Transfiguration Morning…

Blued-eyed sky and Sunlight

There is Peace here.
This morning the sky is blued-eyed — cloudless and bright…  sunlight has clothed the wetland wood across my gravel road and every green hue is alive with  its touch.
It is an August morning — the Feast of the Transfiguration — and my world awoke to this quiet beauty — the breathing of the sea-tides echoing in my chest… the rise and fall of my own rhythm — my heart keeping the beat.

I am sitting in this Quiet.
There are dishes waiting in my sink — remnants of a quick dinner before writing my paper that was due at midnight… they have been patient and will soon be clean again, but they are quiet as they wait.
The boys have had their morning meds with breakfast, the cats are resting from their nocturnal play…
In this moment nothing is clamoring for my attention.

I can feel this new day washing over my corner of the world — what is this magic that keeps us spinning through time — ever forward, ever onward? Is it this Quiet – this Foundation-of-Everything holding us all together? It is holding me here — cradling us all, just waiting to be recognized… to be known.

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

Inside, we’re all longing to be mystics — longing to know and be known — to sit in the Silence of ourselves surrounded by the bustle and noise of living. We’re all yearning for connection — to have Light clothe us in our innate hues and reveal our beauty to the world. Can’t you see the brightness of summer’s-light in the eyes of those around you? We’re all seeking Communion… Be gentle in your gaze — soft, compassionate eyes are the key to sight here.  Be kind, and See.

“Be still, and know…”

#augustmorning
#feastoftransfiguration
#quiet
#bekindandsee
#bestillandknow

Breathe…

St. Mary’s after Mass and my front porch this evening

The tide was out this morning after Mass — I stood briefly on the bluff in front of St. Mary’s to close my eyes and feel its rhythm…  the breeze on my face heavy with the scent of the sea. Then it was time to get home and bring Eucharist to my boys — a bit of Thanksgiving and Peace for the week ahead.

The day has been spent in Quiet – my Shakespeare paper finished yesterday meant today was free to simply straighten our home a little and just rest…

This evening I am sitting here on the porch — the sun gentle on my shoulders and face now as it heads towards meeting with the sea — together they will paint the sky and the far horizon with the coming sunset. It was harsh at midday today — even with the breeze — but now there is a softness in its warmth as the day draws to a close.  Sitting here, the sound of the sea is a comforting roar in my chest — the tide was at its height not long ago and it still sounds like it. The breeze off the sea is stronger tonight than it was this morning – dancing with the leaves in the trees, making the shadows shimmer – every once in awhile a gust whips my hair around my face and fills my lungs with the fullness of the seaside in the summer… sun-warmed grasses and sand, the lake and creeks nearby, the heat of the roads in the area, the wet-earth and bracken of the woods… and of course — the sea.

Breathe.
Can you feel its rhythm — can you hear its echo inside as the tide of your own breath fills your lungs with life?

We all breathe the same air.  We’re all rocked to the rhythm of our heartbeats — all the same… all living and loving on land that eventually meets the sea. Love is the only appropriate response to the beauty of our shared humanity – our shared rhythm of life.

Breathe.
There’s still hope for us.

#searhythm
#hopeforus
#breathetogether
#onehumanity

A Blessing for the New Year

A Blessing for the New Year from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donahue

This week has left me so undone…
I was lead nurse for my team all week — it felt like we were all drowning together — too much to be done and not enough hands to do it…
I am on the other side of exhaustion this New Year’s Eve — hard to think about what the next few weeks of the New Year will be like in my reality — as apparently those of us working in healthcare live in a different world than everyone else — other than those we are trying to help…

As usual I turned to written words for comfort today — Scripture. Poetry. Prayers. Beautiful fonts and phrases…

I’m sending out John O’Donahue’s “A Blessing For The New Year” into this hurting world today – from his To Bless The Space Between Us book of blessings. May 2022 offer us all hope as together we begin another circuit around the sun on this spinning globe.

May those of us beginning this journey again without so many of our loved ones find comfort and courage to go on in the fact that love does not end just because the seat at the table is empty. All the shadows that remain echo the love shared… This coming year will be full of many hard firsts for so many grieving… Be gentle with each other my fellow earth-riders — we need each other.

#NewYearsEve
#nursesnewyear
#JohnODonahue
#ablessingforthenewyear
#loveneverends
#fontsandphrases
#undone

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

 

 

Soft Eyes…

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I was forced to take a “down day” today.

I never made it out of my pajamas and found myself just adding layers as the day progressed: robe, favorite purple blanket – soft and snuggly – and most recently a knitted cap — one of those known as tuques in other parts of the world. I don’t think that I’m terribly ill (though the constant chill in the house seems to have seeped into my lungs the past couple of days), but I’m definitely not “well”. It’s a little nerve-wracking to have cold, heavy lungs, when there’s such a bad flu outbreak going on right now… but I don’t really have much of a cough, and there’s no fever of any kind… I’m sure this is just the result of being chilled for too long, plus the fact that I only had a few hours of broken sleep last night, and a dash of being a bit overwhelmed with life and emotions right now — I suppose I should be surprised that illness hasn’t hit me harder. After a good night’s sleep hopefully I’ll be more myself and ready to tackle all the things that need to be done. We have movers coming in about a week…

The nice part of being forced into a “down day” is it means I can’t do much more than read – no matter how much I feel like I have to be doing something else. “Oh darn,” she said with a sarcastic twinkle in her eye. :) I’m reading a book called Books For Living right now by Will Schwalbe which has already added a variety of books to my “To Be Read” list.  I discovered that CloudLibrary had it and jumped at the chance to check it out since I’ve been wanting to read it for quite awhile. Will’s book The End Of Your Life Book Club was a really wonderful read about his relationship with his mother and the books they read together during her treatment for cancer — a book about love, caregiving, mourning, and the joy that comes from sharing the reality of a good book with someone else. As soon as I learned about Books For Living I knew I had to read it — it just took me awhile to get my hands on it (if you can consider an “ebook” having it in my hands).  So far I want to own a copy of this one as much as I wish I had a copy of The End Of Your Life Book Club. 

Days like today are nice for awhile, but by the time the sun goes down the fun is pretty much over and I’m just tired of feeling sick and tired. My health history has created a mental situation that leaves me with little patience for my body’s need to recover. I know that I should be more compassionate — patience with myself is important too — but instead of responding to my own illness like I do to everyone else’s, my knee-jerk response is one of frustration and disgust… not conducive to healing that’s for sure. It isn’t exactly a good example for my boys either — with their health struggles, they need to be given an example of compassion and patience with physical bodies as they try to heal — it takes time… sometimes longer than others (as they are learning, unfortunately). You can’t force yourself into wellness — it takes time and gentle care to heal…

Gentleness, kindness, compassion… these are major building blocks in the wellbeing of our bodies and souls — even if we rarely realize their importance. We’re all moving so quickly past each other on our life paths its easy to miss the sustenance that our souls need which we can only get from each other. You cannot experience them alone — and we do not instinctively know how to share them well either — you have to learn to be gentle… learn kindness and compassion — these skills do not appear out of the aether, magically bestowed on us like some kind of human genetic trait. I can be born with blue eyes — I am not born knowing how to look at you with “soft eyes” as my hospice teammates would say.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Seeing other people — or ourselves for that matter — with soft eyes is a skill that takes time to develop. It begins when our mamas remind us over and over to have “soft hands” or “gentle hands” when we first pet an animal or touch a sibling — often taking our hands and showing us how to touch softly. We continue to learn how to be compassionate as our empathy skills increase — this seems to come easier for some than for others (empathy has always been an intense part of my life — this is something I didn’t need to learn as much as I needed to learn how to handle it). If we don’t learn these lessons well then we find something seriously lacking in the experience of our humanity. We might not be born knowing how to give gentleness, kindness, or compassion, but we do not thrive without them, and we cannot become completely human/humane without them either. We might not be able to describe these gifts well, but we instantly feel inhumanity present when they are missing.

In the 21st century there seems to be a sad epidemic of a lack of compassion – for ourselves and everyone around us – especially those we consider “different” from us in any way. The empath in me could come to tears thinking about this… It is so sad — for those who need our compassion, and for us — because we have a real need to be compassionate. Our souls cannot be healthy without being kind — we become twisted inside, blind to the good we can do in this world, fearful of “others” and what they “might do” to us, and we become hard — insensitive to feeling moved by poetry and song, unable to hear the whisper of God’s voice.

If someone asks you, “What happened to the world that brought us to this point?” just tell them — we’ve forgotten to teach compassion… We were so busy progressing our technology and competing with each other (in everything from whose child walked and talked first, to who has the biggest investment portfolio), we forgot to remember what makes us human. It doesn’t take much to figure out how a lack of compassion has impacted everything from homelessness to drug addiction to civic policies. Unfortunately, we don’t even have the vocabulary to speak to each other about the problems anymore… we no longer have conversations – whether in the public square or on Facebook walls – we have confrontations and debates. No one listens… there are no soft eyes surfing the internet… 

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I still have a long way to go in learning how to look in the mirror with soft eyes — being patient and compassionate with myself is probably going to be a lifelong lesson… So tonight when I’m curled under the covers with my hot tea, robe, and tuque, I’m going to focus on being patient with this body of mine as it’s trying to handle everything life has thrown at it lately. It’s been through so much already and as I begin the last couple months of my 38th year, I’m thankful this body has carried me this far…

God-willing, I’ll have many more years to learn how to give it the kindness I try to give everyone else.

I am grateful…

  1. my hubby bringing me hot tea at 4 in the morning…
  2. old robes…
  3. pajamas…
  4. homemade chicken noodle soup…
  5. books that make you think…
  6. CloudLibrary…
  7. talking about books with my sister…
  8. The Professor practicing piano…
  9. hubby hugs…
  10. learning to see with soft eyes…

It’s all Grace…