Reflecting on the Veil….

Flags and Flowers by Heidi Ann MorrisIt’s a cold, blustery day and I am hoping the dogwoods in my front yard will bloom before long. I love all the flowering trees in Virginia, like the one in this photo by my friend Heidi Anne. It has taken considerable contemplation to unearth the significance of such a tree to me. Memories seem to surface when we are ready to take hold of them. I contracted the old fashioned measles when I was five years old. The fever spiked at 105 degrees and my grandmother packed me in ice in her clawfoot tub. She refused to let them take me to the hospital because she was convinced I would die there. She felt the nurses were overworked and I needed more constant care. In her words, I was ‘too close to piercing the veil’. After the fever broke I spent three weeks in a darkened room with a radio turned down to a whisper. The volume knob had been removed to keep it at that level. Old fashioned measles was notorious for blinding and deafening children that survived. Any loud noise or bright light could compromise my senses for the rest of my life. I did end up with a weak left eye, the side that faced the bathroom door while I was in the tub full of ice. My hearing is actually more acute, an effect experienced by those who were meticulously cared for. I do not remember much about those three weeks, except an overwhelming sense that I was not alone. I knew my grandmother and her friends were desperately praying for me. She fed me that fact with each and every meal of jello and each time she checked to be sure I was drinking water. It was more of an abiding sense and a knowledge that a healing waiting me. I made up stories in my head and listened to all sorts of strange radio stations. Perhaps part of what gave me hope was that untamed imagination that is the prevue of every five year old. My most vivid memory is sitting on the porch for the first time after those three long weeks. Being outdoors seemed like a fairyland, and every color, every sight was over the top. It was early spring and there was a blooming tree in front of the porch, a tree a lot like the one in photo. Even my perspective mimics the photo, since I was in a reclined position. There were even flags of a sort that glorious day, at least flags in my imagination. The veil my grandmother feared I would pierce had become a direct line to the heavens. Life of any form was beyond precious, something miraculous and awe inspiring in its own right. My life since has been full of ups and downs, uncanny victories but also devastating disappointments. Yet regardless of what life brings, I begin each day with pray, with hope against hope in what may seem to others to be beyond hope. You see I have no choice but to believe in prayer, because without it you would not be reading this blog. I have been living on borrowed time for all but five years of my life, and God willing, will continue to live on borrowed time for as long as God needs me here. Make time today to thank God for your precious life, given to you breath by breath. Let the wonders of nature speak to you. Pause to contemplate the beginnings of new life on the trees, the nodules that began to grow last autumn as soon as the leaves fell. And most of all, trust in the healing that has been prepared for you, and deeply and slowly breathe it in, one breath at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, photo entitled ‘Direct Line to Heaven’ by Heidi Anne Morris ©2015-2017, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

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Reflecting on Caregiving….

It’s steadily raining this morning, making today the start of a third wet week. Puddles are everywhere, and the raindrops make perfect circles as they land. The weather has turned cold, and the rain is even colder. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my friend Michael of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Michael rose early to take this photo, of the new dawn over calm water. The perfect blue sky seems a distant memory, like warm, summer days. So much can change so quickly. Yesterday my father would have celebrated his 93rd birthday. He passed away almost three years ago, in our home. In the days after Daddy passed away, I found it difficult to adjust. As his primary caregiver, I had become accustomed to listening for the slightest sound, to reacting without thinking. Sometimes I wonder if I simply sorted things out without really waking up. The only experience comparable to those last days would be caring for a newborn, with exuberant joy replaced by aching sorrow. Yet there were many mornings when my chaotic schedule allowed me to see the early dawn. Perhaps the seeds of these reflections were sown in that quiet, in between time. My heart was nourished by awe inspiring beauty in the midst of pain and sorrow. Every day, even the saddest of days, is full of possibilities and promises. Take time today to look beyond what is right in front of you, to allow a simple wonder to draw you in. If the scene is too dreary or depressing, consider looking through photos of a recent trip or call and chat with a close friend. And remember to drink in whatever this day offers, because so much can change so quickly. Photo by Michael Granche

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