Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Go let your mama see you smile

There are so many things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving Day.

This Thanksgiving, for some reason, while I'm so deeply grateful for those 10 souls who made their way to sit around the table with us and enjoy a repast made with loving hands, I find myself most grateful for the souls who have gone on home to Jesus.

That's the thing about Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving we celebrate every Sunday. It's all about a having a heart filled with gratitude and having a foretaste of that heavenly banquet which we will share when we all finally get home.

It's probably not surprising that the "ear worm" I've had all day is the song which, for me, captures the essence of the day:  Gratitude and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet prepared for us.

It may sound odd to you, but as I've been cooking and baking and anticipating, I've been hearing Iris DeMent's song "Go on ahead and go home", which she wrote for the funeral of her eldest brother.  Her voice is deeply enriched by - and reflective of - the sights and sounds and spirituality of the Delta in which she was conceived and where she lived her life.

I've been thinking about the ways in which we have Eucharist - The Great Thanksgiving - at home. With our friends and family. Surrounded by those who have "gone ahead and gone home".

So, here's my Eucharist Day song to you and yours. On this Thanksgiving Day in a time of unprecedented violence and the constant threat of terror, may you know that:
In the deep of the night, In the deep of the night
By the river so still where sorrows come to heal
and wrongs are made right
Down in the deep of the night, In the deep of the night
On a creaking porch swing, the ancient ones sing
"everything is alright"

Go on ahead and go home
Go on ahead and go home
Boy, you've done your best
Time you took your rest in the sheltering loam
Go on ahead and go home
Go on ahead and go home
The spirits of the dead will meet you up ahead
You won't be alone

Go let your mama see you smile
Go let your mama see you smile
Mama's gonna wait however long it takes,
but it's sure been awhile
Go let your mama see you smile
Go let your mama see you smile
She's standing in the sun sayin'
"Boy, your works been done a long, long mile"

Down where the cotton grows tall
Down where the cotton grows tall
Where the bramble rose and blue hydrangea grows
beside the old mare's stall
Down where the cotton grows tall
Down where the cotton grows tall
And a fragrant delta breeze shakes the cypress trees
down deep in the Fall

In the deep of the night, In the deep of the night
By the river so still where sorrows come to heal
and wrongs are made right
Down in the deep of the night, In the deep of the night
On a creaking porch swing, the ancient ones sing
"everything is alright"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Advent Virtues

LL Bean Advent Calendar - Cape Elizabeth, ME Lighthouse  

I've been looking around for a way for our children and grandchildren to observe Advent without observing "Advent," per se. 

That is, some of our kids are spiritual but not necessarily religious; one is Quaker, not Christian.

However, everyone in our family observes Christmas. Several times, in fact, with their family unit and their larger family and with us at "Little Christmas". Not just the Christ child, necessarily.

I suspect there are lots of families like us out there. 

So, with a little help from my friends on FaceBook, I've come up with 25 Virtues - I'm calling them "Advent Virtues" - that can be considered each of the 25 Days of Advent. They are not necessarily "Christian" but I think Baby Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph, would heartily approve.

My plan is to use them in an Advent Calendar - print them out on little strips of paper and tuck them into the drawer or pouch along with a traditional sweet treat.

They can also be printed on colored paper or ribbon to decorate an Advent Wreath.

Or, they might be printed on a strip of colored paper and hooked together to make garland for the tree or mantle.

Or, perhaps written on a slip of colored paper and put into a decorated jar and taken out one at a time on each of the days of Christmas.

These were written in no particular order. You may want to make them all in the same form of a "wish" or "bidding prayer". You may want to define a particular virtue in your own way. Or, you may want to compile your own list of virtues.

Please feel free to use them in whatever way suits you for your own family or intergenerational Advent church activity.

The first Sunday of Advent is November 29th. Prepare ye the way! 


Patience: May you have the grace to see what waiting brings.

Intelligence: May you use your mind to the benefit of yourself and others.

Kindness: May you know it and show it to humans and animals alike, and may in return to you in kind.

Perseverance: If you fall down seven times, may you get back up again eight times.

Moderation: May you find a balance between work and play and discover the path to wholeness of life. 

Courage: When you are afraid, may you be able to walk through your fear.
Thankfulness: May you always know that everyone needs help at some point. Including you.

Confidence: May you always have faith in yourself.

Curiosity: May a sense of awe and wonder lead you to learning and discovery.

Faith: May you have the courage to trust without reservation that all will be well.

Humility: May your mistakes always be opportunities to learn – and share.

Compassion: May you always want to help, even if all it means is to listen and say kind words.

Excellence: May your every effort be guided by an impulse for nobility and a desire for perfection.

Generosity: May you know that whatever you give away will come back to you in other ways.

Forgiveness: When you or others make a mistake, have faith that you – and they – can change.

Idealism: May you dare to have big dreams and act as if they are possible.

Tolerance: May you understand that people have feelings, hopes and dreams, just like you, only different.

Honesty: May you accept yourself as you are so that others may trust in you and rely on you.

Enthusiasm: May the inspiration you draw from life find its way to inspire others.

Courtesy: May you speak and act with kindness and respect so others feel affirmed and valued.

Wisdom: May you reside in the place where mind and heart meet.

Creativity: May you see things in new ways and find different ways to solve problems.

Peacefulness: May you give up the love of power for the power of love.

Joy: May your spirit shine like the sun, bringing light and warmth to you and all those around you.

Love: May your heart be open to all of life's creatures and creation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What's Your Cookie?

NB - The following is a meditation I gave this morning for my Hospice Team

As I was looking over my charts last night, I noted how many times I included "Life Review" in my care plans. I seem to do a lot of 'life review' in my visits, in several different ways, using several different approaches and techniques. Some of you might do that, too.

Of course, there's the "interview" data-gathering phase where you gather the basic information about the patient. But then I find myself circling back to go a bit deeper into the patient/family's life story. Sometimes, if there's time and the patient /family have an appropriate available level of insight, I'll ask this question:
Is there anyone in your life - a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a teacher, a celebrity - who said something or did something or you observed something about them that changed the course of your life or inspired you?
One woman who answered that question really surprised me.  Her inspiration?

"Cookie Monster," she said, with a bright smile on her face.

"Cookie Monster changed your life?" I asked.

"Oh yes," she responded, sitting up in her chair. 

"I was watching Sesame Street with my kids one day. In this particular episode, Cookie Monster was on a game show of some sort. If he answered the question correctly, he could choose his reward from behind one of three doors."

"Behind door number one," she continued, "was 'a million dollars'! Behind door number two was 'a brand new car'! And, behind door number three was . . . ."

She paused, her eyes glistening as we said together, "A cookie!"

"Of course," she continued, "Cookie answered the question correctly. And, of course, he chose the prize . . . . 'Behind door number three! A COOKIE!'," we said in unison, doing our best impression of Cookie Monster. 

We giggled for a bit and then she said, "And, you know, right then and there I said to myself, 'Gee, I wonder what MY cookie is'. I wonder what it is in my life that I love so much that money doesn't matter or nice things don't matter. As long as I've got even the possibility of getting that which is my 'cookie' in life, I'm happy."

"When I found my 'cookie'," she said, "when I was able to name it and say it, life became worth living. And now that I know the end in sight, I don't have too many regrets. Well, just that I wish I had more time to enjoy even more of my cookies."

So the question I bring to you this week, for your consideration and meditation is: What is your 'cookie'? 

Is it your work as a nurse or nurse practitioner or a social worker or a doctor or an administrator? Is being able to do that work what makes your life have joy and passion, no matter what you are paid or what 'things' you have in your life?

Is it your family? As long as you have your family, everything else in in service of them? Neither the work you do or the things you have are more important than those people?

Part of it for me is the gift of my faith.  I call my faith a gift because I certainly didn't do anything to deserve it or earn it. I question it all the time. And yet, it is with me always, even in difficult times. It brings me great joy. And it really doesn't matter how much I'm paid for dong the work - well, within reason, Madam Clinical Director. My Mama didn't raise no fool - I love living my faith. It puts everything else in perspective.

As you go through this day, this week, I ask that you consider this question: What is your 'cookie' in life? Because, once you get clear about that, lots of other questions begin to find a path to their answers. And, it is on that path where you will go beyond happiness and right smack dab into joy.

Or, as Cookie Monster would sing, "C is for Cookie, dat's good enough for me."