A Good Home, Inspiration

Late-Night Thoughts

Dear Friends: With a new book out in January of all months, I’m delinquent in both my updates and following. I read at least 10 blog posts a day, but it’s not always enough.

For now, I thought I’d share some of my late-night thoughts, written over several years.

Privileges

Stopping to acknowledge our privileges, no matter how small — and giving thanks for them — allows us to dwell in the realm of the positive instead of rushing headlong into solving the next problem, or worrying about it.

Hidden Beauty

When the leaves fall, we suddenly see all kinds of things that were hidden. One morning I woke up and looked through the window, and there was our stream, rushing and sparkling through the woods.

Memory

On many days, my near-past was a distant planet. It twinkled against the impenetrable darkness of what should have been memory.

Extremists

Extremists can be a vexation to the spirit – especially those that are one’s beloved friends or relatives.

Perhaps they are sent to test one’s patience and beliefs — including my own belief that each of us is, in some way, a representation of God. So I force myself to remember Mother Teresa’s saying: “There goes God in another of his distressing disguises.”

Of course, it’s also likely that each of us is fundamentalist/extremist in some way that just hasn’t been threatened yet.

Writing to Heal

I wrote because I could not speak. (Journal entry, later said to a radio interviewer about my difficulty thinking and speaking during the toughest years post-accident)

~~

When we write about deep pains, when we note – and perhaps even share — our moments of great insight, it releases something in us. And when we stop to count our blessings, and give thanks for them, we let joy in.

Words Have Power

It is so much easier to generalize, overlook and dismiss people than to try to understand them. But I’ve learned from hard experience that not listening, and not trying to understand, can lead to a world of unkindness, hurt and trouble.

So when someone explains why they’re hurt by what I may well have intended as an innocent statement, I listen, and try to understand.

 ~~

We learn it when we’re children: words have power. Words can comfort, uplift, enlighten, but words can also hurt, damage, devastate.

I have reached the stage in life — after much suffering and reflection — to know that being considerate in my choice of words to and about others doesn’t mean weakness. It means strength.

 ~~

My best wishes,

Cynthia.

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A Good Home, Acts of Friendship

6 WAYS TO HELP A SICK/INJURED FRIEND

Thanks for your support in recent weeks. It reminds me: it’s so important to reach out to others in times of stress, illness or other need. I offer these tips (please add your own):

  1. Call. And call again. It matters to your friend, even if they can’t come to the phone. Some friends called even when I couldn’t think or speak clearly. They ended up talking with my husband. We both appreciated their effort.
  2. Send a card. In these days of quick email, a personal card is a valued touch. Personalize it with your own caring or inspirational words. A few friends reassured me: “This is just a temporary  setback, Cynthia. You WILL recover!”  
  3. Use email. Some friends sent me uplifting e-cards and jokes. Some sent me photos of their garden. And friend Carl visited and took photos of our garden, since I couldn’t go to see it myself. Then he sent me a picture of one flower every week. Those jokes, e-cards and photos cheered me.
  4. If possible, bring soup! Family friend Eva showed up with soup and magazines. I had a concussion and couldn’t read at first. I also had no appetite. But that soup kept me going in the early days after my fall. Later, friends John and Anne travelled a long way to bring us a delicious meal and spend time with my husband and me.
  5. Ask “How may I help?” My friend Gail, a great cook, kept asking. One day, I realized that I wanted Jamaican food. So Gail cooked oxtail and broad beans (with rice ‘n’ peas) and both couples had a great evening together.
  6. Pray. Let your friend know you’re sending good vibes and/or praying for him/her and their loved ones. I could see that my family was deeply distressed in the first three weeks after my fall. Knowing friends at church and elsewhere were praying for them was a comfort.

And yes, my friends who wrote via my blog and Facebook: I read your caring wishes as soon as I could. Those wishes warmed my family’s hearts, as well as mine. Thank you.

Cynthia.

Photo below by Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Magnolia CU by Hamlin

A Good Home, Inspiration, Prayer

Sometimes ….

I sometimes think that I’ve given you entirely the wrong impression.

That I’m strong, brave, and always optimistic.

Blog Photo - Late pink clematis solo

Truth is, I’m a recovering coward.

There have been times in recent years when I’ve felt completely weak, unwise and pessimistic.

Times when fear turned my insides to mush and great challenges brought me to my knees.

But as one friend says: “While you’re down there, you may as well pray”.

Sometimes, I had to pray several times before my insides finally returned to normal and I remembered: “All I need to do is put one foot in front of the other. And trust.”

Blog Photo - pansies - blue CU

Sometimes, putting one foot in front of the other meant writing a funny or optimistic post on my blog. Trusting that you’d read it, smile and be uplifted.

And sometimes it meant just going back to my bed. (And while there, perhaps reading a few of your own updates to cheer myself up.)

All of which may prove that the great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard was right when he said: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”


Blog Photo - Blue clematis2

Thanks for being there. These flowers are for you.

I end this post with a blessing from a Margaret Mair poem:

May the day hold you gently
In the softness of its hope
And the sun guide you surely
To where you find yourself
Contented and free
In the kindness of its light.

~~

Photos courtesy of Hamlin Grange.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Blessings, Canadians, Couples, Family Stories, Gardening, Garlic, Home, Inspiration, Love letters, Loving Acts, Vegetable Garden

“If you are reading this, it means….”

Our friend Jacqui phoned.

“Are you going to be there in a few minutes? I’m coming for a visit.”

I smiled. It was almost exactly what Paddy used to say. Minutes later, he and his wife Jacqui would be at our door.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Married for decades, they were always together, these two.

Blog Photo - Jacqui and Paddy on holidaysOur family loved their visits.

But Paddy died from cancer earlier this year.

We wondered if Jacqui would continue the impromptu visits. I was very pleased with her call.

As usual, I let her in through the kitchen door, and we hugged.

We sat at the harvest table.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest Basket tomatoes pumpkin

It was the same table that just last October was laden with produce from the garden — including the lone Jamaican pumpkin that grew from a seedling that Paddy and Jacqui had given us that spring.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest baskets with toamtoes peppers eggplants on table

“Come for your share of the pumpkin harvest,” we’d phoned them, laughing.

When they came, we handed them a bag filled with herbs, garlic, tomatoes and half of the Jamaican pumpkin.

Now, 8 months later, Jacqui and I sat together at the table for the first time without Paddy.

We sipped our tea.

She’d been going through Paddy’s belongings, she said. Deciding what to give away,  and identifying matters that needed her immediate attention.

She opened Paddy’s briefcase.

She saw an envelope addressed “To My Wife”.

She ripped it open and started to read:

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter ECU2

My dearest Jacqui.

So faithful and true!

… Without you, I would have had nothing. It was due to your sacrifices that we survived. You gave so much and demanded so little. Thank you for being so much to me over the years….”

“I want you to read it,” Jacqui said now, handing me the long white envelope.  She had torn it open at one end, but the writing on the front was clear: “To My Wife”, it said.

I reached into the envelope, pulled out the letter.

I got goosebumps.

Paddy’s letter to Jacqui ends with this paragraph:

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter final graph

“If you are reading this, it means that I’ve passed on. Don’t be sad. Our life together was good! Although I won’t be here in body, I will always be at your side in spirit.

“Good bye my love!”

Moved by his love for her and their daughter Donna — and by this considerate act – Jacqui cried.

Paddy and Daughter in earlier years
Paddy and Daughter in earlier years

But here’s what surprised her most: the letter was dated August 9, 1999.

Blog Photo - Jacqui letter date1

Paddy wrote it 14 years before – and put it in his briefcase, where he knew Jacqui would find it.

Blog Photo - Jacqui on verandah

The impact on Jacqui was so positive that on a subsequent visit, as we sat on the verandah, she agreed to let me share excerpts from the letter.

The lesson here:

There’s no need to wait. You can write that letter to someone you love right now.