Even In Your Darkest Hour

“Even in your darkest hour, I will not abandon you….even in your darkest hour, I will not abandon you…..all is well…all is well….don’t let go of hope.”  These were the words floating from the radio when I awoke one morning in the early weeks after my father’s death, when I could barely bring myself to get out of bed.  At that time a local radio station played meditative music on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 am. to 8 a.m.  I clung to every word of the song, grief washing over me, as I prepared to face another day without my father.   A few weeks later on a Saturday morning as I lay in bed, I breathed a prayer to hear that song again.  Like a little oasis in my mourning, the song came on, blessing me with a measure of comfort.  I called the station and learned the song was from a John Adorney album called The Fountain.

              I heard a beautiful story on the radio this week of a nursing home in Germany that serves dementia patients.  The staff sought to address the issue of the occasional “escapee” who would become disoriented and believe he or she was due at home.  One actually got out and found her way to a home 20 miles away where she had formerly lived, now occupied by another family.  As employees brainstormed, one idea thrown into the mix  was to put a nonoperational “bus stop” in front of the nursing home.  At first this seemed a ridiculous suggestion to the management and staff of the facility.  But as they considered it further, it seemed worth the attempt. 

              They did in fact put a fake bus stop shelter out with a bench for waiting.  Immediately they began to see benefit from this.  One woman was so agitated she could not be calmed.  They allowed her outside to “go home” and she took a seat to wait for the “bus.”  A nurse sat on the bench with her, a comforting presence, and eventually the woman calmed down, forgot that she had come out to make her way home, and willingly went back in to have some tea with the nurse.

              What if, in our own disorientation in these times of confusion and uncertainty, we could imagine ourselves sitting at the “bus stop” with A Comforting Presence? Might we, too, sense that, even in our darkest hours, we are not abandoned…..all is well…don’t give up on hope?

              May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

            Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Immune system tea: Add fresh sliced ginger (three 1 inch slices) and a stick of cinnamon to boiling water. Strain and discard the ginger and cinnamon.  Add honey and lemon. (My mother, another comforting presence 😊, did a version of this with lemon juice and ginger powder anytime I had a cold.  It works!)

When Life is “the Pits”

“Life is the pits.”  Likely you have felt that way at some time. You especially may be experiencing such emotion during this covid 19 pandemic.    Perhaps you’ve tried all your usual methods to cope with a “pit,” and even resorted to those least effective ones like food or shopping, smoking or drinking too much.  If you have strayed from spiritual practices or never developed them, perhaps you have turned to them.  In the best case, you have found what helps you. But there are times when everything seems to fail us and life is, indeed “the pits.”

Frederick Buechner, ordained Presbyterian minister, author and speaker, tells of a time when he was at a low point.  Driving down the highway, a car passed him with a license plate that said “TRUST.” That simple license plate seemed a powerful message to him in that moment and helped him to regain his emotional footing.  He later learned the car belonged to a bank trust officer.  When the trust officer learned of the story, he personally delivered the license plate to Buechner, who placed it on his office shelf as a frequent reminder to ground himself in his faith, trusting that he would be sustained whatever the outcome.

Several years ago I published a book, Dream In Progress.  In it I make reference to Biblical stories of Joseph, placed in a pit and left for dead by his jealous brothers; Daniel put in the pit of a lions’ den; Jonah in the pit of a whale.  We can think of others through the years:  Victor Frankl, psychiatrist and author, who survived four concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau, for example, or John McCain, shot down over Vietnam during that war and held as a P.O.W. for five and a half years.  Our own pits may not be as dramatic but are every bit as real to us as we live through them. 

May we be reminded, as Buechner was, that even in the midst of difficulty we are being sustained.  In the current milieu where trust in the most basic elements– our government, science, journalism— has been nearly demolished, we have the challenge/opportunity to dig deep within for what grounds us; to foster trust, to nurture hope; to be, as Mahatma Ghandi said, the change we wish to see in the world. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

            Shalom, Kate

P.S. When times are rough, try a Hope’s Café Smoothie:  Blend 1 c. vanilla yogurt; 1 c. frozen strawberries; 1 frozen banana; ¼ c. juice.  Enjoy 😊