Posts Tagged With: peace

The Sound of Heavenly Peace

holly ivyHave you ever wished you could talk with someone who has died? How do you picture something like that coming about? An ethereal mist with somewhat human form? A tangible person appearing from nowhere? Simply hearing a voice? How about just a feeling?

A couple of times my friend Kathy has “spoken” to me, but only in a kind of “I know what she’d say in this situation if she were here” sort of way. Like the first time I got a diet Cherry Coke from Sonic without her in the seat beside me. The thought came to me that she’d say, “Girl! Open the sunroof, crank the tunes and enjoy that diet Coke!”

Nah, I didn’t hear her voice at all. Just the memory of her in my head.

Then there’s the times I’ve had a conversation and said something really negative or pessimistic. “Kathy would get after me for saying that,” I think to myself.

By Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Still, not what I’ve wanted, or hoped for or thought I needed. I’m pretty sure she said all she needed to say to me while she still lived and breathed. But this month I’m finding myself reliving and reviewing last December, since it was Kathy’s last month of this life. I can’t not do that.

So what does all that have to do with my Gratituesday today?

Kathy finally spoke to me, indirectly, but as directly as she could. Consider this quote before you read on: “If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.” ~Mark Helprin

Kathy’s husband woke in the middle of the night a month or so ago with the thought that “Kami needs to go to this Christmas concert I’m singing in.” He tried to ignore the thought and go back to sleep, but the it persisted. So he messaged me and then, a few weeks later, gifted me these tickets.

Saturday night MSH and I attended the concert. I tried not to have high expectations. It’s just a big two hundred and fifty member choir and an orchestra. Nothing professional. And I didn’t want to be disappointed by, I don’t know, Kathy not walking across the stage and waving hello to me or some such ridiculous incarnation like that.

And yet, life can surprise you.

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The title of the concert? “Heavenly Peace.”

From the first note my heart opened up and tears dripped from my eyes like a faucet left on. Why? Because the music communicated peace right to the middle of me. I felt cradled and comforted by the harmonies. Oddly, the lyrics didn’t matter as much as the warmth that radiated through sound waves swirling around me.

Songs of delight and child-like frivolity also danced across my heart. A sweet preschool choir communicated the innocence and excitement of the holidays. A tonal poem of one word repeated drew a colored sound picture so exquisite.

By nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

The final number, though, gave new meaning to the word breathtaking. Bagpipes and dancers, chimes, singers in the balconies, singers overflowing the stage, every single participant pouring their everything in to each note! I literally had to catch my breath multiple times to keep my emotions in check. The sheer joy of the Christmas season with generosity and fun, lights and song, focus and tradition, shot through my heart like lasers swooshing about the room. I felt lifted and renewed and saturated with incredible hope.

I felt Kathy communicating, “Feel that? That’s how I feel now! I feel relief and joy and freedom and incomprehensible love.”

I’m thankful today for music’s power to transcend ordinary communication. I’m grateful for musical artists who give with such abandon to their craft. I’m indebted to people who pay attention and respond promptly to nudges and thoughts and then follow through with generosity and love. I thank Kathy for getting through to me and showering down blessings from heaven. I’m overwhelmed with the joy of this Christmas season.

Thank you to any and all who had a part in this singularly magnificent Christmas gift.

musical notes

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Safe, Secure and Sleeping Like a Baby

It’s Gratituesday! I’m grateful today for a sense of security and safety.

By Zuzu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

By Zuzu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Early this morning, four a.m. or so, MSH asks, “What’s that sound?”

A sort of low rumbling reverberated through the walls of the house and vibrated just so. I replied, “That’s just a car stereo.”

“Oh, right, of course,” he mumbled in his half-sleep.

“Or,” I said, jokingly, “someone’s doing some bombing not too far off.”

His sleepy non-chuckle left me smiling in my less drowsy state.

I know in many areas of the world that’s not a laughing matter, and more likely than not the disturbing sound that wakes a person isn’t something that someone shrugs off. I recognize, but not always, that I live an incredibly sheltered, safe life in the way-out suburbs of a fairly decent sized city, and I seldom worry about such things.

My sister-in-law and niece are in Kenya volunteering in a medical capacity. When I read “Kenya” in a news headline yesterday, my radar buzzed and hummed and worried. Fortunately they aren’t anywhere near Kenya’s coastal town of Mpeketoni. They’re in Nairobi, an inland city ten hours away. Here’s the thing. Kenya’s coastal towns used to be some of the most stable and secure areas in East Africa. Tourists flocked there with abandon. Do you think that’s changed now? Yeah, me too.

But that’s Africa, is what I want to tell myself. That continent has always been unstable, uncertain, scary. Uh huh.

I can just keep telling myself that. Or I can face reality.

Is it just a matter of time before my safe little pocket of suburbia becomes unstable? Or am I worrying about nothing? Fifteen years ago we boarded planes without a thought about safety or security. Less than twenty years ago, schools seemed like bastions of stability and safety, where we blithely left our children in the care and keeping of school staff. Malls, post offices, movie theaters, buses, cafes, on the road, at work, in your home. All seem safe but haven’t always been for everybody.

I wish, I wish, I wish it were so. Safety, security, peace, lack of fear.

Here’s the thing I find weird about today’s topic. I hesitated posting it. In fact, it’s after eight in the evening and I’m still hanging back.

Why?

I don’t want to jinx things. Kind of like praying for patience, you end up having to practice it to get it. I’m not wanting anything like that today. I’m simply grateful that I feel safe, that I live in circumstances where I’m not holding my breath at loud noises, sudden movements, scary things.

I know it can change. Suddenly, irrevocably. But for today, for now, for what I’ve had so far, I’m so aware of how rare and rich and free I feel in my safe little coccoon.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The White Flag of Surrender

I have a few questions for you.

  • Do you ever want to throw up the white flag and surrender?
  • Does admitting defeat seem like the only way to win?
  • Is giving up starting to look like your only option?
  • Will abandoning all hope give you some kind of peace?
  • Do the words “I’m done!” wait to leap from your mouth?

give-up-bg

If so I have a question for you:

  • How do YOU stop yourself from calling it quits?
  • How do YOU keep moving forward?
  • What do YOU tell yourself when things look hopeless?
  • Have YOU ever actually given in to the giving up feelings? Did it help?
  • WHY do you keep trying when you want to throw up your hands in helpless defeat?

In short:

How do you keep on keeping on?

No, don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m always fine. I have my coping strategies, my work arounds, my pick-me-ups, my support network.

I’m just wondering how other people do it.

I stand in awe of what others manage to get through. I’m amazed at their ability to withstand challenges that would wither me.

So I’m just curious about you.

What’s gotten you through the tough spots?

Categories: Hope, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What Day Is It?

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for those rare days that happen when time slows, pauses and provides a restful sense of calm and peace.

Most often these are three-day weekends. You know that Friday-feels-like-Saturday sensation? Mmmm. Then the real Saturday feels like a bonus day. Then a tangible slowness silently inhabits Sunday. To-do lists cease to exist. Urgency disappears. Sweat pants or pajamas fill all clothing requirements.

Catlike, I nap, liquid, languorous and delicious. Stretching, I peer at the hours that lay before me, unhurried and unworried.

Add in a Monday free from obligations and by Monday evening I’ve transformed into a new person, rejuvenated, alight with quiet energy, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

All this finds more pleasure if the people you’re with are agreeable to a slow pace, quiet talk, flexible meal times, ignoring clocks, lazy strolls, comfy couches and plenty of chocolate.

I’ve been fortunate, richly blessed, to have just had such a weekend. I’m all smiles and ease. Just what I’ve been needing.

20130409-114420.jpg

Ground cover softening a stone path beside a small pond.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Sacred Spaces

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of a hospital is not a place you want to spend time in.  I found myself there once to support a friend and her family.

When a child’s life hangs in the balance, people from all walks of life, of all faiths or no faith, search for peace, understanding, hope, answers, or a higher power to intervene. Whatever help they can find, however they can find it, they reach for it.

Over the course of several days I found myself in a beautifully designed, peaceful space we called the “chapel.”  Stepping through the doors into the oval-shaped room, with its opaque stained glass trees and gently rounding edges, felt to me like passing into another world.  Sounds muffled, voiced muted, lights diffused, peace hovered.

Lest you think it was simply my own personal reaction to the room let me offer the following incident.

Leaf lamina. The leaf architecture probably ar...

Another friend and her husband came to visit and had brought their own young children as I told them I’d be happy to keep them entertained while the two sets of parents visited. We explored the child-friendly waiting areas with giant chess pieces, the floor that lit up when they stepped on the tiles, some really awesome larger than life toys, and gigantic Lego bricks.  When the play area finally got boring I suggested we go upstairs to see what I told them was a beautiful tree room.

I had said nothing of the reason for the room, had not mentioned it was a chapel.  I simply thought they would enjoy the colors in the stained glass and the unique shape of the room.  When they walked into this room of glass and wood, of reflection and prayer, they immediately quieted their voices. They explored as children do, with fingers touching the different textures and colors of glass and gliding along smooth surfaces.  A small wire and bronze tree sculpture garnered their attention with its tiny leaves and gracefully arching branches.

And then to my surprise, the seven-year-old boy said “hey guys, we can meditate here.”  There was no fussing, or complaining, they all simply sat in a circle in the middle of the room, some in the lotus position, some with crossed legs, hands held just so resting on each knee.  This tiny group of children, who five minutes ago were bouncing wildly through a play area, settled into a brief quiet meditation.

I felt suddenly out-of-place and far too noisy simply sitting on a chair watching these amazing children respond the to climate and spirit of a room.

I believe the prayers, and tears, hopes and pleading that happen in that room remain long after the visitors leave.  Those private tears and supplications for miracles and healing become a part of the walls, the glass, the wood, the very air.  The room becomes infused with hopes and wishes. The very echoes of heartstrings stretched taut to breaking create a sacred space, a haven, a respite, a connection to something more.

Is this something beyond medicine? Or is it the ultimate medicine?

Or is it something else altogether?

Alaska forest - trees

What makes a space sacred?

Sacrifice. Need.

Intention. Tragedy.

Belief. Dedication.

Blessings. Desire.

Reverence.

Consecration.

Promises. Nature.

I know I certainly need more time spent in the sanctuaries of my life. The peace that comes as I take a solitary morning walk amid some of earth’s grand greenery is well compensated. Time spent contemplating life, or merely emptying my mind, brings a calmness that permeates my day. Other places I consider sacred can imbue meaning and  hope in my life as I spend time and allow the atmosphere there to settle in and around me.

Life moves fast and can be fiercely painful at times. Going somewhere silent and sacred can lend balance and offer a balm like nothing else can.

Do you have a sacred space somewhere in your life? If not, do you need one?

Stained Glass

Categories: Mental Health, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Listening for Sanity

I haven’t heard  the song “All I want for Christmas is a hippopotamus” yet this year.

Christmas in the post-War United States

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a loss.

Nor have my ears been accosted by anyone’s version of “Santa Baby.”

Sigh.

No one has blasted me with “Grandma’s Been Run over by a Reindeer.”

Oh my.

“Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” hasn’t yet bounced and jostled it’s way through my head.

Phew!

Amazingly, I’ve missed every single rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” that seems to inundate every sound wave in the hearing world this time of year.

What will I do?

Feel at peace, perhaps?

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music.

Here’s some nice alternatives to the usual noise blaring on the radio or over the store’s sound system.

Any tune by Vince Guaraldi, whose songs you’d recognize if you’ve ever watched a Charlie Brown cartoon, is a welcome background sound. “Skating” is a nice example.  So is this one.

I also hum to myself, often an unrecognizable song, sometimes a composite of a few mismatched songs. That’s my favorite. Whistling is nice, although a little more noticeable.  People might wonder what you’ve been up to if you sound that cheerful. Exercise caution with the whistling thing.

Classical holiday music, without lyrics, is my solace this year.

I know, I’m so boring. And I love it!

This year I’m choosing to find Peace on Earth, in a different way.  Nothing groundbreaking.  Just a simple change in the music I listen to.

In the car, the radio is OFF.

I’ve got a music app that allows me to choose the soundtrack to my day.

The World Is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon

The World Is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon (Photo credit: xdestineex)

I feel blessed beyond words. To be able to block out the world, somewhat, with two little ear buds, attached by a thin wire to a miraculous little device in my pocket, is a balm and solace in my life that I am so grateful for.

When “the world is too much with us” I have an instant retreat. Music covers me like an umbrella and keeps the rain of chaos and frantic busyness at a distance. I can breathe in slowly and deeply and move with deliberate and unrushed steps.

Anything with a Windham Hill label, like George Winston, or Jim Brickman works nicely for my sanity level.  Jon Schmidt with the Piano Guys is always a great choice.  Choosing anything with the word Philharmonic soothes the soul with caressing notes and gentleness.

I’m just keeping a grip on reality as best I can here. So far, it’s only the 12th of December, it’s working.

If music is the handrail on my daily path providing balance and peace, then play on.

 

Do you have any music that soothes and smoothes your day?  I’d love to get some more suggestions.

 

Categories: Joy, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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