Monday, April 07, 2008

I Am Healed

If not physically, at least spiritually. My weekend was full of blessings.

I was still feeling under the weather and woke on Saturday morning with tears in my eyes that I still felt so wretched. I was feeling quite sorry for myself that I'd rested, consumed gallons of water, and tried every home remedy I could find and still a cough wracked my body, my ears remained plugged, and my head pounded with congestion. Enough already.

But I decided to jump in the shower to perk myself up, quickly realizing if I didn't trudge through the pain, it'd be a long, sorry day.

And then the blessings poured forth.

First, we attended part of an event in memory of my father. The first annual 'John Flynn Memorial Basketball Tournament' was held at the beautiful, new high school in town (which was built, in no small part, due to my father's diligent efforts as school board president and visionary). Once again, seeing the word "memorial" after my father's name caused me to hold my breath, but seeing all the volunteers in their bright, green, shamrock-adorned t-shirts hustling to and fro, beautifully executing a flawless event, I was humbled that two years later people would still go to the trouble of honoring my father. My father loved basketball. He loved the new school. He loved wearing green, and he was oh-so-proud of his Irish heritage. He also loved all these good people, tireless civil servants who always have the good of the community in their minds and hearts.

From there we created another spontaneous family gathering. Mom had 'just happened' to put a whole lot of food into her crockpot that morning. Say, enough to feed all the kids and grandkids, or some quantity thereabouts. Her nurturing intuition is always spot-on.

The next day we went to church. We haven't been to church more than a handful of times in the past 3 years, but at one time, that small UU community played an enormous role in our lives. Sunday's service was an All-Church Reunion and it was led by our favorite spiritual friend and mentor Dan.
Photo: Dan, Me, Laurie making a tomato salad at Willow

Dan has acted as lay minister to our church for many, many years. But more importantly, Dan has been a spiritual leader to us, his friends, with his story-telling, his amazing way with children, his wisdom, and the generous love he bestows upon us whenever we're together. When Dan leads a service, it isn't about readings or songs or sermons. It's about people and connections, honoring our elders and hearing their stories, and poetry. It's about laughing and singing, sharing our gifts, showing gratitude for all of life's mysteries.

When Dan leads, I am always moved to tears. And that's exactly how I like my church services!
And then another blessing. My amazingly gifted chef friend Joan prepared the food for after the service. Curried spinach soup, Bulgarian Stew, colorful assorted salads, scrumptious desserts. Any combination Joan creates in the kitchen is magic, and the collective moaning, as people relish every bite of her creations, is almost comical. People shake their heads in amazement when they taste her dishes and say things like, "How in the world does she do this?" and "I made spinach soup and it tastes nothing like this!" She'll tell you she got a recipe from Moosewood or Epicurious, but you'll make it yourself and it doesn't even come close. That's because she tweaks and nurtures her food, using bounty from her own garden, and she knows just what something needs when it's not quite right. It's a gift, people.

Now, I run with a gang of amazing cooks. Every dish we share in our gatherings is worthy in its own right. But even when I arrive with a new recipe in hand, sure I'm going to add a few notches to my belt once it's tasted, there are always surprises; Joan always comes up with a new blend of flavors that no one's ever thought to combine before.
Photo: Gemma (Joan's daughter), Joan, and me at Willow (& Joan's son Brendan with the camera)

We are more than happy to be culinary guinea pigs and savor each bite of every new dish. I bow in reverence to her gift, and rub my rounded belly in full satisfaction.

Dan and Joan, together, create this:

The most lovely gardens you've ever see. Dan does mostly food, Joan does mostly flowers, and together they create a stunning landscape of color, sustenance, and escape. We drink coffee under the hops teepee and collect herbs amid the butterflies. We create ritual in its paths and watch our children giggle and chase each other around corners. Magic happens in these gardens. When I got home from the gathering on Sunday, I joined Rob on the lawn chairs in the front yard. He was listening to a baseball game while slowly grilling barbecued ribs; I wrote letters to friends and enjoyed the gentle breeze and warm spring day. But anyone who knows me knows I can't be outside long before my gardens call me... I decided to survey my flower beds and estimate how much work I have to do.

I grabbed a dead flower stalk and tugged. It came loose. I tugged another. The soil was soft and things pulled easily. Next thing I know, I'm on hands and knees, pulling out the old tomato, pepper, and broccoli plants. Oh, how good it felt to be in my garden again! I stacked the dead things in a pile, and picked the dirt from under my nails. (I never wear gloves because I like to feel what I'm doing, and I'm always a little wary of too-soft hands.)

Soon my gardens will bloom again.

Soon the green will return.As I drifted off to sleep that night, weary from exertion, still coughing, sniffling, and aching, I smiled.

I am blessed. I am so very blessed.


Beverly said...

I think when you write something deep and personal, meaningful and spiritual, it can leave us commenters feeling like, "Well, what can I say to follow that," which is a shame.
So, here I am to say, That was very nice. And I'm glad you're feeling better.

Lynn said...

I agree with Beverly;-))
You have brightened my morning and I will look at today differently and count all my blessings xx

kelli said...

That was beautiful :)

It is hard to remember the green at the end of the winter, but with the help of amazing friends, it's much easier. hugs to you~

Kim said...

yes, just seeing all of that green gave me hope for Illinois. Good you got some nourishing women at the end of that ailment!

Maria said...

Well, ditto to Beverly's comment. What a beautiful post. I especially enjoyed the aspect about the people who are remembering your father. What an incredible community you have! What a beautiful tribute to someone you loved so much. I'm so very sorry you lost him, and I am so glad that you feel so uplifted right now by the support you have.

Yesterday, despite malaise, sickness and depression I thought, "You know, in the grand scheme of things, I'm sooo spoiled..I have a very very good life." Your post reaffirmed that! Great timing. Well, okay, I know you didn't post it FOR me, but it goes to show we're all in it together,, huh?

Tina H. said...

What a wonderful description of a meaningful weekend for you. I enjoyed it very much. Good food, friends, and the ability to work with the ground makes for a wonderful time.

joanieji said...

All the warmth and bliss of green shines through. (it is the "color" of the heart chakra!) When I talked to you earlier, I hadn't read this post yet - strange b/c I usually spring to it in my wanderings every day. I am honored & renewed by your praise.

Namaste, dear friend.

Stephanie said...

So what can I say???

Thank you, I love reading your posts and I feel blessed just by reading about your blessings.

Anonymous said...

Guess the Karma thing from the Great Duchess Event wore off.

Smudge averted.


becky (circas 70's) said...

I am sorry to hear of your dad's passing 2 yrs ago. He was a speicial man. I'll always remember "Big bad Becker from el'decker" and I would always ask "where is el'decker?".
This life is both utterly beautiful and painful at the same time.I enjoyed your reflections on that day. God bless.