Our Human Fellowship

From Each Day A New Beginning, April 10:

“’Even though I can’t solve your problems, I will be there as your sounding board whenever you need me.’ ~Sandra K. Lamberson

Our emotional well-being is enhanced each time we share ourselves—our stories or our attentive ears. We need to be part of someone else’s pain and growth in order to make use of the pain that we have grown beyond. Pain has its purpose in our lives. And in the lives of our friends, too. It’s our connection to one another, the bridge that closes the gap.”

Never in my lifetime have words and phrases meant more to me than “connection,” “bridge,” and “closes the gap.” We are all living through an extraordinary time where the viral pandemic has halted life as we know it. Of necessity, many of our routines have stopped. From my small world of one to the world at large, nothing will ever be the same again. This is a time when our physical health and wellness are uncertain; it’s a time when the world is being engulfed by an invisible threat which to some extent is out of our control. We’re doing our best to slow the progression of the disease. Mitigation, social distancing. We are being tested.

I, for one, am enjoying yet another opportunity to look within and put things into a larger perspective. And things will be different after this. I can’t see into the future, and everyone’s world will change in different ways. But my world already involves more appreciation for the finer things in life: things like kindness, consideration and thoughtfulness, generosity of spirit and time, and human connectedness. Just remember how Zoom crashed recently while Americans across the country were anxiously trying to visually connect with one another. This intense appreciation for those things will inform my choices on how to live, what to do with my time. This is a good thing.

We are interconnected and interdependent. We may not be able to connect hands right now, but we can connect our hearts and minds as we all strive to figure things out, learn some important lessons, and determine to make our planet stronger for the next generation to enjoy and pass on. The world belongs to my grandchildren and their children. God keep me strong to leave them something beautiful and resilient, reflecting the best in us all.

A Brave New World

From Each Day A New Beginning, by Karen Casey, April 12:

“’Make yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or a pat on the back just might pull someone back from the edge.’ ~Carmelia Elliott

We are healed in our healing of others. God speaks to us through our words to others. Our own well-being is enhanced each time we put someone else’s well-being first…We are all on a trip, following different road maps, but to the same destination. I will be ready to lend a helping hand to a troubled traveler today. It will breathe new life into my own trip.”

Easter, 2020, seems to be ushering in a brave new world to us all. I remember hearing the term “globalization” about twenty years ago, and I wasn’t sure what it meant because I wasn’t experiencing it personally. Now, in the throes of a worldwide pandemic that I’m gratified I saw in my lifetime, I am experiencing what it means.

I’m glad I’m living through this crisis because it is unveiling so many unsung heroes. My confidence in the human race is soaring. My grandchildren getting home-schooled by two loving parents tirelessly stepping up to the plate in a game they never planned for. Health care workers risking their lives so that we might live another day. Postal workers, baggers at the grocery stores; the list is endless. But what I’m seeing as a result of all this courage is what Ann Frank saw in that attic in Holland before she died: “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”

It’s not every day that our lives, and how we live them, are brought into such sharp focus, from frequent hand washing to thinking twice before we hug someone. How life has changed for us all! Now it is abundantly more clear to us how what we do in our individual spaces has an impact on the community we live in, and in neighboring communities and so on. I’ve learned a great deal about what happens in a petri dish.

But of much more interest to me now is how the health crisis has brought out the best in millions of people around the world. There are also sad, angry stories of corruption popping up like weeds in my garden. But I don’t focus on them any more than I focus on anything else I can’t control. I am heartened by this Easter’s celebration of humanity and hope in a time of fear and uncertainty. And how creative we are! Drive-in movie theaters have become venues for church services. And long after Easter Sunday this year there may be a revival of drive-in movie watching!

“Revival…” My Latin tells me that word means “live again.” Is that what we’re all doing now? Learning how to live again?

My Life As Pentimento


For many of us, writing is a journey of self-discovery, full of delights and surprises. I never set out to write a memoir. I had no plan or outline, no clear beginning and an unknown conclusion. It just became one along the way.

Seven years ago, I had just discovered that my daughter was a heroin addict. So in my grief and frustration I found relief by writing about it. And then I stopped.  I moved to New Mexico where I met a writer who would become my teacher and coach. Looking over what I had started writing she encouraged me to turn it into something. So I did: I gave her a 500+ page rant, something Chris Offut would call “the delirium of the first draft!” Well, I thought I was done. I was thinking of section titles and started writing notes to myself in the margins: things like “Oh, by the way, I had a miserable childhood;” and “Hush, hush, don’t tell anyone, but I’m an addict, too.” And I realized in confronting these truths about myself that this was my story. Angie and her drug addiction was the catalyst, certainly, that got me writing. But the story began with me.

So I went back and wrote an introduction, a window into my childhood and young adulthood as Angie’s mother. I wanted you, the reader, to know me. And I felt it was important for you to know my daughter as well. She was a beautiful, gifted, full-of-promise child and young woman—before this cruel disease corrupted her.

The rest of the book started out as the roller coaster ride of drug addiction—thirteen years, from 2001 until now—all the highs and the lows, the rehabs and the relapses, the joys and the sorrows, everything that accompanies unbridled drug addiction. That was the original plotline. But I added another one along the way: that of my evolving recovery from all this heartache. These two plotlines parallel each other, and they intersect a lot in the beginning of Angie’s illness. But at some point in the story they go in separate directions.

And it’s in sharing the change and transformation in me as a result of this most tragic event in any parent’s life that this angry narrative about drug addiction takes the shape of a memoir. I weave the voice of recovery into every chapter, from beginning to end, as I reflect back on events in my life—through a different lens.

At the beginning of Pentimento, Lillian Hellman’s wonderful collection of remembrances that she wrote back in 1973, she points out how artists sometimes paint over what they had painted before. They changed their minds; they “repented.” So too in literature, she adds, “the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing…and then seeing again.”