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

 

Two things to remember and one to forget

på sykkelturFinally, a sunny day, a saturday, a lovely day!

“What’s your plans?”, my husband asks.

“To bike to town and buy some buttons, and another errand”, I answer. The button shop is truly special, more than a hundred years old and filled with every ribbon, button, notion and frill you may possibly think of.

“I’ll come too!” he surprises me by saying, and so he does, and so does his best friend.

After a record braking cold and wet summer, the rose buds at last dare to open. The rugosas scent the air, the road to town is like a summer dream as we bike along. First my husband, at his side, Ruffy is bouncing, jumping, running and barking for joy, attached to the bike with his special dog spring. Now and then he looks up at his friend, just to confirm that they are together. Then I come, cruising on my comfy California bike, enjoying the day.

Ruffy hviler i gressetWe buy the buttons, we talk to an travelling student and a Nobel prize winner. We have coffee, Ruffy has water, we do the steep climb past the fortress to go home. Trondheim is at its loveliest best. We sit down to savor the view. I grab my camera to share my town, I take three pictures, and then I remember the one thing I had forgotten, to buy a memory card.

As I store my pictures on the cards, as well as on a spare hard disc, these  pictures are all I got. No funny dog ears flapping while he runs, no cathedral, no friends.

No memory card, just memories, truly worth remembering. Truly worth storing in my own memory. This summer has taken us through some heart breaking experiences and stories, even if they are not mine to tell, it has not been a happy summer. We needed a happy, relaxed day. We got the chance to have one, and we took it. That is what I will remember, both that there will be times of rest, there will be pockets of joy, and that I just have to remember to receive them. I could have stayed at home, waiting for another rainy day to buy buttons. I could have taken the car, and of course I could have remembered my memory card. I did not, and I got a happy day.

Festningen

While waiting for the answers

IMG_5622 skyerWould it not be nice if we could do the math of life first, then go ahead and fill in the unknowns in the equation, and then…just sail through life? Even when it is almost unbearable to wait for an answer, a solution, for healing or for success, that is just what we have to do. I listened to an inspiring talk on mathematics some days ago, which made me write this post on going on even when we do not see the end of the road. I borrowed an expression from the lovely blog of Gleaning the nuggets, I do not think luck comes to the prepared mind. I think the prepared mind is able to glean those small nuggets, to see the tiny steps that eventually will take me where I need to go. Not being able to see the whole road before me or remembering every bend until now is not really a valid excuse for not staying on the road, is it? I think the big answers, like” is this a road?”, and “where does it take me?”, also gets answered through the tiny nuggets, the small steps.

IMG_3323 childhood church

Done is dead – a daily prompt on imperfection

Quite imperfectly perfect

Quite imperfectly perfect

There was a time, when I was young, that I could read the 13th chapter of Corinthians, the one about love endures everything, and think: I will find that love.

There came a later time, when I was older and thought: If I show perfect love, I will be given perfect love in return.

There came an even later time, when I read the whole chapter, and saw that Paul was telling a story about maturing and understanding what life and love is all about.

Who lived here, what would they tell?

Who lived here, what would they tell?

He says that love will never end, and then that we understand in bits and pieces.When I was a child, he says, I thought as a child ,I understood what  a child may understand. But now, as I am grown, I see that I see everything as pieces, as glimpses in a clouded mirror.

Not quite clearly

Not quite clearly

And then he goes on to say that love is still  the greatest. He relates to the love and complete understanding God has for each of us. While doing so he tells me, it is OK not to be perfect. To be grown is to know that we see different pieces of the puzzle of life. To love is to live that truth, tell me what you see from where you’re at!  I’ll tell you what I see, together we see more, but still pieces, still through a glass darkly.

Then I read Aristotle,the book where he tells his son Nichomachus, about what’s most important in life. One swallow makes no summer, he sais. To us it is a proverb telling us not to be too optimistic, thinking spring is here. To him it was a profound truth, the truth about the deepest wisdom, what he called phronesis, or the practical wisdom.

IMG_2850 dark trees

The true meaning of life, the essential ethical question, he tells me is: What can I do, to contribute to  “the good life ” for everyone? Anyone can learn things through reading or doing, he continues. To be wise, to know what to do in a given situation, to use the phronesis needed to create this good life, we need to reflect. Every situation will teach us something that could be better, every new person we meet is a potential source of reflection, a way of knowing more.

OK, close to perfect...

OK, close to perfect…

Every time we do contribute in a good way, every time we know what to do, our deed is a swallow, a token of a summer to come. To grow and to mature, to come closer to the good life, takes reflection on practise and reflection in practise. It will never be complete though, only when our life is over, is it possible to judge if it was a good life, still according to Aristotle.

A room for reflection

A room for reflection

Then I remembered what we were thought in physics in high school, the law of reflection. The angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence. Perhaps that’s true for mental reflection too? It is not very complicated, it is not a challenge, it has nothing to do with brain power, and it has nothing to do with perfection. For every angle there is another picture, from every soul there is another thing to see, as we all see what we see from where we stand.

In bits and pieces

In bits and pieces

The greatest puzzle of them all, never perfect, still imperfect, life and love. So what do I cherish about imperfection? The fact that imperfect means not quite done yet, which means I got my whole life to collect and gather wisdom. Every day to live this truth, that in the middle of imperfection we get to create the good life for each other.

Never perfect, still working on that....still alive!

Never perfect, still working on that….still alive!

Where the roses grow and carrots thrive

Another rose , another time

Another rose , another time

Time is relative, and childhood is the proof. The fact is that I did not spend many summers at my maternal grandparents home, a couple yes, but not all summer, and absolutely not every summer. The truth though, in my heart, is that the greatest part of my childhood was an eternally long, sunny summer spent with my aunts and my grandparents. My parents obviously was somewhere on the scene too, must have been, then again in my memory they were just part of the set up.

Summer at Christmas, with my grandmothers plates

Summer at Christmas, with my grandmothers plates

Then there was Christmas and sledding and skiing of course, but that must be occupying another part of my brain. At least this two parts of my growing up do not share the same olfactory memories. Today, I need only the smell of scraping carrots to take me back to my grandfathers garden. I was allowed to pull the freshest tiniest roots out of the earth, rinsing them under the garden tap and enjoy them at once.

Another happy garden

Another happy garden

That is how summer tastes! And then the afternoons, there was coffee and kringle in the garden. I am sure my aunt would tell me how it was raining and how the Flammentanz did not bloom through the whole year, I know. To me, I need only the smell of a rising dough on my kitchen counter to take me back to the expectation of sitting on the white wooden bench, between some grown ups, listening to their talk and laughter, smelling and enjoying the overhanging roses and biting into the sweet icing on the still warm cinnamon kringle.

In my own garden

In my own garden

It was never so much about doing, as about being. That is what I aim for in making a home for my own family too, not only giving them memories of the things we do, but creating a treasure of homely smells, colors and sounds. Being aware of that what is only a fleeting moment for us adults may be what defines the whole childhood for our children. That will not happen if it does not ring true, no child is fooled by fake happiness. That will not happen if what I aim to do is setting a scene for something rather than making the trivialities of life itself pleasant. Perhaps that is why my memories linger and fills up an inappropriate big place in my heart, these summers were never activities to while away time, it was life itself, being allowed to take part, being useful, being in the middle of it, to belong.

Roses in old pitcher

Roses in old pitcher

No matter where you go, there you are

Botanic Garden Cambridge UK april 2012

Botanic Garden Cambridge UK april 2012

On my first trip to England (30 years ago) I was seated next to  a woman who held on to her hold-all, as if her life depended on it. Which it actually did. I could of course not help myself and had to ask, what on earth do you carry in that bag? She was more than willing to show and tell, as this was the kit her father had told her would take her anywhere and through every situation. Band Aid, sweater, books – I could have guessed those. Then came a big serious looking knife. I edged away but had to see the rest, out came an enormous coil of heavy-duty rope. Your hotel could catch fire you know, she said. I sort of left her alone after that.

Old street, Cambridge UK, april 2012

Old street, Cambridge UK, april 2012

She comes back to me every time I pack for traveling though, as a reminder of the words of Confucius. You can not escape from yourself. Not that I want to. It is just that it easy to forget our part in what we are going away from. Everything will not turn out OK somewhere else, the lessons I still have to learn in life will pop up again and again. The wonderful thing with going away is that even if we are given the same lessons, it is as if they are reframed. Life is a wise teacher, when the student does not understand the task or the lesson, she does not repeat the lesson just as she framed it the first time. She gives another example, another way of putting it, another hint of what it is all about.

Biking at Nantucket, June 2012

Biking at Nantucket, June 2012

And then, like in school, even if I do understand the task, even if I know I have to do it, I just need a break, to look at it all from a distance. I am still there though. Even if I carry less and less physical stuff as the years go by, I now and then stop and ask myself what emotional luggage I carry. I know some are essential and allows me to engage with the people I meet. I also know some of my hangups that keeps me back from relying to much of others. If I do not trust at home, I will be even more distrustful abroad, if I am not able to make friends at home, there is no reason why I should do it anywhere else.

Stone steps, Oppdal, Norway september 2012

Stone steps, Oppdal, Norway september 2012

There could be added extracurricular lessons abroad, the challenges and hardships I never meet at home, it will still be me who have to face it though. It is like a scientific experiment, trying to isolate the different factors to know what really reacts on what. As to travel, I am the constant, the essence of life’s challenges are the same, the environment the big X. Come to think of it, that’s what I love about traveling, no matter where I go, I am still there.

Indiana, October 2012

Indiana, October 2012

To give is to keep – a daily post on prized possessions

Things tend to fall apart...

Things tend to fall apart…

Before going on my bike ride this morning, I read the daily prompt, what was you most prizes possession as a kid and what became of it? The question kept mulling in my head, even if I had written a post already today…I think I could be called a transient hoarder. That is ,I have always liked to have a lot of something, but I also like to give it away. Like in having enough plates and cutlery for  a big party on the ready in my pantry, and lending it to everybody. Or baking an enormous amount of cookies and let the boys and their friends have it all. Or giving away most of my books when I have read them. One time I gave away all my summer clothes in fall and forgot all about it, when next summer came around I got to clear out and sort through every closet in our house looking for them, added bonus! It has nothing to do with generosity. It has all to do with having moved a lot and knowing that it is what you use your things for that it is important. Plates are for serving friends and family, not for storing.I love it if someone needs something I am able to give.

I own the the beauty if not the plates!

I own the the beauty if not the plates!

On the other hand I love beauty. While I subscribe to the idea of William Morris ” have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, I have transcribed it for my own use to “have nothing in your home but love, truth and beauty”. As my friends know, that makes me obsessed with having lovely dinnerware, table linens and cutlery…and flowers. The point is that the things I treasured in childhood are gone, the settings and the atmosphere the things were used in lives as fresh memories in my heart. I remember the blue china children’s tea set….how I longed for that, what parties I planned! I got it and we had so much fun. Years later my brothers used my play house for raising turkeys, and I found a blue cup used as scoop for their feed. I just laughed, I did not need that. Quite accidentally I still have three items from my childhood though.

Somebody else's treasures

Somebody else’s treasures

They were all treasured in their time and they each tell a tale of what truly makes something precious. The one is a sterling silver porridge scraper, don’t you know what that is? My mother did not either, I got it for my baptism. My mother tried to find a way of using it both for me and for all my siblings, but never got the hang of it. It was constantly referred to as a most valuable item though, it is still in my silverware drawer. I keep it as a reminder that monetary value is a funny thing. The other is the small rocking chair that I got for my fourth birthday. I loved that chair and was able to sit in far up in my teens. I have read so many adventurous stories in that chair! My brothers turned it upside down, unhinged the door of a closet and made a slide of it, someone has cut letters in it, it has moved with me into eleven different houses. Now it sits in the living room of our cabin, waiting for  new adventures.

These brothers do not make slides of chairs anymore! Still playing though!

These brothers do not make slides of chairs anymore! Still playing though!

I keep that one because it is so well done and is still doing its job. It also reminds me that even things that keep, never grow, while a human has to grow to keep. And then I remember the same birthday, a friend gave me a tiny mercury glass bell to hang on the Christmas tree. That was a totally new idea to me, that I as a child could own  something so grown up, something not a toy! Through all those years and all those moves that is one of the few Christmas decorations that have survived in my family. I took it with me when I married,  for 31 years it has been shining on the up most branch of our Christmas tree. One day it will break, or one day I will give it to one of our children for their Christmas, neither way it does not really matter. The treasure to me is not the bell itself, rather  the reflections of all the Christmases that bell has mirrored. Those glimmers of joy are for always a part of who I am.

watering can

And then some years ago I got my grandfather’s watering can, never a treasure , always the one thing that reminded me of his steadfast nurturing and caring for every living thing, me included. A life filled with memories of love, my true and lasting childhood treasure.