An Advent Journey

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Reflections: Scarritt Bennett, Nashville November, 2012

In 2012 I talked to a friend who suggested I keep, as a spiritual discipline, a Lenten journal using my camera to capture images that spoke to me of God’s presence. Her suggestion gave me a whole new way of connecting with God, combining my love of photography with my desire to spend more structured time in spiritual formation. Later that year my husband and I attended a workshop on photography as a spiritual practice led by photographer Susan Hay at Scarritt Bennett in Nashville, which led me to (eventually) start my blog.

This year for Advent, “Alive Now” magazine, a publication of Upper Room Ministries, invites us to participate in an Advent practice and pray with our cameras. Here is the way it’s explained on their website:

“Are you a visual psalmist? Do you pray with your camera in your hand? If so, please join us this Advent season for Alive Now’s Advent Photo a Day spiritual practice. Come to this page each day to find the word for the day. Then stop, watch, wait, see … for God’s presence in the word for the day. Tag your photo on social media (Facebook or Twitter) with #(today’s word), #AliveNowMag, #AdventPhoto.”

If you are interested in participating, check out “Alive Now” for the word of the day–begin Sunday, November 29!

You can learn more about Advent here.

Peace, joy and blessings during this season!

 

 

 

“Good” Grief and Gratitude

After my grandson Connor’s death in May, Reverend Mark Puckett, pastor of the church  my sons and their families attend, kindly and thoughtfully included me as a recipient of a series of books, “Journeying through Grief,”  by Kenneth C. Haugk and published by Stephen Ministries. How grateful I am that he did!

This morning I read a chapter in book three that I believe will change forever how I interact with others who grieve. The chapter addressed the fact that people often avoid mentioning the deceased loved one’s name for fear of making us cry, and the pain it causes when no one does, as if the person we are grieving never existed. I’ve been guilty of this  because of an incident that happened soon after my mother’s death. It must have been only a few weeks after, since she died in the middle of August and we had just started our school year (the 6th grade for me) when, as I ate lunch, one of the teachers came up and told me how sorry she had been to learn of my mother’s death. Of course, tears filled my eyes and my chin quivered. I saw the two kids across the lunchroom table whispering when one asked the other why I cried. All these years I’ve shied away from bringing up the names of those recently deceased for fear of causing more pain, but now I realize that my experience as a 10-year-old doesn’t necessarily apply in every situation.

I’m proud of Connor’s parents, my son Jack and daughter-in-law Kristen, and the way they celebrate Connor’s life and honor his memory as #TeamConnorJ, along with Elizabeth, Connor’s little sister. They participate in running events and fun runs, most recently in Florence for United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Alabama’s “Life Without Limits Race”. They don’t let their grief overshadow the love and joy Connor brought to their lives, and I learn from and am inspired by their example. Thank you, Kristen for sharing your photos!

Despite an injury, Jack crosses the finish line for #TeamConnorJ

Despite an injury, Jack crosses the finish line for #TeamConnorJ Photo by Kristen Jacobs

Elizabeth, member of #TeamConnorJ !

Elizabeth, member of #TeamConnorJ!Photo by Kristen Jacobs

 

Kristen and Elizabeth post-Fun Run for #TeamConnorJ

Kristen and Elizabeth post-Fun Run for #TeamConnorJ Photo by Kristen Jacobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For All the Saints: Living Life without Fear of Death Part Two

Connor brought much joy to all who knew him.

Connor brought much joy to all who knew him.

On September 21 I wrote about “Living Life Without Fear of Death”  
and received several comments on Facebook from friends who said that it seemed I had ended my thoughts abruptly, and I agree (in fact, I went back and added “to be continued …” to my post). One reason is that sweet-faced boy you see in the photo above, my grandson Connor. Because no matter how much I believe in eternal life and don’t fear my own death, losing a loved one–well, that’s another story.

In the earlier post I shared about the death of my father. When I was five my mother remarried, and my stepfather, a widower, became the only father I remember. Along with a new daddy, my brother and I acquired three new sisters (all grown up and married) and three new brothers (one almost grown; a year later we all welcomed our youngest brother and sister, twins. A little over four years later, just after she turned 41 and shortly before I turned 11, my mother died from leukemia. I remember our pastor saying at her funeral that, although she didn’t want to leave her six young children, she was curious about what she would find on the other side and not afraid. But losing a loved one–well, that’s another story.

Today is All Saints’ Sunday, when, in the United Methodist Church, we recognize and honor all in our church who have died since last All Saints’ Sunday. As the names were read this morning, my heart ached for my son and daughter-in-law and Connor’s little sister; for all the family and friends that loved him; for myself. Because of his cerebral palsy, Connor couldn’t speak or walk, but he could love and laugh and share his sweet smile. When he left this life on May 3, I believe he entered into a new life, with freedom to run and play and sing and dance, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place in my heart that will never be filled. I choose to live life without fear of my own death, but losing a loved one–well, that’s another story.