A teacher once encouraged me to pause whenever something in my life comes full circle: a season, a school year, the death of a loved one. Birthdays are a great time to pause, even for just a moment, to acknowledge the year that’s been before plowing on. It doesn’t have to be a solitary act. Friends, I’ve found, are willing listeners when I’ve had the courage to ask.
The important thing is to look back before looking ahead to acknowledge what gifts there were in the circle that’s closing. Sometimes when it’s been a go-around with some sadness or difficulty I have to look a little harder for the gifts. They’ve been known to show up in disguise and have taken their sweet time revealing themselves. Without the despair of my mother’s dementia and becoming her caregiver, I may never have discovered my love for making my grandmother’s Sicilian breads or this passion for more mindful living. Unexpected gifts can feel like grace.
I’ve kept this practice for a long time and can vouch for it as an important part of “kneading life.” Maybe you’ll consider it? Though it is still snowing and blowing as I write, winter is coming to a close after it’s extended stay in upstate New York.
In my own reflection of this past winter I discovered that the slow-pace of time and shortened daylight actually turned out to be gifts. Because of them, I allowed myself to really settle into deep silence and feel whatever was there in it. I stopped making excuses for why I didn’t want to go out at night. I read a lot. I baked a lot. I took snowy walks down the road. I tended the fire. I probably exhibited hermit-like behavior from time to time but it felt OK, good even. The spaciousness of time and shortened days have left me renewed and grateful for winter and what it quietly offered.
I’d love to hear what gifts you’re discovering. Feel free to leave a reflection in the comments….or consider gathering with Darrell and me in the near future! We’ll be at the Gates Public library May 20 for a maple program. We’ll be posting the details soon on our Facebook page Kneading life/Mindful homesteaders. Please feel free to like our page and follow us from there!
Hope to see you around the bread bowl one day soon!
PS: Since I’m talking about coming full circle if you never read my very first blog post: The Game of Life you’ll get a glimpse of some of the gifts that I found in being my mother’s care-giver.