1319. We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else. ~Elie Wiesel

One wants to believe that there’s one relationship
in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that’s beyond
that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.
~Edited quote by Caleb Carr

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There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
~Rashani Réa

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An ex-student of mine posted a letter on Facebook today in which she asked us all to remember that for a variety of reasons not everyone will have or is having a wonderful Christmas time. And so today, I’ve given thought to things that break and shatter us at times. No one is exempt from sorrow and grief in this world. And though we must and should allow ourselves time to “hold” onto and weep over the “dark nights of our souls,” it seems to me that we also have to leave each and every heartbreak at some point in time in the past and then seek and use the “lessons” that the gouging of the soul has shed light upon.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18  ✝

**Images via the Internet; collage at top created by Natalie

1063. Remembering Norman…

I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day through
I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the mornin’ sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you
~Excerpted lyrics by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain

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It’s funny how an old song just pops into your head for no apparent reason. Maybe it was something in the morning light like it said in this old song, a song that was much loved during WWII when it became an anthem for those serving overseas. I remember listening to it on the radio as a child, and then later on I heard it again and again in movies about the war. From the get go it was a favorite of mine, and it has stuck with me over the years. Thus for whatever reason, it came to me again in the day’s first light. Since the song always reminds me of my dad, I was thinking about Norman as I started looking at posts on Facebook. The first one I saw was the one in the collage about the impact losing your dad has on your life, and that’s when the tears started running down my face even though it has been over 50 years since he died. It was 1961. I had just turned 18, I was a freshman in college, and yet at times the hurt still feels like it happened only yesterday. I’ve read that “our lives are defined by moments, especially the ones we never see coming.” And this one certainly defined mine. Though we weren’t exactly blindsided by it, it was quick enough that it hit us all like we’d never seen it coming. Dad had a massive heart attack on a Friday night and by Saturday night he was gone. No last smile, no last hug, no last kiss, no last goodbye! And I remember in the aftermath, people trying to comfort me with words, but like the quote in the collage says, “Somethings cannot be fixed.” Ever! “They can only be carried.” So here’s to my sweet daddy, Norman. I’ve been remembering you today, and I do carry you still wherever I go. I found you again today in the morning sun, and I’ll be seeing you again because you truly are never far from my thoughts. Love, Natalie

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3  ✝

987. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. ~Helen Keller

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Another mass murder. Another attack against innocence. Another attack against personal freedoms. Another attack against human rights. Another regrettable tragedy. Another senseless loss for friends and family to bear. Another reason to fear for our safety. Another threat to what people hold dear. Another excuse to doubt God for the unbeliever. Thus what happened today breaks my heart again, and I pray for the victims, their families, and the responders. But what today’s horrific events can never do is steal my hope. While not yet ready to die, I will not live afraid, I will not let madmen rob me of my faith and happiness, I will not let madmen steal what time I have left on earth to worship God and enjoy the life I’ve been given. I am Yahweh’s child, I am of His image and the light of His love, and I will continue to shine His light whenever and wherever I can.

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening up shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have been quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.
~John O’Donohue

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10   ✝

883. Remember what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you. ~Author Unknown

 **This opening statement is true of me and I suspect many others. And so because of some troubling thoughts and comments made by others who are hurting, I’ve decided share a few things about myself and afterwards make an open offer.

Rain falls because the sky can no longer handle its heaviness.
In the same way tears fall because a person’s heart
can no longer handle its pain or heartache.
~Edited quote by
Dinesh Kumar Biran

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There is a poem by Saint John of the Cross, and in it he narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. And I believe that everyone who has ever lived has experienced dark nights of the soul even if they’ve never connected with God. Life is hard, and as I approach my 73rd birthday, I can vouch that it’s not getting any easier. In fact a doctor asked me recently when was the last time I remembered having a pain free day, and I quickly replied, “when I was 25.” He was noticeably taken aback despite his years of experience, and although he asked me to explain all the details, I’m not going to take time to do that here. Let me just say that chronic, physical pain and loss of dearly beloved ones have created for me many a dark night of the soul. However, I’m as determined as ever not to let it define me nor keep me from enjoying life as much as I can. Now before you tell yourself it’s because my faith is so strong that I can say that, let me add that it was in my twenties that I also severed my ties to any church or religion and wandered long and far from the Lord.

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Okay now look at the photos above. They are of the Dark Hedges in Ireland which is an avenue of beech trees that was planted as an entrance to a home in the 18th century. However, they represent for me the seasons I’ve traveled through on my own life’s journey. As in the differing photos some seasons have been dark, some dark and cold, others hazy and unclear but not as dark, in some light started to shine but the richness of life still had not greened up, then there were periods of greenness but not much light, and finally there have been times when I’ve experienced both greenness and light. My point in sharing this is that I want to let anyone who reads this know that I’m here, that my email address is on my about page, that I’m a good listener, that I’m not easily shocked, that I will not judge you, that I will try to answer any questions you might have about how I cope, that I won’t expect anything in return, and that when it’s all said and done, I’ll put you on my prayer list regardless of whatever your faith in God is or is not. It’s not that I feel that I’m smarter than anyone else or that I have all the answers because I surely am not and do not, but after what I’ve lived through for nearly a half a century and with what I continue to endure, I have garnered at least a small amount of wisdom and gained a few insights along the way.

PS. I know that I am only here as a direct result of God’s amazing grace, and should anyone ask, I would love to talk with you about Christ’s living water and His offer of salvation. 

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more. ~Psalm 71:14  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

754. It took a lone assent of self to get back up… ~Julie Cook (https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/about/)

A voice beneath the surface
Speaks
Echoes into my
Inner being
Inner heart
Inner mind
Blessing me
With
Strength to arise
~Yoshiko
(https://zyoshiko.wordpress.com/author/yoshikoz/)

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We are more than what people see on the surface. We are narratives, stories that make us who and what we are. And the stories are ripe with sorrows and joys, defeats and victories, love and loss, suffering and wellness–all those things each of us must face in life. And like my friend, Virginia, says “when you shed light on your past and how it affected you, it illustrates the transition that occurred to mold you into the person you are today.” So here I go with the next installment in my little story.

After being stuck in limbo the first semester of my sophomore year, I eventually found the strength to rise, albeit on wobbly and unsure legs at times, and I began the “lone assent of self” back into the mainstream of life. It was the summer of ‘62 and I had decided to continue working half a day for the Dean of Women as well as get a couple of courses out of the way in summer school. Since I only worked in the afternoons, I had some time on my hands after my morning classes were over, and what better place to go than the student center where food and friends awaited a hungry “climber.” The living was easy that summer and life was good. I had met some new friends who were teaching me to play bridge. And soon Keith, Danny, and I were playing bridge well enough to play in competition, and that summer would become one of the most memorable ones of my life. To be continued… (2 weeks, 5 days and counting…)

…weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 ✝

**Image of old French, 1902 calendar page found on Pinterest

651. The real voyage of discovery comes not in the seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ~Marcel Proust

What sunshine is to flowers,
smiles are to humanity.
These are not trifles, to be sure;
but scattered along life’s pathway,
the good they do is inconceivable.
~Joseph Addison

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The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
~Mary Oliver

You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways. ~Job 22:28   ✝

**Photograph of Iceland Poppy taken by Natalie