Beautiful, True, & Funny

There have been so many things over the last few weeks that I have wanted to share with one or another of my friends.  Things that are profound, things that have made me laugh; things that have inspired me.  So I thought I would use this venue to share some of these things with you all – and if they seem interesting to you, please check them out.

 

out of sortsI picked this book up at my new favourite store.  (Its called Wendel’s in Fort Langley.)  Its a book store where you can tell each book has been chosen by someone who loves books.  The story is about her faith journey – in church, away from church, and back again.  Woven throughout her theological and relational wrestles is her story of loss, of babies that she didn’t get to hold in her arms.  This book is funny and heartbreaking in turns.  She lives in Abbotsford, BC.  The way she describes her thoughts about living there put words to much of what I have been feeling as we have been in Chilliwack.

 

daring greatlyAgain, Wendel’s.  I’ll confess it caught my eye because it’s pretty.  But I picked it up because the title comes from one of my favourite quotes.  This book is about vulnerability and shame.  It is well-written and research based.  Go read it.

 

 

Side note: There is a section where she speaks about gratitude, that expresses something I have wanted to say, so I am just going to post a picture of it here:

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god at war

 

I’m not actually reading this one right now.  But I re-read it last year when baby Jonathan died and I was heartbroken.  Gregory Boyd’s theological teaching, particularly from this book, is one of the things that has helped me to face Beatrix’s death with honest grief, acceptance, and hope.

 

 

It’s not all books!  The next one comes with a disclaimer: these comics are crass, and are full of foul language.  (If this offends you, please skip to the next section.)  I read The Oatmeal’s comics long ago: He shows us how to use proper English grammar, he makes fun of his own laziness and things that frustrate him.  He is a keen observer of human nature, and able to make fun of both himself and our culture in ways that make me both laugh and consider.   I was not, however, expecting it to be a source of inspiration.  But in the years I haven’t been reading, he has made some life-changes, and so you can find my new favourite series here.

 

I you haven’t seen the video of 5 people playing a song on one guitar, please go watch this.  I don’t usually enjoy watching videos on the internet, but I watched this video over and over after I first saw it a few years ago.  I have found out – they have other songs!  And their videos are all amazing to watch.  (This can be a rabbithole, sorry.)  They creatively cover popular songs as well as making videos for their own music.  If you have lots of time, just go watch all their videos, but if not, this is one of my other favourite covers,   and I’ll recommend the videos for their original songs “Rule the World” and “Red Hands.”  Their music, videos and interviews leave me laughing and feeling inspired.

 

One more book.  In the midst of many important issues that no is not enoughseem to compete for attention, and so many loud voices full of prejudice and hate, reading this book felt like I could breathe again.  She is full of scathing criticism and relentless hope.  She explores the ways the important issues of our time are intertwined, the ways our culture has accepted ways of living that are good for no one, and looks at creative solutions for “winning the world we need.”

 

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Courage

I’ve been working on a post about Gord Downie in my head for several weeks now…  I’m not sure I have all of the words ready yet – but when I heard the news of his death this morning, I wanted to try.  I know there are many of you for whom the grief is still too near.

It would be stretching it to call myself a fan of the Tragically Hip, but their music is woven throughout my memories.  It was my favourite CD to listen to at a house I babysat at.  When I was 14, I agonized over what to buy my first boyfriend for Christmas – my friend and I settled on a Trouble at the Henhouse tape.  A friend and I used to joke that he would be 38 years old… and never kissed a girl.

I’ve watched Gord’s courage with amazement.  I loved that, when he found out he was dying, he decided he wanted to continue doing what he was already doing – that he was living his life in a way that he loved.  (Oh, that we could all say this.)

I was amazed at the work he put into it.  He had to re-learn 90 songs for their last tour.  Wow.

I also admired his work on the Secret Path.  He knew he was dying, he knew he had a Voice at this moment in history, and he chose to use it to help bring awareness and justice.  I bought a copy of the graphic novel a few weeks ago in a bookstore, but have been waiting to read it (and listen to the music) until I can give it the attention it deserves.

Its a sad day.

But I am inspired to live more courageously because of his life.

not a dress rehearsal

A Different Kind of Beauty

I first noticed it a few years ago.

It was a woman I have loved since we were children… All of a sudden she looked old.

It wasn’t really all of a sudden.  What with her busy life and my busy life, I hadn’t seen her in a few years.  My initial reaction was shock and dismay.

But as I thought about it, I realized that those years had been particularly difficult.  She had walked through deep griefs – the kind that are not only unbearably sad, but make you stop and evaluate your whole direction and way of life.

So I kept looking, and as we went through the process of getting to know each other again, my view changed entirely.  She has come through her grief and remained whole.  I don’t mean entirely complete – we have lost too much to be entirely complete in this lifetime.  But the kind of wholeness that has experienced life-altering pain, and not given up on love and hope.  The marks of her journey are unmistakable, they are written over her face; over her whole body.

She is one of the most beautiful women I know.

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I’ve seen the changes in my own looks over the last few years.  I’m very proud of the grey streak in my hair.  I saw the lines starting around my eyes, and thought “maybe I should start using night cream?”  And then I laughed and laughed, and wondered where that thought even came from.  (Products I own beyond ones used to wash are pretty much limited to deodorant and lip balm.)

I’ve seen it when I come on this blog, and see the fresh face on the banner picture above.  That wasn’t that long ago, but the years are showing like dog years.  Some of it is just the age that I am, some of it is the months without sleep, and some of it is less physical – the suffering I have seen, and been a part of.

I’ve seen other women whose pain is written plain for any to see who might look.  Their trauma has made them old before their years, and it is not beautiful, it is distressing and painful to be with them – because you cannot be with them without being faced with their suffering and brokenness.

 

This year can’t help but be etched deeply into the way I look.  I’m hoping pain makes me softer (emotionally, not physically), kinder, more patient, compassionate, loving, and hopeful.  I know I am looking older, but I think that these characteristics will be visible as well.

 

But how are you really doing?

People have been very gentle with us.  But we have been asked this question enough times, in enough ways, that I am sure most of you are thinking something like this.

Its hard to explain.

Neither of us is very good at having a public face that is different from who we are.  Sure, there are different things we may say (or not say) depending on who we are with, but our conversation typically comes out of who we are and what we are thinking about.  We’ve always been pretty honest here on the blog – sure, we polish it a bit, and work to communicate it in a way that a broad audience can understand, but it has usually been a good representation of what we are experiencing.  That hasn’t changed.

There aren’t many days where I don’t shed some tears – some days more, some days less.  I get kind of morose in the evenings when I am tired, and start to dwell on my pain – but that is usually around bedtime, and when I realize its happening, I’m able to just go to sleep.  I do a whole lot of nothing, because simple tasks and social interactions are exhausting.

 

I can see signs of life, though.  I’m able to do just a little more before I am knackered.  I’m able to focus and read things.  I’m curious about things; I am learning.

Being outside is good for my soul, and I’ve been able to get out into “real nature” nearly every day.

I’m mostly able to choose coping mechanisms that are good and healthy instead of ones that are destructive.  I won’t speak too much for Mike, but I will say that the same is mostly true for him.

And we are doing OK.  Mike & I are drawing towards each other and not away.  We are giving each other space to grieve differently and to heal differently, but also spending time together.  Doing our best to be kind, gracious, patient, and forgiving towards one another.  Not shying away from sharing our stories and memories, be they funny or sad (most of them are both).  We’re looking at the future, and starting to consider some ideas.

We are not putting up a good front, or trying to be strong for anybody else.

We are strong.