Just a few days ago, someone told me her friend’s brother died and we talked about how to comfort someone who has lost someone they love. I wrote this back in the fall of 2006 about a year after Gordon died of hypothermia, lost in the mountains of Montana.
To Those Who Would Comfort Me
Don’t tell me you know how I feel
even if you have lost your brother!
You didn’t lose mine.
Don’t tell me how I will grieve,
even if you’ve journeyed through grief.
Your grief is not my grief.
Your journey is not my journey.
Instead, let me tell you how I feel.
Then hold me as I weep.
Don’t tell me God is Sovereign.
I know that.
Give me time to believe it once again
for myself . . .
for this time in my life.
Don’t ask me if I’m glad
my brother is in heaven.
Of course I am glad he’s in HEAVEN.
But right now I want him here with me.
And don’t talk to me yet of all the things
he is experiencing there.
I miss him too much for that to comfort me.
“For the believer, grief is not
about the one who has died.
It’s about the ones
who are left behind
who must redefine their lives
without the one they love.”
This will take time.
Don’t casually quote Romans 8:28. *
I believe that too,
but I need time to internalize it
in this situation.
This too takes time.
God, Thank you!
for the people in my life,
who walk beside me on this journey,
allowing me to travel
at the speed I can manage,
And cheer for me when I make it to
they knew I would reach all along.
* Romans 8:28 (New International Version)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.
After my only brother suddenly died,
I learned the value of a “breath prayer.”
A breath prayer is what you pray
when you can’t pray . . .
when you have no words. . .
when your emotions are so ragged,
you can’t even form words.
My breath prayer was
“God, I need to hear from you.”
I prayed this prayer over and over
until I “heard.”
I offer my breath prayer to you
if you need one.
August 2010 Note – One day, a couple years later I realized my breath prayer was changing. Often I prayed “Jesus, I just want to be with you.” I still use both breath prayers.
Page from “Remember and Celebrate” – A Creative Memories Storybook Sample of my writing.
- My Grandson . . . . . . . . . .
- He delights in my presence.
- He watches for me to come,
- and runs to meet me at the door.
- Or sometimes he waits
- until I come in the door,
- then runs across the room,
- flies into my arms,
- giving me big hugs
- and one of our own special,
- name-brand waterproof kisses.
He loves me.
He thinks I am wonderful.
I don’t have to do anything
except “show up.”
He just seems to want me!
God, I want to delight in you,
as Jake delights in me.
I know You already delight in me .
C.S. Lewis says “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment. Complete my enjoyment of you, Dear God
written July 2008, 2 years ago: God, there is so much change and growth going on in my life. You are helping me understand myself better. Sometimes I get tired of the energy it takes to continue growing. And that is where I was yesterday as I sat by the Lake: Yesterday the grasses danced in the wind. They did not resist nor did they fight . They danced a graceful dance . . . gently swaying, dipping and then suddenly changing direction all in response to the wind. Today the dance is much gentler . . . The wind is gentler. At first the grasses look fragile . . . as if they could break . . . as if they have no mind of their own. Then I see - each blade is strong. Its strength lies in its ability to bend and sway all in response to the wind. Lord, You speak to me through this dance. I am calmed. . . enchanted by the grace-filled movement. I want the "true me". . . the one you created to dance. I cannot forsake this journey. I must continue. Lord, let me be full of grace bringing calm and sweet peace to those who watch me dance in response to your Holy Spirit. Help me uncover the "true self" . . . the one you created me to be. And then shed the "false self" the one that works so hard to preserve its image. Help me pay attention to YOU . . . the one who made me. And let the true me dance.
Lord, I’ve been sitting here at the lake.
The assignment from my class is to
“practice solitude” . . .
to be quiet
in Your presence.
I should just be honest and say
I know I should do this assignment.
But I’d really like to get going.
I have a lot to do today.
And just sitting here quietly
in Your presence
doesn’t seem very “productive.”
I should be
or at least
writing in my journal.
But QUIET? Just BEING?
It doesn’t help that the ice cream truck plays on and on.
Lord, how can I practice solitude and quiet
with “La Cucaracha”
playing over and over? ”
Good! It’s leaving now.
I’ll start over!
But the truck simply drives down the street
to another location . . .
And the music begins again?
Lord, what in the world am I to learn from this?
Ahh…quiet once again . . .
And I hear You say,
“Don’t give up so fast.
No one ever said it was easy
to just ‘be.'”
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. (the Message)
This book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Barton is challenging me! Solitude, as a discipline doesn’t come naturally, at least not for me. It’s probably why it’s called a discipline! And discipline takes practice.
“Lord, is there something you’d like me to notice
here in my ordinary back yard?”
My eyes fall on a broken-off tree branch
lying in the middle of the yard,
dry and shriveled
And I can’t help but think of what Jesus said
about the vine (Jesus)
and the branches (us)
He tells us a branch attached to the vine
and a branch, separated from the life-giving vine
Lord, when I don’t spend time with You . . .
I become shriveled, dried up
However, unlike this branch, which can never recover,
I can go back to spending time in Your presence . . . .
back to You . . .
the One who is already searching
and waiting for me.
I grab my camera.
I want to REMEMBER this for myself
& CELEBRATE by sharing with others!
I have always loved this photo – a beautiful sunshiny day at the Botanic Gardens. So tonight in our group when we are to choose a photo as a journaling prompt, I knew I would pick it, even though I really didn’t know how it would fit. (Since I am the facilitator, I have a certain advantage. Or is it disadvantage?) This photo is compelling and so I write in response to “journal ,using this photo as a picture of your spiritual life and desires as they are right now.”
Clean crisp air
No fog today
A warm coat,
I am set to enjoy this cold day.
Sort of like my life these days. . .
It’s good to feel alive,
in a “good place.”
But like this beautiful day,
If I am to experience this moment
to the fullest extent . . .
to be fully alive . . .
I must pay attention
to what I need
in this season
of my life.
Yet, good as things are right now,
something is “off.”
I’m “wired . . .”
my mind unfocused.
Last night in your presence,
there was calm.
And I know I need the quiet
as much as ever!
When I am desperate, I create the time!
To not create the time
when I am feeling good
is like not stretching
because my back doesn’t hurt today!
God, gently reminded me
that as good as I feel right now,
I still need to prepare
to enter into the life
you have for me.
I need YOU!
I still need time to
quiet myself . . .
listen . . .
pray . . .
Friday morning in Montana.
We just arrived last night. The wonderful wedding craziness that is part of any wedding starts tonight with rehearsal. Tomorrow, Brian and Becca get married!
I am out here on the deck Gordon built. I miss him, but I am OK. I do love being here in Montana where Gordon lived his life. I look around and ask God if he has anything here for me in this beautiful place this morning before everything swings into action.
I breathe in the fragrance of the lilacs.
lining the deck where I sit.
I take deep breaths, slowly . . .
breathing in and out . . .
noticing the beauty of the fragrance
and of the flower itself.
I hear a bird calling and I follow the sound,
never finding him (her?)
but I enjoy the music.
As I continue to wander around the yard,
I notice the raindrops
clinging to the pine needles.
Such startling beauty in simple things.
I think of scripture that tells me
I can know God
by the things He created.
Romans 1:20 – But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.
I feel peace sweep over me and it comforts like a warm sweater on a chilly morning.
I grab my camera. I want to “Remember and Celebrate” this display of God’s goodness!
Thank you, God.
Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms says “It is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are . . . not your woundedness . . .not your personality . . . not your giftedness, but your desire!”
As I pondered the losses of my life in relation to this statement, I wrote the following.
to think you see me
as I was intended to be. . .
not “the girl
all of her siblings.”
You don’t look at me and say:
“Even though it was hard,
now Carol has a purpose.”
The losses of my life
and resulting wounds
have their impact,
But that is not what you see.
You are using these things in my life . . .
I am able to minister in special ways. . .
But these losses do not define me.
Tears spring to my eyes.
I find this hard to believe . . . .
My head knows it to be true.
It’s just that
would also like to know
to be assured.
Help me understand and know.
And Dear God,
Help me pay attention
to what you will continue to do
in my life . . .
giving me opportunity for
ministries and purposes
that only I can fulfill.
Your desire is evidence
that I am continuing
to draw you
Spend quiet moments with me,
I will lead you in life-giving ways.