Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gift In Adversity

There is so much opportunity when things are not going well or as expected. It is the difficult times that yield the most flavorful harvest. It is adversity that can throw wide the windows that were thought to be painted shut. In adversity, listen for the call. The call of opportunity for growth and reward and the sweet amidst the bitter. Answer the call, and be born again into a more splendid version of your world.
The call came yesterday for me. It was on behalf of my Mother who was lost in a dark pool of tears. I left work early, armed with sunshine-orange gerbera daisies, and showed up at her side. My job in her journey through cancer is to keep her spirits lifted and her mind focused squarely on the positive. I did not ask why she had been crying. I know why. I did not ask her to tell me of her fears. I simply put orange sunshine in every room and suggested we finish decorating her beloved Christmas tree. We put on German carols and hung silver pine cones. We discerned which branches would hold the white candles to best light the tree in a magical glow. I made 2 cups of tea and set up the manger scene. I unwrapped the Santa Claus collection. We talked quietly about going to Germany again.
While hanging her grandmother's glass bell on the tree, my mother said simply, "I feel so much better now that you're here". And there it was. My gift in adversity. The awareness I was making a difference and the sweet connection of hearts in a seemingly bitter time.
I tell you, do not back away from difficult times. Meet them with courage and open hands and a soft heart. We all need each other. And we have all been afraid to ask for the love and the help. Be willing when opportunity calls. Follow your instincts and act. Offer your true self. Your true self. I promise you, your world will be changed by the sweet gifts in adversity.

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. *reposted due to many typos!*

    My sweet friend. I have been praying for your mom and for your missing love. I have been busy with kids and a bit ill myself but I had to take time today to let you know I've been sending prayers and love and strength your way, as much as I can muster.

    I also had to tell you how much you continue to mean to me. This post is as beautiful as anything you've ever written. It touched me so, for many reasons. But most of all, because I once was given a gift in a time of adversity and great personal pain. You were the gift that time brought me. I am sure you remember the details so I needn't embarrass myself and go into them here.

    Thank you for being MY gift Graciel.

    Love to you and those who bring you love.

    P.S. My collage is priceless!

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  3. Dear Graciel,
    Thank you for finding my little world - I am so glad to have found yours.

    Though so many of us have those Christmas decorating rituals, you gave the trimming of the tree and the placement of the manger a new world of meaning to your Mother and to all of us who are fortunate enough to look in the windows of your story. Thank you for this story of hope and compassion, tradition and the scary process of forging ahead when illness turns everything upside down.

    I wish you strength and peace on this journey, both to you and your Mother.

    Blessings and Gratitude,
    Marisa

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  4. Graciel,

    Thank you for stopping by blisschick! It's wonderful to meet another Lake Erie girl in blog land, and your blog is beautiful and inspiring.

    I also adore your prayer boxes and your art in general. I was wondering if you would like to be one of my Wednesday SharedBliss interviews. No rush and it's all done via email. Let me know what you think. You can email me pinkyogi at gmail dot com.

    Lovely church shot, by the way -- which one is it?

    peace to you and your family during these challenging times.

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  5. Dear Graciel,

    You have touched my heart yet again and reminded me what gifts adversity can bring.

    In April 2002 my beloved wife Nancy was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. We spent 102 days together in the hospital during three rounds of chemo before she achieved remission. I decorated her hospital room like our living room, complete with pictures, stereo and hundreds of cards. Afterwards we enjoyed six months of "normal" life before relapse took her.

    I learned that love never dies, that life is lived one day at a time, and that you need to savor each moment of it as if it were your last.

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  6. Dear Runaway,

    Wait! Your profile says "my wife is the supreme joy of my life"...and in that comment just above me, you said "before relapse took her". What? Is she no longer with you??? You're such a wonderful person, and so generous with your comments..are you telling me you're alone? Or am I misunderstanding you...I hope!
    xo Graciel

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  7. Sorry - I didn't tell enough of my story. A few months after Nancy's passing, I met Suzanne online, and we married in December of 2003. We will celebrate our 5th anniversary on the 20th of this month.

    (Suzanne, by the way, is also an avid reader of your blog. In fact I think she first turned me onto you.)

    Nancy was my 2nd wife (we were married 8 years). My first marriage to my high school sweetheart lasted 26 years (ended in divorce) and produced two children, who are both grown and each have two kids of their own.

    So it's been a long strange trip, but I'm still enjoying the ride.

    Thanks for your concern.

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  8. Ok, Runaway..one more thing. Is the Suzanne you are mad for and married to, the lovely Suzanne Reed I met on SU in '07? Is the world that small?

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  9. Dear sweet Graciel,

    I am indeed fortunate enough to be Arnie's (RunawayImagination) wife. :)

    I, too, was widowed, though my experience was that of having one suddenly. My husband had a heart attack while we were spending a Saturday evening at home. Being present for that event changed me in deep and profound ways, but by and large, the changes are for good. I learned from him how short life is and how useless fear is. That has helped me more than any other lesssons I've learned throughout my whole life.

    I get your site through my feedreader, so I probably don't show up as someone who comes by daily, but you are checked in on daily! :) I consider you to be one of my ministers. You may not have a degree in divinity, but you live it. Graciel is a good name for you, considering how you grace the lives of so many here.

    I send my heartfelt wishes for your peace and for your mom's. You have the good sense to drop everything when it's necessary, and it is something you will never be sorry for. Bless you, and bless your mother. You are both in my heart.

    Suzanne

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  10. Dear Suzanne,

    You've left me speechless and misty-eyed. I am so very glad to know that YOU are the apple of Arnie's eye. I'm sending an email...

    Thank you so very much for your gracious words. xo

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  11. Graciel
    Being present with your mom is the best thing to give her. I too have been over to see my dad. Things are to that point as well where there is nothing to say, no words, that can make it better. We need to just be there for him.
    I hope your mother heals, and that you both get to Germany again. My heart goes out to you both.
    xoxo

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  12. Graciel, as I read your post I realized this was the second time that I had recieved this message today. Earlier my husband was telling me about an interview he saw on TV with Olivia Newton John. She said in the interview that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a close friend who is a Buddhist, phoned her and said to her "Congratulations. Now you will grow".

    And I come here now to read "do not back away from difficult times". I've learned this truth in the past few months and with the acceptance, has come peace. Thank you for your very wise words.

    You and your mother are a gracious gift to each other through these challenging times and you Graciel, are a gift to the world.

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  13. Graciel, I would imagine that your presence shines a light into every person's world that you know in your life just as it does here with your readers online. Your mom felt your love and your peace. Sharing both only helps you own them all the more.

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  14. Your words are so true.
    I wish you and your mom, peace joy and freedom from fear.
    Your mother is lucky to have such a wise and caring daughter:)
    xo

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I always appreciate the time you take to comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by. Peace from my heart to yours. xo, Graciel