Peace in the Midst of Pain
I glanced at the calendar this morning. I don’t really need to do that to know what day is near. Each year I begin to feel it permeate my thoughts for weeks before. I need no calendar for that purpose
It’s been a few years since a friend of mine left this earth. Among my circle of family and friends, we have had time to experience life without that precious presence.…it doesn’t seem right…it doesn’t seem fair… it doesn’t make sense…
There’s not much of anything you can do about it when a person’s time is up. Obviously, you can mourn. You can stop living yourself. Or, you can decide to do your best to carry on. But you are not the keeper of time or extender of life. You have no input or vote on that.
But then you ask yourself:How am I going to get through this world without them?
You need an answer for that, so you dig into your psyche and you try to reach into your heart and you can find nothing that really explains why it happened and what you are supposed to do about it.
Then, with time, comes the answer. In a moment of clarity and perception you understand the simplicity of that answer.There’s nothing you can do about the fact it happened & most likely nothing you could have done to prevent it.
Your job is to continue on without them. Maybe you can make a memorial to them; perhaps continue a legacy they began; you can live your life…that’s all. The choices are few but it’s evident the only plan left for you is to honor the person with a permanent place in your thoughts allowing and not rejecting those thoughts. It’s not a bad thing to think about a person who is no longer breathing on this earth.
I’ve discovered one way to honor your loved one is to talk about that person. Think about that person. Tell your family about that person. Especially tell your children about that person. Share with someone else who knew them in a different way and you’ll have a new light shed on the person you loved. It’s OK to have all those feelings because you still love them. That doesn’t have to die–it can live on in you and those with whom you share your memories.
The only way I’ve been able to make it through such losses is to remember the good things, and time itself takes care of the bad things–they begin to move to the rear of your thoughts. Oh, sure, you can harbor them and hang on to them but to what end? That is no honor to your lost one.
When the thought of their absence is so real it hurts, that’s okay, too! Spend a moment in that thought…and then think about another time, another memory, another story. Perhaps a smile will cross your face or you might even laugh out loud at what seemed a silly thing back then. Allow yourself those beautiful and funny thoughts…that’s okay too.There are no rules, no guidebook, no right, no wrong. It never gets easier—it just gets different!
That’s what I’ve learned from experience. My hope for you is that you find people around you who allow you to talk about your loss and your feelings. I hope you have special memories that become more precious now that they have been entrusted to you to keep. That’s a big job…to keep the good of a person going. But you can do it—with love, hope, prayer, faith. Then trust in all the memories you have to become the stories for others and create that as the legacy for your loved one.
If you are reading this and you have lost a friend or loved one, I am sorry for your loss.May you find peace in the midst of your pain.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ If you need more help than you’ve been able to find, there are professional people for you. Look around your community for churches or organizations that offer counseling, or call your local hospital or contact your minister/rabbi/priest. For those related to a military member/veteran, contact your local Veteran's Affairs office or your military base commander/chaplain. Here are three organizations online where you can find help immediately.
Deep Freeze & Daydreams
A Day Well Spent
I love the mornings–early before the world starts to make noise, before the cars taking people here and there drown out the sound of the birds singing their good morning song. There’s nothing like the new day to set out to do some good thing–to try to make the hours worth the living–to reach out to someone.
Although it’s always in my mind that I should do those things, how many days have I squandered just watching TV, sleeping late, thinking of myself and never accomplishing even one of the goals I know life expects and deserves of me.
Often it’s just a word of “hello“ or “how are you doing“ that can make the difference in someone’s lonely heart. And can you imagine if they are hurting and in pain and lonely what words like “have a good day“ or “you look lovely today“ could do for their spirit.
I’ve spent years rushing and being a part of the noise the world hears. There has been day upon day that I spent complaining or gossiping or thinking bad things about others, and that wasted my energy and left me with nothing accomplished. When do we finally learn that those things are worthless if we have not accomplished anything during those hours between rising and retiring at the end of another exhaustive day?
I think it’s now! For me, I am finding such peace and joy in the day that begins early listening to the birds sing their arias and the quietness of the world around me strengthening my soul.Johann Wolfgang van Goeth said:
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.
Shall we join together to make our days worth the living and be worthy of the next day that comes our way–if it is to be.
Make each day you are given be worth the living.
Heart of Winter
In every winter’s heart, there is a quivering spring; and behind the veil of each night, there is a smiling dawn
South by Southwest vs. West by Northwest
It was just a spur of the moment trip. I really had not planned to go anywhere last Friday, but there I was, driving west and headed to an old familiar place. I’d taken this road many times—back and forth to my dad’s place over the last 30 years. The road felt like an old friend. I knew where each turn was, where the speed traps were, and how far it was to the next bathroom. I knew where you had to stop and fill up with gas because THAT gas station was always the cheapest. And I would stop there again–just because. I knew I could make the trip in less than 4 hours.
You start off heading west on Interstate 20 as if you were going to California—because, if you don’t stop for several days, that’s where you’ll be—or at least El Paso for an overnight stop! In El Paso, you can catch Interstate 10 and then scoot across the edge of New Mexico around Las Cruces and Lordsburg. From there it’s just hours on to Tucson. That’s where your compass might become confused because you come to a crossroads.Crossroads can sometimes be confusing if you don’t have a clear idea of what your final destination is. But I didn’t need a map today…I knew the road and my destination.
From Tucson, you can continue to California by taking a hard northwest on to Phoenix and then set your sites on The Los Angeles area. Of course, don’t get me wrong…that’s more than the 4 hour trip that I’m making to west Texas…but if the music on the CD is right and the gasoline card and credit card have enough available balance, I just might keep on those west-bound roads and be sipping a cool drink on the pier in Santa Monica. Tempting!
But I’ve overshot my daydreaming just a bit. I’ve just arrived near the small town of Cisco TX so this is one place I have to make a decision. Do I make that south turn and go on to my dad’s place—or do I set out on a 5-day trip that takes me all the way to California.
I know deep down he would think the trip west was a good idea. He traveled all of those roads for many years and told great stories of traveling across the US during the depression and WWII years working when they could.
I would love nothing more than to sit with him again and hear all those great stories. But a few years ago, his life, well-lived, came to a close. I’ve gone back only a couple of times since then…and maybe that’s enough…to see if everything is still the same in the town’s rock-road cemetery. What do I expect will change about it? I don’t know, but it feels as if I ought to watch over his place like he always watched over me.
…could do anything—and I mean ANYTHING! A carpenter by trade, that didn’t stop him from fixing my dainty jewelry, helping with homework, building a house for us, or making sure that we had enough to survive.Seems it didn’t take as much in those days to get through—something about our greedy desires have increased since the 50s & 60s. What we didn’t know about, we didn’t need.
I have just picked up a hamburger and cherry coke and I’ve made the south turn onto State highway 183 that will take me on to Brownwood, then a connect with US 377 on to Brady, TX.
A town of about 5,500 located in the geographic heart of Texas, Brady had been a place I had looked forward to visiting every summer when I was a little girl. My mother and dad would go for a visit to my Mama’s & Papa’s house there, and I’d get to stay for a couple of weeks.
That was just great—especially when I was the last of the cousins (and the youngest of a dozen) to still think it was cool to be gone for a couple of weeks in the summertime staying with some old people. My Papa grew vegetables and they had chickens. I didn’t like that at all so I’d just stand at the wire and watch my Mama feed the chickens from the pockets of her always-present apron.
My Papa would pick and dig up vegetables and put them on the big picnic table under the tree to ripen. I could already imagine those juicy tomatoes, that warm yellow watermelon, and those snap peas cooked in a big pot with potatoes!
Yes, my grandparents were old, but I didn’t mind because I was alone with them and my thoughts. They had lessons to teach if I would just listen.
The town hasn’t changed too much from those days. The roads are still made of shale rock and unpaved in most of the town. Many of the old houses still look like they did when we would drive slowly (because everything in that town was/is slow) to the town square.
The square, built around an old county courthouse constructed in 1878, never changed. There were maybe 40 stores around that square. As I drive in today, some are still closed up and some have transitioned from a theater to a hardware store, to a boutique, to a coffee shop, to another empty store in a dying commerce of downtown shops.
My destination is just a little off the square northwest on Highway 87 There, in the constantly blowing wind of west Texas, is the old cemetery. My dad’s place is looking sleek and clean—because nothing can stay long under that incessant wind. I tell him how much I love him, think to myself of how hard he worked, how much he liked Country Music & TV, how much he loved me from the time I could remember to those recent few years ago. Many times he rode his white horse (really a brown Ford pickup truck) to save me from a bad decision I had made or a situation that surprisingly turned bad.
I put some yellow roses in the vase near his name with birth and death dates. Then I blow him a kiss and let the wind clear my eyes. The skies look clear out here because the wind just blows the clouds out of those west Texas skies. I look up and I feel the power of God in that wind and I know my daddy is resting in His arms.
I’ll get another cherry coke and start that ride back. It’s less than 4 hours. When I get to the crossroad again, I’ll turn east back into central Texas. El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Santa Monica will have to wait for another time.
Driving away from the setting sun with the road humming along and my music set to old country music–the kind my daddy loved. I start to sing along, like my daddy always did. I felt sad but comforted by the trip to my daddy’s place.
In some ways, today I carved out a new journey down this old road. Traveling never looks the same when your purpose changes.
It’s good to know God will help you if you develop a new vision
or if you need to take a new journey
even if it is down an old road.
Dance as though no one is watching you…
LOVE as though you have never been hurt before,
SING as though no one can hear you,
LIVE as though heaven is on earth. —Souza
______________________________________________________The story below came to me via an e-mail friend. I couldn’t let the heart of the story pass without sharing it with you. An old woman wrote this letter to her friend. The last line says it all!
I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.
“Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was.
I’m guessing–I’ll never know.
It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, tell myself that it is special.
truly is a gift from God.
Take a few minutes to share this with a few people you care about, just to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we are here we might as well dance
Click to listen to the touching song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
Do You Have a Dream?
You Are Not Alone…
[Before you begin to read this, click the video below, open it and let it play while you read. Chopin touches my heart in a spiritual way!]
A comparison to music and dreams may seem a bit strange, but I believe they are very much alike. And I like the idea that a dream is akin to music notes flying across time and space. Some say that musicians and dreamers are less than realistic emphasizing both pursuits are a bit ambiguous and elusive. True, you can’t hold them or look at them or put them in a box…but the results born out of either is like unto love…and that is real.
You may have experienced that life puts you right in the middle of living with no time for fanciful things–like dreaming. I was one of those giving excuses for holding my dreams inside of me letting them become distant and unattended. I had hushed the joy of my melody by keeping the music silent.
Then, circumstances changed. Even after I had the opportunity to sing my song for all to hear, I hesitated. Sometimes we actually are afraid of our dreams…we are afraid to make the music if others will hear it. We’re a little embarrassed about what we think is good and maybe someone else would call it shallow, inferior. Even after I’d found the time to pursue my dream, it took me a while to be brave enough to step into the abyss of my imagination. So just recently I found a way to put a life-time dream into action, and the music (words) began to flow freely…and you’re reading it now!
I believe the words I write are like music playing all across the internet – straight from my heart to yours.
I INVITE YOU to dream, make the music, take the chance, play the song even if it is not yet concert worthy. For living your dream is the most satisfying and joyous thing you can do. Sad that we give in to denying ourselves the joy; but how much more lovely our world would be if we did not hold our dreams and music hostage inside us. To make the world more beautiful and peaceful, we must set them free.
YOU HAVE A PLACE YOU CAN SPEAK YOUR DREAM, YOUR WISH, YOUR HEART’S DESIRE.
On this blog, you can leave your dream. You can test out your ideas. This is a place you can share with others.
Like a secret, some say a dream loses its strength if you share it. Others say it confirms its validity when you hear it echoed from your thoughts into words. Again, this is how dreams are like music. Imagine this…the music is there even before the piano key is pressed, before the strings are strummed or the voice emits a sound.
You may have a valid point when you say you’re hesitating because someone else is squashing your ideas and dreams. I understand that. I’ve been in that place. It takes a strong belief in yourself, your self-worth, your abilities, and a lot of extra effort to dig out of such a negative place.
Here, I may need to remind you:
what is inside of you is yours…you must own it, defend it, direct it and it’s no one else’s responsibility. Therefore, you cannot blame your failure to try upon someone else. Well, you can, but it does nothing to promote achievement of your personal goals. And it’s no one else’s business how you dream your dream. How do you know if a dream is worth the effort? If it burns inside of you, then it’s worthy.
After you have established the belief that your dreams are worth pursuing, the next step is to research it, check out others who are doing what you want to do, read their stories, play their compositions. The struggle others have experienced and the roads they have traveled to victory is an important lesson for you to know. Maybe it’s time to let what’s inside you have its voice and let it go where it may. Think how many you could influence if you put feet to that dream and wings to that music
I will publish your wish, your dream, your goal so others may see faith in action.
Or if you just want to write it down and don’t want the world to know, I will keep it safe for you.
If you are in the midst of that negative place, read about others who found the strength to work their way out. If you doubt your abilities, go ahead and try; you will either succeed or fail. If you want to make the music, find a quiet place and begin your symphony. Starting over or stepping onto another path is never easy, but what awaits is pure joy and peace.Let the music out of your soul~ Let it fly across the world to others.
“Don’t die with the music still in you.” Wayne W. DyerBy clicking “Leave a Comment“ beside the title of this story, you can leave your dream for safe keeping or to share with others. I will leave this as the top story for a month for you to write, revisit, share with others, and say what you wish to about your dreams or the music you are composing in your life. You may also follow me on Twitter by clicking the “Follow Me on Twitter” on my home page or by clicking this link: https://twitter.com/VanHessTXred You may follow this blog by e-mail and be notified when new posts are published.
© Van Hess and New Journeys On Old Roads, 2013-14
What I’m Reading
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Reading is like traveling in your mind. I’ve always loved books and love to tell the story of going to the Bookmobile in the summertime. I was allowed to check out only one book. Well, I’d be through with that the next day and had nothing to read until the next week when the Bookmobile came and parked at the school. I asked, and received, special permission to check out as many as I wanted! I was the happiest 4th grader in town.
When I would run out of books, I would read anything around the house–my dad’s Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and my mother’s Bible. Any story was better than none!
You might well imagine my house is full of books. I don’t like to get rid of them, so I buy more bookshelves to hold them. I stack them two rows deep, I file them on shelves, I arrange them by color, I turn them any way making them fit to the top of the shelf. Sell them? Oh, no…never! In my “final wishes” I’ve instructed my family to NEVER SELL my books…give them away…that’s OK…BUT NEVER SELL THEM.
From time to time I will share with you here what I’ve been reading.
Will be back here soon to update you on my reading list!
The first time I came across the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was in the 70s. At the time I was reading other books like Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and Shirley McLaine’s Out on a Limb. Those types of books were part of the cultural/spiritual evolution and revolution of the 70s.
The next time “Jonathan” came into my life was when a friend of mine gave me the book in 2002. Asked if I had read it, I said, “Yes. A long time ago.” So I sat down to re-read the book.
That period of time was a particular new discovery for me, and I found “Jonathan” to be inspiring this time for me in a whole new way. As I’ve traveled some journeys in those last 12 years, I have revisited “Jonathan” again and again.
If you are one of those people who needs or searches for some solid comparisons of how your life can be experienced by others and how others find answers, it might be worth a first or another read for you.
“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free. We can learn to fly.”
I have discovered that being free from shackles of inefficiency and ignorance can lead us to perform great tasks—greater than our minds are capable of imagining.
Upon “Jonathan’s” achievement of the ultimate (he thought it was at the time) life in heaven, he realizes he has broken free of his earthly limitations; he learns the art of flying high and soaring (which is not nature for a seagull). His mentor explains to him:
“You will begin to touch heaven, Jon, in the moment you touch perfect [speed]. Perfect speed my son, is being there.”
Nearly two years ago upon my retirement during an occasion where my colleagues were honoring me and my service, I thought about “Jonathan.”
I told the group what has come to be my anthem about those people and opportunities that come into our life and either pass through or stay for a while or maybe a lifetime.
“If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then we’ve destroyed our brotherhood [mankind]. Overcome space and all we have left is HERE; overcome time and all we have left is NOW. In the middle of HERE and NOW don’t you think we might see each other once or twice?”
That is my belief—that we never say goodbye to those in our lives—we simply meet them on another level.
As the reader nears the last pages of Jonathan’s tale, there are comments and references that will remind you of the story of Jesus—how He came to the earth to help His people. “Loving the flock enough to return to it and help it…” His mentor continued, “…[this] is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than the thought of itself.”
I’m not saying this story is a replacement for any religion or philosophy nor does it suggest nor does it address any religion. I don’t think it is meant to do that. I am, however, saying that the thoughts of who we are encompasses what we are here on earth and the idea there is more that awaits believers.
If you want to watch a process unfold before your eyes, pick up the book today and let the author’s thoughts walk—or fly—among your thoughts.
Richard Bach. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story. MacMillan Publishers, 1970. ISBN: 0-380-01286-3; Library of Congress Number: 75-119617
After Notes: this link will bring you up to date on Richard Bach and his writings. After a near-death experience, the new publications are a must read to any fan. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/11/richard-bach-jonathan-livingston-seagull-part-four
Wanted to tell you I just finished From Elvis to Elvira-My Life on Stage by Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, with Steven Robinson. Autographed & available from ORB website @http://oakridgeboys.com/merch
If you are a fan of the Oak Ridge Boys and their more-than-40 years of entertaining, you will enjoy this behind the scenes look. Moreover, if you are an Elvis fan, find out how Richard Sterban is associated with “The King.”
When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. Erasmus
What Readers Are Saying