simple one!

 

Then, slowly open up the other senses: a minute for hearing, a minute for touch (What are you feeling underneath you? What are your hands resting on?), a minute for smell, a minute for taste (this usually falls to the wayside unless you are eating 🙂  Finally, allow yourself to experience all your senses at once.

 

If your mind wanders to something else, don’t criticize yourself, friend, just gently bring your focus back to your senses one at a time.

 

I told you it was simple!

 

Then, have fun with it.

 

Take a walk to your favorite park, sit on a bench and let your eyes feast one sense at a time.  Walk down the blue stairs, sink your feet in the sand and gawk at those gorgeous sunsets over the lake.

Enjoy feasting while taking a bath, bring out the bathsalts, light a candle, luxuriate in your favorite music.

 

Use feasting to enjoy a special moment of the day…(everyone gathered around the dinner table bantering with dad,)

 

Purposefully feast before moments when you would usually make bad choices (Before you reach for that tray of oreos… I’ve decided I need to make feasting on the present a habit when my temper starts to flare.)

 

Feast in order to get still before prayer (He is the great and present I AM!  Being present is NEVER a problem for Him, just for our unfocused minds.)

 

Use this simple practice as a way to lead you out of a period of discontent (fear, anger, greed, etc.) and into thanksgiving.  Let everything you linger on lead you to say thank You to the Giver of all good things!

 

Tip: After I have simply feasted, I find I can make more sense of the tangle of feelings and move toward LIFE  and God’s truth that much faster!

I told you it was simple, dear one!  Leave a comment to  share with all of us how this practice is working for you or email it/facebook it!  Remember, with just 10 minutes a day (five to start…) we can begin to retrain our brain to deal with stress better and open ourselves up to the joy of the day.

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What Comes Forth out of the Stillness: The Feast Day 4

A Psalm of Mornings

 

Holy

The hour

Before my husband wakes

My kitchen still clean.

 

Holy

The nameless birds

Whose caws penetrate

the cool of my open window.

 

Holy

The shawl wrapped and padded stillness,

The steaming mint chamomile tea

Fresh without imposing expectations.

 

Holy

The wet hour,

My mind dew-washed with sleep

Ready to lavish the sweet tang of the day.

 

by Summer Gross

Have any poems, thoughts, prayers, joys come forth out of the feast yet?  Please do share!

Come share the stillness with us.  We are practicing 10 minute stillness breaks, fully open to our senses.  It is a feast of gifts straight from the Giver.

 

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Stephanie’s Bachelorette Party

The Dance

She is my sister and she is luminous.

I have eyes-wide-open watched as the grave opened.
I was witness
as the rock was slowly pried open

and the white putrid cloth,
suffocating life,
was unwrapped one slow turn after another.
Jesus called forceful and she woke up
out of sin-wracked pain
and the rock was rolled away
and His voice,
O HIS VOICE,
demanding the Breath to spark life again:

“She will be free.”

So I celebrate this glowing

golden-haired one.
And he does too, this man who saw Glory coming out of her eyes
and we dance side by side because

joy is celebrating the God-reflected.

Maya Angelou wrote in a memoir a scene
where women from all over Africa were separated from men
and the dancing
o the dancing over each…
celebrating the personal miracle of
wide hips swinging,
skinny arms pulsing strong and tall legs jumping straight powerful arrows-

recognising beauty and God-molded Life in different vases.

So we did. We danced for hours like this,

beat spurring praise,
celebrating that this THIS Beautiful one
is the handiwork, the Glory of God prism-ing out.

Light refracting in color.

 

She is my sister and this weekend she will be married and
I will dance over her again,

joy heavy with the miracle of this new story.

 

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linking with:

friday favorite things | finding joy

Beholding Glory
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Summer Feast

(Be aware, Grandma, the pictures don’t come until the end of the post!)

 

I’ve been hungering for delight.

 

My living has become dry boned parched. I escape into the still-dark morning, spread out on the linoleum office table, a litter of focus and begin jumping from one heavy book to another, searching for You. I need more than wisdom, more than ENOUGH. I need unstrained, unfiltered You. I open the thin pages one after another to Song of Solomon, slightly embarrassed, (this book of unabashed desire) and just place my hand flat, willing desire to seep into me too…miracle by osmosis.

 

See the Winter is Past, the season of singing has come. (S of S 2:11)

 

I’ve missed the early morning expectation.  Do you remember?  I could feel the Eastern sun seeping through the windows, throw on jean shorts and a sweatshirt and quietly open up the door of the cottage at the Inn.  Barefoot, I would pad down the wooden staircase and out into the sea-smelling morning.  As I walked across the sidewalk, I would run my fingers through the lavender around the statue, crushing the petals between my fingers and then turn: eight boardwalk steps down and then the quarter mile wooden path lay before me through the underbrush toward the ocean, toward You.  I would run RUN long strides, barefeet heavy on the wood, pad, pad, pad, pad.  The seagulls cried as I climbed up a small hill of sand surrounded on either side by pink rosa rugosas and there I was… in front Homer Winslow’s wild foggy sea, lobster boats puttering in from their morning catch.

 

You always met me there.  You ALWAYS met me there.

 

He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love. (S of S 2:4)

 

The memory lies before me haunting and I am still empty, and I need You now, here on THIS shore and the words come that if I seek You, You promised I would find you.  Even here windows cranked open to freshen the stiff office air.

 

When I’m hungry for You, I paint You with words.  Linda Dillow taught me that, the missionary-writer of Satisfy my Thirsty Heart.  She said, worship was a door inviting You in.  And so, I practice the simple steps…painting You from A-Z:

 

Abba, Abundant, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Advocate, Atoning Sacrifice,

Bread of Life, Beautiful, Bountiful, Brother, Banner of Love,

Come Along Side One, Clay-molder, Creator, Comforter, Cornerstone, Curator,

Deliverer, Delights in me, Discerns darkness, Death-Annuler, Disease-Healer, Dream-Granter, Desire-Creator,

Forgiver, Faith-Teacher, Father, Feast-Spreader, etc.

 

I run out of my own words and open the Bible to find more You, more words, more stories, brushstrokes to a fuller picture.

 

Just typing the words makes me feel like I’m taking a cloth on a window and cleaning, one word at a time until I see You again.

 

I NEED to see.

 

Turning to worship is a 180 repentance turn away from self-gazing, self-grazing and toward the the only hunger-satiator, Bread of Life, thick, nourishing.

 

I pulled the minivan back into the driveway, getting home as the children were padding down the green carpet of the front nursery steps.

 

But the worship did not stop… The clarity of your picture spilled out into a new thanksgiving.

 

And as I began counting thanksgivings, (and I do use Ann Voskamp’s lovely 1000 Gifts App.  I can download my pictures straight in!) they come faster and faster and faster…an embarrassing overflow.

 

It was all present before and yet not filled with Presence.

 

Worship uncorked thanksgiving and LIFE washed up wave after wave into our day.

The feast prepared became visible, and I began seeing glory everywhere:

In a fresh-picked picnic.  Easy laughter coming from our beach chairs.

The freedom to adventure big…

and small.

and hours to search for treasure.

 

When you have been stuck in the desert, how does the rock get struck, joy begin to flow in your life again?

 

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linking with the very lovely:


and

 

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Verna’s Secret Joy

She lives alone in tiny, second-story rooms above a weather-beaten general store and now-defunct gas station that has seen better days.  No one has used them for years.

 

Verna has been a widow for forty years I learned one Sunday after church.  This wren-like lady without a car is always in church (when she’s well), and  always smiling. “Why, Verna? Why are you always smiling?” I wondered, watching her lean on her cane.

 

The blinds at Verna’s windows are slightly askew, and the building she lives in looks perpetually deserted and forgotten.  A lone gas pump sits stolidly out in front near the road like a paunchy, middle-aged man with nothing much to do except watch traffic.

 

The old, sun-faded pump hasn’t served our lazy little community in more years than anyone can remember.  The cost of gasoline still reads 31 cents a gallon.  It seems to remember a time when our tiny farming town boasted enough “live” businesses to keep the road buzzing with activity.  Verna remembers those days well enough.  Now business has gone elsewhere, leaving our village and Verna to grow old together.  But I was about to discover that Verna was not a person who merely sits still and grows old.

 

I was having some neighbors in, and on a sudden impulse decided to include Verna.  “How nice!” she beamed over the wire connecting our voices.  “How very nice of you to call. I’d surely come if I was well enough.” She had been sick for a couple of weeks up there alone in that tiny apartment. I was sorry, and I told her so.

 

“You must get awfully lonesome, Verna”.

 

“Lonesome?”  She sounded surprised.  “Oh, my no,” she bubbled, laughing.  “Why I’m never lonesome.”  Now my curiosity was really aroused.  “You see, I have all my good memories to keep me company–and my photograph albums too.”  “And then a’course, I keep so busy with Mary’s boys.”

 

“Oh?” I asked, before remembering that she had a nearby neighbor named Mary.

 

“Oh yes,” she replied. “You see, Mary has 8 boys, and she works, ya know.  So’s I fix supper for them boys every night.  Yes.  Been doin it for years now.  It saves her a whole lot of worry, and gives me sumthin’ useful ta do.

 

Oh, yes, them boys gets me flowers too, on Mother’s Day.  They’re like ‘m own boys.”

 

Now I knew this was an unusual lady indeed.  And I began to understand the secret of her youthful exuberance for life.  Verna had found something most people take a lifetime to discover, and it was less than a country mile from her own apartment.

 

The next Sunday, Verna came down the aisle, poking hard at the floor with her cane.  My husband greeted her, “Verna, I saw the most beautiful pair of cardinals in our tree this morning! They would have knocked your eyes out!”

 

Her warm brown eyes brightened, and her familiar smile appeared.

 

“Oh yes,” she chuckled.  “And you know, I heard the most beautiful wren song today.”  She shook her finger in emphasis.  “I get up early every day, ya see, so’s I don’t miss anything.  I like to watch the houses around here “wake up”, don’tcha know.  Yessir, there’s just so much ta see.  And I enjoy everything God made—everything, don’tcha see?”

 

The secret’s out Verna!  When I grow up, can I be like you?  You don’t miss a thing!  You magnify the plusses I seem to miss!  There’s no need to feel sorry for you, Verna, none whatever.  And you have no time whatever to feel sorry for yourself!  You’re just too busy being thankful for every little thing.

 

Keep it up, Verna.  We need you.  Your sunshiny ways are bringing God’s light to a whole lot of lives–including mine.

Linda Andersen

The lovely painting of Verna’s house comes out of Linda’s other creative love: watercolor.

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Today we’re spreading the joy by linking to these websites:

On In Around button

and Laura Boggess at The Wellspring:

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