Rhythm of Life…

Starting again…

I began a new sweater pattern, and I’ve already had to restart it five times due to misreading the instructions. Sometimes directions are as clear as mud… Or rather, what I understand isn’t what was intended — which inevitably makes a mess. Knitters know there are times you can simply work mistakes into the weave of a piece with a little creativity (this can give the final product a unique flair of its own), and then there are times when the only way to avoid a useless mess is to “frog” it back to where the mistake occurred, or simply drop the project entirely.

Life isn’t as straightforward as knitting — but knitting is good practice for the persistence we need to keep going. There’s powerful lessons about life in any creative process… Still, what do we do when circumstances occur that are out of our hands? When others make decisions that effect our options? When chaos intervenes and turns our life symphony into cacophony? What do we do when the next day just keeps coming… the sun sets at the end of one long day, and then rises again to dawn another — but we are forced to carry the night’s darkness with us no matter how many times the sun rises? Be gentle with your fellow earth-riders — you can’t always see the dark path they are walking.

Like knitting, life has a rhythm — the steady passing of moments running into each other, and yet always simply “now”. The changing of the calendar with the seasons — a blend of nature’s steady pace with humanity’s constant measuring of it… minutes, hours, days… months, years, decades. We number our moments while this globe we ride on just keeps spinning. We say our prayers, we do our best… we live through the chaos and catastrophe that comes, as well as the moments that hopefully make it all worthwhile — fingers of sunlight passing through the trees – shadows dancing with the wind, silken kitten fur beneath your hand, a babies sigh in their sleep, the soft sound of a gentle rain, the roaring breath of the sea and the silence of the river slipping towards her… Golden moments and “thin” spaces when our Now touches Eternity…

But life is hard — be tender with each other…


#thinplaces
#knittinglife

New Perspectives…

The summer is coming to an end. The days are shorter and the nights are growing longer…

This past Sunday afternoon, my bookend-sister wanted to show me the walk along the other side of the river — and we were pleasantly surprised to see how far Autumn had advanced over there. The river’s cliff-side near my childhood home I know like the smile of a close friend – but it’s really not the most common one to visit – the other side that brushes up against the town of Estacada itself is the one most people know. There are benches and picnic tables to accommodate visitors, and there’s even a beautiful dock to aid in the enjoyment of the river. It’s the side that many of the kids I grew up with are likely to think of when they think about hike-walking along the river during their youth.
It’s a little funny to admit that I’ve spent so much of my life here, but I’ve never actually explored  that side before…  I was surprised at how it gave me an entirely different view of the river that I know so well.   The air was still heavy with the scent of the river and warm earth, but also carried the evidence of town – like the aroma of someone having an end-of-summer Sunday Barbecue, and the hum of the nearby highway. The river itself seemed so different from that side that it almost felt foreign…

Dock in Estacada on the Clackamas River

It’s funny how so much of the view of Life’s path depends on the perspective you have as you are walking it. Every once in awhile – after climbing a particularly steep leg of the journey – sometimes you can turn around and get a different view of where you’ve been…  it can be eye-opening to see things from a new viewpoint.

The Clackamas River from the North side

Lately, I have found myself at one of these points — only it has re-viewed a huge portion of this life I’ve been living, and so much of it appears very different from this new perspective than it was while I was walking through it.  So much of our Reality is shaped by our perspectives  — I’ve found mine has suddenly been turned inside-out and upside-down.  It’s like I’m suddenly living in a new world, but even in this world much remains the same — tomorrow keeps coming. I just desperately need to get my bearings…

Be gentle new world – I’m weary from this journey…

It’s all Grace.

Creatures That Cope

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It has been almost two years since I posted anything in this little corner of cyberspace… This catch-up post might take a bit.

Truthfully, I considered just closing this blog down entirely and starting a new one since my life after 40 has been so different from what it was while raising the boys. I am a Licensed Practical Nurse now — in fact, I am a hospice nurse — and I’m so grateful to be able to be part of this sacred work in a much more practical way than before. It wouldn’t be inappropriate to begin an entirely new blog for this new season of my life. However, it is simpler to just use this space that I’ve already created, and right now simple is one thing my current life lacks…

It is April of 2020.  I am a hospice nurse during the global COVID-19 pandemic. People are dying daily and the entire world is basically on lockdown in their homes — as of today  over 26,000 people have died in our country alone — more than even Italy now.  Currently, about 2,000 a day are dying of COVID-19 here, which makes this virus the greatest killer of 2020. We are practicing “social-distancing” — staying in our homes to try and limit the movement of the virus through the population so that the hospitals are not overwhelmed… It’s only been partly successful. The nurses and doctors have limited supplies — we’re all reusing our masks – and people all over the country are sewing cloth masks to try and increase our supply. The bodies of the dead are literally filling hospital morgues and spilling out into mobile refrigerated trailers. Those who are dying of COVID die alone in hospital isolation and families cannot even have the comfort of a funeral to aid in their grief.

Re-reading the last paragraph sounds like something from a post-apocalyptic book — and yet, every day I’m watching it continue to unfold…

In the era of COVID even hospice nurses seeing their normal patients cannot hug or offer the normal comforting touch we are so used to providing. When we enter someone’s home we follow the new guidelines — we reuse our masks and wear gloves. Just wearing a mask feels like such a barrier in this work — but we must keep our patients safe, and there’s no way to know that we aren’t carrying this virus with us when we go somewhere. We go back to our colleagues and vent about our frustrations as this virus impacts every aspect of our work in the field. We are still as present to our patients as we can be… but we can see how the isolation is wearing on them…

The stress and uncertainty of this time is wearing on us all.

The part of my life not taken up by work — specifically the daytime hours as work fills the hours of 5pm to 8am when I am on-call for 7 days, and then my Mister is on-call for the following 7 days — those hours not waiting for the phone to ring are spent studying and keeping our little home a home. Mister and I were accepted into an RN program that began just days before the COVID lockdown. Classes are all online in accordance with “social-distancing” rules, and we’ve managed to get through the first half of the first term this way. I’ll admit — it’s very hard to take school seriously when you’re working in the field during a pandemic. Somehow, getting an A on a test just doesn’t mean much when thousands of people are dying every day and I am on the frontlines when I get called out to see a patient. (I went into my first locked-down COVID building the other night — it was surreal — I had an unfitted n95 mask and a pair of goggles to protect myself…)  My mind doesn’t want to study. Sometimes it seems like it doesn’t want to do anything but sit and stare off into space.

The Professor and Philosopher are hanging in here with us. The Professor’s TBI remains symptomatic and continues to limit him. The Philosopher is in need of an MRI and probably another spinal cord de-tethering surgery, but that will all have to wait. The hospitals are not safe places with this virus in play. They continue to work on their projects and hope for improvement… The Philosopher at least has a nice wheelchair to get around the house with now. Pain has become a big part of their lives over these last years and I’m amazed at their patience in the midst of it all. Their Faith keeps them going, and their sense of humor helps us remember that laughter is still the best medicine. They are brilliant, patient, thoughtful young men… and I am proud of all they have accomplished in the face of their struggles.

We are all tired… When I step back and look at the world, the gravity of this situation is overwhelming, but there have been so many beautiful moments shared despite it all. We are all still human, and we are doing what humans do… when faced with a mountain we just climb it. We create beauty out of ashes… we light candles in the darkness… we make music out of the rhythm of silence and storm. As one of my boys said… “We are the creatures that cope.”

I have seen social media alight with music and song as we seem compelled to sing and dance our way through this darkness. We play instruments together with the help of technology that allows us to be “together” from our own living spaces. We sew masks to show we care and fill our social networks with words of encouragement. I don’t know what society will be like on the other side of this dark tunnel… the future is unclear, and even the present is a bit of blur as everything seems to change from one day to the next. But, I know that love will still exist on the other side… as long as there are two hearts left beating, there will be the rhythm of life waiting to become song.

I decided to sit down today and re-enter this little corner because I need to count my blessings again… I need to remember there is Grace in the moments that so easily get lost right now…

With gratitude for the little things…

…stolen moments with my Mister

…The Philosopher singing to himself

…The Professor asking what our favorite parts of the day were

… clean clothes

…we still have hand sanitizer

…chocolate non-dairy ice cream

…finishing a midterm

…masks for safety

…delivered groceries

…kitten whisker tickles

In the Darkness, it’s still all Grace…

Jenn

 

 

The Journey of Learning Love

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How long has it been since I was here last? It seems longer than it really was… so much has happened.

I’m surrounded by hectic “do-ings” that must be done, but a lot has been accomplished already and at this moment I’ve stopped to breathe — I’m pausing all the “must-dos” and sitting in the light of the twinkle-lights that have escaped being put away with the Christmas things. :) I am listening to The Philosopher typing away as he works on one of his writing projects, mumbling to himself as the story-line progresses. He has his personal music playlist playing on his laptop speakers as he types away, and the only other sound is the fan of the electric heater as it tries to chase away the winter chill in our living room.

The gas stove we used as our main heat source no longer works (apparently the broken valve isn’t made anymore so it can’t be replaced), so I’m missing its comforting whistle… as well as the heat it provided so well! The poor little space heater does the best it can, but we are going around bundled up with cold toes and noses — it just can’t quite get rid of the chill entirely. Thankfully, the rest of the week is supposed to bring us fairly mild temperatures, and the electric heaters handle our bedrooms well enough… we’re fine… maybe not completely comfortable, but we’re managing. This is just further encouragement for a surprise upcoming move — we’ll probably be getting some good news later this week… So much sudden crazy busyness around here! I’ve had to spend my days sorting our belongings and preparing for an upheaval… it’s kept me hopping, that’s for sure. I’ll go into all that in another post sometime soon-ish…

Today what free-time I had was spent getting off some important emails related to my hospice work, and sending in the first pieces of my packet for the International End-of-Life Doula Association’s Certification process. (I did their amazing training in October of 2016, and I’ve used the skills I learned there in this work ever since.) After some encouragement via email this afternoon, I’ve decided to tackle the certification process.  Tomorrow I have a couple phone calls to make — something I have to prepare myself for since I have a hard time communicating on the phone at this point… It’s so hard to hear what’s going on, and inevitably my phone will cut out and I’ll miss something important — so stressful! (I’m a complete introvert — send me an email or a text message any time of the day, but please don’t make my phone ring!) :) The calls need to be made though…

The Professor has his last doc appointment for awhile tomorrow morning, and the next day will be The Philosopher’s last one — our insurance ends this month so we won’t be going to the myriad of doc appointments that have been our norm for so long… such is life. I’m trying not to worry…

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You just never know what Life is going to send your way. For the most part, we go through our days thinking we know what’s going on — planning our calendars and daily schedules — but we really have no idea what the next moment will bring… let alone next week. We comfort ourselves with all our intentions and plans — it’s part of the way we stay sane in this crazy world. We design paths for ourselves to walk and set off in the direction we think we should go — but the journey we “draw on paper” rarely fits the landscape of reality. Obstacles appear that we didn’t know about beforehand — sometimes there are big cliffs in front of us that force a sharp turn, and other times a flash flood can wash everything away and deposit us on a completely different path. Sometimes we think we’re on one journey, and then simply wake up one day and discover we’ve been traveling somewhere completely different all along. My motherhood journey has been one of those kind of adventures… a journey you would never be able to plan for yourself because you didn’t even know such a place existed beforehand, and you didn’t know you were even on the voyage until you discovered the place you thought you were staying was actually moving somewhere else! It’s unsettling when Life throws you a curveball and you don’t even realize it until after the fact — sometimes long after the fact… we’re talking innings have gone by and you’re playing an entirely different game than the one you expected to play.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Being human requires a lot of blindness and a mind-preserving lack of observation, or an intense level of Trust in the goodness of God’s Love in order to maintain sanity in this unpredictable place. “‘I know the plans I have for you’ says the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11). As we ride around the sun, hopefully we learn to roll a bit more with Life’s punches. Even though the big ones may knock us out for awhile, hopefully we’re eventually able to get up and continue the fight — at least for the Love of those around us… and their Love for us.

It isn’t easy to walk this planet (wandering-star — doesn’t that make us all wanderers?) — to be so small amid so many galaxies and yet still Love our dear ones so much it doesn’t seem possible that we’re so finite. This is what we’re here for — to learn this common communication of infinite or unconditional Love, so we can understand the language on the other side of Death’s rent veil. We learn it as we serve each other — as mama’s snuggle their sleeping littles and calm wordless fears — as we make each other laugh, and keep each other warm and fed throughout the long winters of life… We learn it in the rhythm of poetry and song — in lullabies and literature shared together after a long day — in sharing what we have with others and being grateful for what we are given, and in creating homes where we know what it means to hold each other in our hearts. We learn it in the play of silence and story, laughter and tears — in life shared with one another in a myriad of small ways. We learn Love from all the lives that touch our own as we wander this road together…

I am so thankful for all my dear ones who are continuing to teach me Love.

I am grateful…

  1. reading aloud to the family in the car during a hail storm at the coast… :)
  2. listening to Kate Rusby together… (particularly this one over and over again) :)
  3. fuzzy socks in the cold…
  4. back to back with hubby at night – warm and cozy as we sleep…
  5. sister hugs…
  6. Little One’s laugh – even when he should be sleeping…
  7. Little Boy learning the alphabet…
  8. listening to The Professor and Philosopher talking late into the night when they think I think they’re sleeping… :)
  9. laughing with my hubby…
  10. wedding bands and lifelong loves…

It’s all Grace…