Tag Archives: joy

The Perpetuity of Joy

It comes to me in the quiet of the gray of February.  Sometimes I want to push it away, to savor the sadness for a while longer.  But it insists on having a say.

And it whispers in the warmth of a pellet stove’s comforting flame.  I feed yet another bag of fuel into the waiting hopper and think about how happy it makes me to have this source of heat in a farmhouse that is drafty around the edges.

It talks to me in the voices of friends and family, and I hear the love and sense the care.  I can almost touch the intangible when I see their help, freely given.  A clean house, an encouraging note, an errand run, an understanding word, a listening ear, pellets brought into the garage before I had to ask, trash taken to the road . . . The list is endless.

I smell it in the warming scent of chicken cooking on my kitchen range.  The celery and onion combine with the smell of chicken and it makes me laugh to think that I got to the store at the right time to get two chickens for $.75 a pound just in time to make a big pot of soup on this gray day.  When I go to the freezer, there is corn just waiting to be put into the big pot of broth.  And I remember hot summer days and so much corn I wondered what in the world we were going to do with it all.  And then I remember the helping hands and the conversation and the incredible results with more than enough corn for everyone.  I rummage in the freezer and find the Lima Beans that  are carefully stashed from last summer as well.  I remember long hours in the bean patch, with the biting flies and  wasps and stink bugs.  The memories of having bean plants that good friends gave us, picking fat Delaware Limas that my strong husband planted and weeded and tended so carefully, along with the memories of the sweet yellow corn, make me happy down to my toes.  The green limas look vibrant, and I know will taste wonderful.  I drop them into the soup along with with the corn, shred two long orange carrots and put those in for some color.  The lid of my big kettle pops a merry tune while the soup simmers.  It makes me so happy to be able to make soup, enough for us and to share.

On a busy Saturday, my neighbor stops by to get some of that soup.  I’ve not known her long, but she is kind and she offers friendship and smiles and diversion.  We visit together while I fold my laundry and it’s an interlude of shared life and the joy finds me and reminds me how good it is to have new friends and neighbors that are friendly.

The days have been the strange mixture that I’ve learned is normal for February and also for this season of my life.  The sadness wants to crop up, unexpected and unbidden, to drip onto the counter where I’ve turned to try to hide the fact that, once again, I’m crying. And I think about the losses, and  I miss my Sweet Mama, and I want to just stay there in the sadness for a while.  I want to sit on my chair and think  about, well, stuff.  But often, when I go there, there is this little bird that chirps a greeting, and often sings a chop and a trill of joy.  He’s a grey canary, and he lived with my Sweet Mama for the last years of her earthly life.  On days when I’m missing her the most, I’ll stand by his cage and ask him, “Pretty Bird, do you miss her, too?’  He’s often very quiet while I weep.

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But sometimes, he sings.  He sings a song that speaks hope and Heaven to my heart.  He sings of contentment and he sings joy.  I listen to his song and think about another bird, no longer caged, but truly home and free and alive and singing.  I know she’s singing!

And through the sorrow, I know the perpetuity of joy.  It seeks me out, it will not let me go.  I will always miss her, and this life will always hold sorrow of some kind, some how (and usually, today!).  But it gives all of life a different color to have glimpses of joy where ever I look and in whatever I see.  Sometimes it’s so fleeting I’m not sure it’s there.  But usually (usually!) I can find it if I look for it.  And so, I will look.

And for this gift of constant joy, my heart gives grateful praise.

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Filed under Grief, My Life, Uncategorized

January Evening

The cold seeps in around the edges of the old farmhouse.  I take a cup from the corner roundabout and wonder at how cold it is.  Why is that cupboard so cold?  I almost want to pour boiling water into it and let it sit for a bit until it is thoroughly warmed before making a cup of mint tea.  The day has been long.  Tonight I finally finished the delinquent paperwork that I need to file with the state.  I feel cross.  I should be grateful.  I have a wonderfully understanding case manager, and I’ve had the best nurses in the system.  My case has just been reassigned, something I always dread, but the replacement is optimistic and warm and she makes me think that just maybe, losing the best nurse I’ve ever had won’t be the end of my tenure.

The cold has been seeping around the edges of my soul these last few months.  Sometimes it seems like grief deferred is grief escaped, but it just isn’t so.  It niggles at the edge of my conscious thought, lends cloud cover to my sunniest days.  I’ve fought with all my might, I think.  I refuse to answer any question of “How are you?” with anything but an enthusiastic, “I’m GOOD!”  Or even, “I’m GREAT!!!” and if the truth be told, that does make me feel better.  But the tears are so close, and the smallest things set me off.

Today, Youngest Daughter stood in our kitchen, ready to go see Joe, the employer that has suffered a stroke.  She is blinking back the tears.  “I know that he knows me, Mama, but he doesn’t remember my name sometimes.  I feel like my sense of loss is far deeper than I realized at first.  At first, I knew he was in there, and I thought that he would probably get better, but now it’s like he knows that he knows me, but he doesn’t know how or why.  And–” her voice caught and I had to strain to hear her, “I’m afraid it’s just too late.”

“It reminds me of  a story I read recently,” I told her, “about this girl who would visit her grandma and her grandma never spoke her name, but would engage in conversation with her.  She wanted her grandma to remember her name so desperately, so as she was leaving, she said, ‘Grandma, you don’t know my name, do you?’  Her grandma looked at her intently and then said, ‘I don’t know your name, but I know that you are someone I love.’  And Rachel, I believe that is how it is with Joe.  He may not remember your name, but he does know that you are someone that he loves.”

Tonight I am so glad that when Jesus looks at me, He knows my name.  He knows my heart.  He knows that I am someone He loves.  This soul sadness is something that He has already carried, so he understands it.  And while there are numerous things that are honest grief, there are still One Thousand Gifts to count, and people around me who need to be encouraged and loved on and who “borrow” joy from me.  This I purpose to rejoice in and I also purpose to not let them down.

And so, let the evening begin.  I have “promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”  I think I’d best get busy.

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Filed under Dealing with Grief

Lessons from our Love Bug

She stole quietly into the pew beside her Grandpa and me, a sweet presence there.  A quick pull of an envelope out of the offering slots and she wanted a pencil or crayon or something to write with. I found a small package of crayons (from one of our forays to a restaurant which handed out three crayons to restless children) and she sat back on the pew and set to work with painstaking effort.

I had an old bulletin in my Bible, and I gave her some pieces to look at and to occupy her while I listened to the sermon.  She tapped my arm once and asked me how to write “don’t open” and I wrote it out on a piece of paper from my church notebook and handed it back to her.  Mollified, she went back to her efforts.

When church was over, she handed me the envelope.  “For you, Grammy!” She beamed happily. “Don’t open it!”

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“Okay,” I tell her, looking into her precious face.  “I’ll wait ’till later!”  That pleased her so much and she ran off to find her friends.

This morning, at least three weeks later, I was cleaning out my purse, and I found the envelope.  I couldn’t remember what it was that she had put into it, so I opened it up and pulled out the three pieces of paper that were inside.

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My first response was a burst of joy as I thought about this girlie who has brought so much into our lives-just by being herself, and how much delight she has in giving “stuff” to people she loves.

And then my heart was suddenly quiet and thoughtful as I realized how often the Love that God puts into our hearts seems to come with a self-made sign that says, “Don’t Open!”  We carry it, hidden in the depths somewhere and forget that it was given to us to open, to share.  I believe it is truly there, but we forget that we have a gift — an incredible gift — given to us freely, but we have to take it, and we have to “open” it.

It will give us incredible joy to share it.

And it will give The Father great delight.

 

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