I did not get to play

I was four, going alone to a birthday party for the first time. New dress, pleated hair with white ribbons, white tights and shiny shoes, I could hardly wait for the party to start. Half an hour later I was back home, went straight into my room and started to play with my building blocks. What happened? My parents were worried, they kept asking for some days,and I still did not answer. 


Half a year later I was building with my blocks again, in another town, another house, living next to other people. Then I looked up at my mother and said quite calmly, “I did not get to play with her toys”. It took some seconds before anyone knew what I was referring to, they all had forgotten.

These days, I am getting closer to my answer on this year’s puzzling question: what did you do and why? So many people say that when they learn that I have had a serious illness and surgery this spring. I have made some polite and correct answers, as I am no longer four. I know though that only recently am I getting closer to understand my own reactions. I needed months to be able to reflect on and not only live through this troublesome times. I am still me, I act fast and think slow.


I have learned, again, that when in trouble I still return to my basic building blocks. I have come to see that what I do when a crisis looms is who I really are. These are the tools I have sharpened in good, untroubled, sunny days which gives me rest, joy and strength in stormy times. 

So what did I do? The first night I went into a new bookstore, and came home with soothing titles and lovely stories. Strangely enough I did not start reading though, I just put them in the bag I planned to take to hospital. 

I need reading like I need air.

Then I bought the most beautiful notebook, for the next weeks I made notes of every song I was reminded of, every Bible word I read that was special to me.

I need a comforting blanket of blessings, ready to wrap around my soul in the days I know will be hard.

It was still February, and I filled my window with spring flowers.

 I was worried I would not see another spring, and knew I had to make one myself to believe in growth and new life.


I bought the loveliest blue and white China I know.I have wished for it since we got married 35 years ago, but always made myself think they were too expensive.

I know my heart leaps when I see something beautiful, I need to let my heart rejoice in every beauty given us in this world.

I sorted through all my fabrics, and made ready kits for all the ideas I have postponed. 

I know I have to create something to be happy.

I sorted through and shredded the content of rows upon rows of binders.

I had to make room for new things to happen.


I saved all cards and greetings, and took photos of all the flowers my dear ones sent me.

I knew I needed to be reminded of the outpouring of love and comfort I was given.

I made orange marmalade and lemon curd. I made homemade bread.

I know how I truly relax when putting my feet up, sharing a meal with someone dear to me.


I stayed close to my husband, talking and wondering, sharing information, cherishing memories.


I tried to think of a letter to write to my children, and found one should never postpone saying how much we love each other. Everything else is just words.

This is who I am, these are the tools I am given and know how to use, and I did.

Why? When life was threatened, I did not need to do what I had not done, I needed to reassure myself that I have had a life filled with the grace of God, the love of my family and friends, the gift of beauty and the joy of creating.

I am healing, I have been given new possibilities. I am stronger and happier than ever. I know I did get to play after all.

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How do you wait?

marmeladeskive

I  was in a meeting in Oslo when I saw somebody was calling me from a landline, whoever could it be? Only doctors and hospitals still use them, and I was not waiting for any of them to call, was I?

I just did not know I should have been waiting. While I thought all was well, a team of  doctors had been pondering over my CT scans. While I had been enjoying growing strength and health, something else had been growing in my lungs.”We’d like to see you in hospital as soon as possible”, the calling doctor said and added, “we have decided that surgery is needed.”

This was three weeks ago. Since then I have experienced a lot of things worth writing about, I just have not taken the time, as I have been so busy waiting.

There has been appointments in hospital, more tests to be taken, PET scans, CT scans, blood counts. All the time knowing that the chosen diagnosis is lung cancer, even if it might as well not be, one does not know until during surgery. The “something” has to get our anyhow. Waiting, googling, thinking, but also a needed time to realign and get used to new thoughts about life.

There has been talks with everyone I am working with. Even while a lot of my mind is busy thinking about my lungs, I am truly glad to be given the chance to unravel some mess and clean some clutter, so that the person doing “my” job, will be able to do it. Actually I had had the feeling for a while, too many things are going on, get sorted! A gift to be given waiting time to do it, another gift to see how generous my colleagues are, taking on my tasks, making life easier for me.

tulipaner fra BKThen there has been the hard  task of informing. Somebody told me, “you should not say anything before you know”. Know what? I wondered, neither of us know how long we have to live, besides this is not a question of knowing a diagnosis, it is all about the waiting, the worry, the time to stop and think. The hard part being seeing the shadow of worry and fear on other peoples faces. We all face our own death when we hear about someone else being ill.

Then of course everyone I know has turned their worry into all kinds of blessings.

I could have kept quiet, I could have “suffered” in silence. I could have, and robbed all my friends of the possibility of doing as Jesus said ” carry each other’s burden”.  How should we do that if we do not tell each other of our burdens?

As it is I have received something to rejoice in every single day, yesterday I even woke up with the advent calendar feeling ” wonder what it will be to day?” I have looked at dark skies, and just then a message from someone cheers me up. I fail to smile, just that day, a happy tune is sent. I open my mail box to thoughtful, lovely letters. I have been given time, prayers, thoughts and flowers. Best of all some meaningful conversations, keeping us on track on what really matters. What a gift to be given waiting time to receive all this!

Then there has been such lovely words. Both friends and family has found time to cheer me up with the sweetest praise and memories of what we have done together. I am sure only being with such sweet persons could make me even remotely close to these descriptions, which means I am the one to be grateful, to be surrounded by people who sometimes are able to bring our the best in me. Who knew waiting could be such a blessing?

Then most of all there has been the realization, for me to receive these blessings I had to reach out, I had to admit that waiting is hard to do, I had to allow my weakness to be seen.

No wonder I have not had time for blogging, I have been to busy counting my blessings!

 

tulipaner t+j

 

Faith without google

heavenly cellThe ceiling was white from sulphur deposits. The walls had nine oblong caves, big enough to lie down in, but never raise from. In between the bigger holes were numerous tiny ones. Hardly big enough to stuff the body of a child into. We were fourteen people, pressing close to the walls, around a stone slab, covered in white, with four candles burning. It was the day of All Saints. We were deep in the catacombs, in silence, taking a moment to remember.

Then our guide, a priest from the Philippines told us a story. “I had a group of students here some days ago,” he said, “and I asked them: what is faith?

In an instant all of them had their phones out, but soon had to put them down. There’s no signal, I do not know, one of them said.”

“I invite you too take the time to know what’s written in your heart, to respond to this sacred space”, he continued, “and then answer yourself: what is faith?”

We were older, we were not invited to answer out loud, we cherished the silence. Even so, who knows what we had done if only our phones had been working?1.11.15 tente lys, alle helgen

How does your heart sound?

sommerfugl med gresstråI was having an ultra sound of my heart last week. As I biked down to the hospital and were feeling well, I did not expect anything to be the matter. Just a follow-up to search for scars of the adventures of last fall. Even so, being examined, on a table, with all kinds of equipments attached to my body, makes me attentive. What if there is something to find, and they overlook it?

I felt myself stretching my mind and ears to listen, to know. I did not hear anything, at least not the pitter-patter of a tiny heart. Then I realized, for the first time I had an ultrasound where I was not supposed to listen for a baby’s heartbeat. Only then did I hear that my own heart had been swishing and swooshing healthily along all the time. For the first time in my life I literally listened to my heart.

If that took some getting used to, what with the heartbeat of our souls? As I biked on into town I wondered, how do we make ourselves attentive, to listen, and to alter the course when the core of our being is not in rhythm? Most of our life, it is, sometimes though we are so busy listening for, adjusting to, and taking care of the hearts of everybody else, that nobody is left to listen for us, and why should they? If we can take care of others, should we not be able to take care of ourselves?

Ultimately, to me happiness is found in community, in serving, in togetherness. I also know that my responsibility is to serve where I do not make myself a martyr, but where the joy of my heart wells forth. Swishing and swooshing. I’ll be listening for that.

gjemt bak engel

Time and tide- and the truth about life

IMG_3331 clear view 7januar

Because of the tilt of the moon on its axis, at the equinox the sun appears to be over the equator, and if there is a new or full moon at about the same time then all the forces contrive to create the highest of high tides. If the moon is also at perigee, closest to the earth in its orbit, then that will produce the biggest tides of all, the King tides.

In short, when the pull of the water is at its most extreme, we get to see what is at the bottom. We experienced this last January in California.

Where we thought there were sandy banks, there is pointy, jarred cliffs and stones. Where we had only seen dolphins, whales, pelicans and seals dominating the seas, we could now see the teeming myriads of life. Anemones, shells, urchins, crabs,schools of tiny fish, actually what really sustains the big life forms. But only at the extreme tides.

Tidepooling and marveling I got to thinking, isn’t that what happens to us humans too? After a big holiday we do not always feel refreshed, actually sometimes a bit washed out. An old norwegian saying is that you do not know a person until you have tried to divide an inheritance with him. I would phrase that differently, you do not know another person until you see what turns up in times if extreme stress. And then, why should I allow their worst behavior to be the truth about anyone?

Just now I am using crutches due to a minor injury. Absolutely not anything serious, but adding stress, more that I would like to allow. My workload is pretty extreme, and all the nice things that I normally do in-between are not done. Tidying, watering, weeding, baking, straightening. No way. Our home, my garden, my desk and myself is at King tide indeed.

Is that how life really is? When I saw all the tiny creatures crawling and sprawling, longing for water to cover them again. I realized this, we thought we saw life as it really was, while in truth we saw what we were not supposed to see. As among us humans, when life appear chaotic, why not add some slack to our judgement?

As I want to be judged as I am when I am at my best, why is it so difficult to allow that grace in my judgement of others? Why not wait for the tides to roll back?

 

IMG_3315 tidepool life 7januar

Do you really care?

2014-07-31 at 04-59-58I was tired, coming into my hotel late at night, the hotel who has big signs all over their walls saying “We care”.
I was walking through endless corridors where slogans, like “you are finally here”, were painted on the floor.
I stumbled into my room, to discover that it was stuffy, tiny and dark.
I went to open the window, and looked straight into a corridor.
I tried to adjust the air-condition, but there was none.
I did not even sit down at the minuscule desk while I called the reception. I was right, there was no way to adjust the airflow, and there was no other room to be had. The receptionist was kind and tried to be helpful,but he could do nothing. I did not even think it was funny when I saw the folder announcing the values of this chain, “with energy, courage and enthusiasm, we create a better world.” I sat down to search for another hotel nearby, one where you could breath, one with two sockets so you could recharge both the phone and the computer, one where you could walk around the bed without getting stuck. I had to give in. No rooms to be had, and I was too tired to  go out for dinner, so I just went to bed. Bad night.

2014-07-31 at 05-08-53Next morning I had a cold and a headache when I went down for breakfast. As I passed the front desk, the receptionist called me. “I am so sorry I could not help you last night, thanks for being so patient” and “I’ll find you something better tonight”. And he did, and I slept well, and I had a nice chat with him, and I guess I’ll stay there again. I can not help but wonder though, how much nicer it would have been if the building, the technical installations, and the very booking system showed that they really cared? The people were doing their best, but the bricks and stones got in the way for their very best. Sometimes we have to do with what we got, but why would you give your employees a bad hand just to make it harder to make something good?

I ended up having a good time. I was cared for.
Thanks to the people who were not only repeating slogans but trying to live them.

The pictures are from the old church at Lom, the true test on integrity, to do what we say we believe.

The hotel made it in the end, so I will not tell you where it was. I’d rather question myself: where, when, how or even if, do I do what I say I will do?

2014-07-31 at 03-25-14

Have another look

IMG_7414 (1280x1030)Last weekend I joined a photowalk in my own hometown Trondheim. A two hour stroll along a stretch less than a mile, the theme Contrasts.

I know those streets.

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I have shared photos from these walks for years.

My family has walked on the same cobblestones for a century.

IMG_7409 (1280x818)And yet, always something new, even when everything is old.

Always something I have never seen, even if I have seen it all.

IMG_7362 (1280x1079)Could it be that way with people too? Do we ever take the time to really look for something new in the people we love or in the people we see every day?

IMG_7425 (1280x1042)What would we find if we spent two hours concentrating on seeing another side of the persons, the conflicts, the situations, the very life that we think we know?

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