A Remembering Time

“The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.” 

Rob Montgomery

I sigh as I begin to write today.

This time of year there are always many people meandering through my mind.

Time has not dulled the loss very much. I miss them.

This Thanksgiving I had the idea to light a large votive candle for all those people I missed. As the flame flickered, I visualized each person, thanking them for being in my life.

As the flame burned throughout the day, I felt the presence of those I’d pictured in my mind earlier. The warm light from the candle eased its way into those empty places in my heart, leaving me feeling comforted and very loved.

Thank you, God.

“Mrs. Casey, do you love Christmas? 

Well you know, she answered reflectively, Christmas can be a sad time for people too. It’s a remembering time for us older ones. We remember the people who are gone.

Oh, I never thought of that, I told her in surprise.

Well that’s youth for you, she said; you don’t start to look back over your shoulder until there is something to look back at, and around Christmas I tend to think of the Christmases past and the people gone with them.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Lighting a Candle

It is a Jewish custom to light a memorial candle year after year on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. The candle burns for twenty-four hours and is a reminder of the life that was lost and the love that will never die. I recommend this ritual to all those who are searching for a lasting way to sanctify the memory of a loved one.                                  ~Rabbi Naomi Levy

I’ve been at a loss for words this week, searching for some way to talk about the loss of yet another young life lost too soon.

As the days passed and memories streamed across my mind, I prayed for her family.

In reality, that’s all any of us can do.

When I read about the Jewish tradition of lighting a candle on the anniversary of the loss of a loved, I felt so much peace. For me, this seems like the perfect way to remember a loved one. As All Soul’s Day is tomorrow, I think the timing is perfect.

Maybe this tradition will give you peace as well?

A Memorial Prayer  

I haven’t forgotten you, even though it’s been some time now since I’ve seen your face, touched your hand, heard your voice. You are with me all the time. I used to think you left me. I know better now. You come to me. Sometimes in fleeting moments I feel your presence close by. But I still miss you. And nothing, no person, no joy, no accomplishment, no distraction, not even God, can fill the gaping hole your absence has left in my life. But mixed together with all my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you. I want to thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. Thank you for the magnificent moments and for the ordinary ones too. There was beauty in our simplicity. Holiness in our unspectacular days. And I will carry the lessons you taught me always. Your life has ended, but your light can never be extinguished. It continues to shine upon me even on the darkest nights and illuminates my way. I light this candle in your honor and in your memory. May God bless you as you have blessed me with love, with grace, and with peace. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration (pp. 220-222). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

The People Away

“She always spoke about “the people away” and how important it was to remember them and to keep in contact. She knew from listening to some of them when they came on summer holidays that at Christmas their thoughts turned to home and they loved to be remembered at that time. For others the cards was even more important; it provided the only link they had because they never made it home. I visualized my mother’s Christmas cards as so many messengers winging their way to scattered family members all over the world from the nest from which they or their parents had all flown. She was the warm glow at the heart of our Christmas, but that warmth stretched much further than our house.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

Christmas cards.

So many memories come up when I think of Christmas cards.

Early in my “adult” life, I’d spend hours upon hours writing cards to all my family members. It was really the only time of year many of us heard from each other.Today, there are very few of our branch of the McDonald family around.

For me, writing Christmas cards was a major production. I started looking for cards as soon as the stores started putting up their displays. My cards had to represent something of myself.

One of my favorite memories revolves around the year I found Ziggy cards–remember that character? His life was always just a little bit sad and off kilter. To me, he mirrored my own life and this one year I’d found a whole box of Ziggy Christmas cards.

I was ecstatic.

I grabbed my box knowing these cards would be sent to a very select group of people. That was not unusual. Most years I’d have several boxes of cards subdivided into stacks for different groups that made up my life.

A great example of this would be my very prime and proper Aunt Eve. She  would not have appreciated a Ziggy card. She and the rest of the family would require a much more traditional type card.

The best part of this memory is the young guy who was at the checkout that day. He rang up my box of cards and other supplies while going through all those questions the sales staff are required to ask.

Smiling, he told me it was a perfect time to take advantage of their imprinting service. Was I interested in having my cards professionally imprinted?

We were both quiet for a couple of seconds and then I started to laugh.

He stopped, looked up at me with a questioning expression. What was so funny?

I shook my head as I apologized, explaining I did not think it just did not seem right to me to have a Ziggy Christmas card imprinted. He looked down at my box of cards, chuckled, and quietly agreed with me.

May your Christmas preparations also give you many reasons to smile.

“Mrs. Casey, do you love Christmas? 

Well you know, she answered reflectively, Christmas can be a sad time for people too. It’s a remembering time for us older ones. We remember the people who are gone.

Oh, I never thought of that, I told her in surprise.

Well that’s youth for you, she said; you don’t start to look back over your shoulder until there is something to look back at, and around Christmas I tend to think of the Christmases past and the people gone with them.” 

Alice Taylor, An Irish Country Christmas

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

More on Poppies

My memories of past Memorial Days sparked my curiosity about how the poppy had become such a strong symbol for our veterans. Who had started this tradition? How long has it been a part of our American lives?

I returned to The American Legion website and discovered that the soldiers returning from WWI had vivid memories of the battle fields covered with wild poppies. Poppies that were as “red as the blood that had soaked the soil.” These survivors felt that this little flower was Mother Nature’s message to them that their fallen comrades lived on–that they had not died in vain. Their feelings are expressed so poignantly in the poem,  In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place…

and in the sky The larks,

still bravely singing,

fly Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up or quarrel with the foe.

To you from failing hands we throw The torch;

be yours to hold it high

If we break faith with us who die

We shall ot sleep

though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

Col. John McCrea

It was this poem that influenced Miss Moina Michael to write her response:

…the blood of heroes never dies

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

in Flanders Fields.

She was very moved by Col McCrea’s poem. On a November day in 1918, Miss Michael bought all the red poppies the New York City Department Store, Wanamaker’s, had in stock. She returned to the New York City YMCA where she worked, and gave them to a group of visiting business men. She asked that they wear them as a tribute to those who had given their lives in WWI. She told them that the war may be over but America’s sons would rest forever in Flanders Fields. Miss Michael went on to campaign for the poppy to become a national symbol of the sacrifice.

I believe that more knowledge is powerful. The symbolism embodies in this little red flower is strong. May it empower us and help us remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. Peace.

More on Poppies

My memories of past Memorial Days sparked my curiosity about how the poppy had become such a strong symbol for our veterans. Who had started this tradition? How long has it been a part of our American lives?

I returned to The American Legion website and discovered that the soldiers returning from WWI had vivid memories of the battle fields covered with wild poppies. Poppies that were as “red as the blood that had soaked the soil.” These survivors felt that this little flower was Mother Nature’s message to them that their fallen comrades lived on–that they had not died in vain. Their feelings are expressed so poignantly in the poem,  In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place…

and in the sky The larks,

still bravely singing,

fly Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up or quarrel with the foe.

To you from failing hands we throw The torch;

be yours to hold it high

If we break faith with us who die

We shall ot sleep

though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

Col. John McCrea

It was this poem that influenced Miss Moina Michael to write her response:

…the blood of heroes never dies

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

in Flanders Fields.

She was very moved by Col McCrea’s poem. On a November day in 1918, Miss Michael bought all the red poppies the New York City Department Store, Wanamaker’s, had in stock. She returned to the New York City YMCA where she worked, and gave them to a group of visiting business men. She asked that they wear them as a tribute to those who had given their lives in WWI. She told them that the war may be over but America’s sons would rest forever in Flanders Fields. Miss Michael went on to campaign for the poppy to become a national symbol of the sacrifice.

I believe that more knowledge is powerful. The symbolism embodies in this little red flower is strong. May it empower us and help us remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. Peace.