Do you remember the television commercial, “Cotton… The fabric of our lives?” Sometimes I think the real thread running through our lives is stress. Just when we think we’ve mastered one stressful part of our lives, we slide seamlessly into another. In this chapter of my life I’m learning to be Alpha dog to two puppies and to surrender my need for a clean house. At the moment the courtyard and the outside of three sets of French doors look like Jackson Pollock paintings done in mud.
Perhaps I should tape canvas to the doors and see if I can get a gallery showing for the girls and their “work.”
Other than cleaning up after muddy puppies, my life has been pretty calm. Unlike many of you, I haven’t been getting ready for Hanukkah or a big Christmas, a stressful time to be sure. I have been thinking about my husband, James, who went for a walk six Christmas’s ago and never returned. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve been able to resume my life, especially since I lost the rest of my family the same day.
Some Christmases have been easier than others. Just when I thought this one would be a piece of cake, a week ago I found myself laying on the floor of a department store dressing room for an hour and a half with what may have been a panic attack.
The term “panic attack” is a misnomer. Consciously I wasn’t thinking about another Christmas without James, or even that is was mother’s birthday, or this was the second year without her. I wasn’t panicked about anything. I was returning a blouse and visiting with a friend. Hardly conditions that would cause an increased heart rate and feeling like I was going to pass out. Since then I’ve been meditating more; I wore a heart monitor for a few days and will have a stress test after the New Year just to be sure.
The holidays can be stressful and difficult for lots of people, especially if we’re reminded of the loss of a family member or perhaps someone we love is seriously ill or troubled. My online blogging friend, Tamera, calls them “EMOTIONAL MIND FIELDS.” The best thing we can do is to ask God for help—if you’re so inclined—and to search for a thread of hope. One thing I know for sure is negativity feeds on itself and before long, we’re mired in hopelessness instead of hopefulness.
Hope isn’t just a four-letter word. Hope is a real and powerful thing.
Hope puts ideas into motion, educates children and frees people from the shackles of illness and poverty. Hope enables us to visualize new things and miracles yet to be created. What would we be without hope? Every time we surrender our hope, we stop living and believing in life, and as soon as we stop believing, we lose more than our hope. We lose a part of who we can become.
Hope is intangible, but at the same time, you can almost reach out and touch it! I pray you wrap yourselves in blankets of hope this holiday season.
Here’s a toast to hope and survivorship: Grab life with both hands and don’t let go! Do it intentionally and thoughtfully for it will never come this way again.