“A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ” – from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck, 1961
I wonder what Steinbeck would think today about all the sad souls hidden away in their homes, locked away from others in nursing homes, out of work because their job just wasn’t deemed as important as Hollywood. Sad souls living in fear.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile,’ – Job 9:27
In my search for advice, empathy, survival tips on grieving, I’ve come across some helpful articles. One place where I found a relatable story was at modernloss.com
These words from Elaine Ross rang true with me:
We never had a sweeping declaration of love conversation.
For 18 months, I’ve been falling asleep hoping to dream the words we left unsaid; and I’ve been waking up hoping to come upon a letter he’d forgotten to give me.
I allowed him to take his last breath without saying those precious words?….
It wasn’t until I taped the last box of his clothes and carried it into the car did I realize what I had found in that closet. The business card on which I wrote my cellphone number down the night we first met, every Father’s Day card and birthday present and random art project the kids ever gifted to him, printed Excel spreadsheets with all our home vendors with phone numbers and contact names (which would have been helpful in those first days of widowhood), and pages upon pages of treatments, medical and natural. What I found was in fact what I was looking for: acknowledgment of how much he loved me and the family we created, of how often he quietly and bravely faced his own mortality, of how certain he was that I would know best how to find our way forward…
The deeper meaning, then, is not found in the things we said, because we didn’t, but in the way we approached our truth.
Some of the things I have found that let me know I would find my way forward were the books of his I have to read, the index cards of Bible verses, the baseball glove, the folder of letters, the grandpa mugs and “No, You Can’t Have a Sip” mug, the little black book of user names and passwords, the budget spreadsheets where he had slaved over the figures for months, figuring out that, yes, he could retire. Yes, we could make a go of it. We just didn’t know then that it would just be me making a go of it. But, he planned well and took care of me. God knew and He takes care of me.
Do I want Chuck back? Yes, with all my heart. Do I doubt God’s plan? No, but neither do I understand it.
My husband recently used one of my favorite songs- Tell the Truth to Yourself– against me. We were discussing our diets and he claimed I put a LOT of cream in my coffee, to which I argued that I did NOT. He grinned at me and said, “Tell the truth to yourself.”
I must confess I kinda did the same thing months ago with the line “I lied to the doctor”, teasing him because he tries to be so good with his eating the week before he goes in for lab work.
All joking aside, it’s not easy to tell the truth to yourself. To face the music. Lately I’ve had to admit to myself that I am no spring chicken, whatever that is. I can still hike, but some days I go pretty slow. I have to be careful when I’m playing chase with Ruby. And when I dance in the kitchen.
There is a Bible verse that says “And you shall know thetruth, andthe truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). I don’t mean to just take this out of context, but I think the words can be applied here somewhat. Knowing the truth and telling the truth to ourselves seems quite similar. I think that when we are honest with ourselves and with each other, there is a peace and freedom that comes with that truth.
“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”- Chief Joseph, Nex Perce, from The Wisdom of Native Americans, compiled by Kent Nerburn
So I have listened to The Avett Brothers new album Closer Than Together over and over, and my favorite song keeps changing. Tell the Truth has been a fav for a few weeks. I feel like there is a message in it for me. So I keep listening.
“I wanna make amends, but where do I start? Tell the truth to yourself And the rest will fall in place”
“The Scott Avett-penned Tell the Truth, is a song about, ‘Well, where do I start? How do I start to change things?'” he muses. “The only thing I can do is with me.” –The Boot
“It’s one of these songs where one phrase is like the thesis statement. I think it’s a powerful concept that if you will just tell the truth to yourself, the rest will fall in place.” –Paste Magazine
I’m not talking about sins that pets commit. Pets can be bad and do things that are mighty inconvenient, but they can’t sin as they have no soul. Sorry, Virginia, but all dogs don’t go to heaven.
I’m also not talking about those sins that are our favorite little secrets. That’s for another day.
I’m talking about the ones that are the favorite ones to bring up in church. The ones we can mention over and over because we don’t think we’ll be stepping on any toes in the process. We can talk about how horrible abortion is, because surely there isn’t anyone in our fellowship that has ever had an abortion, right?
Homosexuality is another favorite, for surely there are no homosexuals sitting in our congregations. So, lets just make examples of those two horrendous sins so we can all nod our heads in agreement while patting ourselves on the back. Of course, we can occasionally mention gossiping and envy because we all agree we are a little bit guilty, you know, like, everybody does it. And it’s okay sometimes to bring up drunkenness because drunks are just plain funny, you know?
Just don’t go talking about divorce or gluttony because you might just offend too many people.
In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I’ve been posting a series connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.
“Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think…”
– Janie, from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
“…what they had discovered in those years was not the love people whisper about over candles, but the kind they need when their baby girl is coughing at three 0’clock in the morning.” -from Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg
“If’n you live, Will Tweedy, you go’n be tempted, and you go’n suffer, and you go’n die. Ain’t no way out of it. But with the Lord’s hep, you can stand up to temptation, and live th’ew the bad times, and look Death in the eye. You remember what I say, son” – Grandpa from Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
I can’t add much to the words above and the lyrics below.
In anticipation of The Avett Brothers concert on October 25th, I’ve been writing a series of blog posts connecting some of their lyrics to words of some of my favorite authors.
I’d tell myself to stop judging others. And then thirty seconds later, I’d do it again. This, I realized, is why I don’t like going to crowded parks. It’s not just that I don’t like all the other people. I don’t like the person I become. – Lassoing the Sun – Mark Woods
I think there are times for many of us that we don’t care for the person we’ve become. There can be many reasons, such as grief, loneliness, stress, or other reasons, that cause us to act like someone that we wouldn’t want to be friends with. In Winter In My Heart, I feel the sadness and helplessness. I’ve been there. And the line, “I don’t know what the reasons are” is gripping. But, winter is a season, though it can sometimes a long one.
I have been so burdened down this past week with all the negativity on social media about abortion. I know I could just not read it all. But something in me is screaming out for the other side. Groups I am a part of on facebook have surprised me with the level of opposition displayed toward Christians. The picture below from Nick Anderson depicts what I hear so many people saying.
I would like to show a different side. There is a group here in Birmingham that truly embodies the expression “Abide No Hatred”. It’s called Sav-A-Life. I know there are other similar organizations out there. I want to tell you a little about this one.
Yes, they are pro-life. They are this and so much more. They offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, prenatal assessment, STI/STD testing for men and women, childbirth education classes, parenting classes, and fatherhood programs. They provide counseling not only for the woman who wants to keep her baby or put it up for adoption, but for the one who chose abortion and needs help dealing with that decision, also. They have mentors and offer support groups. They furnish assistance through the Stork’s Nest, providing clothes for mother and child, baby furniture, diapers and more. They have ongoing classes from basics such as diapering to finances and budgeting. Sav-A-Life also refers clients for community resources such as housing and Medicaid.
Watch this video to get a look at some of what Sav-A-Life does.