Dec

3

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Christmas Joy

The Christmas Spirit was with a group of Threshold Choir singers today as we visited two group homes.  At the first was “Gram”, the matriarch of a beloved family of friends.  At first she cried and then she told us “never to stop”.  Her friends also gathered round and listened, then sang a few Christmas songs with us.

When we arrived at Gram’s home, our newest choir member went in ahead of us.  She said that she’d learned that her grandmother had just been moved into a home on this very street and perhaps, just maybe, she would be here, also.  And she was!  (Imagine, in a large metropolis, THIS was the place.)  Grandmother and granddaughter shared smiles and hugs, with Grandma knowing even through her dementia that family was present.

Then we drove to the second home and visited a woman close to several of us and the mother of a dear friend who died fifteen years ago.  She was unable to form a complete sentence, but would start one and then her beaming face told the rest of the story.  “This is so…” she’d say.  Her face mirrored our love and joy and presence. 

We know who received Christmas blessings today.  We, the singers, did.

Oct

23

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Before I die…

After viewing Candy Chang, a TED presenter, on youtube at http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html, I decided to post a similar project in a common space at my church/office.  Here are some of the responses:

Before I die I want to

     travel to Ireland.  (Chile, Australia, Paris, Istanbul, the world)

     have many joyous times with my retired spouse.

     make a difference in the world.

     have peace in our family.

     play Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto with an orchestra!

     finish craft projects I’ve started.

     kayak to Catalina Island.

     get rid of my stuff!

     write my memoirs for my children.

     spend more time outdoors.

     see our kids settled…successful would be nice.

     create.

     talk with someone who knew my grampa.

     live.

Aren’t these wonderful?  What’s YOUR answer?

Sep

30

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Let It In, Let It Go

Let it in, let it go, round and round we flow,

Weaving the web of wisdom,

Let it in, let it go, round and round we flow,

Weaving the web of life.

What do you want to bring into your life?

What do you want to release?

Listen to your heart.  If a threshold of change is beckoning, honor your courage and cross it.  You are the weaver and the weaving, the playwright and the play.

Sep

10

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Lessons

I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.  The challenges we face in life are always lessons that serve our soul’s growth.  –Marianne Williamson

I like to plan ahead.  I’m a list-maker.  I’m most relaxed when the plan is plain, the destination identified, and the steps outlined.

Guess what?  Sometimes events happen so fast that there is no plan to be made.  Or suddenly I’m on Plan E instead of Plan A.  Sometimes change is hurtled at me and all I can do is hope I’ve enough reserves in my Just-in-Case Kit.

I want things to be fair.  I want them to make sense.  I hope to be able to persuade others of my obviously superior opinions.  There’s just not room for random anything.

Probably the biggest curve I’ve been thrown lately is injuring my knee.  Even before the ladder with me on top of it, trying to be a cat, hit the floor, the thought went through my gray matter that this fall would affect the rest of my life.

Almost every day I practice gratitude that I can walk, that the pain is diminishing, and that my strength is returning.  On the days when I forget, then I concentrate on the fact that it still hurts, that sometimes it just “goes out” for no reason, and the fear that I may never again move gracefully.

I do suspect my soul’s grown.  For sure I have increased empathy for those with physical limitations.  I treasure the helpers who were a part of my recovery, both those who brought food and expressed condolences, but also those who made me exercise and brought me to tears.  I’ve had the chance to do a lot of reading and learn some beautiful Threshold Choir songs. 

There have been “lessons”.  For one, I’ve learned to let others wait on me, not easy for someone as independent-minded as I. 

And I am “fine”, Ms. Williamson.

But I still wish I hadn’t fallen.

Sep

10

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Dead in September

air pollution,Earth,ecology,environments,globes,greenhouse effects,greenhouses,heating,heats,hot,maps,nature,planets,plants,rays,sunOne morning this week I walked outside and was hit by something foreign to this time and place–cool air!  Maybe not cool by others’ standards, but cool to me.

By September the oppressive desert heat has worn me down.  It must be a similar experience as places where winter ice and snow force folks to stay inside.  I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think I’ve adequately explained what happens to my soul by summer’s end.  I feel dry, desiccated, shriveled, abandoned, hopeless, like the croaked plants on our front porch.

The air conditioner recirculates the same air.  Its hum is a regular part of daily life.  The electric bills are horrendous.  We hurry through outside doorways quickly so that the inside air cannot escape.  That’s it—we are imprisoned.  And we are tired of it!  I am tired of it!

So when I went out to fetch the paper and cool air and the smell of rain greeted me, I figuratively kicked up my heels.  

Grace is still available and will once again, soon, be abundant.

Aug

27

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Birthday Time

Tomorrow is my Medicare birthday.  I have to pinch myself to realize I’m really that old.  Now I can proudly wear the title, Senior Citizen.

My mom used to say that all she wanted in life was to raise a loving family.  When she said that I remember thinking that I wanted more.

In hindsight, that’s been my goal, as well.

Saturday our three generations of family sat around a common table, laughing, eating, sharing stories.  Feelings of contentment, pride, admiration, and gratitude sat in my belly, feeding the knowledge that if I should die tomorrow, my life has counted for something.

Aug

24

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Earworms

I’ve been singing Threshold Choir music in preparation for an organizing meeting next week.  My brain is one of those that holds earworms.  I can’t get the music to stop—it’s always playing.  When I was younger I thought perhaps this was a symptom of mental illness.  Now that I know others experience the same phenomenon, I am more accepting of the trait.  This time my brain is playing spiritual, beautiful songs designed to be sung to folks at life’s threshold.

Singing them brings back memories of my parents and their deaths.  My dad and I sat in a garden at his hospice setting and had one of those “last talks”.  I was not present during his decline or death.  My mother and brother took that role and I know now that I missed out on something by not being there with him.  I’m eternally grateful for their efforts and love.

The reason I know what I missed is that I was blessed to be present with my brother and his daughter-in-law for my mother’s passing.  I had sung to her in the days before her death.  Songs and lullabies came as I cradled her in my arms.  Now I will be able to sing those for others.

I pray for guidance and focus as our Threshold Choir begins.  May I adequately share the depth of spirit contained in this work with others who come to try out this unique experience.

Aug

20

By admin

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Categories: celebrant musings

Some “Cereus” Celebrating

I have a dear Phoenix friend who sent me this photo of her blooming cereus cactus.  She wrote that I have always thought that flowers are the clearest proof of the existence of God.  These blossoms last one night and are spectacular.

I was reminded of my mom’s cereus plant.  It was a different variety and was transplanted from my Kentucky great-grandmother’s garden.  We lived in a small New Mexico town and anticipating the blooms’ opening date was “serious cereus” fun.  A tiny pistil rose during the night above the representational cradle of Jesus while the overwhelming sweet fragrance filled the room.  If bright lights were shone on the blossoms, they shook vehemently, proclaiming their worth.  It was like Christmas in the summer.

We would plan opening night parties.  Once my friend’s father came and brought his movie camera and lights.  Another year my close friend from across the street and lots of neighbors came to gaze at the wonder.  We served refreshments and were allowed to stay up late.

My last post was about celebrating life’s moments.  Remembering back, I learned this from a good teacher, my mother, whose joy was wondrous and shared abundantly with others.

Jul

20

By admin

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Categories: celebrant musings

Celebrate!

Once you decide to celebrate, everything changes.

Within those very real sad and challenging times that come to all of us, you’ll find blessings. It’s not that you’re immune from these depressing moments, it’s just that you know they are transitory and hold within themselves teachable moments.

I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna, of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses, of being unrealistic. Perhaps a bit of that criticism is accurate, but I think my joy in life comes from a far deeper spiritual place. And I think you can experience it, as well.

Children know how to do this.  They celebrate everything:

  • First time they ride a bike without training wheels.
  • First time they lose a tooth.
  • First star seen each night.
  • First trip to the beauty parlor.
  • First time they realize they can read.
  • First trip down the ski slope.
  • First time they swim across the pool.
  • First kiss.

Perhaps you can remember these events in your own life. I can.

Once you achieve a certain maturity, you know that life goes in cycles. Harry Chapin sang “All My Life’s a Circle” and the lyrics still ring true for me. Life is full of change and shifting and loss, but also hope and freshness and meaning.

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown.

The moon rolls through the nighttime, ‘til the daybreak comes around.

All my life’s a circle, but I can’t tell you why,

Seasons spinning round again, the years keep rollin’ by.

Deciding how to mark celebrations is great fun. Jumping up and down, drinking a toast, loudly whooping, saying a prayer, writing a poem, taking a mental or actual picture, lighting a candle, calling a friend are all ways I’ve chosen to celebrate. It all begins with paying attention and living life with intention. Marking each celebration with some sort of ritual or symbolic act tends to plant its memory so that it can be recalled and re-lived.

As adults, moments we can choose to celebrate include:

  • Making it through the first holiday after the death of a spouse.
  • Saving a nest egg when saving’s been difficult.
  • Holding a newly born grandchild.
  • Marking the first fall day when the windows and doors can be open.
  • Cooking a fabulous meal.
  • Hearing from a long-lost friend.
  • Physically achieving something new.
  • Paying off a debt.
  • Recovering from an illness.
  • Even saying good-bye to a parent.

I wish you many celebrations.

Once you decide to celebrate, everything changes.

May

30

By admin

8,687 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

High School Graduation

I’ve known Megan since she was a preschooler, so it was with great joy that I worked with her mom to create a graduation celebration.

When she was young and they moved into their house, Megan used yarn to make a giant web throughout both the upstairs and downstairs.  Her family even crawled up the stairs so that they could enjoy the web for several days.  When we were brainstorming I mentioned using a yarn ball, tossing it from person to person, with each one giving their wish or advice to her as she leaves the safety of home and flies off to college.  It was a “keeper” idea and we included it.  At the end of the ceremony her parents cut the yarn, releasing Megan into her future.

What followed shows the power of ceremony begetting ceremony.  An attendee was so moved by the ritual that she offered to make from the yarn we used a scarf for Megan to take with her off to college.  When she wears it she will remember this evening and all those who continue to hold her as she transitions into this next stage of life.  Powerful!

Apr

18

By admin

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Categories: celebrant musings

Circle of Life Pet Memorial

 On April 25, next Wednesday at 6 PM at Shadow Rock, pet-lovers of all ages are invited to honor the pets they have lost during the last year.  They can bring a photo of their pet and tell us something unique or special about that it.  We’ll put the pictures on a bulletin board for all to share.

One idea I’m borrowing from M. S. Kosins is about the four special days in a pet’s life.  They are:

First—When you bring home your new pet.

Second—When you realize your pet is growing older or is sick or lost.

Third—When your pet dies.

Fourth—When you realize Living Love.

Living Love is the time when we know that, like a favorite fragrance that lingers with us, our relationship with each animal we have loved and lost will remain with us to be cherished forever.  The Circle of Life sustains and enriches us.

We’d love to have you join us.

Apr

5

By admin

7,335 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Tell Us a Story

When our children were little, bedtime rituals included a bath, brushing teeth, one last drink, snuggles, thoughts about the day’s blessings and lessons, and reading a picture book.  Nighttime kisses, of course, ended the ritual and their sweet dreams began.  (Sometimes I drifted off, as well!)

Bedtimes with our grandchildren began with the same script.  Somewhere along the way, though, that special good-night time morphed into “Tell Us a Story” time.

The new ritual began innocently enough.  Once when we were away from home, with no books available, I told them a story about when their parents were little.  From that moment on the new tradition reigned.  Now that they range in age from 7 to 14, my treasure chest of remembered stories has grown into a very large trunk.

First we do all the prep needed to go to bed—baths, teeth, meds, etc.  Then we turn out the lights and get comfortable.  Next they make requests, which rotate between calling up favorite, formerly-shared stories and asking for brand new ones.  Each time I think I can’t remember ONE more story, some hint from the grandkids pops out a new one.

Categories range from specific to general.  Specifics include:  Tell us about the time Grandpa Ray got sprayed by a skunk.  Tell us about the time you got lost and there was lightning.  Tell us about the time firefighters came and our parents never woke up.

General categories range from Tell us a story about Mom that we’ve never heard before, to Tell us a funny one about Dad that happened at school, to Now tell us about a time you and Boppa were really scared.  These can be brain-taxing!

Recently I attended a volunteer luncheon highlighting this quote from Robert McKee:  “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience.  They are the currency of human contact.”

Our bedtime stories are profound sharing tools into a collective remembered past about who we are as a family, what our place is in the world, and what we consider important.  Past, present and future are wrapped together into one pleasurable, meaningful bundle.

Bedtimes usually end with requests for Just one more, Amma, please…  I have to be firm and clearly state that there is one more and that’s IT!

Some things don’t change, after all.

Mar

27

By admin

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Categories: celebrant musings

New Perspective on Transitions

My last entry was BA–Before the Accident.  This one is written AA–After the Accident.

On March 8 I took a ten-foot ride on top of a ladder, crashing to a tile floor and shattering my left knee cap.  New to me events included an ambulance ride with young (and cute) paramedics, surgery on my knee, walking with crutches, then a walker and finally a cane, and an inability to drive.  Wow!  Life certainly changed in a very few seconds.

As always, I’ve learned some things.  One is to find the blessings in the lesson.  I hurt only one extremity.  My husband has found his calling as a dedicated and kind nurse.  Friends have visited, sent cards, and brought fabulous meals.  My family has been responsive and incredibly helpful.  My faith community has been fantastic.  I’ve had time to read and reflect.

I’ve also experienced disappointents.  The Threshold Choir I hope to organize had its first session scheduled on the exact day of my surgery.   That will have to wait.   I miss the ability to be on my own.  My leg hurts.  I can only imagine the financial cost.  I’m pretty sure I’ve gained weight.

In balance, the positives outweigh the negatives.  The “Accident” will not define my life, although I might let it define about six weeks of March and April.  :-)

Transitions are those places in our lives where one way of life comes to an end and another begins.  I think all of the fall-out from this fall-down qualifies as a transition.  The question arises, then, what will I take with me into the future?

Friends and family are to be appreciated.

Caution will temper my “I can do anything” attitude.

Bodily healing is quite miraculous.

Health professionals provide second chances.

My timeline is not the only timeline.

I have a huge amount of empathy for folks who are physically handicapped.

I have been changed for the better.  (Disclosure: I just saw Wicked.)

Life is good.

Feb

26

By admin

6,845 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Systemic Change vs. Charity

I wish I could ask my mom something.  Regrettably Mom died two years ago.

When I was in third grade I noticed a little girl in second grade who sat in a chair at the end of the hall while everybody else when to eat.  Most kids brought 35 cents each day so they could eat in the cafeteria.  They turned right at the hall’s end.  I turned left and walked three blocks home for lunch.  It was something that made me different and I longed to be like everyone else and eat in the cafeteria.  Lillie Bell just sat in a metal brown chair with her feet swinging and her big brown eyes watching everybody.  I asked my mom if it would be OK if I fixed a lunch for Lillie Bell Templeton.

Mom agreed and the next day I brought a sandwich in a brown paper bag and gave it to Lillie Bell before I walked home for my own lunch.

My teacher, Mrs. O. L. Davis , who had braids wound severely around her head, told me that afternoon that I was silly to bring a lunch for Lillie Bell.  Her family had enough to provide their child with lunch money!  Her mom took in ironing and cleaned people’s houses and she could send some change for Lillie Bell to eat.  They lived too far away to walk home like I did, but that family could provide for their own children.

I remember hating my teacher and thinking she was wrong!  It was the first of several times I remember being morally outraged with “Old Lady” Davis.  All this at age 8 when teachers are pretty much up there with Mom and Dad and God.

For several days I continued to bring a lunch.

Then here’s the part I’d like to ask mom.

Somehow Lillie Bell was no longer in her chair.  I was told she was eating in the cafeteria.  What happened?  Had my mom made polite inquiries?  Did Lillie Bell’s mom start sending a lunch?  Was someone shamed into letting her eat for free?

I bet mom knew.  I hope that my act of charity had something to do with systemic change within that school structure.  I just remember that I was happy that Lillie Bell no longer sat on a cold hard brown chair at the end of the hall while everyone else turned to go eat lunch.

Oh, did I tell you Lillie Bell was black?

Feb

14

By admin

6,736 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Valentine Wishes

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m wearing my traditional outfit, which since his death has been my father’s bathrobe.  It’s silk and has red hearts on a black background and makes a nice jacket.  Dad loved fancy clothes, shoes and boots.  All day I’ve been wrapped in a posthumous hug from my father.

Dad was a man of few words, a hard worker, gentle, expert in fixing things, and fiercely proud of his kids.  He had a strong sense of fairness and was known as a good boss at the gasoline plant where he eventually became the superintendant.  He attended every piano recital, band and choir concert, and school event where I performed, every ball game and spelling contest of my brothers.  He generally let Mom do the talking, but he made his presence known and we respected him.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad.  And Happy Valentine’s Day to all proud dads everywhere.

Feb

8

By admin

7,430 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Soar Like an Eagle

Yesterday I officiated at a Committal Service for a man who was a Valley of the Sun transplant from snowy New York almost a dozen years ago.  I don’t know much about him except that he loved to work on cars and was a kind, hard-working man who was clear with his wife that he did not want a service when he died.  The daughters indicated that he did not want them to spend money on his after-death care.

At first there was no service planned, but the mom and daughters changed their minds and decided a Committal Service at the cemetery would be appropriate before he was laid to rest and that it would help them say good-bye.  Through a series of phone calls, I was contracted to write a short service and officiate.

As the daughters, a niece and I stood chatting before the service, waiting on one more person to arrive, one of the young women said, “Look up!”

What we saw took away our breath:  A large eagle with a five foot wingspan was circling overhead.  After two turns the magnificent bird soared off into the sky.

We all felt it—the intake of surprised air, the beat of our hearts, the misty eyes.  No one will ever convince me we saw anything other than the spirit of this man blessing our gathering and soaring into the heavens.

 That We Can Soar Like an Eagle

by Jay Althouse

 That we can soar like an eagle,

Fly like a dove, run like the wind

With strength from above.

We will never grow weary, for love will prevail,

And those who believe,

Cannot fail.

 

Jan

7

By admin

7,846 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Fresh Starts

Recently, when leaving a supermarket in Sedona, I was in a grumpy mood.  I don’t even remember why at this moment, just that I was digruntled about something.

As I drove toward our condo, I looked up at the magnificent red-tinged mountains ahead of me.  Wow!  It was eventide, that exact moment when the sun has disappeared and the cliffs radiate their own magical light.  Instantly the negative mood lifted and I was filled with peace and awe.  In just a flash…

I hope that each of us remembers to “lift our eyes unto the hills” this glorious, new, pregnant year.  Peace to you and yours from Life-Cycle Celebrations.  Remember to honor your celebration moments and write to me, or call, if you want assistance in planning your own personalized ritual or ceremony.

We will lift our eyes together.

Dec

13

By admin

7,753 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Pathways

As I sit to write a Christmas letter, where we’ve been reels through my mind like a broadcast news report and where we’re going like a preview of coming attractions.  Pathways delivered us in this moment and open before us.

Silly humans that we are, we still believe we can order the future, choose the story and pick the plot.  Honestly, we know that saying yes to one pathway and no to another does shape the journey ahead.  Yet we never can be assured that our dreams and final destination will be as we hope.  All we can order is our style of dance.

Will you waltz through the next year?  Square dance?  Ballet on your tippy-toes?  March like a tin soldier?  Are you opting for Lincoln Center, Trafalger Square, or just your own living room?

What will be your style?  Who will lead and who will follow?  How fast-paced is the music?  What will you wear? 

What caption will go under next year’s Christmas letter?

Dec

10

By admin

7,133 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Happy Holidays

You can’t spoil my Christmas. 

I agree with much of the thoughtful discussion about Christmas values, buying locally, stressing that giving trumps getting.  Sometimes, though, the discussion hits a really hard, negative vibe that I think hurts more than it helps.

For example, I read much criticism of Black Friday and those who were out shopping.  I was one of the shoppers, accompanying my daughter.  As a teacher, she exists on a shoestring budget and has to make every penny count as she gifts her family and friends.  Resourceful, crafty, and innovative are words that describe her.  Her thoughtful gifts are often handmade and always creative.  We had a great time stretching her money.  Shopping the sales on that Friday has become a meaningful ritual for us.

I also recently heard strong criticism of “all the junk in the dollar stores”.  My first thought was of the family with several children and few resources.  Taking their children to the dollar store to shop for teachers and gift exchanges is about the only way they can give their children that opportunity.  I know the students can always make something or draw a card, and that’s fine.  But the child wants to be like everyone else and give their teacher something purchased and carefully wrapped and just from them.  Thank heavens for dollar stores.

Look at this darling picture of a friend’s grandchildren with Santa.  Isn’t it the best?  The tradition of taking pictures with Santa is another time-honored ritual.  I want to entitle this photo:  “…and laying a finger aside of his nose….”  Some say take Santa out of the equation, and others are screaming loudly that Happy Holidays is inappropriate as a greeting.  I err on the side of respecting and honoring diversity.  “Happy Holidays” works for me.

Let gentleness grow, even within our broad stroke criticisms. 

Please?

Nov

26

By admin

7,306 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Giving Thanks

How blessed is the Rampley/Feldtkeller crew?

Blessed beyond measure.  Blessed beyond imagining.

Taking time to soak in the significance of this blessing happens on Thanksgiving Day.  Gratitude spills forth.

Nov

22

By admin

7,247 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

100 Years!

On November 20 we celebrated my great-aunt’s 100th birthday! 

Rowena Clotine Davidson Barham lives in Jackson, Tennessee.  My husband, brothers, sister-in-law and I flew there to be with her on what the mayor declared Rowena Barham Day!  Rowena taught 1st grade for 32 years, was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, and is now a resident at Alexandria Place.

I asked Rowena, known as Aunt Teen to us, her secret for longevity.  After a thoughtful pause, she said it was to “treat everyone the same”.  At first I thought she had really told me her philosophy of life, but upon reflection I think that her answer is precisely what has led her to live so long.

By treating everyone with dignity and fairness, she has managed to diminish those negative feelings that lead to anger and anxiety, depression and guilt.  Aunt Teen’s only child, Lady Ester, died shortly after birth and she was advised to have no others.  She loved every child that came in her classroom.  Even now, at 100, she becomes most animated when she looks at a photo that includes children.  Her favorite card was one drawn by our grandsons.  (even more than her card from Barack and Michelle Obama)

Here is part of her ceremony:

            Rowena has shared her unique gifts with us…

            For 100 years!

            Rowena has brought a beautiful smile and a gracious spirit to us…

            For 100 years!

            Rowena has taught us how to love learning…

            For 100 years!

            Rowena has displayed an abiding faith in God…

            For 100 years!

            Rowena has extended hospitality and good cooking to us…

            For 100 years!

            We have loved and appreciated her…

            For 100 years!

Happy 100 years, Aunt Teen!

Oct

21

By admin

8,082 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Hospice Training Exercise

I have been attending training for volunteer work at Hospice of the Valley.  The 24-hour educational time is very well organized, informative, and uses best practices for adult ed.

One exercise provoked much emotion in me.  We took a pad of notes and first wrote on five sheets one-word values important to us.  Then we did the same with beloved activities and next possessions.  Finally we wrote the names of five people we dearly love.  Then the lights dimmed, soft music played, and a narrative ensued about finding a lump, having it diagnosed, watching it grow, going through treatment, and so forth.  Periodically we were asked to crumple and discard 1, 2, or 3 of the notes.  With only five left, someone moved behind us and took one without our permission.  At the end we had only two pieces of paper left from the twenty with which we began.

The exercise, of course, was about loss.

People with terminal diagnoses are losing everything, one loss at a time.  It could be argued that in such situations we can hold on to such things as our dignity or self-worth, but thinking realistically, you see how even these could diminish along with freedoms we take for granted. 

Victor Frankl wisely taught us that our responses remain our own in the face of overwhelming imprisonment of many kinds.  With this one exception, everything else can indeed be lost.

When we finished the exercise, I was aware in a new way of the emotion-filled journey accompanying our final transition, death.  I also had reflected on what is most important to me.  I had felt the unfairness of someone taking something away that I prized.  And I have new empathy for people facing end-of-life.

Hopefully this exercise will enable me to be a better hospice volunteer.  Try it for yourself.

Sep

13

By admin

8,114 Comments

Categories: celebrant musings

Fall is Here!

Fall is Here!

Finally….a break in the weather.  We can breathe.  Rain fell on my head today.  The desert air smells fresh.  I think I might need a sweater.  No?  It’s only in the 70’s?  Feels mighty cool to me.

The promise of fall envelopes me and I rejoice.  The second hottest August on record is past.  I just might go out and buy a set of 64 crayons!

Aug

15

By admin

1 Comment

Categories: celebrant musings

First Day of School

Today is the first day of public school for our youngest grandchild, Aidan.  His mom just sent a photo of him in his class and he’s holding play dough and smiling, perhaps with a forced smile.  I remember the first day of kindergarten for his dad and his aunt.  They were momentous days.

I’m guessing that many remember that day for their own child.  This big transition for kids is equally emotion-fraught for parents.  Once formal school begins, home immediately is less of a presence in shaping who these children become.  Their peers and their teachers loom large in their lives and parents must trust that the path will be smooth.

I remember crying all the way home from the bus stop on that long ago day because a big yellow whale had swallowed my child alive.  I could feel the ripping of our connections and had not yet achieved that trust that helps move through this change.

Being involved as a school volunteer, going over notes and papers that come home, helping with homework, asking questions and being available as needed when questions arise, all support that child in his or her new life.  Providing a consistent schedule, healthy meals and snacks, prompt bedtimes and time away from television and computer are also important.  Families and home are the foundation for venturing out into the big world.  They are a safe harbor, and the better we can calm the environment, the easier it will be for everyone.

Looking back, I think a ritual would have helped me travel through this new door more easily.  Acknowledging the transition publicly in some symbolic way would have helped.  I felt the same about the days when our children left for college.  I remember walking down the hall and feeling like my firstborn had died when she left home.  Perhaps that sounds melodramatic, but it’s honestly how I felt.

Hopefully I will be able to provide tools for others who traverse this path.  This is my new work.

Jul

10

By admin

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Categories: celebrant musings

Co-Creating

My last entry was three months ago.  In that time I retired from a job held 37 years, attended my first family reunion without my mom, and kept my promise to make “no lists” in June.

July with its relentless heat is upon us.  This is the month where everyone in Phoenix that can leaves town and the rest of us crawl into our shells—actually, into our air-conditioned, closed-up living spaces where we wish we could leave town.  Yet, I venture that this is a time for creativity and birthing new ideas.

The last two days I began fashioning an office at Shadow Rock for my celebrant practice.  Choosing which books to put on the shelves, discovering the internet connection is alive and well, framing my certificates—this is real!  It is happening!  It is exciting!  To be supported for a spiritual practice that serves the community of church folks AS WELL AS non-church folks is progressive and forward-thinking.  But I would expect no less from such an open and affirming church.

The best part of new office is that it is in a corner of the choir room and there is a piano!  I took a break this afternoon and banged out a piece David Wo and I wrote in another lifetime.  It’s about being co-creators with the Divine and captures how I feel right now.

I AM a co-creator and life is good.