but the Lord was not in the violent wind

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

but the Lord was not in the violent wind
1 Kings 19:11

whisper to me, gentle breeze
breath divine, speak love
heart me now, creative word
paint me strokes of wild color
float me high above fluffy clouds
wandering, wispy, wondering
where you hide
play me strings of harmony
lull me into grace,
oh, gentle breeze

 

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Fear Not!

fray-1I’ve been MIA due to a family issue. My 95-year-old Mom is now receiving hospice care and I was able to spend 10 meaningful days with her in Southern California. We were able to say the things we need to say to those we love to one another. Though she has been in the throes of dementia for a number of years, God gifted us with moments of very lucid sharing.

After ten days, I needed to return home, but left with a sense of peace that, whatever happens next, it will be as God wills. The day after I left, Mom decided it was not quite time to die and asked for a Big Mac and French Fries! Now she seems to be back to where she was before I flew down to be with her. 

When I worked as a hospice nurse, I often had time to help family members say those precious things that help both the person moving on and the one left behind to deal with the reality of life. I’d like to share them with you.

  • I forgive you.
  • Please forgive me.
  • Thank you for being a part of my life.
  • It’s okay to go.
  • I love you.

Of course, it’s always good and wise to say those words (and mean them) long before death is at the door, but it is a great comfort to do so when a loved one is actively dying, if possible. In reality, this opportunity is not always offered to us. People die suddenly. People refuse to allow another person back into their lives after a lifetime of animosity. Sometimes, a person cannot feel what they are saying if there has been a history of abuse or ill-feelings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t WILL to forgive or love. 

What if you don’t have the chance to say those words? One healing way I’ve seen put into action is to write a letter to the deceased loved one. Go ahead, and put it all out there. Be specific about that forgiveness thing, looking at both side of the equation.

I’ll end with a short anecdote. The religious order I was a part of cared for the elderly and when a patient was dying, we watched and prayed with them 24/7, sharing 3 hour shifts in the middle of the night. It could be quite a challenge, especially if a person took their time letting go.

One time, a woman seemed to hang on forever. Her daughter came by off and on during the day. Because the lady appeared comatose, the younger woman just sat with her. After a week or so I asked the daughter to step outside for a moment. I asked her if there was any unfinished business between her and her mother. The woman took a deep breath, sighed and admitted that her mother had been abusive to her throughout her life. I asked if she had ever been able to tell her that she forgave her. Her eyes filled with tears and she just shook her head. I explained that, even though her mother was unconscious, the sense of hearing often remained with a person and suggested she go in the room and say what she needed to say, as best she could. She hugged me and went into the room alone. What was said, I have no idea, but moments later she called me back in and we watched as her mother, seemingly peaceful, let go.

This is not what I expected to write about when I logged into my dashboard, but who am I to question? Here is the quote I chose to reflect on. We can’t be afraid to journey with another at the end of life. God will be with us.

Note: I wrote this post at the beginning of the month and didn’t realize I had left it in draft form. I believe the message is still meaningful, so here it is. My mother is still holding her own. The process of letting go is as unique as every person.

 

 

 

Good Friday Dirge

Artist: Lesley Oldaker Labeled for Noncommerical Reuse

Artist: Lesley Oldaker
Labeled for noncommercial reuse

Good Friday Dirge
an Octain Refrain

Upon the pond a cry of loons
begins its mournful, plaintive song.
I think of how it all went wrong.

Darkness still reigns ‘neath this full moon,
this early morn a mood forlorn
recalling loss, a cross rough-hewn.

And now in Belgium, hatred strong
prolongs the tragic cries of loons.

Written and Posted for my prompt at dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar. The form, developed by Luke Prater, is a High Octain, which I explain at dVerse. Tomorrow, Christians observe Good Friday as we deal with yet another tragic, cowardly act of terrorism. I’m also sharing this here. 

The Gospel According to John

Zagreb Gospel Book: John Wikipedia Commons Labeled for Reuse

Zagreb Gospel Book: John
Wikipedia Commons
Labeled for Reuse

The Gospel According to John

Time passed slowly that afternoon.
Blood flowed like lava into my cupped hand.

The man who hung upon a rough-hewn tree
should have reigned over lush gardens of creation.

The night before I’d struggled to remain awake,
but now I stood by the mother until he passed

into the boiler room of hell. We remained there
to receive his body, returned it to the earth,

sealed the tomb with the clunk of a massive boulder.
After the Sabbath, the Phoenix resurfaced from the ash-pit.

Now I write his story, dipping the nib of my pen
in the sanguine ink of eternal mysteries.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Slotto

Touch the Dawn

Photo: yala-lala via Deviant Art Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: yala-lala via Deviant Art
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

In the tender compassion of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the day of peace.

Luke 1, 78-79

Photo: touch the flame Deviant Art Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: touch the flame
Deviant Art
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

May the light and peace we need so much be with you, your loved ones and our troubled world. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Victoria

Advent is My Favorite Time of Year

Photo: Labeled for non-commercial reuse

Photo: Labeled for non-commercial reuse

Christmas Advent is My Favorite Time of Year

(Flash Fiction)

Amy waited, none-too-patiently, in the interminable line at Walmart, drumming slender fingers on the handle of her cart, wondering what the hold-up was and questioning the wisdom of attempting to shop the day after Thanksgiving. Especially since she abhorred the commercialism of the season, not to mention, she wasn’t at all fond of crowds.

She ignored the queue forming behind her, and a glance to the left and right informed her that it was the same throughout the store. Impatient customers sighed, complained and even argued about who got to the checkout counter first.

The teenager manning the cash registered wore a Santa Cap and, incongruously, a scowl. Frustration oozed throughout the crowd. The cart behind her was loaded, Amy could tell without turning around, and she thanked her lucky stars that she had gotten there before whoever wielded that wobbly thing on non-compliant wheels.

A small voice, almost a whisper, spoke to her. Turning she saw a wizened little lady who had to be in her 80’s, if not her 90’s.

“I’m sorry,” Amy said. “Were you speaking to me?”

“Yes,” the elderly patron said. “I just said that December isn’t like it used to be. In my day, Advent came before Christmas, we gave up candy like we did for Lent. We prayed together, waited for the Wonder that was to come. Gifts just weren’t that important.”

Amy nodded, waited for the woman to go on.

A younger voice, a man, from an adjacent line joined in. “That’s how my mother made us prepare for Christmas, too. It was about what was to come. I don’t know, but for me, that made the anticipation all the more exciting, and Christmas day, we couldn’t think of even looking under the tree before Church.”

The conversation continued and Amy mostly listened, adding only a few “I see’s.” The overhead speakers blasted songs totally devoid of anything suggestive of the spiritual meaning of the holiday, more often chanting masked messages of “gimme, gimme, gimme.”

Amy became strangely aware of the emptiness of her own life. These two people had an entirely different perspective from her own. She told herself she would try to learn more about what made Advent, waiting so special to some people. After all, she was alone in this city. Her boyfriend had dumped her a month ago and it wasn’t that easy for her to make new friends.

She surprised herself when she reached the check stand. Those last few minutes in line had slipped by so quickly. When she was next-in-line she did something a little crazy—she stepped behind the lady with the cart loaded with children’s toys. She could see her wise teacher was exhausted and a little wobbly after standing for so long.

When her new friend thanked her, she said, “I can see you wondering why I have all these toys. Oh, they’re not for my grandchildren—I have none. They’re for the collection the Marines are taking up for homeless children. You see, that’s how I celebrate the birth of Jesus now that I’m alone. His coming was all about love and…well, I’m sure you understand.”

Amy realized that she wanted to do just that.

Photo: V. Slotto, 2014

Photo: V. Slotto, 2014