balancing sorrow and joy

We said our earthly farewell to a dear friend last week. The two photos above show just a glimpse of the love given to Rachel (and to the rest of our family) from Miss Ruth.  Ruth Maher was our first nurse, assigned to our home when Rachel was discharged from the NICU in June 2006.  She worked in our home until the end of 2010 when she had to leave for health reasons. 

Ruth and I shared many cups of coffee, conversations, recipes, and stories.  She brought us into her life by way of stories of her husband and children, and we quickly counted her as part of our family.  At a time in my own life when I especially missed the presence of my mom, Ruth stepped into our home and added a beautiful piece to our puzzle of a family.  We give thanks for her life and the fact that she is no longer in pain, but we acknowledge her absence will be felt by her family forever.  We will always remember the gift of love she so easily gave.  I cannot help but wonder if part of Emily's inspiration to play piano comes from those early days when Ruth would play for us.

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I had a wonderful walk with a friend on Friday.  We shared a lot of laughs, some good stories, a few dreams, and some private heartache.  Good for the soul.  And I let her drive the Sprinter.  That brought more laughter - and will probably become exaggerated into a story or one of her plays someday.

In one of our more serious moments, we talked about trying to reconcile the sorrow and the joy that comes with living this journey of faith.  It isn't about first grieving and then being happy... it's about balancing the sorrow and the joy that is ever present.  The challenge lies in remembering that our sorrow ought not shadow someone's joy - or our joy to diminish someone's sorrow.  

From my kids' perspective that means even when they are sad about someone they love dying, they can still make a fort with a friend and tell jokes by flashlight.

That's probably something many of us can relate to... the idea of balancing the ups and downs, knowing the future can be uncertain.

For me, Friday night had some tough moments when Janneke's blood sugar level kept dropping with no cause.  Though within a span of 90 minutes her levels resolved and stabilized again, I am not a fan of these critical "down" moments.

Savouring the joy is preferred: sharing jokes under a canopy of blankets, a walk along the water with a friend, a impromptu family dance (CBC Radio 2 Drive is a favourite) , having chili and soup with dear friends... just a few moments from the past week.

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We took seriously #6 from a previous post and enjoyed a walk in the quarry with friends: 6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person [or cows]. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

And I am thoroughly enjoying Janneke's wonderment with her swimming class (part of the preschool program at the children's centre): 7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."

Behold those dreaming eyes of wonder.  Eyes that want to go under the water - but can't for Mom's legitimate fear of aspiration.  So, I let her put her nose and chin in for now.

And look at this little standing queen in the water. Such poise.  She is free-standing and loving it.  Yep, there was joy in the morning swim today.

I am thankful that God's arms span beyond our doubts, tears, angst, and questions.  He can handle it.

Peace for your week.