I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Blessed to be married to the love of my life, as singer Tom Jones sang, love was “in the air” in our home on a daily basis.
The ‘gentle-giant-of-a-born-in-Holland-man’, Hans van der Werff and I met late in life. Friendship grew, and as love developed, it deepened, day by day. Life was a joy to be fully celebrated, shared and loved! And then having survived skin cancer and colon cancer, esophageal cancer attacked, quickly metastasized and he died June 26, 2016.
Thanks to memories of our ‘together times’ (our travels, laughter, wonderful conversations, moments of silence and oneness, creative Studio-times, our mutual curiosity about life, the playfulness approach to life we shared, and the love which was expressed in so many ways), he is and will always be alive in my mind and heart.
And yet … and yet … while memories are wonderful, the sadness that accompanies grief prevails, and I ask myself “how, when, where can I continue to live a life where peace prevails and ‘love is in the air,’ now that he is no longer by my side?”
I have been a life-long, firm believer that there is always at least one thing at the end of the day (even on the very difficult days of life) for which I can be grateful. An attitude of gratitude helped both Hans and I through some rough times in recent years.
So as I pondered my self-imposed question, I realized that the answer lay in the continuation of an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in my life: the big, the small, the magical, the ordinary, the extraordinary, the Mystical, the seen and unseen, the known and unknown.
In the midst of grief, of loss, of sadness, I choose life.
I choose to hold fast to the joy-filled memories. I choose to remember the hope that the grief-clouds will lift. I choose to acknowledge the glimpses of that precious ‘peace that passes understanding.’ I choose to have an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in my life. I choose to be a container of peace and love. And I choose to believe that (as Dame Julian of Norwich penned) “All shall be well. All shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.”
I like Dame Julian’s words. They aren’t namby-pamby-words, saying “suck it up, buttercup.” Rather, they are a pointer … a pointer to the future. Whether that future is here on planet earth (or in the afterlife / third dimension / by-whatever-name), “all” really “shall be” well and ‘wellness’ shall become a reality. I am grateful for much, so very much. I believe that abiding in a life where “love is in the air” is a matter of intention, focus, gratitude and that in doing so, the memory of my loved one will be honoured and I the grief will begin to dissipate.
Whenever there is loss, at any level, in any situation (be that in our personal lives or on the global scene), there is grief. We must not deny our feelings time and space to surface. We must allow ourselves to enter and experience the grief, for in doing so, healing will come.
May “love in the air” be in thoughts, words, actions, in some small way each and every day in every corner of this aching world.
© June Maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
Hans van der Werff www.soulistry.com/hans
Through a cloud of sadness,
Long before I knew him, our paths began to intersect.
Some call it “fate”; some call it “co-incidence.”
We called it “Divine Love.”
In Montreal, he and his family lived
about three blocks away from my family.
In North Vancouver, he lived a few miles away from me.
On the Sunshine Coast, his family had a summer cottage
in the community I worked.
We never met in any of those places.
And when we met, by happenstance at a Christmas Fair,
it wasn’t “love” or “sparks,”
it was simply a meeting of two people who shared common interests
and who began to grow in friendship.
And then ‘love’ entered the scene
… not between the two of us (just yet)
but through a rescue dog –
his little King Charles spaniel named Shandy.
As the years passed and the friendship he and I shared, grew.
‘Love’ entered the spaces
that had been empty for far-too-long.
He asked me to marry him.
But, I said “No, not yet.”
Then he asked again
and again and again.
One day, he phoned and asked me to go
for an afternoon drive with him
… we often did that.
He came by with Shandy, picked me up and off we went.
And on a bench overlooking the ocean at Qualicum Beach, again, he asked me to marry him.
And this time, I knew that the obstacles we had talked about were nothing if we faced them together.
I realized that his love for me was so deep
as was mine for him
and that spending the rest of our lives together,
no matter how long, how short,
was part of “Divine Love.”
Six weeks later
he had sold his house; I had sold my house;
a new home was purchased
and we were married, October 17, 2009.
It was a day marked by ‘clouds,’
But we knew that we would face any and all clouds together.
We were the love of each other’s lives.
Laughter filled our home; deep conversations filled our home.
Joy and peace and hope filled our home.
Divine Love filled our home.
And this morning, my beloved took his leave of this Planet Earth
but never, never ever, takes his leave of my heart.
He joins others in that Great-Scriptorium-in-the-Sky,
and is singing in that lovely voice of his
while calligraphically-rendering the six words of his reality:
“It is well with my soul.”
Through a cloud of sadness,
Rest in peace my beloved, Hans.
Rest in peace.
<Hans van der Werff April 29, 1929 – June 26, 2016>
© june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
Gifts – what are they?
Things contained in pretty paper?
For many years, I kept a “Gratitude Jar.”
Each day of the year
I noted something on a piece of paper
for which I was grateful
… some thing
… some person
… some situation
… some memory
… some blessing
even though I didn’t always use the word ‘gift’.
there are many ‘gifts’ in our lives
– the gift of talent
in a shared piece of art, pre-cooked meal/baking, landscaping, etc.
– the gift of ‘presence’
given to a friend who is going through a difficult time
– the gift of thoughtfulness
expressed in a handwritten letter or card to a senior
– the gift of time
offered to a friend who needs a break from being caregiver
for a sick child, an aging parent, an ailing partner/spouse,
– the gift of patience
expressed by ‘response’ rather than ‘reaction’.
And then there are the gifts of:
… breath … being loved … imagination
… mobility … friendship … hearing
… faith … sight … freedom … joy
… taste … education … touch … intellect
… creativity … ability to reason
… health … insight … love
… and life itself!
May we never lose sight of the boundless gifts around us.
nor lose sight that each of us can be gift to another.
© june maffin SOUISTRY www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/facebook
Okay, lesson learned …
Next year, the cherry tree will be have CD’s hanging from the branches
or the tree will be draped with netting.
Decided against doing either on this year.
The birds got to the cherries before we did.
One solitary cherry.
was left for us.
Next year, that cherry tree
will be protected
… in some way!
© Photo & Text june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
Has this ever happened to you?
Life is going along – a few hiccups here, a few hiccups there –
but then a curveball comes out of nowhere!
Has it ever happened to you? Of course it has.
Life wouldn’t be life without some curveballs.
Sometimes the curveballs are such that they are predictable.
Sometimes they are anything but predictable.
… when the vet said, “It’s time. There is no cure for your beloved pet, only suffering,”
and you know you have to do what you have to do.
But you don’t want to do it.
… the driver in the car behind the woman on a bike ride after dinner who was blinded by the sun.
He ran into her. She died and he lived knowing he killed another human being.
… when the symptoms began gradually but weren’t recognized as “symptoms”
until it became clear that something-wasn’t-quite-right;
the testing and waiting for more tests began.
Then diagnosis – the big “C” … or
No one goes through life without a curveball or two … or twenty-two … or
But life isn’t about the *number* of curve balls.
Life is about adjusting our perspective and
… not letting them define us
… not letting them destroy us.
© june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry
“Miss Pudgy Angel – it’s time for you to come and lift us out of the fear many are feeling these days.”
Many are feeling fear these days – fear of terrorists, fear of flying, fear of a soon-to-be-pronounced medical diagnosis, fear of an unknown political future – especially lately.
I wish I could say that I’ve never been fearful, but I remember a terrifying plane ride when the plane heaved and starting falling, luggage began to come out of overhead bins, and people screamed. My hands were in a death grip on the arms of the seat. My breathing was shallow and swift as my mind raced through possible scenarios. I was scared – big time.
“God, help” I heard myself whisper as the crying around me seemed to increase.
And then, “she” appeared.
Miss Pudgy Angel.
Well, that’s what I called her when I was given her as a gift many years earlier. She sat on my mantle for years and years and I delighted in her presence and in her sweet and gentle smile. Why I thought of her at that moment, I didn’t know, but I was grateful. Her image brought a smile to my face, and for just an instant, my concentration was on her – not on the fear.
I soon found myself imagining Miss Pudgy Angel with three of her pudgy angel friends … she was underneath the nose of the place … two of her friends were under each wing of the plane … and one was under the plane’s tail. Each was working to stabilize the plane and help the plane climb back into its proper flying pattern.
The more I visualized Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends, it seemed that there was less and less space for the fear to take over my thoughts. Slowly, I realized that my breathing had slowed down, my grip on the armrest had lightened, and I was smiling!
Those four pudgy angels were ridiculously funny! They huffed and puffed and pushed their pudgy arms into place. And as I continued to visualize the four of them under the plane, lifting it, stabilizing it, the more I became aware that the heaving of the plane had slowed and my fear was dissipating.
Do I understand what happened in that moment in the sky? Not for a second.
Of course, there was no Miss Pudgy Angel or her pudgy-angel-friends underneath the plane.
And yet … and yet …
Do I believe in the possibility of angels?
As twenty-first century people living in a western culture, we’ve inherited a philosophy that says “knowledge comes from a combination of our intellect plus our five senses. If we can’t touch, taste, see, hear, smell or reason it, then its existence is suspect.” So it’s not surprising that giving serious attention to the existence of angels is difficult. If angels are part of the realm of the Spirit, that’s the realm of the unknown and the mysterious and it’s not a world to which many can easily relate. But in the Book of Job in the Old Testament these words give rise to the possible reality: “God does speak. Now, one way. Now another, though we may not perceive it…”
To believe that there is a God, a Holy Other … to believe that such a Holy One speaks to us … and to believe that such communication happens through the form of an angel … well, that takes an openness – an openness to the spiritual dimension and to Mystery.
Do i believe in the possibility of angels? However angels appear … in human form, in our imagination, on canvas in a painting, or even in a tiny little statue … after my encounter in that moment-in-the-sky, the possibility of the existence of angels exists for me. So yes, I do, now, believe in angels. And many times since that moment-in-the-sky, I have uttered/prayed/whispered words of gratitude … “Thank you for your angels.”
Were the pilot and co-pilot, crew, air traffic controllers, Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends angels that day? I don’t know. I just know that for that brief terrifying moment, when I visualized Miss Pudgy Angel and her friends lifting the plane, as the pilot, co-pilot, crew and air traffic controllers were working hard to stabilize the plane and get it back on its flight patter, I was being lifted out of fear. And for that, I am grateful. “Thank you, Holy One, for your angels.”
Text and Photo © june maffin www.soulistry.com www.facebook.com/soulistry