It is Sunday morning and I am sitting in my lanai. I relished a short lie-in this morning after our trip home yesterday afternoon, unpacking and sorting out clothes and getting them washed and put away. It is good to be home in familiar surroundings. We had a great week in Orlando and it was good to be away from the usual routines. But it’s always lovely to come home.
It is a gorgeous day. Another one of those sparkling “Princess Di” days. The sun is shining brilliantly from a clear blue sky and there is a slight breeze sighing through the pine trees out back. Everything is gently moving and I can see all the individual needles on the pine trees fluttering in the breeze and shimmering in the sunlight.
I sit back in my chair and breathe in the soft, warm air. Yes, it’s warm here in sunny Florida at the end of November, although I hear that temperatures are going to dip down later on this week. In the meantime, I am enjoying this “Indian summer” and feel very happy and content. In fact my heart is full joy right now as I look at the beauty that God has placed right here in my back yard.
I notice that the small brown birds, I believe they are sparrows, are back again as they pass through on their way to who-knows-where and they are clustering on the feeders. There’s a flash of red as a colorful cardinal claims his place and the sparrows flutter away until he is done. I can hear the squirrels barking in the trees as they playfully, or maybe not, fuss at each other. Mokka, our cat, sits in the sun, her tail slowly swishing as she thinks her cat-thoughts about the birds.
But even as I am aware of the joy that I feel I am also aware that there is sadness punching and poking at my heart. It feels as though one ventricle is full of joy and the other is full of sadness. My life is blessed in so many ways and I am truly grateful for that. Yet I have a longing for a healed relationship with my sister who I miss so very much, and another longing for a happy, satisfying relationship with my daughter who I also miss very much.
And I am reminded of one of my favorite authors, Kahlil Gibran, who, when asked in his book The Prophet to speak about Joy and Sorrow, responds with these wise and wonderful words of wisdom:
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.”…………..
“Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”……………
“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”………..
”Together they come [Joy and Sorrow], and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
And so hangs the balance of all life. One moment we are in joy, and the next we are in sorrow. And sometimes we carry them together. And I can only learn to surrender to what is, to accept the gift of my emotions no matter what they are. As a character in the movie Shirley Valentine said, “If I can feel it means I am alive.”
Today is Thanksgiving Day. Richard and I are on our traditional Thanksgiving week vacation. We own a small time share in Orlando and it has become our custom to take the Thanksgiving week and enjoy a break away from all the chaos that leads up to the Holiday Season.
It’s a pretty standard time share condo: a lounge/dining area with a small compact half kitchen, a decent size bathroom with a shower in the tub which has some whirlpool jets, and a bedroom with a nice comfortable king-size bed and the prerequisite double closet and chest of drawers. There are two TV’s and a boom box and all the necessary accoutrements for cooking, cleaning, and ironing. The furnishings are nice with small touches of tasteful décor, but nothing extravagant.
However, there is one item of pure luxury as far as I am concerned. We have a large screened-in balcony that accommodates a table and four chairs and there’s still plenty of room to move around. This is my “lanai away from home” and where I spend the vast majority of whatever time we do not spend running out and about. Over the past few days I have sat out here and written about one hundred and forty Christmas cards, remembering friends far and near as I always do at this time of the year.
This is where I come first thing in the morning to have my quiet time with God and do my reflection readings and pray and meditate. This is my small sanctuary where I find safe haven where I can reaffirm or reclaim my inner peace and gratitude for all my blessings. I also bring my laptop out here to do my writing, as I am doing at this very moment. I feel like this is a special gift from God to me.
As I sit here on the lanai I look out over a small artificial lake with a fountain set in the middle. The lake is surrounded by other condo buildings but they are spaced out enough that we are not crowded. There is lush green grass everywhere dotted with flowering trees and shrubs, and pathways offer the opportunity to walk or jog everywhere.
Today is a glorious sparkling blue day – a Princess Di kind of day. The sun is shining brilliantly and shimmers on the water in the lake. There are a few white clouds softly smeared across the sky and the temperature is warm and inviting. I’m thinking about going for a walk and a swim. There is a balmy breeze blowing and the palm fronds wave lazily as it moves through. The smaller leaves on other trees are fluttering like myriads of green butterflies and everything seems to be in gentle motion. Along the banks of the lake a small blue heron is gracefully and stealthily stalking a prey that only he can see.
I sit here and feel the sun warming me to the very depths of my bones and I am so very grateful for all of this, that is so much more than my basic needs. I am grateful for food on my table and a roof over my head. I am grateful for fresh-smelling soap to wash myself with. I am grateful for a closetful of clothes (mainly purple!!) that I can chose from. I am grateful for a loving, kind, patient husband (he needs to be patient with this purple creature he has married!).
I am grateful for the whole of my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes, there are some bad and ugly parts to my life and yes, I am grateful for them too. They serve as humble reminders that I still have more work to do to improve. I am grateful that today I can recognize, admit and accept that I am not perfect and that there is room for growth. Amen!!!
For the trillionth time in the past few years I heard someone say, “Oh my God, time is just flying by”. And I mentally concurred as I noted the date on the calendar. It’s November 2009, almost Thanksgiving with Christmas knocking on the door. And, as usual, I found myself internally asking, “Where does the time go?”
Well, it goes by doesn’t it? I mean it doesn’t go for a walk, or to the movies, nor does it go to bed or on vacation!! It simply goes by, tick-tocking the seconds one by one. It never stops, nor does it go back on itself. It keeps on marching and no one can stop it or change it.
Sometimes when I think about the inexorable passing of time I get in a bit of a panic. I suspect that’s the very human part of me that recognizes underneath it all that with the passing of time my life span gets shorter by the second. However, there are other moments when I feel quite OK with the passage of time and I’m sure that’s when I’m more spiritually fit, when I’m more God-centered rather then me-centered.
I actually have a personal theory as to why time seems to be flying by. I’m very sure that the closer my soul feels to home, the more it seemingly accelerates time. It wants to get there, no delay!! I am of course speaking from a Christian perspective. I do believe in an after-life and I think that the closer I get to my transition date from this earth, then my soul is just in a hurry to get there.
Then I find myself thinking about heaven and what that might be like. When I was younger I used to imagine thousands of us, all glowing white and gold, surrounded by angels with long golden trumpets, just kind of bobbing around in this shiny nebulous place – rather like bobbers on a fishing line all massed together and smiling beatifically at each other.
Today my idea of heaven is greatly changed. Seeing as it’s my goal to get there I’ve given it quite a lot of thought. I’m very sure there will be activity rather than just sitting or standing around “bobbing” and beaming at the other souls. I really imagine some of it will allow me to sit on a seashore or a riverbank with Jesus and Buddha, Gandhi and Gibran, Richard Bach and Og Mandino, Marianne Williamson and Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Princess Di and Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Wayne Dyer.
There will be time to talk with them, collectively and individually. Unlimited time to ask them questions and have long discussions with them. I am sure I will meet the spiritual beings that were my family members and friends and that we will be able to connect in ways that were impossible here on earth because of the lessons we were learning, or teaching, here.
Most importantly there will be love, complete and unconditional love which will be the true source of happiness and joy. Practicing compassion will be the norm. There will be a beauty that transcends any earthly concept of beauty. And there will be no pain and no hatred. Now that’s what I call heaven.