I am grateful everyday for Emily for more reasons than I can usually count. Today I was grateful that she counts as 'two or more persons' in order for me to qualify for the carpool lane. Em and I are in CA with Jason for a few days while he works. The traffic is crazy out here but we got to pass it all up in the carpool lane. It was a beautiful thing. Today we were blessed to have a play date with my friend's girlfriends who prayed for us while Noah was in the hospital. Em enjoyed meeting new friends and I was humbled once again to meet people who have prayed for us.
Yesterday we swam in the pool, took a picnic to Venice beach, hit the playground, read books at the library, painted nails and then had dinner with a dear friend who was an RA on my first staff in MN. Em was so wiped out from swimming she actually fell asleep at the restaurant...something she has never done because she's such a socialite. My little sister used to fall asleep in literally every restaurant we ever ate in. One restaurant owner kept a sun chair in the closet for every one of our visits just for my sister.
We had to skip out of grief counseling a half hour early but it seemed like a very full hour. Our topic of discussion for the next two weeks is self-care. We were given a sheet divided into three categories: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual. Under each heading were many manifestations that we may or may not be experiencing as a result of walking through grief. I was able to circle a few in each category, but in assessing each word in each list I was grateful that, at least on Monday of this week, I had moved beyond some of those feelings that were more detrimental to my health and spiritual well being.
We did an exercise where we went up to a table filled with 'treasures' or little objects, pictures or words that represented what we currently treasure and those things that remain in our lives in spite of our loss and because of our loss. Jason shared before we had to go. He had chosen: a small coin that said, "PEACE", the meaning of Noah's name; a feather that reminded him of special memories hunting with his dad and brother; a sticker that said, "Family" because he said he values his time with me and Em; and a wooden cross because Christ is the center of his life. Another man who does not share a lot in class talked about the contents of his cup. One of his stickers said, "Family", too, and he proceeded to share how the men in his family do not really engage in displays of affection, saying, "I love you", or conversation, but as a result of their son's death, much of that has changed and for that he is grateful.
It's funny (not really) how my Beth Moore Bible study last week lined up with the content of grief counseling, as well. Self-care. Even in pouring out, there is a necessity for refilling. Often as Christians we talk about being channels of Christ's love to people we meet, but a channel is a constant stream. That means it needs constant access to the Source. I have lived guilty of trying to coast, so to speak, on spiritual 'highs' of the past, not filling up and not seeking the Lord's strength each day. It's like when the Israelites hoarded their manna instead of trusting God was going to provide it each day, just as He had said.
One of the facilitators on Monday read this quote that I will end with to help bring visual perspective to what I'm talking about...
"We should seek to become reservoirs rather than canals. For a canal just allows the water to flow through it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, then it can communicate without loss to itself. In the church today, we have many canals but few reservoirs."
St. Bernard of Clairvaux - 12th century