Holiday Wish

prayer candles

Before the senseless act this past Friday that stole twenty precious little angels from grieving families and six heroes trying to protect these beautiful babies, my holiday greeting may have read differently but it is just as heartfelt.

The world is grieving these twenty innocent little children who never had the chance to dream their dreams and make their mark, as well as the six adults whose selfless devotion to these children put them in harm’s way.  We grieve because we can only imagine how it would feel to have our world turned inside out, to feel such a crushing loss.  Some of you may grieve because you have experienced such a loss.

These unthinkable acts of violence occur far too often, all around the world.  We do not visualize them happening in sleepy little communities where everyone feels part of an extended family.  No one can fathom laying to rest innocent little babies; it is just beyond comprehension.  Lives of families touched by such violence are forever changed, and happening during the Christmas season will forever dampen the joy normally felt at this time.

My wish for everyone this holiday is that we truly remember the reason for this season and have God in our hearts and in our homes. Now more than ever we need hope; we need to feel connected to our family and loved ones; we need to feel needed and loved and have someone in our lives to offer us strength.

If you are missing this in your life, reach out to another for help, and if you are blessed to have great joy in your life at this time, touch someone else’s life, passing on this beautiful gift.  There are so many lost and troubled souls in the world right now.  Perhaps if we extend a loving hand some of this violence can be averted.  We need to start somewhere.

May all who are suffering this holiday season be given the gift of inner peace and let us hold all those close in our hearts who are suffering the devastating loss of a loved one.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky said “the darker the night, the brighter the stars,
the deeper the grief, the closer is God.”  God must be very close indeed right now.

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A Painful First

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~ From a headstone in Ireland

Many anniversaries invoke warm, tender memories but for those who knew and loved Barbara Burke, this anniversary is anything but.  Today is the first anniversary of her passing and although I knew this day was drawing near,  I am in disbelief.  I cannot accept that you are gone, my dear friend, even one year later.  Sometimes my mind tricks me into believing that you are still sitting at your computer, creating vibrant works of art, all with your big toe.  But there is no one there to count down the days until my visit, as we always did.  Where are you now?

I walk along the beach and feel you in the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze on my skin, the power in the surf, the grace of the soaring birds overhead.  I see glimpses of your essence in others and wonder, is that you?  Are you trying to communicate with us?  Or is this what I do to comfort myself?

Some of the most intimate times we shared  is when I read to you.  The book “Anam Cara” by John O’Donahue was one of your favorites and the discussions we had after always touched me deeply.  It was beautiful; it was moving; it is so damn tough to finish without you here.  I can’t seem to pick it up and move on from where we ended.  How ironic it is that John O’Donahue, Irish poet, priest, and philosopher died suddenly at age 53, just as you.  Both of your voices were quieted much too soon.

An excerpt from his book “Benedictus”, a book of blessings written  shortly before his death, seems fitting at this time:

‘May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death
Something you never knew or felt,
Which with one simple touch
Absolves you of all loneliness and loss,
As you quicken within the embrace
For which your soul was eternally made.

‘May your heart be speechless
At the sight of the truth
Of all your belief had hoped,
Your heart breathless
In the light and lightness
Where each and every thing
Is at last its true self
Within that serene belonging
That dwells beside us
On the other side
Of what we see.’

You always loved flowers, particularly your morning glories, which always remind me of my mother.  When you sensed your time was drawing near and you were struggling with knowing when to let go, you captured some of these beauties at the end of their season, hanging on a vine by a thread, and developed a Power Point presentation which became an analogy for your life, when to let go.  How our hearts ached and the tears flowed when we watched this.

Your grace and beauty live on through your artwork, music, photos, letters to family and friends and the countless memories we hold so dear.  The grief that you felt at your illness and impending death we too experience.  We will come to the acceptance as you did, although not very soon I fear.  You touched us all so deeply Barbara and for me, you will always be my anam cara, my soul friend.