Tag Archives: grief

So. Very. Busy.

One of my friends has a unique ring tone for me.  It is the “buzzing bee” ring tone.  When she told me that, I was a bit perturbed.  Then I realized, “Oh, well.  She sees the truth.  Uncle.”  She also affectionately calls me “hair on fire,” but that’s a separate issue.

OK, so I cannot lie.  I’m a busy mom.  We are all busy parents, employees, friends, spouses and children.  Busy, busy, busy.  This past summer, I saw all the busy pass me by during a time when I was uniquely focused on my mother.  It was like watching the busy out a blurry window – the world was still constantly moving back and forth from my view, while my time stood relatively still.  I still marvel at all the busyness going on around me with the school year that is in full swing, as I wander from room to room in my grief and lack of focus, getting hardly anything accomplished except the occasional thank you note and phone call regarding “notice of death.”

Don’t get me wrong, friends.  If I had not just gone through the death of a parent, I would be right there with you.  Busy.  So very busy.  In fact, when I was at the MMPG intro meeting last week, I spoke with many friends who were already feeling quite stressed on behalf of their children and their families – and it is only September.  I am with you ladies and gents – I have felt your pain.  I so get the busy.

I have been told by a wise friend many times:

“If you don’t have time to pray and read the Scriptures, you are busier than God ever intended you to be.”

 This saying is even written on her workspace wall, and she is so very right.  Does God truly want us to be so busy that we cannot take time to talk to Him, share with Him our greatest fears, or bring to Him our greatest hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families?  This friend also says to me frequently, “We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS!”  (I know I’ve shared that one before, but it’s worth repeating.)

So how do we use our time?  If time is a precious as we think (and we all want more “time”), then what is the best use of our time?

The Use of Time

Take time to think

– It is the source of power.

Take time to play

– It is the secret of perpetual youth.

Take time to read

– It is the fountain of wisdom.

Take time to pray

– It is the greatest power on earth.

Take time to be friendly

– It is the road to happiness.

Take time to laugh

– It is the music of the soul.

Take time to give

– It is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to work

– It is the price of success.

Take time to do charity

– It is the key to heaven.

Author Unknown

 In Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba, he said, “Faith makes us open to the quiet presence of God at every moment of our lives, in every person and in every situation.”  What a great way to use our time, if we would only take the time.  So often we pass each other by with a quick, “Hey! What’s up?”  What might happen if we took a little more time to stop and hear the answer?

So today, let’s take a moment and try and quiet our minds and our hearts to the “quiet presence of God” that is available to us at every moment of our lives, if we would just not be so very, very busy.

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

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The Storm Around Us

This past weekend, my daughter and I were trying to escape the literal and virtual storm that was surrounding us.  Hurricane Hermine had blown through south Georgia and northern Florida, and somehow we had escaped with only a temporary loss of power and a lot of debris strewn around my mother’s house on Amelia Island.  We were fortunate, compared to so many.  However, the hurricane of loss that swirled around our family could not be escaped.  My mother and my children’s grandmother was gone.  My mom’s house – full of family, flowers, and food – felt so very empty without her.

More than 20 years ago, my husband and I were also in a hurricane on the island.  The day following, we went shell-seeking, as the storm tossed some real treasures on the beach.  We collected lots of shells that still adorn my mother’s house.  My daughter and I thought that maybe we would be equally fortunate.  We desperately needed to get away from all the swirl of of planning and executing a funeral – for just a short time, for our our own well-being.

Of course, if we had been logical, we would have realized that the storm came from the Gulf, so we should not have expected any real finds.  However, she and I walked hand in hand to the end of the island, unsuccessful in finding any shells, but tossing lots of “live” sand dollars back into the surf to survive another day.

We have had a tradition in our family the last few years of collecting sharks teeth.  Each of us has a bowl with our personal booty.  I said to my daughter, “I feel like I’ve been looking down so much for sharks teeth and shells today that I haven’t even enjoyed the beauty of what’s right in front of me.”  Because of the hurricane, the sky was as beautiful as it has ever been – it was bright blue, and full of big, fluffy clouds.  She reminded me, that despite the immense beauty of the sea and the sky because of the storm, that there was still tremendous beauty as I was looking down at the sand in front of me.

Given this past summer, that struck an incredible chord in me.  I have been looking down all summer – mostly at the floor of a hospital room.  My head has hung low.  My heart has hung even lower.  I have been looking down, and not out.  Not up to God.  But down at my own sadness, fear and anxiety.

But as my daughter reminded me, in looking down, there was still immense beauty.  The sand was full of shells in all colors, shapes and sizes.  It demonstrated the beauty of God’s creation, in its most simplest form.

In the lowest points this summer, when I could hardly look up from the floor, there were nurses who did the hard work of caring for a dying soul, who they did not know, but who mattered to so many in real and concrete ways.  There were friends of mine and my mother’s who took the time to reach out to me and to my family in practical and sincere ways.  When I got home from the hospital late at night, my mother’s friends fed me, and welcomed me into their homes, before I collapsed in a heap in the bed.  Just to start again the next day all over again.

As a Catholic, I did not overlook the fact that my mother was in a hospital named for St. Vincent de Paul – whose members “serve individuals who are in need and are part of an international society of friends united by a spirit of poverty, humility, and sharing, which is nourished by prayer and reflection.”  Every day as I walked to the cafeteria for coffee by a statue of St. Vincent de Paul meeting a man in need, I knew I had a cheerleader by my side.  Every day I saw families in much greater need than me, caring for their loved ones in the best way that they knew how.  Truly, pain, suffering and grief do not have an zip code or a social class.  We are all one.

I am thankful for my daughter for reminding me that beauty resides not only in the big picture, but also in the very smallest parts of our lives as well.

Open My Eyes

Open my eyes that I may see the deepest needs of men, women and children

Move my hands that they may feed the hungry;

Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;

Teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;

Let me share my possessions with people in need;

Give me the care that strengthens the sick;

Help me share in the quest to set prisoners free;

In sharing our anxieties and our love,

Our poverty and our prosperity;

We partake of your divine presence.  Amen.

– Vincentian Prayer