Piecing the Promise

Piecing the Promise (A Form Poem)

American Marriage
Piecing life, Piecing memories
Colorful, creative, meaningful, honest Commitment
Stitched, patterned, diverse, thematic, traditional Quilt
Thoughtfully Covenant
Sacramentally Couple
Each piece within the Quilt leads to the quality of the bound whole 
American Quilt
***************************

This was the form poem that I wrote before writing the editorial piece below. It was based on thoughts I had, back 25 years ago, after watching the movie ‘How to Make an American Quilt’. I had many conflicting feelings at the time after having been abandoned with dependent children and having to re-build my life around the after-shocks of that event. I was looking for honesty, similar to what the main character, Finn, was looking for. I was looking for a pathway back to trust and a belief in Love and Commitment in Marriage. The movie can still be found on AmazonPrime for a small rental fee of $3.99: I watched it again, after 25 years, and still find it to be an honest portrayal of conflicts surrounding the decision to marry. I believe in the lifetime commitment of marriage and I also believe it’s an aspiration that many might strive toward yet not be able to achieve. Most of all I believe in Love. Marriage isn’t necessary in achieving this commitment of wanting the ultimate good for a loved one. I’ve had relationships with a man since my 20 year marriage and those relationships helped me to learn about life and myself. Serial marriages aren’t necessary to achieve this higher good for yourself and others. (Let me know if you have any thoughts you’d like to add to this reflection.)

How to Make an American Quilt

“But how do you merge into this thing called COUPLE, and still keep a little room for yourself?
And how do we even know if we’re only supposed to be with one person for the rest of our lives?”

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in seeking the answer to these questions asked by Finn, Winona Ryder’s character in the movie, How to Make an American Quilt. The past two decades have seen many different interpretations of what marriage can mean; leaving a cynicism about the value of lifelong commitment. Lifetime commitment seems next to impossible, and ‘serial monogamy’ is a common thread running through today’s society. A young woman seeks honesty and openness about this institution which forms society’s tradition for male and female relationship; for she has come to fear that the individual cost to herself within the institution might be too high.

Piecing together the promises made in a marriage resembles piecing together the squares in a quilt. They can be joined together without thought, without intimacy and continuity, or they can be joined together in a way that becomes sacrament, a living covenant of people sharing in the process of creating the memories and life stories found within its border. What is the future of lifelong marriage? Is it an impossible dream? Or can we, both women and men, come to value its meaning in a new way – carefully selecting the quality pieces of tradition while interweaving the basic human right to be ourselves, without apology or guilt, and to be treated as equals.

How to Make an American Quilt invites the honesty and openness of all those involved in the couple’s life. Each patch within the quilt represents the story of the older women in the group-their joys and sorrows, their failures to stand up for themselves when exploited and, most important of all, their ability to forgive and move forward in their lives. The experienced quilter, Anna, reminds the group that this is a Love Quilt, a Story Quilt of the Life Before, and none of the squares can detract from the others. ‘We will follow the rules of design!’, she cautions. The young novice quilter, her daughter, poses the paradox of marriage, ‘Sometimes you have to break the rules to keep the work alive.’ For some the commitment ends because one partner removes themselves from the pattern of the quilt; and for some the stitches remain connected, and a new life stage begins to unfold. Emma, who has lived in a marriage of broken rules for thirty years, is ready to leave yet finds a way to forgive and move forward with her life.

“Young lovers seek perfection –

Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.”

Image from Pixabay

The art of sewing shreds together needs the guidance of those who say they value marriage and families. Too often those who struggle with piecing together the promises made in marriage feel alone in their journey. There is a silence within our religions where we are taught that marriage is a living sacrament – a sign of God’s presence in the world.

In the past, marriage and family have been seen as a ‘woman’s thing’. It should be the woman who ‘keeps the nest, while the man fluffs his feathers’. Today’s woman seeks a mutual freedom within a marriage which doesn’t disregard the other, and she hopes that the man in her lift will be a co-creator in this new perspective of marriage. The ‘American Quilt’ can only be strengthened when both of the stitchers are equal participants in all that brings new creativity, color and design to the finished piece.

Finn asks the question, and from the open and honest responses of those around her, she is given strength to follow her own good insights and to follow her heart.

‘I know our marriage has as good a chance of being wonderful as it does of missing the mark. However, I’m banking on our love for each other to weigh a bit heavier on the wonderful side. As Anna says about making quilts, ‘You have to choose your combination carefully. The right choices will enhance your quilt. The wrong choices will dull its colors and hide their original beauty.’

Love is not affectionate feelings, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.

C. S. Lewis

Image from Pixabay ~ wedding ring pattern.

Pandemic 2020-21 ~ June

Looks Like We Made It

I know Barry Manilow didn’t have COVID-19 or the Pandemic in mind when he wrote this song. It’s the first song that came to mind when I thought about writing my June post. All the social distancing and not being able to hug the ones we love. All the hand washing and mask wearing that will probably be a good idea to continue for some of us. Have we really made it?!!

And some of us didn’t make it! Some 600,000 plus deaths in the United States! So for some of us the Pandemic took its toll, in more ways than one. The losses are great and it looks like it will be a long recovery.

Then there’s the flurry of reports of the Delta variant, sounding ominously similarly to the surges of COVID-19 in the past. We continue to be on alert. It’s not over. Europe is having second thoughts about lifting lockdown restrictions as these more contagious variants are steadily increasing. This seems deja vu for how things progressed a year ago.

Who knows what the future holds? We each live our lives under the shadow of death no matter what age we are. This pandemic has shown us that. All the more reason to reflect on how we want to use our time in this post-pandemic re-entry. I wish that my beautiful, loving friend, Pat, was here to see us get to this point. Hope carried us through up to the point of both of us being fully vaccinated. And then death entered through the back door and took him away from me. I wish we were able to take that ride through the Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive again.

“Life will end—indeed. And that realization should affect the decisions I make each day. But rather than causing me to throw in the towel and give up on life, this shadow of death will spark hope and resolve and passion to spend each remaining day of my life making the most of it.” Joshua Becker ~ Becoming Minimalist

I miss you Pat

Pandemic 2020-21 ~ May

The Finish Line???

“Today is a great day for America, ………“Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”

“We’ve gotten this far — please protect yourself until you get to the finish line.”

~President Biden~

The numbers; the cases, the deaths and the hospitalizations have suddenly plunged here in the United States. And in what seemed to be an about face, the CDC declared no more masks for those who are fully vaccinated. Forty Percent of the nation has been vaccinated. And the rest, for various reasons, remain unvaccinated and continue to be at risk of infection. Along with the announcement came confusion.

On May 13th, 2021, there were 39,825 new cases here in America and 791 new deaths (Worldometer.com):

~Thinking of India ~

********************

So, as the confusion settles, it comes down to continuing to do what you need to do to feel safe. I’ll be wearing a mask in situations where I’m coming in contact with others. This is my season of rest. My time to slow down. So ‘back to normal’ for me is what it has been even through this pandemic. I’m easing up of my expectations for myself. A season of rest which is nice at this stage of my life.

Ways to accept and lean into a season of rest:

https://ericalayne.co/7-ways-to-accept-and-lean-into-a-season-of-rest/?fbclid=IwAR2oueExGi4ZuibTX3nbvFA7-gtfMPsmTECE2OzgRKiEXcueSBjZEDGPynM

*****************************************

~Allow~ 

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
Containing a tornado.
Dam a stream and it will create a new channel.

Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry you to a higher ground.
The only safety lies in letting it all in –
The wild and the weak: fear, fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of the heart, or sadness veils your vision with despair,
Practice becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your known way of being,
The whole world is revealed to your new eyes.

By: Danna Faulds

Grateful for Kindness

-Kindnessis a powerful reminder that behind all the negativity and malice, there lies goodnessthat has the powerto change the world.- (1)

This quote reminds me that there is always hope.  There’s so much unkindness and hatred in the world, and yet I still believe in our innate goodness.  Life is good and I’m grateful for kindness.  We may not always live up to that kindness – and we keep on trying.  

The poem, “Children Learn What They Live”, always makes a lasting impression on me every time I read it.  Just beginning to change with this one poem would give this old world a jump-start on the road to becoming kinder.  None of us have had a ‘perfect’ childhood, and some have even seen abuse in their lives, yet we can all find threads of kindness along the way that we can be grateful for:

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

*From Psychology Today*

********************

83-Yr-Old Was Too “Terrified” To Ride Escalator, Until A Kind Young Man Took His Arm.

“A little redemption for the suffering human soul.

The older man was paused at the top of an escalator and a few people started gathering waiting to get on. It was clear he was feeling unsure and this young man offered the simplest kindness: an outreached arm and a ‘can I help you on, sir?’

He quietly started to explain to the young man that he had gotten stuck on an escalator once and was a little scared. The young man gently offered an assurance, they looked at each other eye to eye for just a moment and the older man accepted his arm. Everyone else remained patient.

So, so sweet to witness!

In about an hour, the evening news will air and we’ll be reminded of division, political mud-slinging, shootings and other heartaches. But today, violence, age, politics and other social lines were blurred and one person simply helped another. I wanted to hug both of them.

Whoever this young man is, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU RIGHT! THANK YOU!

So, please look for the silver linings – as I was so fortunate to witness this evening.”

Thank You Kindness

* Images by Pixabay

(This is a Reblog from https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/2017/06/23/me-in-the-middle-of-week-7-reflection-grateful-for-kindness/

Pandemic 2020-21 ~ April

~Good Friday through Easter Sunday~

Early Easter Sunday morning my loving friend, Pat, passed away. 💕 And I will miss him so much! He is the kindest, sweetest, loving man I’ve known. 💔 I’m so thankful for the beauty and goodness he brought into my life.

There are so many beautiful memories.

This last year of COVID-19 isolation was difficult for those of us above the age of 75. While he was in a long-term care facility and I was in my own apartment, we made a commitment to talk with each other on the phone every day and give each other the support and encouragement we needed to make it through. Our daily conversations helped both of us through the uncertainty of this pandemic and we grew closer. I was able to visit him over the course of the year and we were relieved to have finally gotten vaccinated. Spring was coming! Soon we’d be able to get outdoors in the sun and make more plans to be together.

The year before the pandemic hit was filled with good memories. I’d known him for quite awhile, from a distance, and finally we were brought together while in physical therapy. I was drawn to his sweet and kind ways. Our relationship grew and I believe we found each other at the right moment in time.

COVID-19 didn’t win in this case. Our worst nightmare was that one of us would wind up on a ventilator isolated from family. That didn’t happen. A stroke and pneumonia worsened in the hospital and he died peacefully with loved ones by his side. I was able to be with him and tell him how much he meant to me.

I was given this gift of having him love me and being able to love him. Because of that my heart has broken wide open with love. It hurts to have him gone and I’ll miss him yet it’s a different kind of broken heartedness. Knowing him has raised me up.

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up —that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross~

(Now, more than ever, I’m realizing this. Now, today, I woke up to another beautiful day, realizing that, once again, you’re not in it.}