To have this pop up in my Facebook newsfeed today, October 17th, of all days (it would have been our 12th wedding anniversary) well, you both said it all.
When my husband Hans died 5 1/2 years ago, a part of me died too. But knowing what the future would have been like for him (skin cancer, then colon cancer, then esophogeal cancer diagnoses) and seeing him literally waste away, be unable to eat, live in constant pain, be unable to speak and knowing it would only get worse, as difficult as it was to accept, there was a deep sense of gratitude that his suffering was over and an inexplicable awareness that finally, he was at peace and that we would be “together forever” some day.
Thank you, Rabbit and Bear and especially Canadian artist Tara Shannon who created this lovely image.
When we die …. ahhh. When each of us dies, may we go into the hearts of those who have loved us so that “we’re together, forever.”
A public, unasked-for explanation, fwiw, as to what helped make my decision to be vaccinated.
At this time in our history, I believe it is important for me to remember that as I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can, others do, as well. To that end, I am a member of a family, a community, a country, a planet and all of that is at great risk if the virus and its various strains are not eliminated or at the very least, severely reduced.
As someone who considers herself to be a spiritual person, I seek to “listen” to that “still, small Voice within” that guides my life which I believe is not a life to be lived in isolation, but to be lived in relationship with others.
It is concern for others that motivated me to set primary concern for myself aside, (possible side effects of the vaccination because of my compromised immune system) and be vaccinated, so that others may have a better opportunity to live.
That “still, small Voice within” reminds me of the importance of remembering that as I am in relationship with the Holy Other, the Creator, by whatever name one references the Source of All Being, I am in relationship with humanity and cannot live my life in isolation or selfishness.
This decision did not come lightly. But it is a decision that was made in peace and continues to bring me peace.
This past week … our local hospital had more COVID cases in our Emerg than it had at the height of the virus and every single one of those people was unvaccinated. This past week … a nine month old baby was diagnosed with COVID in this community. This past week … a children’s day camp admitted that children (ages 5-10) and multiple staff became ill and were diagnosed with COVID. Children under the age of 12 cannot (yet) be vaccinated.
The reality for me is – I am in relationship with each of those people, by virtue of our common humanity. I believe that to lean on my compromised immune system as ‘excuse’ (aka a reason for not getting vaccinated) is not kind or loving or respectful. I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can. And I want others to enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and live as long and healthy a life as they can, so my decision to be vaccinated was not a difficult one.
I do not want to be a carrier of the virus to anyone. So I made the decision. And, I hope and pray, others will make a decision to be vaccinated so that the chances that they will be a carrier of the virus to anyone – me included – are greatly reduced.
We can’t change the minds of all who are opposed to getting vaccinated or think the pandemic is a hoax, but maybe the following will give encouragement and be a reminder that love shared with one another can impact the hearts of family and friends … one at a time.
This is a true story shared by a friend. Though the actual conversation wasn’t recorded, it’s close to what transpired and the outcome actually happened.
He said “I want to come and visit. I miss my family! How about I come next weekend?”
She replied “We’d love to see you. But, you know that we are vaccinated, have an eight year old who cannot be vaccinated. Mom is 79 and we’ve decided no one comes into our home who isn’t fully vaccinated. Let us know when you’re fully vaccinated and we’ll find a date that works. We’re looking forward to seeing you again, too.”
He said “I don’t believe in that pandemic stuff. It’s just like the flu. I don’t need to get vaccinated.”
She replied “It’s your decision. We’d love to see you, but won’t until you are fully vaccinated.”
He said … after a long silence “Are you serious?”
She replied … “Yes.”
He said “I’m family. You don’t want to see me? What about Thanksgiving and Christmas and Mom’s 80th birthday?”
She replied “It’s your decision.”
He’d had a similar conversation with her husband, many times and continued to refuse to get vaccinated. This time was somehow different.
Several days later, he phoned and said “Okay. I’ve made the appointment. I’m getting my first vaccination on Monday. Let’s talk about a visit at Thanksgiving.”
And that is how it can be done. One way to change hearts and minds … one at a time.
This is going on my front door in the morning because if I were a parent or grandparent with young children … or had a loved one living with me who had a compromised immune system this is what I would want to put at my front door
And besides … I am my own ‘loved one with a compromised immune system.’
I welcome visitors on the deck, at the front door, out for a walk, but not in my home at this time unless they are fully vaccinated and even then, I’m putting a hold on that for the time being.
I don’t live in fear I live in reality. And the reality is that even being fully vaccinated, not everyone is fully protected and could be a carrier of the virus.
This virus is not only spreading, but mutating.
Trying to keep my mind off the terrible news about Afghanistan, Haiti, people dying from the heat, floods, tornadoes, fires (too close to home this night), and the overloaded hospitals due to unvaccinated people become ill with the virus, I decided to “create something.
This. And it will go on my front door in the morning after I laminate it.
And if you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for our world and in particular the people in harm’s way. If you don’t believe in the power of prayer, please send gentle, kind, loving, positive thoughts their way.
fleetingly the years fly by marked by flames atop woven pillars so many so fast so soon while I ponder the aches and stiffness and forgetfulness and at the same time rejoice for I am here to see the candles flames atop woven pillars
Respect. Songs have been written about it. Parents teach their children about it. People expect it.
But what is it – what does it involve – exactly?
How about “regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others”?
Bishop Greg Rickel (8th bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, WA), listed his “Ten Rules for Respect.”
From what I understand, he really does follow these rules. Wouldn’t our world be a much kinder and safer place if everyone followed them
If all leaders (be they Bishops, CEO’s, politicians, office managers, store owners, parents, etc.), showed respect using Bishop Rickel’s rules, people would feel supported, encouraged, trusted.
The cycle of respect in the businesses, constituencies, congregations they serve, and families, would keep flowing.
Here are Bishop Rickel’s Ten Rules for Respect which are a model of behavior for us all in our interactions with others. All that’s needed is to put our own name in place of “Greg”.
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me (I’ll do the same for you.)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say “Let’s go to Greg together. I am sure he will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you).
5. Be careful how you interpret me. I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless a) the person is going to harm himself/herself b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you.” I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (she does it better anyway).
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things, so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led), speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone or breaking a confidence, I will.
It was near the beginning of the pandemic … most people were social distancing and mask-wearing.
Standing in line outside the health food store, the woman ahead of me were social distancing and wearing masks when a fellow appeared … no social distancing … no mask and kept getting closer and closer to me. I asked him to please step back to the place marked on the ground so we could be social distancing. And that’s when it began. “Oh, you want me to step back because of COVID19? That’s all ridiculous stuff.” He was adamant that there was nothing to be concerned about. “Even if COVID19 is real – there’s Hydroxychloroquine.” He was belligerent. He began shouting that the tv station he watched and the medical doctor in the US who had been interviewed on one of their recent shows, had since been silenced because they were telling the truth
He shouted “Who to believe?” That was the Million Dollar Question then – and now.
“I’m not afraid” he said. “I don’t believe this COVID19 is real.”
When it was my turn to enter the store, I noticed that he entered shortly after and overheard him say “What do you have that will increase my immune system? I don’t want to get sick.”
So much for thinking COVID19 is “ridiculous stuff” and disbelieving COVID19 is real. He doesn’t want to get sick. He doesn’t want to die.
But, he’s not going to wear a mask. He doesn’t observe social distancing. But he was in a health store looking for “something” that will keep him healthy and increase his immune system. Harumpf! How about wearing a mask and observing social distancing, sir? That will keep you healthy.
It was a simple, informal, unexpected conversation with the check-out gal at the local grocery store.
She was wearing an “Every Child Matters” bright orange shirt. I commented on it and said that I was sorry I wasn’t able to get to the rally on the weekend. She said she couldn’t get there either. And then she said “I’ll never forget the children and am grateful for my mom.”
I asked what, in particular, brought her that feeling of gratitude and she said … “She made us go outdoors every day and shout as loud as we could.”
Neighbours would ask the children why they were shouting and their reply was always the same “Mom told us to.”
The grocery story clerk never understood ‘why’. She just did it. And then she continued … “Mom also made us run as fast as we could to the corner store and back and said she was timing us. Each time, we had to at least do it as fast as we did it the day before and try to beat our own record.”
Again, she never understood ‘why’. She just did it.
When the store clerks’s mother died, she never had the opportunity to ask her mother ‘why’ and didn’t think about either of those incidents again … until the first group of unmarked graves of Residential School children was discovered.
And then she realized … her mother was teaching her and her siblings what to do if the government came to take them to the Residential School. Shout. Run. Shout. Run.
Stories that are emerging from the students of the Residential Schools speak of children who disappeared and were never heard of again. Many of those children were quiet and didn’t run away.
Most residential children who shouted and tried to run away were punished. But they didn’t disappear.
The grocery store clerk wishes she could speak with her mother and thank her for the lessons of shouting and running. But she can’t. Her mother died.
So instead, she often wears something with the colour orange on it.
Today, it was the orange “Every Child Matters” t shirt featuring four sets of hands encircling the words ‘Every Child Matters’ against an orange back drop, created by Andy Everson of the K’ómoks First Nation in British Columbia, Canada and that tshirt sparked a conversation about “Lessons Mothers Teach Their Children” that I will never forget.
I remember the day before the pandemic. She was in her mid-80’s, was wearing beige slacks, beige top and black jacket with a black purse and black shoes and looking at summer tops and slacks.
The clothing she was looking at? Black sweater, beige slacks, black top. I could “see” her in lovely pastels, but all she was looking at was … more of the same black and beige.
I quietly asked “What do you think of this colour?” Her reply – “So lovely for you, dear. But not for me.” She had given me an opening – and so I gently asked – “Why not?” Her reply – “I’m old.”
I picked up two pastel tops – a lilac and a peach and asked her to come with me to the mirror. I think she thought I was going to try them on and wanted her opinion. She was half right. I wanted her opinion. Not for me – but for her.
I tucked the tops under her chin and she smiled. Then she looked at me and said “I’m too old.” And then she looked again. And smiled.
We chatted a bit. She confided that she hated wearing black and beige, but those were what old people wore and she didn’t want to have people think she was trying to be young again. And then, after she held up the coloured shirts a few more times and could see they brought colour to her face (maybe it was my imagination, but she stood straighter when they were under her chin), before I knew it, she had purchased them both.
As she went out the store with a lovely, big smile on her face wearing the peach-coloured shirt, she said “A difference – you have made a difference.”
Nawww, it wasn’t me – it was her. In the moment she decided to wear colour, she decided to enjoy her life.
Those colours really suited her. And yes, I’m *sure* she was walking straighter as she walked out of the store.
Limits. What limitations do we put on ourselves that stop us from living life to the fullest? Are we self-critical … of our self? … our art? … our … ? Do we compare ourselves to another? Have we said or thought “I can’t do this because …”? I know I have.
And each time I catch myself placing limits on myself, I think of this wonderful octogenarian and imagine her, living her life in full colour. Literally. 🙂
Limitations. Those others put on us. Those we put on others. Those we put on ourselves.