And, yet, I couldn't help notice the changes in the light on my afternoon walk, and the sound of children's laughter echoing from the nearby park. So, as with everything else this week, it's a real mix.
Monday morning, we celebrated Jack's birthday with presents, a card, and a request: would you please be sixty-five with me? There was some reluctance on his part, but it's going pretty well despite that.
And here is a thought that creeps in fairly frequently at this stage: what to do with the time I have left? How to make the most of it? Time goes so fast, it seems, and, yet, I'm learning that the best way to slow it down is not just to slow down, but to try and be fully present. As Llewelyn Vaughn-Lee says, "the present moment is alive in its own way, complete, and perfect." Not something we often think about, since many moments we're just trying to get through, waiting for something or enduring something, and many moments we miss altogether through our own lack of awareness.
So, in actuality, the answer to "what to do with the time I have left" is something like this: Live the present moment because the present moment IS the time you have left.
Also, our friend, Lynn, had to leave town on a business trip that morning, knowing her mother was dying. I sort of just held that in. my heart until Wednesday, when I learned that Lynn was home, the hospice nurse had called, and they were to come. Lynn missed her mom by fifteen minutes, but they had made their peace, and she felt in some ways it might be easier for both of them if she wasn't there.
We got snow all afternoon Monday, and into the evening. After dinner, I went outdoors. It was a beautiful night, calm and beginning to clear. I could see stars, and a bit of the moon. I came back in and told Jack I wanted to go out and shovel, and could he let me do that without feeling that I expected him to help? "Tomorrow morning, you mean?" he asked. "No. Right now." I was out for about forty-five minutes. It was heaven.
Tuesday we met with the surgeon, a good experience, and Jack's back surgery is now scheduled for February 8th. It took a minute for that to sink in, because we were expecting them to say "March." That's like. . . a week from now! He feels ready.
Tuesday evening, we had our monthly GALZ gathering, with a wonderful speaker. Lots of women, lots of warmth, and lots of laughter. Dianne Morris Jones was our guest, and she talked about self compassion, and shared her books with us: Stop, Breathe, Believe, and I'm Fine: A Feelings Journal.
To learn more, click on Dianne's book cover:
At noon I planned to meet Jackie and Ryan, friends from Tennessee, and two of my favorite people. It turned into a three-hour-long visit, with lots of warmth and stimulating discussion. I learn from them. And truly love them.
Wednesday evening I stood in the Gathering Space talking with a parent. When class ended, Andrew's son ran over and grabbed his hand. "Dad?" he said, "Can we go to Mass this weekend?" "Sure, I guess so," he said, looking a little puzzled.
They headed toward the door, and I went back to visit with one of our catechists.
"Hey, Brian. . .did you just happen to ask your students to invite their parents so Mass?" With a wry grin he said, "I didn't think it could hurt."
On Thursday I emailed all of the catechists and told them the story, reminding them of what we already know. Personal invitation is the best way to help families become more deeply involved in parish life. It never hurts to try!
I met with my writing partner, Carol, on Thursday afternoon. Miraculously, after the writing on Saturday evening, I had some decent copy to send over to her. She is coming off of NaNo WriMo, the November writing marathon, with the purpose of completing a novel in a month's time. She did it! Now she's hard at work pulling it all into a complete (not necessarily polished) first draft. Her assignment for me: Write about your character as if her story is a fairytale. (If she could, I believe Carol would also have me "caucus-ing" Monday night!)
Friday I met Cathy for lunch. Not a long, long lunch, but a fun one. We talked about the Divine Feminine, and what it means to be women. We talked about retreats, and when you reach that place of losing interest in something, and how it can mean you are about to move to the next thing. We talked about creativity. We talked about her spiritual director's take on the elephant in the room--that when there's an elephant in the room (This is not to say, of course, that Cathy has any elephants in her room.), the mice get big out of proportion, or we ignore the mice altogether. Mice? Maybe she should consider changing spiritual directors.
And she sent me this (a journal page based on my last blog post):
If you're not familiar with LIttle Free LIbraries, you can learn more here: