Wanted to share this...
Had a great time with the women's conference at The Meeting House yesterday. Great to be with more than 800 women, some familiar faces and others new. Special thanks to Leanne Friessen for being our speaker and Brooke Nicholls and band for giving of themselves in the day.
During the morning session, as part of a book panel, I had the opportunity to share about loss as it relates to one of my favourite books, A Grace Disguised by J. Sittser. As per some of my other posts, I refer to the journey Ralph and I share in parenting children with special needs as a living grief. No one has died, but we have experienced the loss of a dream of what we thought would be our child -twice. We're not consumed by sorrow; our new normal includes learning to live with this type of loss.
And part of this new normal is supported by images and words that encourage the hope of finding joy in each day. Rather than read a passage from Sittser's book, I decided to share the imagery which had moved my heart. One of the images I described in our book panel with the conference goers was the idea of loss of any kind being a stubborn tree stump that can't be removed. It's ugly and visible. Yet... over time, we plant flowers around it; we begin to see good things growing from within and around the stump - and it is soon surrounded by beauty. As with the stump, we can't remove the loss or "get over" the loss, but its ugliness can covered and surrounded by good over time.
After that morning book panel....
At lunchtime, I met up with some of my mom's friends. One of them, Riekie, had messaged me a week earlier, saying she had a painting of my mom's she wanted to return to the family. Before she had kids, my mom was an avid oil painter. This painting was over 40 years old, and it was time to return to our family. Riekie did not describe the painting to me, so for all I knew, it was of another one of Mom's birch trees pieces. I didn't think too much more about the subject of the painting.
Yet when I met up with Riekie and a few other ladies at lunch, they were quite excited to share with me. For only God could have planned this moment. As I uncovered the painting in the small crowd that gathered, I soon understood their emotion. The painting? It was of a tree stump, surrounded by wildflowers. Sacred timing.
I brought the painting on stage after lunch. Almost 20 years after her death, her painting reaffirmed for the women gathered in the auditorium that brokenness -loss- is not the end of the story. Her gift from over 40 years ago will be treasured for a long time. Good things can happen and greater things can be anticipated. Grace in the grit of life.