Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.
Have I mentioned that this is move year for my parents too? My dad is a UM pastor like Caleb and he is being appointed to a different church in June as well. It’s been a bit fun to be journeying together through the moving process although I really would have liked to have my mother around on our first moving day. I always remember my grandmothers showing up to help us move in years past and wanted to begin that tradition again. [smile] I guess journeying together through the moving process is helping us move in a bit of a different way. It is certainly nice to know I can call her up and complain about a house full of boxes and she will know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s also helpful to have someone to talk to about the process of saying goodbye to one community and preparing ourselves to be received by another.
My parent’s move means that my mother has had to quit her job as a nurse at the local non-profit hospice. I think this part of the moving process is particularly poignant for her this time because this job has fit my mother’s talents and vision for vocational ministry so well. Over the last 6ish years she has worked as a hospice nurse she has accompanied hundreds of people through the journey to death (either their own or that of a loved one). Last Friday she had to clean out her desk in the office and found the file she’d been keeping of the “fact sheets” about each of the patients she’d nursed during her tenure at the hospice. She told me that she immediately began to read through them and reflect on the lives each represented. Some were happy lives and easy deaths. Others were sad lives and hard deaths. After realizing how much time had passed just reading through the top 25% of the stack, my mother realized she couldn’t afford to spend her time this way when she still had so much to finish up on her last day.
She told me she then struggled with knowing what to do with the file. The fact sheets brought forth so many memories of precious persons who once loved and lived, yet holding on to it seemed inappropriate. A significant portion of the job of a hospice nurse – at least how my mother sees it – is about guiding people through the process of letting go. Holding tightly onto this file meant the process of moving forward was stalled for my mother. She ultimately decided to leave the file behind realizing that some things are just meant to be held in our fragile memory.
Her decision to let the file go and to rely on her memory to fill in her future reflections about her time as a hospice nurse reminded me of a Bible verse that has been replaying in my head recently.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Our memories are heart treasurers that grow more valuable as time softens their rough edges. Through the process of moving, I find that myself in the remembering and reflecting a lot. This process feels like treasure storing. While there is sadness realizing that I will never fully be able to get back to the original experience of a memory, there is joy in pondering them in my heart.
Today I am thankful for memories.
What are you grateful for?