Cynthia gone 22 months

I had always taken the 56th Psalm literally, about the Lord keeping each of our tears in a bottle; but it was only when reading it over and over these past months that it sunk in that He also writes each one in a book. I imagine the book with each of our names heading a section, and each new tear noted as it falls.

People have said, “Oh, that’s only poetry, it’s not literally true!” A remark that would not be appreciated by David to whom the psalm is attributed, nor by the likes of John Milton, or C.S. Lewis. Poetry is not less true than prose; that is an Enlightenment superstition. A strong case can be made that poetry actually leads us closer to the heart of truth than do declarative statements.

A newly-widowed sister wrote to me that at times she felt the flask on her cheek. Some of us have graduated to bigger bottles over the past months; we live in the land of sacred tears.

Tears came to my eyes recently when I was in Amsterdam, at the building where we had lived for 6 months in early 1988. I was thinking to myself again, “I’ll have to tell Cynthia how much this has all changed.” Then I remembered that I would not be doing that.

But the tears come less often now, and I have many moments of joy such as seeing my winter flowers all blooming despite the layers of new snow we have had recently. I have now finished the 30 short episodes of my webTV series on Kingdom lessons from the garden; and one of the recurring themes was this: Life is stronger than death!

And the rainbows remind us of the covenant: “Seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.”

 

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Thanksgiving letter

I am thankful again this year – especially for family.

Having time with Phil & Amy was a treat, we took a week after our UofN meetings in September to visit many of our Midwest family – they got to meet Amy, and she learned a lot more about the Bloomer and Aderton clans as well as meeting several of Cynthia’s family.

Then I have had great times with my YWAM family, more “circles of covenantal love”: the people here at Burtigny, and also the groups at Chatel, Lausanne, Yverdon and Wiler; YWAM France, and Schloss Hurlach near Munich; Cape Town in South Africa; Portland, Oregon and Kona in Hawaii; the Romanian staff and Central European leaders; our UofN Workshop down by Tijuana; and the many dear Swiss believers who make up that particular branch of the family of God.

Speaking at a family camp in the canton of Glarus, I visited the village my Swiss ancestor left in the early 17th century; I had been there only once before, with my parents in 1977. They were much in my thoughts in those days, and I dream of them often. My 91-year-old Mom is still with us, although we came close to losing her in October. Then she decided she wasn’t ready to leave, and got better! Now she’s back to playing Bingo (and winning!) and singing along when my brother plays the piano.

Finally, thanks to all who pray for me – you are many, and so much appreciated. The Lord has gotten me through 19 months after Cynthia’s passing now, and you have helped me in so many different ways. Sometimes I feel the loneliness, but I am sure of nothing more than this: I am not alone. Relationships are without price; and the One Who grants them, along with every other good and perfect gift, is wonderful beyond our imagining. I count each of you who receive this letter as members of my family.

Love to all,

Tom

Cynthia gone 15 months

Once again I wasn’t going to write anything on the anniversary of her passing. But I got a call at 5 PM yesterday saying, “The tombstone is installed!” To say I was surprised is putting it mildly, I talked with the stonemason just a few days ago and assumed he would call me so I could be present at the installation. I had been waiting for the tombstone to get here, and the waiting was much more difficult than I thought it would be . . . the waiting was a weight. Perhaps it’s the final finality of it.

I recruited Elaine and Anouchka to go with me to see it – it’s simple, natural granite with the green hills in the background.

I won’t send a photo until Anouchka and I can get it re-planted next week, the present plants suffered with our extreme weather these past months and masons are better with stone than with plants. Plants need more tender handling . . . .

Below is one of Richard Rohr’s meditations, it sums up the emotional path I’ve been on. It actually began many years ago, as I look back I can see how the Lord was leading me out of living totally in my head (left brain) and to getting in touch with my heart and emotions. Little did I think I would ever say that!

At the end of his meditation RR says, “My emotions are still a mystery to me” and I can say ‘Amen’ to that. But I don’t want to miss a single thing of all that the Lord has for me.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement,

Tom

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Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations

Emotion               Meditation 35 of 52

We must go through the stages of feeling, not only in the last death of anything, but all the earlier little deaths. If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger—because they refuse to let their emotions run their course, honor them consciously, or find some appropriate place to share them.

Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They are merely indicators of what is happening, and must be listened to, usually in the body. People who do not feel deeply finally do not know or love deeply either. It is the price we pay for loving. Like Job we must be willing to feel our emotions and come to grips with the mystery in our head, our heart, and, yes, our body too. To be honest, that takes our entire life. My emotions are still a mystery to me, and without contemplation they would control me.

Adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering:

Spiritual Reflections, pp. 54-55

Cynthia — gone 14 months now

I am doing well, finding great joy in sharing ‘Kingdom Lessons from my Garden’ in short episodes on www.DieuTV.com (type Jardin de Dieu on the site’s search bar). But the moments of loneliness still happen, the most intense when I’m with friends we knew together.

Last week I spent a couple days with the group of Swiss spiritual leaders we prayed regularly with for over 30 years; I was the only single, and kept thinking, “She would have loved to be here!” Good people, good food, beautiful setting in a completely-renovated old mill.

We were in Protestant territory in southern France, and our host is one of the world experts on the history of this people. He reminded us of the 5 major moves of God that had impacted the area, and told us of the hundreds of Protestant pastors who gave their lives for their people in the 16th-18th centuries. They would go to the scaffold singing the ‘song of the martyrs’, Psalm 118, and especially verse 24.  We have sung “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”, so lightly; they sang it in the moments preceding their execution; and it so strengthened the watching believers that finally the French authorities banned the song.

We were very conscious of the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us there (Hebrew 12.1); of which Cynthia is now a member.

Let us remember when the solitude becomes more intense, that we are never really alone. We have friends and family who have crossed over already, and the Spirit within us to comfort us. The veil grows thinner as the time passes . . . .

Here’s another thought that came to me: pain can bring us closer to God, and to each other. But we have to take it by the handle, not the blade . . .

13 months gone: Don’t surrender your loneliness

Dear Ones,

Once more, I wasn’t planning on sending anything out on this one-year one-month of Cynthia’s passing, but Alexis sent this poem below by Hafiz, the 14th-century Persian poet who had such penetrating and timeless insights.

I am still feeling well surrounded by caring people, as I go from one circle of covenantal love to another; but moments of aching loneliness come up regularly.

We will know loneliness at different times, even if we’ve not lost someone close.

A certain kind of loneliness shows up even when we’re in committed relationships, surrounded by family, close friends, or respected colleagues.

Loneliness is the constant companion of leadership

Of pioneering

Of all dimensions of creativity, therefore of all the arts

Of prayer

And of thinking.

Many of our generation fear it, flee it, try to fight it off by staying online, in touch, ‘connected’.

I find myself more and more doing as Hafiz suggests, embracing it:

Don’t surrender your loneliness

So quickly.

Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you

As few human

Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight

Has made my eyes so soft,

My voice

So tender

My need of God

Absolutely

Clear.

Cynthia gone one year

The Lord isn’t always very pastoral with me. A couple times when the pain of loss was still severely new and chronic, I cried out, “I can’t do this!” And He replied, “Yes you can; you’ve gone through worse.” And remembering, I had to agree. He got me through those times, and He’s gotten me through this past year too. Glory to His Name. The moments of intense sorrow take place more seldom now, but one of them happened just last month in Hawaii. I was walking back from a wonderful talk with Phil & Amy, thinking that it was 30 years earlier when Cynthia and I went to Kona to help Loren and Howard get the University going; ten years now since Howard’s passing; and how proud both Howard and Cynthia would be to see Phil & Amy now on staff at that campus. Sudden tears, one more time . . .
Some of you heard that I found the missing gift certificates in January. I had given Cynthia one for Christmas 2011, she loved going to Schilliger’s garden center here in the Spring. She especially loved the anticipation of having a gift certificate so she could choose what she liked.
But she hid them away, and I didn’t know where. When I was looking through some files in my office, I found the envelope! Not just the one I’d given her, but 4 others too. So the other day I went to Schilliger’s with Marie and Patricia and we got some more flowers for her grave (see attached photo). Cynthia’s certificates will help me inundate our apartment and garden with flowers this year . . . she will bless many again.
Steve & Marie are God-sent here again, exactly one year later. We met at the grave today, along with Richard & Elaine, Doris, Derek, and Eliane H. We read the 23rd Psalm together, as we did over Cynthia three times a day during her last weeks here. Richard’s idea was to share bread and wine at the grave; I brought the bread, the last loaf of banana bread that Cynthia baked and froze. She always baked it to share, it was part of her hospitality. I found it at the bottom of the freezer, it was still good. And still blessing others . . . . Springtime is bringing all the flowers out now; another sign that life triumphs over death. Hallelujah!

Cynthia 11 months gone

I thought I was going to get through Christmas OK, until Elaine brought over a Christmas present that she had found while sorting, that Cynthia had planned for me: 4 new books, a note saying “for Tom – Noel” and the attached blessing. I shed quite a few tears that day . . .

It hit me hard, since it seems like she wrote it as a farewell to me.

I think she found it on the internet, since it’s written on the scratch paper that comes off our printer. I found it yesterday, under “I wish for you . . . comfort . . .”, it’s attributed to both Theodore Roethke and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But Cynthia changed it to “I hope for you . . . “ as you can see. Then she added the prayer at the bottom, I found that on none of the internet versions. And what struck me was when she wrote “when you go on your way”: the other times she wrote prayers on cards for me, it was always “we” and “our”. It’s as if she knew that I would be going on alone . . . and going through a serious tribulation.

She sent me her hopes from beyond the veil, just like it says in Hebrews 6 . . .

When did she write it? It can’t have been too long after the sickness set in, because her handwriting looks perfectly normal and there are no errors. Was this another of those deep premonitions of her soon departure?

I didn’t want to write an 8-month-gone post and have people cry on Christmas . . . so I’ve waited until now.

Receive Cynthia’s last blessing, it’s for you too. And remember as you ponder the Resurrection in these days, it’s not just a past event, nor a future event, nor a doctrine. It’s a Person, and His Name is Jesus . . . and Cynthia is already there with Him.

Tom

See the attached link below:

Scan0122.pdf