Tag Archive | understanding

What’s It All About?

cropped-sunrise.jpgI typically don’t write about religion or politics because no matter what is said an argument will ensue. Today, I’m breaking that rule because I met someone yesterday who raised some pretty heavy questions, which I’m still contemplating this morning.

The scene took place at my father’s bedside in the hospital. The girl was one of my father’s neighbors. She brought her 10 year old son and a cute squishy soft stuffed animal to keep my Dad company as he waits for death to come.

After I introduced myself and Melissa sat down beside me, she had a lot of questions about my father’s situation. I’m sure many people do, but they are afraid to ask, but I got the impression that Melissa always shares what she is thinking. She seemed surprised my father was awake and alert. She marveled at his sharp memory. But she wanted to know when my Dad was scheduled to die.

Thank God, my father is as deaf as a post. I hoped he was sheltered from Melissa’s questions about how much time was left for him and what was hospice doing to help his death along. You see, since my father has rallied since he first was admitted to the hospital, he believes he’ll see his 90th birthday. For some reason, that milestone has become important to him.

But it is unlikely Dad will achieve that milestone. The kidney cancer is spreading and his kidneys have failed. His heart is so weak, just getting out of bed and stepping into the bathroom took all of his strength.

After I tried to change the subject a few times, Melissa said, “I just don’t get it. Why do people have to suffer to die? What does life and death really mean? Why are we here, anyhow? What’s the point?” Whoa, Melissa—those are very heavy questions. Not exactly bedside conversation.

She looked at me with searching eyes and said, “I’m not religious. I didn’t grow up knowing about God and stuff. I want to believe, but I really don’t know how to go about it.”

At that moment, I knew I met Melissa for a reason. She was looking for something to hang on to. She cared for my Dad and wondered why he just couldn’t pass if there was no hope. So I tried to help her. “Nobody really knows for sure what our purpose is. Scholars and scientists have searched for answers just like you are now. What I can tell you, though, is Jesus taught his followers they could have a personal relationship with God; they didn’t have to have belong to a church, and God would hear you, if you just talk to Him.”

She thought about it for a while. “So, how do I talk to God?”

“Well, I just talk to him like I do when I’m talking with one of my friends. Pretend you’re visiting over a cup of coffee and say what’s in your heart. I use my time in the car to talk to God.”

“Really? I can just talk into the air and God will hear me?”

“Truthfully, you can just think about something, and God will hear you. Whether you believe it or not, God lives within you. We’re all connected to each other that way. That’s why you care about my Dad as much as you do. God brought you here.”

“It really works that way?”

“I believe it does. And that’s all that’s important.”

She nodded and said, “Thanks, Barb. This has helped me.”

I don’t know whether our exchange at my father’s bedside enlightened her. My intention was to relieve her sadness and frustration of losing someone she carried about. Believing in God or the Universe or the Source, is important to most of us. I think we have to believe that there is more than to life than what we understand here. We have to believe that we are everlasting spirits who take on form for a short time and then are released for eternity until we decide to take on form again. I believe I was supposed to be there for Melissa. I hope she finds some of the answers and peace.


The Value of Friendship Scrutinized

CircleOn Sunday Morning on CBS there was a piece about friendship. The reporter interviewed a group of women from Wisconsin and a group of men from another state (sorry, I can’t remember that part). Each gender group talked about how valuable their friendships were.

Then to back up the unscientific testimony, the reporter PROVED how valuable friends are with a series of medical and university studies–after all, it is a NEWS show. One medical study proved people holding hands with a friend during an MRI showed less anxiety and brain activity, while the patient received intermittent electric shocks, than they did when they went through the test alone. A university study showed when people were asked to estimate how steep a hill was without a friend standing next to them, the hill appeared steeper than when their friends were with them.

So, these studies prove we all do better when we have friends than when we don’t. Dah. That’s a no-brainer.

But remember if you want a friend, it’s like any relationship — there’s a give and a take, a symbiotic part to it. Experts on the program made the point that sometimes friends can become toxic and drain your energy. In such a case, it’s better for you to cut the cord and make a new friend who enriches you as much as you do them. Ending a friendship is hard, especially when you’ve put so much energy into making the friend in the first place. The last thing you want to do is cut them loose.  But sometimes, it has be done. Many times, a friendship gone bad becomes visible when you’re growing in a certain direction and they are not. Just like divorce, the process is hard but necessary. The good news is both parties usually come out stronger for the experience.

Like the women in my books, friendships are my life blood. The people who I have elected to bring into my life are precious gifts. They are my safety nets, my confidants, my helpers, and my companions. We laugh together, play together, cry together, support each other, share our fears, and express our love for each other. They fill my life with beautiful color. Without them, my life would be cold and gray.

My wish for all of you reading this is that each of you have at least one good friend you can always count on. A whole stable of friends would be even better  because life without friends is like an empty Easter basket or a Christmas tree without decorations. Where’s the joy in that?

When the Unthinkable Invades a Neighborhood

parents and childrenWhen you’re a child, if you’re lucky, you have parents who protect and love you. Your only job is to be obedient and succeed at school. The downside of being a child for me was I was told how to do everything. I wasn’t even in charge of my own feelings. When I was proud of an accomplishment, I was told not to “get a big head.” When I was sad, I was told I had nothing be be sad about. My mother told me how I should be feeling instead of how I truly felt.

As I remember this about my childhood, I sincerely hope the parents in Connecticut, who are lucky enough to have surviving children, after the horrendous shooting in an elementary school, are wiser than my parents were. I hope they will listen to their children. They can’t FIX anything right now. All they can do is care and listen. No one can fathom what these kids suffered after the madness swept into their safe school. No one can understand why a 20 year old child would go into their school with guns blazing. How does a child recover from such an unthinkable act?

Nobody has a manual which teaches parents how to help their children through such a meaningless assault. Many of these children are too young to verbalize their fears; they may act out in ways their parents don’t understand; they may even start wetting the bed again.

My heart breaks for all of them. I am ashamed I live in such a gun-crazy society where these insane event have become common place. No, I am not going to rant about guns, I’m too sad to do that just now. But I believe this violence has got to stop. This cruel act is the summit of a society gone wrong, where mentally ill people can get guns and take innocent lives.

The only thing that will bring this community through this unthinkable loss is love and listening. I think that’s why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. And after the media hype is over, the rest of us need to start LISTENING to each other and put the guns down.