Tag Archives: hope

Marching with Hope in January

march-2017

Yesterday was the March for Life in Washington, DC. I had the privilege to be able to go and take my favorite little partner in crime. We Metro’d in and join the masses of happy-faced people going to make their voices (gently) heard (again).  You know it’s a small world when you run into someone you know on the train (getting on at another stop), too.

The crowd was amazingly youthful and there were folks who had traveled all night by bus from Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Folks from Hartford, CT and North Dakota (two different groups) were represented. We saw signs and banners from Oregon, Canada and Maryland. I’m sure there were more, but the sheer numbers may prevent an accurate guess.

Suffice it to say, every single individual we encountered was thoughtful, caring and friendly. There were strollers and crutches.  The police were cheerful and helpful.The folks selling t-shirts, buttons and pretzels were friendly.  There were so many priests beaming at the passing crowds.

One such priest had just mouthed, “Wow.” I told him, “You said it, Father.” He told me that the March hadn’t even started yet, the speakers were still speaking (we actually didn’t hear #BenjaminWatson speak because we were trying to figure out the lay of the land (it being our first March and all) and so got a head start on the proceedings), but that he estimated 500,000 had already walked past him!

And the media was there. ABC News (WJLA) was there.  A news helicopter (I think, although we didn’t see any station call letters) hovered for a while overhead seemingly surveying the crowd or getting shots or both.  And so was CNN. In fact, a CNN reporter even stopped us in the street to interview us. You’ll have to take my word for it though as they didn’t give the March much coverage. This in spite of the fact that VP Mike Pence spoke (thanks to the NY Times for reporting on it).

She asked me if this President represented my views.  I said, yes, on this topic, absolutely.

She asked why we were here. I told her to represent for those who can’t speak for themselves and to make our voices heard.

It’s nice to actually have someone in the White House who cares what the average person thinks.  Prayers for our new administration as they begin to lead us into the future.  May all in DC be guided by God to make the best decisions for all of us (including those who have yet to set foot on terra firma).

Going to the March left me filled with HOPE for our entire country and for this next generation.

Did you go? Watch? What was your experience?

Purposeful living

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While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the thought occurred to me that most people who seem to know their purpose, at least those in a crisis situation do so because as Fr. Mike Schmitz says, they aren’t living “on accident, but on purpose.”

Think about it, “Unbroken” the story of Louis Zamperini’s unlikely survival during World War II, is all about survival and beating the odds and doing whatever it takes with whatever is available to be able to “win”.

Another story about winning is the movie Life is Beautiful with Roberto Benigni (who also directed) in which he concocts a whole elaborate game for his son to play so that the boy doesn’t realize the horrors of the concentration camp in which they live. It’s such an exquisite act of love and sacrifice and that’s all I’ll say so I don’t spoil it for you.

Back to Fr. Mike for a second.  In his podcast, “Within Reach” dated 1/22/17, he talks about living God’s purpose and how sometimes we feel that God sets out little breadcrumbs of clues for us to figure out his will for us and that if we are skilled enough to deduce it we will solve the puzzle.  But, we complicate it and tie ourselves up in knots when we already HAVE the answer.  God has given us the Commandments to live by and if we hold those up to our daily decisions it simplifies everything.

Really? That’s it?!

I guess I’m not alone in thinking I’d get some clap of thunder, a billboard or at least some flashing sign telling me what my grand (or perhaps not so) purpose here is.

That’s when I remember St. Therese embraced the simple everyday things.  And she made it to sainthood. So maybe there’s hope for me after all.

 

Thanks to Word On Fire for the image.

Experimenting with Hope

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Some authors embark on year-long experiments like A.J. Jacobs’ “The Year of Living Biblically” where he took on the task of literally living some of the Bible’s tenets like those that concern the clothing one wears or how to handle adulterers, among others.  In another experiment he spent some time outsourcing his life – including arguing with his wife and reading bedtime stories to his son with some help from some folks in Bangalore.  He is funny and interesting as is evidenced by his quote, “I am Jewish in the same way The Olive Garden is Italian.”

Then there’s Julie Powell’s “Julie and Julia,” an experiment in which the author decided  during a rough patch in her life to cook her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  Good food, who can’t get behind that idea?!

There’s one of my personal favorites is “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. The author realized one day that she was living a pretty blessed life, and yet, she was feeling as though she was not appreciative or grateful enough for those blessings.  So she decided to embark on a year-long experiment to become more appreciative and grateful by way of her favorite device – the habit.  This was the first in a series of books (and a terrific podcast) that she has under her belt.

So many of her approaches resonated for me – her love of words and tags and categorizing – making the steps to embrace these things measurable and achievable, not to mention if one didn’t work she was very open about it.

This brings us to how I started blogging more regularly again.  I had my own little epiphany.  Well, it wasn’t just one moment.  To be honest, I’ve been wrestling with what my “project” is for quite some time now.  But, I’ve been drawn to hospice and writing and have been looking for a match.

On a walk one day with the dog my phone died – I hadn’t fully charged the battery before heading out.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, I had time to think, contemplate, create, perhaps hear divine inspiration whisper a word to me…HOPE.

Hope? I thought.

Yes, Hope.

Hmmm… I thought.

Well, actually, I had been known to think and even mention to a few folks that the word HOPE appears within the word HOsPicE.

Coincidence? I think not.

So, I figured maybe I would embark on a journey to figure out how Hope figures in others’ lives and how we can all cultivate a bit more of it.  Who couldn’t use more, right?!

How do you invite hope into your day?

Snow and Hope both have 4 letters…

 

…coincidence? I think not.
snow-pic

Today is a snow day.  Yes, yes.  I know it’s a Saturday and that flies in the face of the whole concept of snow days, but the fact that we shoveled and swept and walked in snow makes it a snow day.  The plow drivers will tell you it’s a snow day.  They are out in full force.  Gotta love the overtime!

It all began a few days ago when a school filled with children heard that snow was in the forecast for Friday (very early) morning.  Their teachers, including the substitutes were telling them all the tips of the trade in how to bring about a successful snow day.  Some were told to flush ice cubes down the toilet (with the amount of cubes equaling the amount of inches you were requesting), others were instructed to sleep with a spoon under their pillow (don’t ask me, I just work here), and still others were putting their pajamas on inside AND backwards.  Heck, hypothetically, a librarian I might know, even wore hers that way Thursday night when she turned in for bed!

However, Friday morning came and went without even the littlest snowflake falling here.  This morning, however, we had a different story.  It started with a little covering on the table on the patio out back.  The green grass still showed through.  Then, I was paying attention to something on my phone and happened to glance up when there were nearly whiteout conditions outside (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I’m here with a couple of creatures who love snow, so… cut me some slack, ok?!).

We ended up with a couple of inches of powder (not great for snowballs, but good for what ails you.

My point is, the kids were hopeful, the adults were hopeful, that there would be a snow day filled with that wonderfully clean, pure stuff that promises fun and frolicking and then hot chocolate in front of a fire afterward.  Simple pleasures, right? And hope doesn’t have to be for something monumental or Earth-shattering, it can be a simple sled ride followed by some marshmallows in hot chocolate!

I hope your day is filled with little opportunities for hope all around.

fire

A Journey…

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This idea has been percolating in my head for a bit now and I’ve even been outlining.  Can you imagine? A pantser like myself actually outlining and mind-mapping?  It was fun, in fact.  It’s always been about the process.  Surveys done in social science classes, experiments and research…now you’re talkin’!

So, here goes.  We, dear reader, you and I, are embarking on our very own journey starting right here, right now (insert earworm here, never mind…I did it for you).

It is my wish that together we will help one another find hope in daily moments.  There are so many opportunities to not be humble or optimistic or purposeful or energetic.  Then again, there are so many little, everyday moments to find in the most obscure, random, downright surprising spots that I have been inspired to share them with you and ask you to share, too.

Do you have an unusual experience or nugget or story that seems to defy all reason, but still inspires you (and others) to not lose faith? Please share it here.

One of the places that seems to have sparked this journey for me is hospice.

My dad was put on hospice following a surgery gone wrong.  It allowed him to go home and be with family when he passed.  Fast forward several years and my mother was also put on hospice, but in a facility as her dementia had progressed to a point where she needed more care than she could get at home.  However, she was put on not because of some horrendous diagnosis, but because of a factor called “negative caloric intake”.  In other words what she was able to eat wasn’t doing her any good nutritionally.  Therefore, the powers that be thought she was “not long for this world” at that rate of speed.  She fooled them.  She ramped up her eating again and did something I didn’t even know was possible. She “graduated” from hospice.  And, in fact, when she did finally pass away, she was not on hospice.

So, both of those instances involved examples of hope.  Dad’s allowed him to be at home with loved ones in an environment he’d helped to create taking some of the powerlessness out of it for him and preparing him for the next step in his journey.

Mother’s was educating me (at least) that this was something that could also be overcome and was not a done deal or a “given”.  God still had the reins here, not us.  Humbling, to say the least and hopeful that she would get stronger and healthier (which she did for a bit).

Since then, I have begun volunteering with hospice myself and it is amazingly rewarding and hope-filled.  The wonderful folks I have had the privilege to meet are veterans who have, in some capacity, served our nation in the armed forces and we are now getting a chance to thank them for their service and sacrifice.  There have been veterans who served in World War II and some much younger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some are at home and just look frail, not truly “sick”.  Some who are fully aware and others I have heard of who seem to not hear a thing.  The one thing throughout that resonates is that the word HOPE is within the word HOsPicE.  It came to me one day by Divine Intervention no doubt, but just stood out in vast relief and has stuck ever since.  And I feel so lucky to be able to volunteer with such a terrific organization. It has the element of the military which I have such a place in my heart for (being a military spouse will do that to you) and being the beneficiary of hospice (by way of both parents) that it seemed like a perfect fit.  Couple that with a terrific angel of a volunteer coordinator and you’ve got yourself a winner!

What sorts of experiences have you had that were wrapped in Hope when it seemed like that would be the last emotion to be present?

I hope you have enjoyed this session of our journey and I look forward to our next leg.

 

Nine Eleven

I have the luxury of being able to contemplate this day without having to try to remember the face of a loved one which is fading with each passing day. I haven’t lost a loved one in the aftermath of that day on a desert battlefield. I have the luxury of wondering what the best way to commemorate is.

I, like so many of us, have the memory of that day, and where I was on that clear September morning.

Watching those news reports, reading the stories of those lost.  Many of us have done this year after year in the decade since.

This was the first year that I was able to find some comfort in the stories of those people who exemplified heroism and were the picture of an American.  The stores of those who outshine the ugliness and hatred that was trying to win out extinguishes just a bit of the negativity and that is a victory.  The loyalty and love that people feel for our military members is heartwarming.

I most admire those people who can look at a horrendous experience and glean some nugget from it that is hope filled or at least not the ugliest possible view.  As my initial disclaimer announced…I have that luxury.  I’m not saying everyone can do that.  I’m just sharing what I have found in the years since the  day that changed our nation.

Grace under pressure is the phrase that comes to my mind in the time following the events on September 11th and the search for stories of winners since is what I seek out.

What are your thoughts on the media coverage and the ways people have chosen to remember and honor any and all affected by the events of that day?