Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tiny Kindnesses and Old Memories

Over the past several weeks, I have become aware of many old friends or acquaintances who are ill, dying or who have tragically passed away.  How's that for an uplifting opener to a blog post?  These experiences are weighing on me... I hope you will read on and think it through with me for just a minute or two.

I am not as young as I used to be... and I know full well that death is a part of life.  But, up to this time, most people that I knew who died were grandpas and grandmas or those who had been very ill.  All of a sudden, I am feeling the loss of those my age.  It makes me suddenly aware of how I take so many things for granted.  Maybe you do too.  I don't think we do it on purpose.  I think we are just lost in the day to day living of life, the battling through bedtimes and daily disciplining and the developing of dinners and the keeping of house.  It is easy to forget how blessed we are... easy to lose sight of how all of this may be a bit more fragile than we believe.

I also find myself thinking that there are a lot of people who impacted my life that I think of often but never tell.  Of course there are people who poured into my journey who's impact is immense and to whom gratitude has been given.  But there are also little memories that wash over me every day.  Small kindnesses recalled and then released without a word.  But, as I sit and write this post, a friend from my childhood is dying in hospice.  Any words I needed to say will stay silent.  Why do we do that?  We were not best friends but she was an example to me then... a picture of responsibility and joy.  She is an example to me now because in her journey's ending, I am finding things I need to do differently in life.  That is probably a very good thing.

But sometimes I think we need to touch base with those who pop in our heads.  We need to tell them we are thinking of them, remembering them, because this world is full of people who feel invisible.  There are people who feel forgotten.  There are people in our lives who were friends... with whom we may no longer have contact... but their impact on our lives and the memories we share goes on.  And maybe... just maybe... we are given a scene to recall as a nudging by God to speak grace into the lives of another.  If we stay silent, that message falls away.  And why?

So, as I walked through my day I tried to make note of the people who came to my mind.  Little glimpses into other times... but times that made me smile.

Like:

-While french braiding my hair today, I remembered my friend Karen from high school.  I traveled with the volleyball team and she always did everyone's hair before a game.  Before I could french braid at all, she was able to take my wild, curly tresses and tame them tightly without ever complaining about so many heads to do. With our hair all done alike, she gave us a sense of belonging.  Thanks, Zorka for all those braids.  I thought of you today.

-While moving our newspaper to recycling this morning, I remembered my friend Stefanie who walked with me on Sundays through our little town to buy a paper and then walk on home.  We would stop at one of our homes and play Stratego for hours, becoming part of one another's families over the years.  She is my oldest friend.  She was the first person I met when after we moved and the first person to say hello.  Thanks, Steffi for all those games and for walks to the White Hen and for saying hello.  I thought of you today.

-While walking in the sunshine a few minutes ago, I remembered my friend Cathie who lived two doors down.  She and I would spend hours laying out in the sun and got into every kind of mischief when we were teens. We made mistakes and talked things through and passed each other notes and lived a life of friendship in those growing up years.  She called me on my stupidity and embraced me when I was broken.  I sat with her in tragedy and together we learned a lot about the world.  All of this comes back to me when the sunshine hits my face.  Thanks, Trina.  I thought of you today.

-While driving home from dropping the kids at VBS, I heard an old Simon and Garfunkel tune.  I instantly recalled a night when I was supposed to be volunteering at a local teen center but found myself home breaking up with a high school boyfriend instead.  My friend, Sarah, also a volunteer, was worried by my absence and so drove to my house to make sure I was okay.  She found an 18 year old girl, red-eyed and shaky and picked me up and took me to the teen center in her old blue car.  I cried and cried as Simon and Garfunkel sang and  was grateful that Sarah had come for me then.  I knew I was not alone.  Thank you, Sarah.  I thought of you today.

I could go on and on.  Maybe you could, too.

I am realizing, as I get older, that who I am has an awful lot to do with where I have been and who I've been with. Allowing myself to remember those who have been a part of my life for many years or long ago is a very important thing. These memories need a time and place and word to be shared.  I need to say thanks today.  Even for the little things.  Even for the forgotten things.  Because I have today.  And that is no small thing.

So dear friends, let's allow ourselves time to remember.  Let's let old scenes from life-gone-by wash into our lives today.  Let's touch base with one old friend and say thanks for a little thing... Because still today those little things matter.  Maybe that is good to see.  Every memory shared above is over 20 years back in my life... but each one still has an impact.  Tiny kindnesses count.  I don't know if I knew that before.

If I know now that it matters that I braid someone's hair, that I play a game, that I sit with a friend, that I show up with a song... how will that change what I choose to do with the time I have to spend?

Blessings on your day.

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