Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life. ~ Abraham Lincoln

This week was the first in this apartment that found us sleeping in a "real" bed, since we just this past weekend assembled our newly-bought bed-frame and headboard.  The bedroom is the last room of our new-even-though-we-moved-in-August-1st-of-2011 apartment to be arranged and decorated, so finally, this Monday night, we slept in a properly made-up bed in a room that looked like a bedroom and not just The Room We're Unpacking From.  And it was the strangest of juxtapositions, the cold winds of Hurricane Sandy howling and its rains pelting the windows while Mike, Stuffed, and I curled up under quilts and comforters with a space heater on at the foot of the bed and a battery-operated candle flickering on Mike's nightstand:  Never before had we had such a snug and sound sleep in our new home, and all the while, so many were suffering so horribly.  Mike and I had watched CNN and the Weather Channel for hours before going to bed, in between checking on friends in New Jersey and Connecticut, so we  knew it was getting bad and going to get worse, but it was still shocking, when Mike woke up at 2 a.m. Tuesday and read aloud a news alert that had come across his phone:  "18 people dead."  That number has since risen, of course, but at 2 a.m. Tuesday, to hear such a thing while safely cuddled up against my husband and cat in a comfy new bed, was stunning.  And what was there to do at such an hour but cuddle closer and pray.

Soon after, I dreamed that I was walking past a store that had a group of Salvation Army bell-ringers out front, but they were not only ringing their bells hoping for the usual handfuls of change to be dropped into their red kettles for charity, but also singing, and it was the most beautiful sound I've ever heard, the most beautiful a cappella choir, their voices rising to the sweetest notes and harmonizing perfectly.  I was so moved by the sound of it, I wanted to cry out to tell them how beautiful they were and what a tonic their voices were, but of course, I didn't want to interrupt.  Dropping money into their kettles seemed almost too crass a thing to do in response to a moment of such beauty and grace.  I tried to catch the eyes of some of the singers, but--it being a dream--they were staring above and beyond me while they sang and I couldn't get anyone to make eye contact with me.  I decided just to leave whatever money I had on me, but after scrounging through my pockets and bag, I only came up with 37 cents.  After wrestling with my embarrassment for a few moments, I decided that if that was all I could give, then it would just have to be enough--better that, than nothing--and I dropped my handful of coins into one of the kettles, trying again to make eye contact with the singers while I smiled at them, hoping they understood my appreciation and my offering. 

This week with all its news of Sandy-related destruction and fledgling recovery has so heartbreakingly highlighted our fragility and strength.  "True strength is delicate," as the saying goes.  I have made my small donations to the Red Cross and the Humane Society, and I pray that those at this moment trapped in flooded homes and digging to find anything salvageable in burned-out yards can somehow sense all the prayers and good wishes we have all been sending and find strength in them.  "I don't feel God around me at all right now," I remember whimpering in disbelief to my favorite teacher the day after my best friend died in high school.  But He is here, he reassured me, explaining that God was my friends and my parents and anybody else who did anything kind or good to help me through my grief.  I still believe that, seventeen years later, so now I pray that we are all somehow putting our best selves forward for each other, being the little kids' God who gives away not just clean dry clothes but also coloring books and Halloween candy in makeshift shelters, being the adults' God who sends rescue boats and helps with insurance forms and who hands out hot coffee too.  Let our prayers and our offerings, even if they strike us as small, be enough today and in the days ahead.  I believe that love changes the world and that God is always here, masquerading as Halloween candy, warm blankets, and handfuls of coins.  


 

10 comments:

FlowerLady said...

Your post really touches my heart Val.

I am so glad to hear you were spared and that you were comfy and cozy in your new bed.

Bless your hearts ~ FlowerLady

Nellie said...

A very moving post, Val! I'm so glad you are safe. Blessings to you!
Nellie

Lisa said...

I was going to email you - I'm glad you're fine. But yes, isn't the whole thing just awful? New York City! The subways under water - it's beyond imagining to me.

Glad you're alright. :)

Rev. Jim said...

I'm happy for you, your new family bed and your posting here. We all need to see ourselves as God's ambassadors! I was struck, seeing on TV those people living in such poor conditions after the storm, how they are looking to their government to help them out and that help is so slow in coming. But also, looking at this, to remember how most of the world lives in such poor conditions on a daily basis. We should be moved to our knees, thank God for what we have and then to be obedient to God and go out to help others less fortunate than ourselves. But first we need to get right with God, realizing that it could be us in need! Let those who have the financial means help with money - but those of us who don't have money can help in other ways! Let us turn our hearts toward God and do as He directs. God bless America, as we bless God by reaching out to others!

Rev. Jim said...

I'm happy for you, your new family bed and your posting here. We all need to see ourselves as God's ambassadors! I was struck, seeing on TV those people living in such poor conditions after the storm, how they are looking to their government to help them out and that help is so slow in coming. But also, looking at this, to remember how most of the world lives in such poor conditions on a daily basis. We should be moved to our knees, thank God for what we have and then to be obedient to God and go out to help others less fortunate than ourselves. But first we need to get right with God, realizing that it could be us in need! Let those who have the financial means help with money - but those of us who don't have money can help in other ways! Let us turn our hearts toward God and do as He directs. God bless America, as we bless God by reaching out to others!

Val said...

Thank you all. ♥♥

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Val, it's the widow's mite...we should never be ashamed of giving, no matter how small or insignificant, God can increase. You had a lovely dream and remember it so well; that's amazing to me.
When I move, the bed is the first thing to be set up. It's imperative I have a place to sleep and sleep well, especially after a day of hard labor.
My feelings are so fleeting and changing so I don't depend upon them to know God. He is where He always is...on His throne and in the hearts of His loved ones. We do His work, show His love and pray. Bless His name, He hears our prayers and, in His wisdom, answers as He knows best. There are many times I don't understand but I choose to trust; He's never led me astray.

Val said...

Hi, Sandra--

I agree about all of this, although the God-part is easier to understand when one is not in the hellish depths of grief, as you know. ♥ A 17-year-old Val wrestled and struggled with all of that more than a now-35-year-old one does.

And the bed! We had to wait until we had the money to buy the new mattress and frame. We'd been camped out on the floor for at least two years before finally getting things all set up last week. :)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Hi Val - we all grieve differently and, hopefully, to wholeness again and again, if need be. My first taste of death came when I was six and watching my family deal with my Granddaddy's death made me aware God is with the dead and the living.
As Corrie ten Boom said, "there is no pit too deep that God is not stronger still".
He alone has brought me this far, in relative -smile- wholeness and He'll take me further still.
I **like** you Val! One day, the desire of my heart is to have an old fashioned chin wag, face to face, with you and love you in person!

Val said...

Yes to all of us grieving differently, Sandra. Indeed.

Corrie ten Boom was quite a soul too. I haven't read The Hiding Place in years.

And I like you too. :) Many times over the past year or so we've gotten to know each other, I've wished I could stop by with muffins or something and visit with you, pet the dogs, watch the animals, etc. Someday! ♥