When the rigours of daily life grind you down and the bad news-good news ratio is running about eight to one; when the losses column is now in two volumes and the blessings list fits on the back of an envelope (and a small one at that!) It’s time to take drastic measures. It’s time to go back to basics; to go back to the source. What else is there when nothing makes sense; when the signs don’t look promising; when we’re talking about health and the ability to earn a living?
Despite news items about the rebounding economy, too many continue to be un- or underemployed. Despite (and indeed because of) the mild winter and negligible snowfall, there is reason for concern if you are a farmer or a gardener or a firefighter. There is no soil moisture. Ditches are dry. Sloughs are non-existent. Grass is tinder dry.
What are you supposed to think when you learn a neighbour had symptoms in January and is now two surgeries into a fight with stomach cancer for his life? ?They got most of it.? What is the appropriate thought process when a sister says ?they biopsied the tissue and found precancerous cells. Four or five years from now they would have shown up as breast cancer??
It isn’t possible, for me anyway, to not think about the implications for her daughter and for me?that whole wretched familial connection. How do we adjust to the realization that our favourite, energetic, hard-working handy guy with extreme pride in workmanship is sidelined with heart disease and is now pacing his activity around short daily walks? Or when you see the slowdown and deterioration in yourself and one you love?
Today after my walk I got some perspective into these thoughts. I leaned back onto the chaise lounge on our patio and studied the clouds, listened to birdsong, felt the April breeze lift my hair and flush my cheeks. There were no thoughts of the work to come in the flower beds and yard. There was no melancholy. Or particular joy.
There was the silent prayer of gratitude that comes unbidden when surveying God’s handiwork. There was the calm knowing that despite what is going on ?out there? in the economy and with the collective health of family and friends, there is a cycle and a season and an immutable predictability to life and death. The birds know what to do. The trees and flowers and weeds do too. Oh sure, some of them may be fooled by the faux spring-like conditions and get pummelled by a late snowfall. But they will do their damnedest to follow nature’s programming despite drought or setbacks or discouragement. There is a lesson for us in that.
Some of the wisdom and insight in Betty Jane Wylie’s New Beginnings: Living Through Loss and Grief must have seeped into me while I devoured it last week. I feel calmer, more accepting, more well-equipped to deal with life’s inevitable losses. Making that connection back to nature, back to the source, is part of the acceptance process, from where I sit.