Tag: Blessing

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

What It Means to Be a Caretaker

 

A few days after my Mom went Home to be with Jesus, I started promoting a GoFundMe page to get help to keep my house. A stranger on Facebook commented that I should have been working instead of watching TV for all of those years. I brushed it off because at the time I was too busy grieving and worrying to care about some stranger’s stupidity. You see, a lot of people really do not understand what being a caretaker involves; even those with family members or friends who are caretakers, cannot fully grasp the life of a caretaker.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there were about 43 million unpaid caretakers across the nation in the 12-month period for which they were reporting. That isn’t surprising. There are still a lot of people out there who care for their families and friends. However, what their page full of statistics does not mention is every caregiver/care receiver situation is as unique as the individuals involved. There are similarities, but when you include personalities, various diseases and level of need, financial situation, outside medical care and many other factors, the variables are countless. I can only speak of my own situation to try to explain what it means to be a caretaker.

Mom had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and arthritis. In the last few years, she became a little more forgetful, but never showed signs of full-on dementia. She kept her brain busy with crossword puzzles, solitaire, reading and listening to Rush Limbaugh. She never stopped learning. Until the last few months of her life, she was ambulatory, but too much exercise wore her out quickly; she had to learn how to take it easy and let me do things for her. She always had trouble sleeping and that just became worse when she couldn’t sleep in a bed anymore (for about 15 years, she slept in an easy chair). She enjoyed long, interesting conversations about the Bible and politics, and she loved to reminisce about days gone by. We would get on each other’s nerves once in a while, but what a tremendous blessing it was to be here for her. I took care of her, 24/7 for 13 years.

Member Post

 

For many Western Christians, Epiphany, observed on Jan 6 or on a neighboring Sunday (like today), commemorates the visitation of the Magi, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It also celebrates Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, which the Orthodox Church celebrates with the Great Blessing of the Waters. When we’re baptized, the water […]

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