I am so happy to learn that the great elucidator, Billy Graham, has returned home after his stay in the hospital and his waltz with pneumonia. I wish him continued strength and solid recovery. These were my thoughts as I headed out the door to walk to the post office.
Walk rather than ride? Driving the car is a time saver. Walking is an earth-saver. “It’s not raining. I should walk. I have so much to do today, I should drive. Walk/drive/walk/drive?”
The earth and the walk won out.
After I finish feeling joyful for Rev. Graham’s good news, I reflect on something I wrote a few months ago. WE HAVE TO MOVE OVER A LITTLE TO MAKE ROOM ON THE ROAD FOR POETRY.
I start looking around. I slow my pace. There’s my favorite neighborhood dog. His stalwart red nose peeks out from his rain-proof dog igloo. “How civil,” I muse. “He keeps to himself to the civil hour of lunch.” A glance to my left informs my sight. Something I zoom by all the time…an overgrown garden. It just looks messy when I’m zooming by in a car. On foot, with eyes open, it looks like a promise trying to keep itself. A tilting gate, swung slightly open. A tentative invitation. An overgrown path leading to little hide-away spots.
Who imagined this and first made it? How did it get left behind? Who wanders in the wonder now?
“Wouldn’t you figure?” the sarcastic voice that had earlier advocated the use of the car asked at the postal counter. Today I received a 42 pound box. My postmistress is amused as I tuck my book (yes, I walk with a book) in the back of my pants…we laugh. “If the t.v. cops can put a gun there, I can probably manage a book!”
I shoulder the box and head home. As I near the hill climb to my home, my thoughts are not on the poetry around me but rather my posture appropriately supporting this weight.
A driver whoooshes past me, turns around and pulls alongside me. I’ve never seen her before and our introduction confirms that we’ve never met. “That looks mighty heavy, do you want a lift?”
There’s the poetry. The big dog in the back is eager for my company and I am happy for the kindness of a stranger. As I let myself into my home I smile, realizing I moved over and made room on the road for poetry.
Perhaps you have heard that the Rev. Billy Graham is struggling with pneumonia and has been hospitalized. The man who’s faith and stories have impacted the lives of millions of people, around the globe, is facing a difficult road. And while he is surrounded by people who love and respect him, for a few years now, he’s been walking this road without his precious wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
When I think of Rev. Graham I must also think of Ruth. They go together in my memory and thoughts. Ruth penned a beautiful book called, SITTING BY MY LAUGHING FIRE which was a snapshot, in poetry, of her life of home and faith.
So often when a public figure faces terminal or dire illness, the focus goes to that individual. It’s natural. I’ve been the one, quite ill, and I’ve been the caretaker of one very ill. I sat with my own papa several times through the icy grip of pneumonia. In my own experience I’ve yet to define which is the more difficult role.
Ruth’s life ended almost four years ago. In that, she is not facing this long walk that Rev. Graham is now on. Caring for one so very ill is a burden and a joy. It is heartbreaking and rewarding. In it a person discovers the full spectrum of human experience from the less stellar but truly human feelings of bitterness and resentment to the compassionate understanding and acceptance of the circumstances -just as they are. Ruth Bell Graham understood and forgave herself the one side of the spectrum and always aspired to the other side: grace, calm acceptance and faith in all things.
My wishes for Billy Graham today are that he is as pain free as he can be, that he is comfortable, that he rests sweetly in the palm of the hands of the angels that surely are ministering to him and take his core strength from his standing with his Creator. And I have one more wish for him. That some time in the day, while he is resting but somewhat awake, the brush of a hand on top of his reminds him of his precious, equal partner, Ruth. And in that, may he sense that she is with him, as always, sitting by her laughing fire.
“Is the tree that’s pruned
preoccupied with pain?
–standing with its wound
in the wind and rain;
shrouded in cool mist,
kissed by the dew,
chosen for a nest
by a bird or two;
enveloped by fragrance
of rainwahsed air,
bloodroots and violets
clustered round it there…”
from SITTING BY MY LAUGHING FIRE
and some of Ruth’s thoughts on prayer
“Men of God, whose prayers are recorded for us in the Bible, never read a book on prayer, never went to a seminar on prayer, never heard a sermon on prayer. They just prayed.”
“Start praying where you are, as you are, about whatever concerns you, about whatever is lying most heavily on your heart, about whatever is irritating or frustrating you at present.”
“Be pointed. Be persistent. Be patient. But pray.”
If you would like to learn more about the life of Rev. Billy Graham, this is an excellent resource:
That’s the title of my book released exclusively through SimpleTruths.com in February of this year. I’ve just learned that the title has been in their top ten titles for three months in a row.
Today they are offering my book at a 25% discount. Since it’s an ideal book for graduation and for retirement – I thought I’d let you know. I hope you’ll enjoy a copy for yourself, as well.
Here’s one of my favorite pieces from the book,
“Challenges mold me, they do not make me. Praise encourages me, my own intentions inspire me. Successes spur me on but it is the reward of perseverance that satisfies me. Lack may assail me yet understanding “enough” assuages my hunger. Criticism may knock but I choose whether to open the door. Abundance showers me and generosity lights the path. Pain may permeate but hope prevails. As long as I’m breathing, I’m living, all the way, my way, beginning fresh each day. I may have a stare-down with dawn, but I hear the Great Voice say, “Life begins when you do.” mary anne radmacher
I remember, a few sizes back, trying several different yoga instructors. Each instructor gently guided me to the back corner of the room. I never knew if that was to protect me in my earnest efforts from snickers or to preserve the view shed of the other participants. In any case the result was the same. I call it “Yoga Incredulousity.” Verbalized it sounds like, “What? You want me to put my foot where? Really? You’re kidding, right?” No joke. I’m happy to report that on my ever deepening road to health and wellness, I can participate in Yoga and several poses are part of my daily experience. But, I still manage to experience the phenomenon of “Yoga Incredulousity” every time I listen to the news.
Newt Gingrich is planning to declare his intention to run for president. “You want me to put my vote where? Really? You’re kidding, right?” Newt. Gingrich. Just say the two words. Slowly. And summon the variety of things you know about the man and ask yourself if you want to be calling him, “Mr. President,” in a few months. I’m hearing the lyrics to the rock and roll, “I need a Hero. I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night.” I had the symptoms of “Yoga Incredulousity” just a few weeks ago when Donald Trump was making rumblings about running for president. Ah. Well, you say, that WAS a joke. The key leadership of our country is no laughing matter. This is the person who will be directly the choir with songs that dramatically impact YOUR metaphorical musical play list.
I don’t have to look far for my candidate because he’s already doing the job. Why am I being so disclosing? Aren’t I supposed to be writing about daily joys and sweet pleasures? Yes, indeed. I am. I am! My favorite holiday (yes, even more than Thanksgiving and Christmas) is the 4th of July. I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy, boys and girls. And that means that I want to do more with my rights as a citizen than watch them as they are systematically whittled and voted away. So, in my joyful, peaceful reflective life – I make sure that there is time to be a responsible citizen. When the (yes, I’ve made this up) “Yoga Incredulosity” condition strikes you, and you discover they are not kidding – consider an action appropriate to your style. A call. A letter. A Piece of Personal Education. Just like my ongoing effort at learning and benefiting from various Yoga poses – so you will find that as you exercise your rights as an American citizen, they have more muscle and stretch, too. One person does indeed make a difference.
“To succeed in chaining the crowd you must seem to wear the same fetters. Voltaire”
“Where there is no middle class, and the porr greatly exceed in number, troubles arise, and the state soon comes to an end. Aristotle”
“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization. Dr. Johnson”
“He who can take no interest in what is small will take false interest in what is great. Ruskin”