Friday, July 15, 2016

Those Daily Miracles

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

~  Albert Einstein

Amazed. It is a word which today is over-used and has lost much of its meaning. But on this day I truly was - amazed. Before me stood a minor miracle, a small plant which only the day before anyone would have taken for dead.

I had recently purchased my yearly supply of garden plants; most I had planted, but this one had somehow escaped me. I thought I’d gotten six lovely coleus plants, but when I planted them I only had five. Thinking I had simply miscounted, I thought no more about it. But now I remembered that before planting we had found one of them lying on the porch deck. It had been dry and therefore very light-weight and we assumed either the wind or a pesky squirrel had knocked it off the ledge where it had sat. I watered it well and planted it that very day.

Unbeknownst to me, another coleus lay nearby, but out of sight. A week later I had found it, pot and all, lying on its side on the ground, bone dry with withered leaves. In fact, about half of its leaves were brown and crunchy-dry. I nearly threw it out, but I had spent good money on those plants and decided to do what I could. Setting the plant in a small bowl, I thoroughly watered it and set it on our kitchen window sill. The following day all three of the plant’s stems stood straight up, its remaining leaves full and healthy looking, with bright green and rich rust coloring. I will plant it in a larger pot and nurse it along until it has fully recovered before planting it outdoors. I call it Lazarus.

“The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is: a miracle and unrepeatable.” ~ Storm Jameson

Recently, a family friend had a horrendous bicycling accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He lay in the intensive care unit for days with bleeding and swelling on his brain, no memory of the accident, and questionable prognosis for recovery. Doctors were guardedly encouraging, friends and family were in shock, and the patient himself had no idea of what was going on. But those close to him were always there with him – sitting next to his bed, holding his hand, praying, crying, staring off into space, occasionally nodding off – keeping watch by simply being present. But in a situation such as this, it is never simple.

After a couple of weeks, he was released from the hospital and admitted to an in-patient rehab center. After another few weeks, he was allowed to go home with continuing out-patient rehab. Fortunately, he is able to walk, talk, and communicate, although not as well as he did previously. Some of his memory has returned and his functioning has improved, but he still has a long way to go. No one can say, with certainty, if he will recover fully and how functional he will end up being. However, he has made great strides in a relatively short amount of time, which is a positive sign. He might have died, but here he is one short month later. Again I am – amazed.

Whether you believe in them or not, miracles do happen every day. Many are seemingly insignificant, some mind-blowing - ALL are evidence of something far greater than ourselves.

Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.
Psalm  105:5

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Repairing Damage

I’d been watching for her, so when the tall, long-haired woman walked across the small parking lot, came in through the door, and immediately approached me, I was not surprised. “Are you Barbara?” “Yes, you must be Kristin?” And so it began.

We all know about Internet dating, but this was something different. Still, with my age and experience, it is not something I ever could have envisioned myself doing. But I’ve learned to never say never, and in this instance it was a sort of modern day miracle – and yes, thanks to the Internet.

We climbed the stairs to the second floor and settled ourselves into the only couch in this small, cozy, eclectic coffee shop. It was the idea place to meet – casual, easy to find, and centrally located. After a bit of small talk to acquaint ourselves with each other, I pulled my treasure from the large bag I had carried in. Before us lay the white, hand-crocheted coverlet that my mother-in-law had painstakingly made back in the 1940s, lovingly created of thin cotton thread with a variety of intricate stitches. “I lied” I said. “Instead of four or five areas to fix, there’s more like twelve…” Kristin studied it carefully. “That’s OK” she said “let me go get my kit.”

I had packed this coverlet away, safety pins marking and holding in place the areas that had unraveled. I had considered repairing it myself, even buying a “how-to” book on crocheting. It did not take long, however, for me to decide that this was not something I wanted to attempt. Asking around for someone who might repair it gleaned no results, so I finally submitted my request to a local group via the Internet, complete with a couple of photographs. Someone who saw my plea asked for permission to share on a local needle crafters' site which is how Kristin heard about it. She responded immediately: “… I have experience repairing vintage crochet and knitting work and it's something I really love to do. I love that you value the piece for sentimental reasons and I would be happy to help you keep it around for many more years…I will bring my kit, if the picture shows the full extent of the damage it's possible that I can fix it then and there for you.” She included some references, we discussed her charge, and agreed to meet.

Her repair kit included different spools of cotton thread, in various shades of white, and a selection of crochet hooks. Carefully, she held the different threads against the coverlet and crocheted a few stitches, meticulously comparing the different shades and sizes of the work – asking me what I thought – until we were both satisfied with the results. Then, she settled in to do her work. For the rest of the morning she worked, while I sipped my coffee and visited with this most interesting and talented woman. When she was done, the final results were more than satisfactory – the heirloom looked as if it had never been damaged at all. I expressed my gratitude, paid her what we’d agreed upon, and we went our separate ways. Perhaps our paths will cross again – perhaps not – but we agreed that we’d enjoyed the time together and we are both richer for that brief time we shared.

Our lives are much like this aged coverlet, intricately stitched together in different patterns, textures, and subtle colors. Often, we experience a closeness and tight-knittedness which strengthens and melds us together; in-between spaces allow for variety, independence, and breathing space. There is a rhythm and a beauty which fulfills us and keeps us on an even keel.

Some relationships may be delicate and can break on minor issues and simple misunderstandings. Others, although strong, may suffer major damage through severe trial, tragedy, broken trust, or a myriad of other situations beyond our control. When damage occurs, it threatens to destroy all that holds us together. We must admit the relationship is broken, slowly start to rebuild it by tackling each small problem, and create a stronger foundation. Mending broken relationships is never quick or easy, but over time, it can be done. Sometimes, we can do the mending ourselves – and sometimes we need help. Trust that it’s out there…

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.   Colossians 3:12-13