Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Name Your Blessings

A year or two ago I was invited to write a guest blog post at Goodnight Gram. Recently I returned the invitation and asked Goodnight to be my guest blogger. Here is her wonderful post. I always learn so much from her! Read below, and you'll see why...

Name Your Blessings
by Goodnight Gram

A few weeks ago, my friend, Carol E., invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I agreed to do it. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that my soul had already entered its mid-summer stillness. Mid-summer is not a wordless time for me. Nor is it a thought-less time. As it turns out, however, my soul takes a contemplative break for that predictable spell of time that envelopes the anniversary of the death of my only child.

This is not a sad post. At least it isn’t my intention. I miss my daughter, but what I learned about death at an early age was that it goes hand in hand with life – a sort of two-for-the-price-of-one deal. What helps me the most is to name my blessings.

Do you remember the movie White Christmas? In one scene, Bing Crosby sings, “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

I like that tender scene and would sing the song to myself – almost silently – after my daughter died. It was tough to count back then. What helped me more than counting blessings was to name them. I found that names of all my blessing made me feel so much more blessed than the numbers.

Dear readers of Giraffe Dreams BlogSpot, one of the blessings I named a long time ago, was your blogger Carol E.

We know each other. Though we seldom have the opportunity to get together, I consider her a dear friend. We worked out of the same office for a short while a long time ago. The services we provided in an educational setting had some overlap. I liked her right away and missed her when her position eventually moved her out of our office and out of the building.

Recently, Carol posted some photos of a place where she had spent some vacation time this summer. I recognize the photos, because in 2003, I spent some time there too.
When my daughter passed away, she left behind a daughter of her own: five and a half years old. It fell to me to raise my granddaughter. Carol contacted me and offered me a chance to spend a few days at that same lake and cabin that appear in her recent photos. She gave me the key to the door, a map for the drive, and directions to find the property.

The water level in the lake where Carol’s family cabin is situated rose that summer – a negligible amount, but it rose from the tears that my granddaughter and I shed into it each day as we swam and played in the water. And if the cabin walls could speak, I don’t think they could find the words for the unbearable silence that befell them while we were there. We did our crying into the lake and reserved the security of the cabin for whispered bedtime stories until exhaustion led us by the hand to enough rest to make it through another day.

It was a healing time for us – at least a pained beginning of healing.

What remains the most remarkable step forward for me was not only the time there, but the tidying I did to leave her place as we found it. I wanted things to be in order for the next people in her family to use the cabin. I had to force myself to want to wash the dishes and sweep the sand that out bare feet tracked in, when my soul screamed to leave it all behind – in defiance of everything that had led us there in the first place, I suppose. But . . . I washed the dishes, swept the floor, carried out our trash, and named this blessing, ‘Carol.’

It will soon be eight years since that trip to Carol’s family cabin, but the blessing still remains. The calm water in the lake that buoyed us up as we played, was symbolic of the peace my granddaughter and I needed to go on. The gentle breezes that rustled the leaved in the trees reminded me that my granddaughter and I still needed to hear songs, and birds, laughter, and life. The sun that tanned us both a bit, reminded me that there is still warmth to be had in interactions with people we pass everyday – people who may be as brave at hiding their pain as we tried to be.

I try to name them all – my blessings – and Carol E. is right up there at the top of the list.

All you have to do is read her blog to know that I am not the only one who has blessings named ‘Carol.’ Her beautiful quilts have touched many lives and her knitting touches many more as she sends whatever she can to wherever there is a need. Her sense of color in her choice of fabrics buoys my spirit much the same as the water in her lake did. The books she reads and posts about on her blog give me the assurance that her heart is always seeking her next level of commitment to humanity. The respect with which she writes about her ‘Charles’, reminds me of the gift my own dear husband was to me. Her expressed care and concern for her children makes me ever ready to dip into the universe for the daily energy I need to fulfill my promise to my daughter: to raise her little girl. It all makes life look very bright as my gaze is drawn away from the dark pains that can make life after tragedy too cumbersome to handle.

If you can name Carol E. as one of your blessings, let her know. If you can name anyone else as one of your blessings, let them know, too. Who knows – maybe in the admission of our gratitude, our ‘blessings’ can be blessed in return.

Please allow me to leave you with two things before I go.

First, two sweet Hostess gifts to Carol E. are on their way to her house (see photo, above). I made the little giraffe bookmark for her. Thank you, Carol, for inviting me to share a post with your readers.

Secondly, something I wrote a long time ago:

Name Your Blessings

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

A phone call from a loved one,
A message from a friend,
A cat, a dog, a goldfish,
A child who plays pretend.

A snowflake on your eyelash,
A sweater knit with love,
A goldfinch at your feeder,
A hawk, a mourning dove.

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

A beach and someone with you,
A hike when you’re alone,
A peanut butter sandwich,
Popcorn or ice - cream cone.

A fireplace, a movie,
A book that makes you cry,
A thunderstorm, or rainbow,
A blue and cloudless sky.

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
They are dressings for your wounded soul.

The car wash with a latte’,
Canoeing on the lake,
Stalagmites, bright umbrellas,
The zoo, a birthday cake.

A drive across the country,
A lathe-turned wooden bowl,
A summer fest, a berry patch
A last-chance field goal

A lake, a quiet cabin,
The sun, the stars, the trees,
The sand between your wet toes.
What lovely blessing, these!

Name your blessings.
Don’t let them go unmentioned.
If you let them,
. . . the blessings


AnnieO said...

Absolutely riveting post, thank you so much for sharing your life's rough and painful parts and how to make a start towards soothing a soul. The poem is just lovely and deep. I agree, Carol is a blessing to count--but I can see she feels the same way about you!

Norma said...

Thank you. :)

quiltmom anna said...

We all have challenges that we face in life. This is such a touching post with a beautifully written poem at the end of it.
It truly is important to name your blessings- especially during the times when one is feeling overwhelmed or sad.
Carol - Thanks for sharing this gift. May it remind you of the many gifts that you bring to others' lives.
Warmest regards,

BrendaLou said...

Carol E. is a friend of mine and that is a blessing! I met her on-line a long time ago and have had her visit me in my N. CA town and I've been able to meet with her in MN several times. I, too, mourn a daughter...she was with us only 29 years...far too short, but I count the sweet balm of Carol's love and understanding a treasure at the time Sarah left us and in the years since. This song, "Count your blessings" has followed me most of my life and I've taken it to heart (most of the time!). It IS true that if you count blessings the sad and mournful feelings tend to fade away. Thank you for writing and God Bless you and your granddaughter.

Carol G said...

This is a truly wonderful post--full of love and courage. It has touched me as I deal with my own loss. Thank you both.