To Everything There Is A Season

Christmas Tree Lights

Merry Christmas everyone and wish for you a loving and happy New Year in 2022! I hope you have been well this year and, in spite of perhaps some ups and downs, life has been good to you. Here we are and to everything there is a season and this is the time to celebrate life and each other.

It has taken me all year to write, and I wanted to connect with you before the year ends. For me, it’s been a good year and I hope it has been the same for you given the challenges and obstacle courses we’ve had to maneuver. For me, it mostly has been a year of reorientation to regroup from 2020, the pandemic and the world in general.

I’ve found myself more in observation mode wondering where my place is in it all and I haven’t, until lately, found the words to write. There has been a feeling of ebbs and flows each day, as they unfold, not only in my personal life but in the lives of those around me and beyond. I have sensed a shift, though subtle, and notice the changes in me and my life as I practice love and being in the present moment.

How do I put into words what is going on in my life and throughout 2021? And how can that mean anything to you? I won’t attempt to catch you up in it all in this one post. But, in the past year-plus, we’ve had babies born in our family (our first great-grandson) and 2 great-nephews born to our niece and niece’s daughter – babies, such a fresh addition to life, joy of innocence and hope for the future.

Christmas Bears

We’ve also had loved ones and distant friends die while others are challenged with health issues. Life keeps nudging us along on this ride and we’re high one moment and then it gets messy the next. All the while, I feel we’re not alone.

But then, what better time than at Christmas is there to reflect and feel the spirit of love. The season gives us that opportunity to pause in our busy lives and take time to write a card or call a friend. It draws us closer in attempts to celebrate longtime traditions, though different, that still have meaning for connection when we haven’t had the time nor felt the need any other time of the year.

There is a strong stirring of spirit this time of year and a holiness, if you can quiet your mind long enough to hear it. I believe this time of year people want and try to be kinder in the midst of annoyances, cancellations and Covid restrictions. The expectations we put on each other are high but so is the spirit of this season to help us remember what is important. Just pull yourself away from the party or TV show and step outside one of these evenings and look up in the sky. Breathe in all the awesomeness and beauty that’s always there waiting for us to notice.

God bless you – everyone. I’m still here and wish you love and joy this beautiful Christmas season and a New Year full of new adventures and surprises.

Pat at the ‘ol kitchen table

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Christmas in 2020

Winter Solstice Conjunction – Jupiter and Saturn Image taken in Italy Dec 21, 2020 – Photographer Unknown

I’m wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Here we are nearing the end of 2020 and feeling the familiar spirit of love and giving, as we pause to celebrate life with all faiths and peoples around the world.

It’s been different and certainly painful for many, as I’ve watched and felt it through the days and months of 2020. It’s as if we’re struggling to break free and transform into something unlike anything we’ve ever known, like a caterpillar and butterfly. We haven’t quite accomplished it yet and we’re still in the breaking-free part. It’s hard to determine what any of this is about while still struggling in the cocoon of challenges. It feels like traveling along a foggy highway and cautiously moving along but can’t see what’s ahead of us.

There is a shift in the heavens and an alignment of the planets with the ushering in of this year’s Winter Solstice. As we watch Jupiter and Saturn rendezvous, while making another trip around the sun on Earth, the shift and alignment is going on in us, too.

Things no longer look the same nor work in the same way. No matter how bad we want it to go back to the way it was, it all seems so confusing and chaotic but I can’t help but believe there’s always hope. It’s part of the Christmas story handed down so many years ago.

Christmas Star courtesy of MSN Clipart

I recently came across one of my old journals where I wrote thoughts about things that were going on in my life some years ago. I must have been reaching for hope and drawing on some inner peace and you may think that ‘all is well’ is last thing you can relate to at this time. But, it caught my attention, while I was reflecting on my girlfriend and her husband’s challenges, both going through cancer at the same time and in their ’80’s.

Here are my entries and I hope they help you reach for hope and draw on your own inner peace right where you’re at and whatever may be going on in your life at this very moment. There is something bigger at work this 2020, no matter what it looks like, and there’s always hope.

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All is Well

The feeling when you breathe in that fresh, crisp air on a cool, fall evening and see the stars twinkling . . . all is well.

When your puppy licks your hand and you can feel it’s cold, wet nose on your leg . . . all is well.

When you’ve worked hard all day and come home to the ones you love and love you . . .all is well.

You all know those moments, those times, when all the challenges and struggles of life are worth it. And they’re more than we realize. Somehow, it’s like we’re trained to only give credence to those things that make life hard, as if we need to pass an initiation to an important club.

But, if we would only take time to look around at the precious moments in life that pass through and mean so much with very little effort. How it touches your heart. Oh, the laughter of a child, when he’s being tickled – so much to notice – so much love – just for us to enjoy . . . no charge.

Life shouldn’t be so hard. I think we make it hard so we feel like we’ve accomplished something. But, life just happens whether you’re making it hard or easy. It just happens. Sooo . . .

The taste of a cold, fresh glass of orange juice . . . all is well.

A phone call from an old friend you haven’t heard from for years . . . all is well.

You smell a sweet fragrance of perfume or food cooking and flash back to a childhood memory . . . all is well.

Your husband takes your hand in the movie . . . all is well.

Your baby took his first step . . .all is well.

See, there is so much around us to be thankful for, to feel good about. Maybe, if we concentrated more on the good that is happening, rather than the bad, then when we are faced with a real difficult challenge, we would handle it better and be able to move through it faster and be more open to learn from it.

But, somehow, it seems more appropriate to bring attention to our crisis so we have something more in common to talk about. It’s awkward and we’re looking for comfort – a safe place to land. But, did you notice there are not many people listening. They would much rather hear about something that feels good and distracts them from their own challenges.

Imagine with me, if you will, floating up in space and, as you do, panning out and looking back at that big, beautiful blue ball we call home – suspended there – slowly and silently moving on course. Tell me, in the bigger picture of things taking in all that, you can’t say, “All is well!?”

Earth space universe globe Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com (https://www.pexels.com/photo/earth-space-universe-globe-41953/)
Earth space universe globe Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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God bless you this Christmas holiday season. Remember you are never alone as you walk this path of your journey. That is hope . . . that is the spirit of Christmas.

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table.

Hope and a Future

candles
Candle Photo from MSN Clipart

These are trying times and no matter how this pandemic is touching you, there are times when you may feel like you’ve lost all hope. I know I’m not saying anything you already don’t know and aren’t experiencing – life isn’t normal these days.

Whether, it’s keeping social distancing with a neighbor or not having a job to go back to. These are the highs and lows with many layers in between – a roller coaster ride, with no end in sight, rising from one level of worry about paying bills to another dip if your spouse or parent gets sick. Sounds pretty grim but please read on.

I came across a scripture in a sample of a daily devotional I received in the mail last year and it struck a chord. I was feeling low at the time and it touched me deeply and comforted me. It seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear at the time.

The same passage popped up again a couple of Sundays ago in an evening TV series finale showing of “God Friended Me”. I noticed the mention of the same scripture and remembered how it affected me when I first read it. When something shows up again like this, even after a year, it gets my attention, especially in times like these. It reads like this:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Hope comes in many forms and this one may not particularly fit for you. You may wonder where’s the comfort in prosperity if your family is hungry and you don’t know how you’ll get the next meal. Or, the one you loved has just died and you couldn’t be there to say goodbye. It hurts and we feel in harm’s way when we’re in depths of despair when these events happen to us.

But, even in those darkest times a glimmer of hope can happen. May be just how the light cast shadows through a window or a passing gesture of someone walking down the street. It’s what catches our attention, grabs our heart for just a moment and we notice long enough to feel that feeling of hope that goes beyond our situation.

“Four Candles”

What’s different these days is that circumstances are forcing us to refocus. We’ve been locked down and staying home – only now recently going back to work, wearing masks when we go out in public, sanitizing groceries and goods we bring home and washing our hands. Before, we never gave any of that a second thought. We’d meet up with friends at a game or a restaurant and now that’s been all closed down, even airports have looked like ghost towns.

We have to rethink how to work, shop, cook, travel, entertain ourselves and communicate with each other. We have so much time on our hands it all seems so different and, no doubt, foreign. But, when circumstances dictate new routines a new reality appears. You may now notice things that weren’t on your radar before.

It’s like someone who has visited a friend once a week for many years and that friend is going out of town for a few weeks and asks them to house sit. Even though they’ve been in their house for years on weekly visits, there are things they come across while house sitting they never noticed before – a crack in the ceiling or a painting in the hallway. So, when their friend returns and they come for a visit, they won’t see their home in the same way they saw it before.

Even though life is different these days, maybe having to change our routines and refocus is a good thing. We’ll realize we can be more creative and do the same job in a different way and have more time. Once we settle down and move off our old ruts and out of our comfort zones, we may realize it’s nice and less stressful. We find ourselves breathing again with a space for hope. Maybe, in terms of this pandemic, we’ll no longer view things in gloomy black and white but in rainbows.

The “Rainbow Song” – A celebration of Nelson Mandela. “He didn’t dream in black and white, he saw a rainbow”.

I’ve always found that no matter what I’ve had to go through in my life, and no matter how devastating it was, there was always extra grace to match the circumstance. I believe this grace is being matched all over the world in every circumstance that’s being experienced in these times. Hope is for everyone no matter your belief.

When the pandemic has calmed down and we’ve discovered how to treat this coronavirus, life will seem to begin to return but it may look a lot different than it did before. We will have learned and experienced a new reality and ways of living we may not want to give up to go back to the way it was. We will have learned to function in a new way and enjoy it. The old way may no longer work for us.

Old jobs won’t be there anymore to go back to but new jobs will have cropped up to replace them. In reinventing ourselves we’ll have realized we moved onto something more efficient and better. But, more importantly we’ve touched something within that’s more important and noticed things about ourselves and life we never had time to realize before. Life has more meaning and depth.

Dr. Maya Angelou: “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud”

Dr. Maya Angelou: “Be A Rainbow In Someone Else’s Cloud”

Life is a gift and no matter how bad the coronavirus is realized in your life, there will be something different come out of it you will notice. Let it happen for you and hope will be in the center of it among many other things. God bless you and be safe and well.

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table

When We Come To It

I look around at what’s going on with this coronavirus and I wonder, “Will we come to it?” Is this the time when we will be brave enough to listen . . . to change course and accept a new normal and not go back to status quo?

We have such power to carve out mountain ranges, genetically modify our food and our bodies, rearrange rivers, go to the moon and outer space, blow up countries; and, yet, one small microscopic virus has silently and invisibly swept across our world causing countries to shut down, stock markets to plummet and people to die. Can we accept the challenge in what’s happening; that it can touch each of us and is no longer just happening to someone else?

I don’t think we’ve dealt with something like this before on a global scale; though, in the past, we’ve had plagues and pandemics far greater in number than this one. Have you ever thought about that? Why this one? Maybe, this is it.

Maybe this is the time when we come out of this on the other side and there will be countries, beliefs, families — people in general — coming together, settling differences and living in harmony. I felt it early on as a child in wanting peace in my home with my parents. Events happen, catastrophes occur and we always wait for the dust to settle so we can get back to our normal lives, instead of looking beyond and consider something different.

I suspect there’s been a lot of the same tug-and-pull down through the ages and, still wonder, if now we are able to come to it? Come to reconcile conflicts within ourselves, others, and face what’s there in our lives that have been trying to get our attention. Truly learn to be kind and live in peace with one another, particularly now, when we have the capability to seriously damage or destroy this world as we know it?

I believe this is a major crossroad in humanity where we have an opportunity to be quiet, listen and hear and, maybe, for the first time, get the message on what’s calling to show us how to do that: consider maybe we’re the problem and feel life and love we’ve been given. I think we’ll hear and answer the call this time. I’ve already seen so many stories with people reaching out to one another in innovative ways to connect on the internet and many others. It’s beginning.

Over the years, I’ve become more sensitive to life and death and can’t watch anything close to violent movies or shows or even play “bloody” video games with my grandsons. It stays with me. Even to the point where Hubby helps capture spiders and moths for me in the house and puts them outside. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe over the top, but I can’t help it. He has gotten used to my many quirks over the years and I feel if I smash a bug I can’t go back one minute before and put life in it and bring it back to the way it was crawling or flying. But, you know, we don’t have many bugs.

Or, I have a strong feeling when I smell fresh cut pine. It bothers me, even though we’ve chopped down our own Christmas trees for many years when the girls were young. I always sense a feeling they’re stuck planted right where they are with no ability to run. Can you imagine the feeling when the sound of a chain saw starts coming your way and you can’t move (aghh – one of those dreams waiting to happen). Then, there are the cattle trucks I pass on the highway and get emotional knowing their fate, even though I enjoy a good hamburger. It’s not perfect and I still have a lot in reconciling balance within my own life.

The world out there is much different than mine. Big entertainment is popular with killing and blowing things up. People seem to take pleasure in getting even and watching things die. We puff ourselves up and think we’re all so powerful in what we can destroy and conquer but can we put life in one flower or create the song of a bird. Maybe that’s what’s going on in this coronavirus is that it will show us what’s precious. After this, I don’t think we’ll be able to go back to the way it was. Too much will have changed and what was before will no longer serve us. Nature, sun and the moon, earth and many universes beyond will move on. Question is: Will we give up our power plays and petty differences to move on and be there with them?

I came across this poem the other day that spoke to the many things I’ve described above. It seemed to resonate in ways I’ve long felt but never until now seen words put to them so beautifully. It’s really powerful if you listen to Maya Angelou’s voice from the video while following along with her words in this poem. Maya Angelou reading her poem “A Brave and Startling Truth”.

A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

By Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet

Traveling through casual space

Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns

To a destination where all signs tell us

It is possible and imperative that we discover

A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it

To the day of peacemaking

When we release our fingers

From fists of hostility

And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it

When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate

And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean

When battlefields and coliseum

No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters

Up with the bruised and bloody grass

To lie in identical plots in foreign lands


When the rapacious storming of the churches

The screaming racket in the temples have ceased

When the pennants are waving gaily

When the banners of the world tremble

Stoutly in the good, clean breeze


When we come to it

When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders

And children dress their dolls in flags of truce

When land mines of death have been removed

And the aged may walk into evenings of peace

When the religious ritual is not perfumed

By the incense of burning flesh

And childhood dreams are not kicked awake

By nightmares of abuse


When we come to it

Then we will confess that not the Pyramids

With their stones set in mysterious perfection

Not the Garden of Babylon

Hanging as eternal beauty

In our collective memory

Not the Grand Canyon

Kindled into delicious color

By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe

Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji

Stretching to the Rising Sun

Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,

Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores

These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it

We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe

Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade, the dagger

Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace

We, this people on this mote of matter

In whose mouths abide cankerous words

Which challenge our existence

Yet out of those same mouths

Can come songs of such exquisite sweetness

That the heart falters in its labor

And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet

Whose hands can strike with such abandon

That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living

Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness

That the haughty neck is happy to bow

And the proud back is glad to bend

Out of such chaos, of such contradiction

We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it

We, this people, on this wayward, floating body

Created on this earth, of this earth

Have the power to fashion for this earth

A climate where every man and every woman

Can live freely without sanctimonious piety and

without crippling fear

When we come to it

We must confess that we are the possible

We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world

That is when, and only when We come to it.

Like Maya Angelou presents in her poem, I believe we’ll come to it. We’ll find a way. It may not be my way or your way . . . maybe, a third way, like William Ury talks about, the perfect blend of both ways plus a little more.

It will happen, if we allow it and do our part and when it does maybe we will see something miraculous. Another true wonder of the world – the human realizing they’re true potential.

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table

A Christmas for 2012

I’m reposting this from some 7 years ago now and the message still rings true on this eve of the Christ child’s birth. May you all have a blessed and loving Christmas.

The night is dark and there’s a silent hush. A candle shines calling out to the heavens from here on Earth.

The light flickers with diminished promises of Hope for mankind as it looks now to the stars this Christmas for the magic of love, peace and kindness for one and all.

It doesn’t understand the turmoil. There has been unrest, despair and hate in the past but this is different. “Where is mankind?” the candle asks, “Is he in trouble?

As it searches the depths of the oceans and mountain peaks, there are scars and pollution.

As it searches the sky, there is clutter of metal space stations and confusion of air waves.

As it searches the Holy Lands, there is the threat of war and nuclear holocaust.

As it searches the deserts, there are hideouts and weapons, casinos and golf courses.

As it looks to the children, they are in harm’s way.

I see signs of him everywhere of what he’s been doing but somehow feel he has forgotten and lost his way” says the candle.

Christmas Star

Christmas Star Photo from MSN Clipart

Suddenly, a star appears in the heavens shining bright as it did over 2000 years ago for the birth of Christ. It glows again with warmth and brilliance and seems to send a beam in the direction of the candle.

Be of comfort” it says to the candle “mankind is WAKING up! Its loving presence is not found on stages or in bright lights but can be found in the quiet corners of a small apartment, around a kitchen table or in prayerful, quiet places of slumber as it drifts off to sleep.

Don’t give up, even in the midst of chaos and unrest, there have been many acts of kindness appearing – now more than ever.”

Though small in comparison, the candle notices evidence of mankind reaching out to one another with help in time of need gaining momentum through love and comfort. It’s happening in our neighborhoods, homes, in our country and the world. The changes are beginning to appear.

Mankind is poised to realize and experience an AWAKENING like never before! It’s time and we’re ready for love instead of pain, joy instead of despair, comfort instead of rejection and prosperity instead of destruction.

I feel HOPE again this Christmas and the coming New Year for beloved family, friends, myself and everyone from the testimonies of love that have poured out this year for those who’ve experienced great loss from fires, hurricanes and precious loved ones in harm’s way from war and shootings.

May God bless all of you this Christmas and Hanukkah and rejoice in the New 2013 Year!  May you and all mankind experience the evidence of AWAKENING with renewed hope, love and peace!

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table

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Acknowledgements: "The Four Candles" at https://www.you more...