Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where Do I Begin?

As you might know, the last couple of months have really pulled the rug out from under me. In a nutshell, I've been plagued with some kind of 'pain in the abdomen' thing. I've had countless tests of all kinds, a trip to the E.R. and worry that could last me the rest of my lifetime. I am extremely, extremely grateful that all tests are negative. I've passed them all with flying colors. The quirk in it all is that there's no medical explanation for the pain; they don't know what's causing it. My 'doctor friends', however, do. I'll spare you all of the details, but I am hoping and praying that they are right and that I am finally back on the right track. I have missed being myself, missed feeling good and missed enjoying my life. I've also missed blogging, but quite frankly, I didn't feel that I had anything worthy or uplifting to offer. So I kept quiet.

I do believe the quiet time is over.

I do believe I'm back in the saddle again.

I do believe I'm back.

*****
Often as a teacher, you feel pounded into the earth. Physically and mentally. Problems, discipline, lessons, edicts.... of every kind..... these can leave one empty, tired, drained, used-up, and fatigued to levels never experience before.

Then....

You open your door to greet your kiddos and there stands this angel with dark brown eyes, blond hair, a pinky-pink outfit, the sweetest of smiles and hugs, and this in her arms...a jar of home-canned fresh pears that she and her mom made the night before. A jar of love in my book. Do you know how this melts my heart and renews my spirit??? That a family would share a gift of their hands and heart with me is the ultimate love gift!! It causes one to have to catch their breath. Then.... a mother shows up as the bell is ringing. Her son is smart, funny, cute, kind...and, oh yes...has some special needs. I have loved this woman from the first time I met her, before her son was even one of my students. She has shared her life, her culture, her heart and her love with me...as well as her son. My life has been enriched by this family in so many ways. This morning she brings a whole plate of homemade baklava for me and my daughter, who adores this woman's culinary skills! (She frequently sends in little goodies for me!) She speaks her mother's heart to me; a mother's worries quelled and filled with gratitude, love and happiness. It took me two tissues to get through our chat. And once again, my spirit had been refilled. My strength returned. My resolve refocused. My commitment renewed.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with these two surprises - and the tardy bell hadn't even rung!! In spite of my hugs, tears, 'thank-you so much!!', smiles and laughs, I don't know if these two families will ever truly know the depth of gratitude I have for them, their amazing children and these beautiful gifts of love. I really don't know.

I am beyond blessed in my life. In so many, many ways.

****
Over the last couple of months, I've had many medical tests and I would often pray for good news.

That four-letter word...

pray

I've always been perplexed by praying. When I was young, I just couldn't understand how 'talking to God' could be heard by Him. As my friends will tell you, I am a very black and white person. So when I prayed, it was always horribly succinct...

"Dear God. Please make him be in a good mood. Amen."

To the point. Over and done with. Like a short, handwritten note.

As an adult, I must admit, it's been pretty much the same. That is....when I prayed. No frills, no 'zen' moments. just straight to the point and direct. To make matters worse, anytime that I tried to have a 'meaningful' prayer time with the big guy upstairs, I tried to quiet myself with the best of intentions. I'd start off giving thanks, then as I would ask for help and guidance for loved ones and problems, my mind would begin to drift all OVER the map!! I'd find my thoughts drifting off the lane...and onto a side road. Pretty soon, I'd try to get back on the road of prayer, only to find myself pulling over up ahead on some other thought, worry, etc. By the time my mind realized what I was truly doing, I was so frustrated at myself that I'd just give up. Praying has never come easily to me and I've always felt inadequate about it.

Last month the ya-ya's and I went up to our cabin for our annual summertime trek. It was beautiful, gorgeous, fun and all things wonderful wrapped up into a long weekend. Each year I try to take along a 'project' for us to do...something that will always be a talisman for the wonderful time we treasure together. This year, I decided to make a bead strand for praying - not unlike, perhaps, a rosary. Actually, when I went to my awesome bead shop and was explaining what I had in mind, the gal said "Oh, a prayer mala." Umm..okay. I didn't know that there was such a thing. So I gathered beads and gemstones - different ones to represent different things. I carefully chose strands of mother-of-pearl, amethyst, malachite, flourite. Seven colors of gems for the 7 chakras of the body were selected. I had no clue exactly how my prayer strand would look, but ideas floated around in my mind. During a beautiful afternoon while on our retreat, I took out my stash and explained to the girls my idea. We all dove into it with creative passion and the results were so beautiful.



I created mine in an order to help me with prayer. Starting on the left, I have a mother-of-pearl cross to begin with thanking God. Then gems and beads follow to give gratitude for the heavens and stars, the clouds and rain, a sparkly one for our earth, then the seasons.
Next, mother-of-pearls beads for each of my children, then gemstones and bell beads for loved ones, ya-ya's, dear friends. The seven colors of the seven chakras follow...then 5 gemstones that represent my five gratitudes of the day.






The strand is then brought together into one...sort of a tail. These gemstones of amethyst and flourite are for any concerns, worries or other items that might need a little attention...a little help. A sterling silver bead finishes it off. I then tied a few strands of this awesome fiber that I used as the fringe on ya-ya R's prayer shawl birthday present in June.

I have used this prayer mala for my daily prayers and it has helped me stay focused and finish! What a difference! I start on one side and work my way around and down. But I have also used it for strength, courage, hope and peace by carrying it in my purse with me to the doctor's office, the labs, the imaging centers, the hospitals. Little did I know how much I would use this little beading project. And little did I know how much I would need it.

Before I head out, I'd like to say 'thank you'... to all of you for your comments, your encouragement, your support and your prayers and good wishes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very, very much. I am sorry that the last two months have been difficult...not just for myself, but for my friends, as well. (I know some of you are yelling "Would you quit with the 'sorry' stuff????!!! Geesh!! But I feel it necessary to say.) I am reflecting on all that I've gone through for I know, I know for sure...there are lessons inside this experience to learn from. Changes to be made. Cleaning to be done. Visions to be explored.

May blessings cover you and yours.

9 comments:

Just Joni said...

welcome back...your prayer mala brought a smile to my face...I have a bead mala myself tucked away somewhere in a drawer...although not quite as festive and colorful as yours...I love your creative touches!

so sorry to hear about your recent health problems...mysterious things happen sometimes that are baffling...hopefully they get you figured out soon...it's not much fun when you don't feel well!

:)

Nonnie said...

beautiful post, dear vb....loved every word and wonderful to know that you are back in the saddle.....loved the "picture" of your children and gifts....and heart to heart with a mother with worries....and your outing with your ya ya's....have waited to hear how your frolic went....love the idea of the mala....and wonderful that it has been such a helpful gift made by your hands.....
just happy you are back and healthy and i will continue to pray (i sure know about sidetracked) that it continues!
You being you!
hugs and love,
kimberly

Jane said...

I know I have said it before, but we are the ones that are so blessed to have you in our life! My children have the cream of the crop for teachers this year, I couldn't ask for more!!

Enjoy the pears--and thanks for enjoying my Alyson. She loves you, and comes home happy from school afternoon, and excited each morning to do it all over again.

RELAX and enjoy this lovely long weekend!

Chickenbells said...

First of all...MWUAH! (that would be a kissy sound) and a huge hug to add to that! In the religion I was raised in as a child, we all had malas (from Tibet) that were made from sandalwood beads. You would wear them and say a prayer while you turned each bead...then when you got done you would push a counter bead into place and pray some more. It's those kind of rituals and using your physical while using your mental that helps to get what you need to say out! I am so excited that you made your own beautiful mala!!

Cheela said...

So glad you are okay now, Carol. I was worried. Looking forward to some fun!!!!!!!!!

Jill said...

Oh Carol,
Seems like we are on similar wave lengths these days. Love this post. So filled with emotion and gratitude for life and the contents of it. I am glad your tests came back negative, glad you have those precious children and their families in your life, glad for your yaya trip... and those chakra jewels.... amazing!
Bless you and thank you for the kind and supportive comment.
I'm thinking of you!
xoxoxo Jill

Anonymous said...

Wow !
Love the picture, better get out your Fall scarf !
KW

Nonnie said...

hoping all is still going well, vb....waiting for that dance....but maybe when it gets a bit cooler? :)
stay well dear friend.
hugs,
kimberly

Susie of Arabia said...

Hi Carol -
I've been gone from the internet for a while and didn't realize you were having health issues. So sorry to hear that, but glad you are feeling better and things are looking up. I love the photos of the beads, and the baklava looks delicious. Beautiful touching post.