Journaling

When I recently packed to travel to help care for my grandsons, I packed my journals.  I have kept journals off and on for years. Before she was even born, I started one journal to my daughter. I continued to her 17th birthday, when I gave it to her as a present.  She told me years later in the midst of an emotional crisis she turned to the journal, reading through it to ground herself. I never thought about it serving that purpose for her.  However, I know at times I read back through my own, reminded of difficult things I came through and of pleasant memories I can briefly relive.

            As a therapist, I often encouraged clients to journal for the therapeutic value of it.  One woman would journal at my office and would leave her writing with me as she did not want her thoughts discovered at home, while she sought to unravel her tangled feelings and seek her path forward. 

            Last summer at my pastorate in Florida, by some circuitous route, one of my husband Terry’s long-ago clients found a number for me.  For safekeeping, she had secured at her grandmother’s  house  a copy of her record of treatment as a teenager.   Her grandmother had recently died and she was closing down her grandmother’s home.  There she discovered the chart, a journal of sorts, that carried the story of her treatment.    Now an adult with children of her own, she wanted to let Terry know how well her life had turned out and how much she valued his help at a critical time.

            My husband, a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam, is now writing his memoir of those years. George Orwell said “Good writing is like a windowpane.” I see the windowpane my husband is creating, the relief as he unburdens himself.  He often spoke of Vietnam in years past but usually in a more detached way.  Now some deeper part of him is open to live more fully.

            I now keep journals for my grandsons. I don’t know if they will be meaningful to them someday.  But as I wrote in their journals yesterday while Jenna and Gabriel napped and Sebastian played, Sebastian wanted to “write” in his.  I let him scribble on some blank pages.  He interpreted his markings: “I love you from my happy birthday.”  (We hear a lot about his birthday which occurred a month ago. He insists he will have another one soon!)  So maybe someday it will mean something to him that his Nana kept a journal for him.  Maybe he will even keep his own. 

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:  If you need a little snack while you write, here is a 3 ingredient cookie recipe from my daughter:  2 c. rolled oats; 3 overripe bananas; ½ c. nut butter; ¼ c. chocolate chips, optional.  Drop by spoonsful on parchment paper on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Best hot out of the oven.  Once cooled, best warmed just a bit.  Enjoy!

Remembrances

This week has been filled with remembrances.

 Sorting through years of accumulated photos, I came across so many of folks I dearly loved, now gone.

 Editing my husband’s memoir of Vietnam as he works through writing chapter after chapter, I share his sense of loss— so many lives lost, so many lives irreparably damaged. 

Listening to the reports of covid 19 deaths, and the vignettes of some of those who have died and the families and friends they left behind, I find myself with a grief that feels universal. 

How fitting that this has also been the week our country honored Memorial Day and I turned another year older.  Should come as no surprise that thoughts of grief and loss, aging and death, have hovered around me like so many invisible companions. 

The scriptures often speak of life as fleeting.  James 4:14 reads:”…..yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

But we also know that such awareness of our mortality, when we pay attention and honor it, can enrich our lives in the present.  A friend spoke this week of a near death experience that caused him to evaluate his life, rethink his priorities and make needed revisions.  While certainly not the case for everyone, I have noticed on Face Book how many people during this time of covid 19 shutdown, have spoken of enjoying richer time with their children, appreciating a slower pace, experiencing a reluctance to resume what had previously seemed a quite normal and acceptable routine.

Unquestionably in this time there is loss and grief, both personal and worldwide.    But what an opportunity we are being presented to reassess, to regroup. We are challenged to be creative, resourceful; to appreciate our lives and the people in them; to open our eyes and spirits to recognize the gifts in this moment. 

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. Hope’s Café Bonus:  If you are craving a sweet, you might try Strawberry-Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Bark.  Mix 3 c. whole milk plain Greek yogurt; ¼ c. pure maple syrup or honey; 1 t. vanilla extract; 1 ½ c. sliced strawberries; ¼ c. mini chocolate chips.  Line a 10×15 baking sheet with parchment.  Spread mixture and top with sliced strawberries and chocolate chips.  Freeze a minimum of 3 hours. When solidly frozen, remove and break or cut into pieces.