End of year thoughts

Only a few more days and we turn the page to 2013—a new blank slate.  It also seems a good time to look back.  What are the lessons learned from this past year, particularly for me in traveling the road as a widow. As a reader, I think I’d like to recommend a few books to start:

* for widows, “Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart” by Alan Wolfelt – single page  ideas — 100 to muse over, and perhaps write about.

*for more joy, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, also see her website ” A Holy Experience”

*for Spirituality: “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

*for great poetry: “Risking Everything” editor, Roger Housden

*for escape: just about any good historical novel

And the learning? It comes in fits and starts, in the midst of loneliness,  when I realize things I can learn to do myself, when I see that there is joy in friendships I have, when I hear that bird call, or see the hummingbird at my feeder.  I’ve learned you can’t rush progress, and while I wish there wasn’t so much sadness yet, I’m aware that eventually more acceptance will come.  More people will fill the big gaps in my life and soul, God will direct me in the paths I should travel as a widow. I will keep moving forward, one step at a time. I will do what I can to encourage other widows in this difficult phase.  I will keep trying to write poetry in the midst of humdrum daily tasks.  Who knows what the new year will bring?  None of us, only God, who is preparing us now to make choices that will appear in 2013.

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Candles, Christmas & Courage

This past week I attended a candlelight commemoration for those who had died recently; it was sponsored by one of the grief counseling centers here in Palo Alto.  It was moving, but I wasn’t as emotionally overwrought as one I attended last you.  At the end we each held our candles high in honor of our family or friend, and it’s quite amazing how many lives have been turned upside down, just in a short time. The commemoration was accompanied by some beautiful music, and all in all, I felt it was quite a spiritual experience even though the agency tries to maintain a secular demeanor.  I guess it’s the context in which you view life and death. As Roger’s birthday is tomorrow, I felt it was a good thing to do. He was such an important person in the lives of a number of people—I still hear people say that.

I continue to do my little candlelight vigil at the ‘path to Bethlehem’ structure I purchased , and it has made Advent more meaningful.  I think of what that journey really was for Mary, just as what  the journey of grief really means for the widows and widowers I know.  We’ve never walked this path before, and there can be so many responses.  Recently I have been listening to a talk by Christine Vauntner Painter, and she discusses welcoming grief for that moment, recognizing it, and then letting that emotion pass as we realize grief is only one part of our multi-faceted lives.

Another Christmas tradition is all the great music at Stanford, and yesterday I went with friends to a concert at Memorial Church.  The setting and music was just beautiful; one of those healing experiences that the Christmas season brings. This was followed with dinner here with some other residents, some who I’d not met before.  I can honestly say I enjoyed the evening.

And all this gives us courage to move forward, through festivities we sometimes see through a veil of tears, and still with a song in the heart.  For indeed, Christmas is good news, and angels still sing, and eternity is real.  Even in the face of health challenges, and illness  and countless other struggles, we move toward a new year.