Me in the Middle of Week 7 Reflection ~ Grateful for Kindness

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

Week Seven ~ Grateful for Kindness

The seventh prompt for the Kindness Challenge 2017 is Grateful for Kindness.

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

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

Me in the Middle of Letting Go 2016>Welcome 2017 (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on September 12, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Poems and Sketches ~ below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because I’m letting go of the old year 2016 and welcoming the new year 2017.  The poems were written by a friend who came into my life at just the right time and inspired me to let go of the past and make room for new and better things in my life.  My sketches were inspired by his poems and, joined together, they represented an opening up in my life to a new sense of joy and promise.  What better reminder for me as I close the door on 2016 and step through into the promise and hope of the New Year?  “Letting go can be your best friend.”

new-year-1904679_1920

 Hope Beyond All Hope

Lovers of the world, unite
Bound to Creator’s vision bright
That even these our darkest nights
Become the light, become the light

Fashion all you can create
That delights the one who incarnates
And links himself to the same fate
As we sleepers who must rise to wake

Alana Levandoski

 ********************

 ♥

Poems and Sketches

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

Letting Go

(c) Mary Lou Q

 Letting Go

Letting go – Is a place;
Is a time; Is a space.
Letting go – Sometimes a pain;
Sometimes numbness; Sometimes gain.

Letting go –
of the memories that are bad;
Of the arguments we had; Of times that were sad.
I let go of those things; Of those times; Of the zings.

Instead, I choose not to ever lose;
And I will retain those things where we gain.
Smiles and laughter; Creation and elation;
Security and maturity; With these make a nation.

Letting go isn’t easy;
And, yet, we know It’s the path to take
– From the learning we grow.

So – let go . . . Of what fails thee;
Focus on what enthralls thee.
There is a beginning to each end;
Letting go can be your best friend.

Arthur Rashap

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

Seasons Sketch #3 Cropped

(c) Mary Lou Q

Season’s Song

When I leave this body, My aura, more spoor
May I be like Autumn’s leaves: Multi hued, flaming.
Set in clear contrast to that awesome blue sky
On a cloudless day in Fall,
Attracting and reflecting the sun,
Low in the heavens as it rises and sets.

  When I “die”, remember me as the one on a Quixotic Quest,
Searching for meaning. Feeling alone and apart,
Swimming in the context of Love’s eternal soup.
The seasons of the year, like the seasons of life,
Have been given to us as paper and paint
To create our picture of time’s journey.

And, what is time but some made-up measure
So we can box experiences. Storing them on the Shelf of Life.
Ah! Autumn, when we can harvest the fruits of lifelong learning;
Of lifelong yearning.
When all the “this’s” and all the “that’s” line up,
Coming together.

And, all the colors of thought and deed
Do come together to flash as Rainbow
No longer whispering,
But making a bald, bold statement:
Live, harvest, expire
Be, be in each moment.

Winter: The bare, still, colorless cold.
Time: Is this a season for passing?
Or rather, a season for resting?
The pause in the cycle of creation;
The contemplation, the stock-taking
Before ONE’s re-borning?

Winter: Season for preparing; For recycling
The re-coiling. Springing forth.
Ah! Listen! Regard!
The seasons sing; Life’s stages harmonize.
We, in the end, are ONE
And Love is the answer.

Arthur Rashap

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

Seasoned

We sit in a circle,
Breathing in the smoke of elderhood
As we watch the flame reflect life’s turnings.

At first, there was the time Spring:
The time for springing forth,
full of energy, dreams, desires;
Tilling, planting, cultivating
Wide-eyed and impressionable
As we now see it In life’s rear-view mirror.
 
Greening turned to
 the full colors
and active buzzing of our Summers.
Life was like the circus performer
running back and forth,
Spinning so many plates
on sticks overhead;

Did it matter that some fell and shattered?
What was growing then, so important, bursting forth:
Bearing all kinds of fruit,
Now changes as viewed
through the glory of Autumn’s colors.


  Let us luxuriate, making new tracks in the colors of Autumn,
 Celebrating the days past; The work done.
Time to share the harvest.
  Our seeds now drop, Some to take root
Even as Winter stills the cycle,
 Covering the fields that once were plowed and yielding.
There is fresh space, Time is stretched,
Memories bring smiles And “Ah Ha’s!”
 
We sit in a circle
 around the fire,
Fashioning solutions from the smoke of memory
And the joyous living that was/is our lives.

 

Arthur Rashap

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

Nature and Soul NYC #2

(c) Mary Lou Q

NYC Weekend

 
The most exciting thing in New York City
Is the robin building her nest outside the kitchen window
where I am staying.

One can bring nature and soul
Into any nest – Anywhere.
Pile in the shining leaves –
Create a hiding spot underneath.
Weave pieces of string into a nest that is “home.”

The most exciting thing in New York City
Is the robin affirming life by building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.
Noises, graces, shops, cafes, taxis, get-aways;
Couples sparking; Unimaginable diversity:
Museums, universities, slums and alums
If you can’t find it here it ain’t anywhere.

The most exciting thing in New York City
Was the feeling that the robin gave me:
A feeling of being safe and secure,
In the tree outside the kitchen window.
Two weeks’ salary to park your cars;
Anything you could want ain’t very far
Except perhaps Nature’s balm,
Babbling brook’s sound,
Senses becalmed.

People, faces, noises, graces, shops, cafes, taxis,
“Oy-veys:”
Sirens, barking, sirens, hawking;
Shopping, charging, pushing, bargaining;
Humanity spilling out everywhere;
Their hearts, their souls, their cares.
If you can’t find it here, it ain’t anywhere.

The most memorable thing in New York City this weekend
Is to know that a robin is building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.

Arthur Rashap

 *****************

Mariposa #4

(c) Mary Lou Q

Mariposa

 Winged friend: Mariposa;
You flew circles
while I waited for love to arrive.
You incarnated in each place
Cupid-playing while bathing in the vibes
Of love’s unfolding.

Winged friend: Mariposa; You were there,
Trailing twinkles and love dust
Wherever we looked.

Dear Mariposa,
Winged friend. Love’s messenger.
Come fly on the bosom of enchantment.
You have earned a place in our hearts.

Arthur Rashap

 ****************

 Watercolor Sketches ~ © Mary Lou Q

*Special acknowledgement and thanks to Arthur Rashap for his support in my putting together this website.*

Me in the Middle Introducing Guest Blogger, Nancy of Practically Wise

“For death is part of the human experience. I think we must respond when we are called upon to bear witness to suffering. We may feel hopeless because we can’t make the pain go away. And ultimately, we can’t stop death. Yet our willingness to simply be there leads us to greater compassion and greater wisdom. We become more fully human.”

death-2

Pixabay

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

Keeping a Home, Keeping a Legacy

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” –Sir Thomas More

My grandma, who passed earlier this spring, was a woman who had led a simple life. A typical life even, common to many of her era. Her immigrant parents, from the “old country,” came to the U.S. as young adults and eventually settled in Detroit, Michigan. Grandma was born in 1916, the younger of two children. She took her high school education to a typing job at the phone company and then to a real estate agency. She gave up full-time work after she married my grandpa in order to raise a family. They too lived in Detroit. She would take the bus to Hudson’s department store with her two young daughters, outfitted in true 1950s fashion in matching dress coats and tams, looking like tiny models out of a catalog. Her home was spic ‘n span clean with the décor arranged just so. And of course, she cooked. Hearty meals of roast beef or macaroni and cheese, with endless pleas to have some more, don’t let it go to waste.

Yet for such an ordinary life, the struggle at the very end of her life’s journey was extraordinary in the fear and agony she experienced as her body declined. Being with my grandma during her final, wretched days was heartrending. Months later, I am still processing the emotions from those mere handful of days. As Jane Austen would have said, it has “required a long application of solitude and reflection to recover.” Talking, and especially writing, has helped me find perspective. This essay is taken in part from the eulogy I delivered at my grandmother’s funeral.

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

There are some, like my late grandfather, who have a zest for life. He owned a succession of small businesses, owned a sailboat, and organized rafting trips down a raging river in Virginia. But every adventurer needs a solid anchor back home, making that home and keeping it.

Such a simple-sounding verb, to keep. Yet it means more than mere tending. The art of keeping includes an array of responsibilities: being able to form strong habits, fulfilling your part of an ongoing agreement, and preserving long-standing traditions. At our best, we keep friends and promises; we keep Christmas in our hearts; we keep a home for those we love most.

My grandma was a home maker, and a keeper of that home. There’s a how-to book, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, that I came across several years ago. In it, Mendelson suggests that many of us underappreciate the value of a well-kept home. She explains it like this:

“Housekeeping creates cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety, and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home…it is your housekeeping that makes your home alive, that turns it into a small society in its own right, a vital place with its own ways and rhythms, the place where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else.”

That was my grandma’s house. No matter what calamities were occurring in the world or what stresses we faced in our personal spheres, time spent at Grandma’s was restorative, a reminder that structure and comfort will always exist because they can be created with readily abundant supplies: diligence and love. She made homemaking a practice. A practice she worked at every day, creating—and keeping—a warm, inviting home for us, her small society of family she loved so dearly. A home and hub that for decades structured our lives, brought us happiness, and from which multiple generations would make our way in the world.

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

In her last years, Grandma lived in an senior apartment that offered some care assistance. Her apartment, with its kitchenette and small living room, was still a home in the sense that she could receive guests. They could gather at her table or sit around the TV. Toward the end, however, we had to move Grandma to a nursing home, which was little more than a glorified hospital room, short on both privacy and space for visitors. Although she would be in the nursing home less than three months, moving her there more than anything signaled the beginning of the end. Not only was she facing the physical decline of her body, she was also losing her role, her place in life as homemaker and hostess.

And then the pneumonia set in. Her body had little defense against illness and it began to shut down. We — my mother, aunt, and a few other close family members — braced ourselves. We contacted hospice. We had been here before. In the early 2000s, we gathered at the deathbed of first my great uncle and then my grandfather. We thought we knew what to expect.

But where my uncle and grandfather went more or less “gentle into that good night,” my grandma resisted. For several days, she writhed in an agitated, restless state. She kept trying to sit upright, though lacked the strength to do so. We wrung our hands in despair.

She’ll wear herself out completely, we said. We had to take turns, relieving one another of the harrowing vigil because of the difficulty of watching her and feeling completely helpless. It will be ok, we said. The nurse will come soon with more medicine, we said.

Yet we could not soothe her. We knew our words were feeble; we knew that we could not make them strong merely through force of repetition. But we didn’t know what else to do.

So we repeated ourselves, again and again. Mother, it’s ok, we said. Lie back down, Helen. Let go. It’s ok, Helen.

We love you, Grandma.

Did she hear us? We couldn’t tell. Her distressed mind slipped into the Finn of her girlhood. She pleaded with people who were none of us. At times, the hovering people must be speaking, for Grandma would suddenly be still, listening. Who were they? Her long-lost parents? Her revered older brother, the exceptionally smart one who had been the family pride? Surely he would know what to do, how to help her.

Then she would moan and wail again, a stream of vowels and gurgling consonants, erupting from deep recesses within. She would push her frail body forward, away from the pillows. Where in life she sailed calmly like a mother duck on placid waters, in dying, she clawed her way along a rocky path, brambled, always into the head winds.

Was she fighting against death in pure terror, or was she pleading for it to take her faster? Perhaps it was the knowledge that at age 99 she was one of the last of her generation to carry the weight of her home, her life, and all that had been across her thin shoulders.

We’ll never know. Around 9p Monday evening we lost contact with her after a very long weekend. The morphine at last took over. She passed at 11:30p. In many ways, we were relieved. She was finally at peace.

* * * * *

death-3

Pixabay

It was the hospice nurse who helped me see what Grandma’s life stood for. We talked about her life, her vocation as a homemaker, for she was more than a consummate homemaker, she was the keeper of the well-being of her family. A role she held onto stubbornly, so that even two days before she died, she insisted on knowing the fate of her apartment furniture. My brother told her he had taken it. This was a “loving lie” — as the hospice nurse later called it — because we had actually donated the furniture. Yet we knew Grandma would rest easier if she believed that her table, her bed had stayed in the family. Her shrewd shopper instincts were still intact, though, and much to our surprise, she had asked what moving company we used and how much we paid.

My brother was forced to embellish the little loving lie into a full-blown story (which he did with gusto, I might add!) We have certainly laughed about this incident many times since. It’s a moment that will be cherished amid so many that were emotionally charged and downright painful. Yet it’s also a moment to serve as a reminder of how Grandma kept something very dear for us for 60 years: an inviting, comfortable, loving home. And beyond that, she had given us the resources and the know-how to keep homes for our own families. Her care and dedication has extended outward through the generations.

It was difficult to decide if I should bring my two teenaged kids to the nursing home during Grandma’s final weekend for it was hard to see her in that state. She was no longer the great-grandma who gave them coins from her bingo winnings or who was excited as a little kid when it came time for dessert or opening gifts. I’m proud to say that my kids decided that they should be there, for her sake, and for the family’s sake. I thought that they should be there for their own sake as well. For death is part of the human experience. I think we must respond when we are called upon to bear witness to suffering. We may feel hopeless because we can’t make the pain go away. And ultimately, we can’t stop death. Yet our willingness to simply be there leads us to greater compassion and greater wisdom. We become more fully human.

And sometimes, it is only at the end, that we can fully appreciate a life. Despite her understated ways, Grandma knew how to make her home a living embodiment of her love. May I have the grace and fortitude to keep her legacy going strong and pass it on to my children.

~ Nancy at Practically Wise ~
July 17, 2016

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

Purpose

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

This post is a part of the series Me in the Middle Invites Guest Bloggers.  An Invitation to share a time in life where you thought you’d never make it through and you did.  A witness of the strength that you never thought you had.

It’s an honor to feature Nancy’s writing.  I encourage you to visit her Blog at ~ Nancy at Practically Wise ~.

~ For guidelines on submitting your inspiring story please go Here ~

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

Me in the Middle Introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

Francis Friendship

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

American Flag, Textured, Rough, Harsh

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships.  “

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

I am a lawful immigrant in the United States and on this eve of July 4th 2016, I wish to express my sincere appreciation for being in this country, and my heartfelt gratitude to the white American man (Tom Johnson) who came to my country – Sierra Leone – and befriended me, and who rescued me from bondage and slavery and gave me that opportunity that paved the way for me to arrive and settle at my dreamed destination– — America.

I was inspired to write my new memoir book titled Friendship: A Story of Adventure, Goodwill and Endurance because of the miracles that God has continued to perform in my life since when I was a 15-year- old boy in Sierra Leone. Continue reading

Me In The Middle Sharing Life Stories

014 - The Ocean

On May  12th I posted This Invitation to Guest Bloggers welcoming anyone who feels inspired to share a story about their life that gives inspiration and hope to the rest of us along this journey of life.  Some have already shown interest and I’m looking forward to reading and sharing what they write.  You can add your interest and desire to join us by adding your comment at the bottom of the Invitations post (HERE)

Here’s one of my sharing-of-life-stories.  It’s about 1,900 words.  Anything under 2,000 words is a good length for the Guest Blogger post.  Hope to hear from you!  🙂  

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

When I was growing up, family meant to me a strong sense of belonging.  We were secured tightly in the certainty and pride of our town, our church and our country.  That was during the forties and fifties when families could find comfort in the knowledge that they were surrounded by the shared values of the wider community.

I was the middle child and the first daughter among five children, and I felt safe going about my life, navigating around my town.  When I returned home, our mother was always there for us and our father traveled to and from NYC working at the New York Herald Tribune.  Our routines rarely changed: Mass on Sundays; three meals a day at the same time each day when we were all home; and holidays celebrated in the same way each year.  There was very little lively debate on the current events of our country, and mealtime was usually spent listening to Mom who tried to keep the tone of the conversation positive and upbeat.  She was also the one who took the time to point out to her children the wonderful gift that the natural world provided us.  She stopped to point out and pass on knowledge about nature.  Our own backyard provided plenty of lessons about the miracles in nature.   There were many trips to the county parks, and nearby lakes and beaches.  I’d enjoyed exploring the waters, woods and beaches searching for shells, crayfish, frogs, fish and turtles with my brother.  There were lots of books in our home for learning about the natural world.

My first stirrings of political awareness showed up when we went to a campaign rally at the Teaneck Armory in NJ for John F. Kennedy who was running for President against Richard M. Nixon.  Standing outside in the massive crowd waiting for him to arrive, my sister and I came up with a chant:  “Jack be nimble. Jack be quick.  Jack’s the one whose gonna beat Dick.”  Our family was proud of the Democratic Party that was going to work towards electing the first Catholic President.

Family togetherness was a lot more challenging when I was in my 20’s and 30’s.    Although I did strive to maintain the routines of holidays and the continuity of tradition within my own family, our lives were affected by the outside social fabric that was unraveling.  The certainty and safety that was the theme of the fifties shifted through the unknowns and the upheavals of the sixties.  The swift changes within church and community, along with the questions raised by the horrors of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy shook the foundations of our belief in an unshakable country.  The sexual revolution swirled around the family unit and there was open debate on long-held beliefs about family, church and country.  These were the headwinds that blew through my own life and that of my family.

I continued, in the true spirit of the middle child, to seek the middle ground as these outside forces played against the economic realities of the 70’s and the challenges of raising a large family.  A sense of belonging was created by my creating a flexible team spirit and planning family events that brought us together.  I was able to pass on the lessons my mother taught me to my own children, especially the wonder of our natural environment as a source of comfort and refreshment.

During those uncertain times many marriages ended in divorce.  That trend has continued and increased.  When my marriage joined the statistics, I (a homemaker with no college education) became the sole provider and nurturer of my five sons, ages 16 down to 5 years old.  It was a time of hardship and heartache when we lost our home and a steady income, as well as the spouse and father we had thought was there for us.  Though I didn’t actually feel it at the time, I promised my sons that we were going to make it through O.K.  In reality, our life was becoming a classic case for crisis intervention with no clear answers in sight.

My birth family lived a distance away from my home in Upstate New York and, as the political scene continued to unfold through those turbulent years, what was once our family’s political party of the Democrats shifted to the “certainty” of the conservative Republican Party ….. These shifters being dubbed “Reagan Democrats”.

My reality, and immediate focus, was on the urgency of meeting the basic needs of me and my family.  What was happening in the political scene was not even on the fringes of my awareness or interest other than fleeting images on the news.   In a new area for only a year, without any friends and family, I continued to plod through the trenches of what was real for us.  While I was seeking a means to house, feed and clothe my family, the political and social climate continued to wrestle with the opposing extremes of how family, church and country fit into the changing scheme of things.

This was a very lonely and isolating time for my sons and me.  I found it very difficult to share the severity of my own situation with my family.  When I would try I felt it was too disturbing for them to hear and that I was expected to deal with things on my own with strength and faith.  When your burdens grow heavy, ask God for strength…. And I did.  Each had their own hardships and realities, and I found it less conflicting to not talk much about it with them and just do what I had to do.   I was emotionally drained and overwhelmed with the upheaval that had become our lives.

At the time, I hadn’t even considered the political ideology playing out within my own family during the Reagan years, pitting welfare assistance and social issues against the re-building of America into the Shining City upon the Hill.  I felt that our life had become an altered state of existence residing invisibly alongside the lives of people going about the normal daily routines.

Family has always meant to me the realization that people care about you and are there for you through good and bad times.  It’s a complex mix of people and experiences that join us together in a strong circle of respect and love.  Family is, for me, not limited to having identical beliefs about family, church and country.  It’s more about sharing a belief and faith that somehow we’ll all make it through together.

And yes, my sons and I did make it through to a safer place, a stronger place.  I can embrace each one of them and truly say, “I respect you for the man you’ve become.”  They are each living lives that have evolved from their own convictions.  One son chose a career in law enforcement and lives with his family in Arizona.  Another son, a cardiologist, lives here in Virginia with his family  Two of my sons are teachers, one lives with his family in Brooklyn teaching art to elementary and middle school students and one who moved to the Middle East with his family to teach English to Arab-speaking students.  And another son has pursued his grandfather’s and uncle’s love for journalism while enjoying the physical labor of carpentry and landscaping.

Given the history of my experiences I’m no longer able to adhere to any absolute position on family, church or country.  I want to meet people where they are in life and accept that this is where their life has brought them.  My love of family, church and country has brought me to a place where I can recognize the flaws as well as the strengths within these very human institutions.  I hope for unity, but no longer expect it.  True to my middle child, common ground nature, I remain an undeclared moderate voter, who has seen conservatives, liberals, republicans and democrats all do very stupid things.  Today some say that John F. Kennedy would be a conservative republican.  I say, considering the lives and views of his wife, daughter and son who built their views on his legacy, he would most likely be a moderate like me.  My birth family is divided into conservative republicans, a green republican, me in the middle, and my oldest brother, a self-described “tree-hugging liberal” who speaks from life-long environmental experience.  Each of us seeks a better world for our children and grandchildren though we passionately disagree on how to achieve it and what that world will look like.  All of us share a deep, abiding love of nature and the wonderful world God has given us.  Though the levels of our role in preserving these gifts may differ, hopefully, we can escape the polarizing and hostile political climate of today and learn from each other’s experiences, hopes and visions.   In families, as well as political systems, there’s always room for compromise.

Family means sticking together while listening to and respecting each other’s hopes and fears.  It works best when everyone comes together.  It means shared sacrifice, shared struggle, as well as shared plenty and shared joys.  It’s not always easy to respect another’s personal boundaries and their own knowledge of what’s best for them while, at the same time, standing ready to advise and guide them when the need is there.

Family is where you arrive at the end of the road, literally and figuratively.  It can be one person or many people.  It can be physical or spiritual.  Sometimes family means putting aside what we want, and taking hold of what needs to be done in order to survive.  Sometimes it means asking others to share in the burdens of a common family need.  Family provides the best cushion an individual can have as he or she travels through life’s complexities.  All this needs nurturing, it needs educating, and it needs the support and guidance of church and country.

While I have had doubts and questions along the way, I’ve continued to believe in a God at the core of it all who is nudging me forward with the messages “This too shall pass” and “I am always with you”, along with the hope that we’ll all make it through.

Are we, as individuals and families, at the effect of what is going on in the greater world?  Yes and no!  We always have a choice.  Yet social and political movements can, and do, move us along and pull us into the mainstream of what’s going on in the greater world.  There’s no doubt that choices and decisions made can set us off down a new path, inspired by the times, and without clear outcomes in sight.  Salient risks?   What’s taking place in the public realm at a given period in time can effect and transform the private worlds of those living during that time.  The trick is to know when to hold firm to a foundation and when to move forward and take that risk, weighing how the possible effects of that risk could affect those around you.

The changes I’ve seen through my life, the bad times and the good times, have convinced me that God is not a conservative nor a liberal, not a republican or a democrat.  God is family, who loves us all and is always with us.

 ********************

Wells State Park

On May 12th I posted An Invitation to Guest Bloggers.  This is my sharing of an ‘Arrival’ story where I’ve reached a point in my life of acceptance, peace and contentment.  It’s a bit longer than I usually post (around 1,900 words).  

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