Today, writing a blog feels inadequate as I shift under the weight of yet another personal loss. In a short week, I found I had lost a dear family member and a co-worker whom I really liked.
“Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
I feel like any combination of words cannot capture the wistfulness of wanting everything to stay the same; for everyone to remain alive; for grief to pack its bags and visit somewhere not so close-to-home.
What a relief to know we don’t have to cast out our nets and fish for words to express how we feel.
There are other ways to reach out for meaning. Or to stay folded-in.
In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.
Beautiful Things You Might Carry in Your Heart…
An anticipated event
A person you love
A landmark place where you discovered God
A rare and splendid moment
Let these treasures sustain you, carry you, ground you and tie all your loose ends to something real. Something of substance.
We know we must carry on even during a time of grief. How is that possible? Here is a quote I often turn to.
Just for Today
Just for today, keep it simple.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Look at your life
for all you have gained
rather than lost.
Look at your path for everything
you’ve gotten through, rather than
where you think you should be.
Celebrate rather than criticize.
Experience rather than expect.
Stand in the sunlight
Rather than the shadows.
Quietly honor your heart
rather than disown pieces of yourself.
Take a break from all that.
See how that goes.
Just for today.
Author, L.C. Lourie
Maybe today you need this. If not, I’ll not be offended.
The power of empathy is often felt deeply in silence.
Have you ever wondered what’s happened to all the working lighthouses? How could they be defunct? What takes the place of helping a vessel to anchor or to its pier in safe harbor?
Harbor Pilots are, by sheer tenacity, a remarkable crew. The job requires round-the-clock availability, a complete understanding of the local waters, hazards and weather conditions, and the agility to climb a 30-foot rope ladder up the side of a large vessel.
Our harbor has them. Any port of call has them; these sailors are navigational experts regarding local waters.
When a ship comes into unknown waters, the harbor pilot maneuvers a small craft right up to the big rig, climbing up that ladder and getting behind the wheel to steer the vessel into safe mooring.
And so it is with the staff I work with.
There are a few who understand the aim in a specialized way. They can plot the course for shoreline and safe harbor in waters that most of us have never seen prior to this. While most of us are sequestered with our laptops and zoom sessions focused in on the target for the day, someone with years in the industry will come alongside and prove their maturity and faithfulness by soldiering our vision through our company’s performance of the necessary tasks.
Tasks, such as security, handling delays, sorting through the troubled complaints and defunct systems, and steering the crew into the final destination with wisdom and other hands-on assignments.
These are our harbor pilots – these comrades who are sailing in to assist our somewhat lurching, unsteady building to navigate in unknown waters.
In rough waters, how does a ship or smaller boat find it’s way around sandy banks, jutting rocks, and unusual winds to safe harbor? Guided by the strength and knowledge of someone who has a firm grasp of the way around the banks that would beach us, that’s how.
We all experience waves of gratitude and relief as we are coming to the shoreline.
We are all in this together – but today, let’s take a moment to applaud our unsung heroes, our unseen administrators, first responders, our essential leaders.
A collective “thank you” from all our various ports of call; our kitchen table offices, our cell phones, laptops and heart connections everywhere are warranted. You are worthy deckhands, but it would mean there’s nowhere to land without the harbor pilot.
Can you list one or two harbor pilots in your most choppy, unpredictable waves of life?
Later — when we are all back together — tossed, tested and polished bits of beach glass will emerge gleaming in our midst.
What treasures we will discover.
Kathy Joy, writes the Breath of Joy coffee table series. Simply Summer, Ah, Autumn, Winter Whispers, and Singing Spring. These books make for exceptional “thank-you” gifts and acknowledgments of special someones in your life.
Every summer, the woods and fields of Pennsylvania light up in a symphony of fireflies. From the summer solstice into the second week of July, the twinkly wonders commandeer the forest for mating.
Our very own Allegheny National Forest is one of only a few places in the US where you can view the Synchronous Firefly; the other regions are the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Congaree National Park in South Carolina. “Synchronous” refers to a rare phenomenon: the tiny bugs flash patterns in sync with each other. It’s like a string of Christmas lights hanging in the forest.
During normal summers, you grab a lawn chair and a cooler and head to the Tionesta Creek for Nature’s Light Display. You’ll need a jacket for the cool of the evening, and some marshmallows for toasting. But not this year …
This year, because of COVID-19, the activities are restricted. You can watch the 8th Annual PA Firefly Festival on a virtual stay-at-home online link here:
Despite regulations, the lightning bugs will show up in wild, spectacular abandon. Their light show is a whimsical mystery — and we can all use a little whimsy sometimes.
Recently I wrote a piece remembering a stand-up guy who died suddenly, 2 years ago. I hesitated to publish it, protesting to another that I only knew Ron for a short time. “But you’ve known Grief for a long time,” came the reply. With that authority, I wrote the piece.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once described friendship as “a sheltering tree.” What a fitting description of camaraderie at work: the shelter of a tree suggests the ease and familiarity of being around a person who provides leafy green wonderment. Ron Klonicki was just such an individual in our midst.
Today marks the second year since he was so suddenly and unexpectedly silenced by a faltering heart. We lost him on June 2, 2018. Ron died on a Saturday. That following Monday, we came into work and felt a jolt of shock and unbelief. It was hard to fathom, as Ron was something of a fixture on the 4th Floor, his office a friendly landmark as you passed through on the way to the conference room. Many in the MH/ID Department carry fond memories of Ron, a good-hearted, dependable, solid person. You could count on Ron to lend his expertise, tell a story, share his culinary skills and readily identify all kinds of flowers.
Ron was a Program Director for 30 years in MH/ID. His unflagging advocacy for persons with special needs, is still sending ripples into the community. Without fanfare, Ron showed us all how it’s done – he was fully immersed in meaningful work, while at the same time remaining engaging, relatable and terribly funny.
Ron’s legacy is his laughter – he was particularly good at recalling whimsical stories of his many travelling adventures with Carol, his wife. One of my favorite memories of Ron is the day he showed me how to download and use the phone app, “My Talking Pet”. When he showed me videos of his dog, “Jasmine,” talking in Ron’s own sped-up voice, it was hilarious.
For a quick minute I almost forgot he was a high-ranking administrator; we were just two people laughing at a video of a talking Chihuahua. Whimsically, Ron was never much for hierarchy or status. He made you feel welcomed in and valued your input. Just like a tree in the robust month of June has deep roots, wide branches, and full leaves, Ron provided lots and lots of shade for anyone in his realm of influence.
In the sparks of light emanating from Ron’s openness and curiosity, one can’t help but wonder what he’d think of the strange world we find ourselves in these days: re-emerging from “The Covid Spring” and stepping backward into an echo of civil unrest. Knowing Ron, he’d probably just roll up his sleeves and see to the next individual in need of housing or mental health services. He’d bring flowers to the office, and vegetables from the garden. In the shade of his big-hearted friendship, we’d share a moment of light and peace.
Fireflies are everywhere in June, in certain regions of the country. Not everyone gets this blessing, I am reminded by my jealous editor. Not everyone knew Ron either. Maybe this is why June’s unexpected symphonies of light are synchronous with heartfelt memories of special times and special people. I’m enjoying the unexpected and so grateful for a whimsical favor of these things offered to me right now.
Kathy Joy is making her co-workers happy with daily lunch jabs. She is also a favored speaker, editor and author with Capture Books. Find her seasonal Breath of Joy coffee table books on Amazon. But, don’t buy a knock off, cheaper version. Get the quality original.