Ringing in the Old

As I read the news this morning I decided to do something different on my blog the next few weeks that doesn’t speak of the virus. As some of you might remember, I wrote a column for the Albert Lea Tribune titled Something About Nothing. I wrote for them starting in 2005 and quit in 2019. I decided to dust off some of my favorite columns and post them on this blog the next few weeks. I am going to take these columns and put them in a new book to be read, either all at once, or a little at a time. My goal is to lift someone up especially at this time. I find writing helps me and I hope my words help you.

This column is from way back and I can’t you what year probably 2009 or 10. Enjoy.

IT’S A MIRACLE

The beautiful tall tree in my front yard that shades my house and keeps us cool is withering. I called the tree doctor. He diagnosed stress from this spring’s weather. He told me my tree would come back but possibly not until next year. In the meantime, I see its withered leaves and know there is nothing I can do to bring it back to health. It has to heal on its own with the weather and the water from the earth.

It strikes me that the tree is like our lives. When the storms of life descend on us, we seem to wither and droop. We feel helpless because there is nothing we can do for some of the stresses in our lives, such as friends’ illnesses, financial problems, and other things over which we have no control. We can only wait and heal until spring comes again.

I have said that it will be a miracle if my tree makes it. We use the word miracle lightly in our lives. We throw the word around as if we do not believe miracles can happen.

Dictionary.com describes a miracle as “An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause….”

Perhaps we are skeptical of miracles because we Christians believe miracles have to be huge. The Vatican and Lourdes carry out scientific investigations of miracles of healing. They have to meet strict criteria to be called a miracle. We also may think of miracles as those in the Bible, such as Jesus turning water into wine or Jesus rising from the dead..

C.S. Lewis stated that one cannot believe a miracle occurred if one has already drawn a conclusion in their mind that miracles are not possible.

I am currently reading Expect a Miracle by Dan Wakefield. This book is about miracles in everyday lives. I expected the book to tell of great miracles that happened in everyday lives such as miraculous unexplainable healing, instead the book opened my eyes to the miraculous things that happen every day.

Do we miss small miracles every day because we are looking for something grand and bigger? Do we throw the word around because we feel a real miracle can only happen if it is huge, like water being turned into wine? Or are miracles happening in small ways inn our life and we miss them because we truly do not believe in miracles? Or we believe a miracle cannot happen for us.

My friend recently had surgery for cancer. It went well. She has been through many surgeries through the years for this cancer. She has a cancer that most people do not survive. I consider her life to be a miracle. I am sure she does, too.

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I know there are scientific reasons for rainbows, but that rainbow always seems to appear when I need it most to give me hope. When my mother died in the midst of a cold February winter, a mourning dove visited my window. The mourning doves hadn’t been around since fall. Usually they come in pairs. That winter, one morning right after her death, one mourning dove visited my window. To me that was a miracle, and seeing that dove made me feel that things would be all right.

My tree is withering, but if just one leaf comes back, it could be a miracle that there is still life in my tree. Pat Gralton makes this statement as she listed one hundred miracles that she sees in her life. This is one of them.

My garden is a miracle. It teaches me everything about life that I will ever need to know: anticipation, birth, joy, changes in color and texture, different shades of the same color, buds, dead blossoms, killing frost, burial, saying farewell, hope for the spring, renewal. (Dan Wakefield, Expect a Miracle, http://www.danwakefield.com/id7.html)

NOTE: My tree lived and is thriving today.

Back to the 50s

As I sit here and contemplate all that is going on in our world today I am reminded of growing up in the 50s.

Our world has come to a standstill. Now that I am over the initial panic my thoughts are somewhat rational unless I listen and watch social media and the news 24/7.

I woke up this morning with the thought that for my husband and I there is no place to go. We have been grounded by our kids. There is no shopping, no restaurants to visit with our friends, no coffee hours etc. I don’t have to worry about work and so I took some time to try and put things into perspective. My main thought was all our lives are about to change. Most of us are not used to going without. We are used to fast access. We are used to having food readily available or taking a day out and away to somewhere fun such as sporting events etc. We are used to having the money to be able to buy what we want when we want it. Our kids are on an endless journey of sports and activities and are rarely home.

This morning I was reminded of my childhood. I told my teenage Granddaughter she was lucky she could at least keep in touch with her friends on social media where if it were in the days when I was a teen we wouldn’t have had that available.

I feel like today is a Sunday in the 1950s. Nothing was open. Stores were closed and life stopped. We didn’t worry about food because there was plenty of jars of canned meat in the cellar and fruits and vegetables too. If we needed eggs we went to the chicken coop or someone would come in from the country and sell us their eggs.

Every week the milkman came and we bought our milk and dairy from him. Groceries could be bought and delivered if needed. And of course at my house we had pretty much every thing we needed if something would happen, because my parents lived through the depression and that lesson never left them. People lived simply.

We read books and played outside or in the evenings talked with our neighbors. We kids were also kept busy helping in the garden or with the chores and yes, there were still things to do in winter. I lost all those simple pleasures and thankfulness with having those experiences living in the busyness of today.

I realize what we are facing now is different. People will be hurting because of lost businesses and lost jobs. Our younger people have never known this or a recession and it is very tough to get through. But I know we have generations behind us oldies that are strong and will figure it out. I have faith in them that they will emerge stronger.

I am reminded that there are people in our country that live with these fears every day and now I imagine they are living with the fear of not having access to a health system to help those without insurance or a safe place to self quarantine. Yet we have been fighting tooth and nail to not make these things available to them before this happened. Maybe we actually have been made to now walk in their shoes. I can’t imagine living with this fear daily. The response of most of us who could afford it is to stock up and hoard because of our fear we are not going to have enough. We need to count our blessings that we could afford to do that.

My hope is that the lessons we learn from this pandemic and how we cope as Americans are remembered. There are some positives. We are coming together helping one another. We are not divided in this but uniting to get through these times. Maybe life will slow down and we will be kinder and more caring to one another and realize that we are more the same than different.

There is an old Bible School song that says it best.

Reach out to your neighbor

Reach out to your friend.

Reach out to the people on the street.

For those of us that are grounded by our kids we can still reach out by phone, text, FaceTime and positive messages to keep up our spirit. It is hard to stay positive but together we can do it. Support your local businesses. They will need us now more than ever and so will those whose jobs are in jeopardy.

There is also the fear of getting sick. It is gut wrenching fear. We look into the future of the next few weeks and we panic not knowing the future. Do we ever? But today, what about today? Can we stay in the moment? Today I am fine. This moment I am fine. I, as much as anyone panic if I let myself think about the time frame and the people that are sick. But today I am fine, my loved ones are fine. I am going to try and go moment by moment, day by day, which is what Alcoholics Anonymous asks of us. And though tomorrow may be different, it may not be. If it is I trust we will work together to get through it and help each other with our panic and fear.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy