Gratitude (Spiritual Journey First Thursday)

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Image: Pixabay

A few weeks ago I attended the Global Leadership Summit (by simulcast). One of the speakers was Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook and author of the book Lean In). This gorgeous young woman looked like she had it all, and had it all together. Then she shared the story of her young husband’s sudden death while they were on vacation. He wasn’t even ill.

She was understandably devastated and paralyzed by grief. She told how slowly she worked her way through this tragedy to a new normal. Her therapist, Mark, was a big help, especially when he directed her mournful thoughts away from self-pity to gratitude (e.g. “Yes, your husband is gone, but you still have your children”). He challenged her to recall and write down, at the end of each day, three moments of joy from that day.

This Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me in the unusual spot of seeing my husband through surgery. Every time my mind goes to a negative place concerning this, I am trying to take Mark’s advice to Sheryl, and redirect it toward gratitude… which really isn’t that hard!

1. It’s elective surgery. Now that medical science has figured out how to replace hips, walking with a painful arthritis-degenerated hip is no longer a life sentence. And we’ve been waiting for this appointment for almost a year.

2. It’s publicly funded. We do our share of complaining about our country’s nationalized medical system (inefficiencies, rationing of treatment, long wait times). But when it comes to having to go to the hospital, it’s reassuring that it won’t bankrupt us.

3. General good health. I sat with hubby through his pre-admission interview with the nurse. As he answered question after medical question with “No” (no heart attacks, no strokes, no kidney disease, no diabetes etc.) it struck me how blessed he and I have been with good health.

4. Surgery is local, so no long drives to visit and fetch him home.

5. The hope of pain-free walking again—soon, we hope!

As I think of the days of rehabilitation ahead for him (I know a bit about what’s involved because I broke my hip in 2014 and also had to do the walker / cane / raised toilet seat / bath bench / hard to climb in and out of the car thing) I cling to my life verse for thought hygiene and reassurance:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses al understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6,7 NKJV (emphasis added).

 

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, a once-a-month look at life’s spiritual side by a collection of blogging friends who met (mostly) on Poetry Friday. Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is hosted today by Karen at Irene’s blog Live Your Poem.

Teach me

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As I contemplate “finding joy” (our Spiritual Journey Thursday topic this month), it occurs to me how little it takes for me to lose mine. A stretch of bad weather, a cold that hangs on, misplacing my things, upcoming obligations that worry and stress me… These and many more easily grab my attention and, if I let them, steal my joy.

On the weekend I visited a friend who, a week ago, had a heart attack. Now mending from bypass surgery, her attitude of noticing all the positive things and being grateful for them is, I think, a template for retaining joy through bad times or good.

She was perfectly peaceful about relinquishing her classroom to a substitute for the rest of the year. Her husband was laid off from work a while ago, but because of that he was free to be with her in this distant city through this time. Her doctor happened to come by her room as her heart was misbehaving, witnessed what was happening, and pushed up her surgery. Her daughter, passing through on holidays visited the night before surgery and calmed her mother’s jitters using her doula skills. My friend has a strong faith and interpreted these things as evidences of the care of a loving heavenly Father.

For all of us—my friend navigating through her life-and-death health challenge to me with my petty annoyances, I believe finding joy comes in seeing and focusing on the good in the situation and being grateful for what is, rather than wishing for something that isn’t.

I leave you with a short prayer that I wrote some years ago but still need to pray:

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Image: Pixabay

teach me

the sweet leisureliness
of being a lily
the implicit trust
of my child-hand
in Yours
the unlikely joy
that sings sparrow-songs
even when I’m on the ground

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted this week by Margaret Simon at her blog Reflections on the Teche.

Christmas Snapshots #haikuforhealing

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Though I haven’t joined in on Poetry Friday for a couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed reading the #haikuforhealing (Mary Lee Hahn’s idea)  that keep popping up in my Twitter feed and various blogs this December.

Today I’m  bringing my little haiku side-dish to the potluck.

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Image scanned from an old Christmas card

Christmas Snapshots #haikuforhealing

Road choked with cars.
She signals merge—let her in…
That’s the spirit!

Smell of poppycock
on my early morning walk—
only at Christmas.

🎼 Chestnuts roasting…
O come all ye faithful 🎹
I’ll be home. 🎶

Christmas Eve—all here,
lists ticked off, fridge full, feet hurt.
Soak in candlelight.

Trash bins overflow
tissue, Santa wrap, packing…
We are so blessed!

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Now, a Merry Christmas,  Happy Hanukkah (or whatever winter, or summer [if you’re down-under] holiday you celebrate) to all!

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

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To Skin

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Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbors!

In my search for a poem of gratitude today, I came across “To Skin” (which I wrote some years ago but don’t believe I ever made public—at least not here). It reminds us of one thing we have to be grateful for which, though all around us, is easy to take for granted.

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Graphic from Pixabay.com

To Skin

Here’s to you
millimeter-thin layer cake
dermis, epidermis, hypodermis
dyed in the color of my race.

So tidily you enfold
crimson river of blood
yellow fat, pink muscle
grey bone, palette of reds—
burgundy liver to scarlet lung.

Body-sized organ of translucent turf
you possess an intelligence
that knows the difference
between lips and soles
lids and ears,
multi-tasks the switchboard
of smooth and rough, blazing and frigid
thrill and ouch, burn and itch.

Impervious to water
soft armor against malevolent
microbe and virus
yet vulnerable,
you blush
under sun and wind
bleed when cut
shrivel and distort when burned
swell, sweat, weep, toughen
discolor and scar.
Plump and smooth when new
you age into crepe, wrinkles, folds
jowls, doubles, triples and aprons
but still you blanket and protect.

So here’s to you
my lifetime-guaranteed
layer of cling-wrap,
boundary
and, till I reach eternity,
outline of my dust-to-dust
identity.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Carol at Carols Corner.

Dancing in the Reflections (review)

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DancingDancing in the Reflections by Patricia Mussolum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Dancing in the Reflections, Patricia Mussolum rejoices in the beauty of nature and the simple pleasures of home. Dancing is full of stories of God’s simple gifts to her—like an armful of lilacs when she was hankering for a small bouquet, or the assurance, through a deer, a fawn, and rabbit, that God loved her on a day she felt like a failure. Any of us who have collected such moments of our own will find ourselves saying “yes,” and “yes” again as we read this memoir.

Mussolum adds to the significance of her stories by finding spiritual lessons in them. Her knowledge of the Bible and love for it are obvious. Inevitably she casts thanks back to God for the ordinary “miracles” that once filled the box in her living room as a collection of notes, and now make up the contents of this book.

As I read her descriptive stories I felt like I was having a visit with a warm and upbeat friend. The short chapters would make this book a good choice for devotional or waiting-room reading.

Don’t be surprised, though, if Mussolum’s recollections get you to do more than just read. They may have you recalling God’s goodness in your life—and fattening a journal with your own danceable remembrances.

View all my reviews

Earth Day Prayer (NPM ’16-Day 23)

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“The generosity of green…” (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

Earth Day Prayer

O Creator of the Earth
from its systems and creatures
may I learn and make my own

the faithfulness of the sun
the inevitability of day-night rhythms
the wisdom of cycles

the faith of a seed
the determination of a shoot
the generosity of green

the persistence of water
the kindness of down
the trust of a lily

the song of a sparrow
the joy of a dolphin
the grace of a fish

the patience of a snail
the cooperation of ants
the love of a dog

the simplicity of milk
the sweetness of honey
the versatility of grain

the mystery and fulfillment of Word
the adequacy of bread
the celebration of wine

Amen

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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n response to yesterday’s question at Wonderopolis: “How can you make Earth a better place?” I thought of all the things we can learn from created things. However, for me the purpose and destiny of Earth can’t be separated from its Creator, His incarnation, and the privilege we earthlings have to bear witness to His place in it all.

Gratitude (NPM ’16-Day 13)

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

I had a lovely experience of gratitude expressed to me last weekend.

A bit of backstory.

Years ago, it became customary for our church’s small groups to discuss Sunday’s sermon in their meetings. The church office provided sermon notes for that. In February of 2011, the pastor responsible for small groups asked me if I would write the notes, which included making up discussion questions and writing a prayer at the end.

Since only a few knew who did them, I got very little feedback. I wasn’t even sure they were being used. When we had a pastoral change in 2014 I thought that maybe the new pastors would release me from my responsibility. But no. The new pastor in charge of adult ministries wanted me to soldier on. So I did.

And I’ve been perfectly fine working in obscurity. I love Paul’s description of the church as a body where each of us plays a part, some visible, some hidden. In fact, I rather liked being a bit hidden—though I did explain to those sitting around me in church Sunday mornings why I brought my laptop and typed furiously through the sermon.

All that changed on Sunday—actually Saturday night, when I got a Direct Message on Twitter from our lead pastor, saying some nice things about those notes, asking me how long I had been doing them, and saying that he was going to encourage their use for his current sermon series. And so on Sunday morning, pastor spilled the beans on me and those notes, and I got a congregation’s worth of applause for five years of note-taking and -making.

It was lovely to get the thanks and recognition. But it also felt awkward—even dangerous (for I know how easily pride creeps in). Plus it was nice when no one knew who was responsible if there were typos or the questions were dumb. That era is over now I guess.

Because I’m writing a poem a day this month—and when you do that, everything you experience becomes potential poem material—the poem below was my piece for last Sunday. I wasn’t going to post it, but then I didn’t have anything suitable for Spiritual Journey Thursday, which seems like the right time to share it. (The form is a triolet.)

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Photo: pixabay.com

Gratitude

My name was mentioned today and there was applause
I was thanked and honored for work done backstage.
I’m glad I had no part in this because

my name was mentioned today and there was applause.
Now I’ll have to watch i’s and t’s and avoid faux pas
This incident is a kind of turning the page.

My name was mentioned today and there was applause.
It was nice to get thanked for something done backstage.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

james 4:10 1 Corinthians 12:14-26

(The notes I write are now online, in case you’re curious, on this page.)