snowy chapel

Photo courtesy of Joshua Burgard


The sun is out; at least it was. It is getting close to dusk, so it will soon be history for today. My feet are finally warm. I gave up and got my heating pad out. My asthma won’t let me have a fire place or wood stove in the house. My father and I talked today; we could not remember it being this cold over such a large area this far south before. He is 92 and I am 64, so, to me, this “cold spell” is truly remarkable, cold and dangerous. Of course,  our combined memories are not guaranteed to be accurate.  I have never  even heard the term “polar express” until now. Had I heard it this time last month I would have thought it was referring to some new and fancy express delivery system set up by Santa Claus.

Days like today force me to encounter myself. Sometimes, the encounter is not so bad, and other times it is not quite so easy. Today I was lucky to find a poem that touched my soul. I found it  on another person’s WordPress site ( It reminded me of the power our faith has to give us hope, and that having such hope is instrumental in our survival. I think I still have “hope” on my mind from last Saturday’s centering prayer group experience, but I don’t mind.

Several of the things I’ve read today led me in a hope-related direction of thought. I have been reminded how important it is not to be overly self-critical of myself for not doing something, anything, or everything perfectly…..that what I have become and what I am becoming is a work in progress. I have been directed to compare myself only with myself, to look at where I’ve been, and at how far I’ve come. In doing that, at least for me, my hope is strengthened. After all, I have survived talking people out of guns and knives, my own alcoholism, having uncontrolled type 2 diabetes (I no longer have to take medication), and multiple partial bowel obstructions.  I have survived earning three nursing degrees and working in multiple nursing jobs in positions ranging from nurses’ aid to Director of Nursing in private, state, and federal psychiatric hospitals. I have survived teaching in three universities, and I have survived two divorces. In looking at my past I cannot help but realize my God has brought me this far, and that our relationship is real, tangible, and reliable.

And that is the thought I want to leave my readers with on this cold, dreary, and darkening day in January. This moment may not seem special, but when it is compared to what has been or what it could be, one cannot help but be grateful for what one has been given.  The reality of surviving one’s past gives us hope that we will continue to receive God’s grace and love. However, I always have to remind myself of what I hear around recovery tables:  “I can’t keep it if I don’t give it away.” To me, that means I have to do what I can to share God’s grace and love. Doing so has already given me some of the best moments of my life. May God bless and keep you.