Remembering Wayne Dombroski (November 1946 - November 2021)
As we are now into December, please ponder with me for the next few moments of your thoughts around this season of light, music, gift-giving and busy days. Is there joy in your heart? Are you happy that with the Winter Solstice, starting December 21st, we have two more minutes of daylight each day? I certainly am! Or, is your heart feeling sadness as the future looms dark, without even a glimpse of light in the proverbial tunnel?
Due to the current challenges in BC to homes and livestock brought about by the excessive rains, many are in dire circumstances. Yet we hear of the outpouring of kindness from those who reached out with food and clothing to help people stranded in their cars or evicted from their homes, and of helicopters being donated to move people and livestock from flooded areas, giving hope and support, and truth to the words of Sharon Salzberg: When we really examine kindness, we find it is a deep and abiding understanding of how connected we all are.
Linking to kindness and connection is the story of Pollyanna, which a few days ago I chanced upon a reference to the book originally published in 1913 by Eleanor Hodgman Porter, and later made into a movie. Pollyanna was known as "The Glad Girl", something she learned from her minister father. She didn't pretend everything was good when it wasn't, but looked for ways to see a situation in a more encouraging and hopeful way, and something to feel glad about. Another story with a similar intent was sent to me early this year by my friend, Rev. Carrie Hunter, Spiritual Director of the Centre for Spiritual Living in Victoria, BC, suggesting it could be a meaningful Christmas message for Innisfree's newsletter. Re-visiting it, I agree, and share a shortened version below:
There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. So as he was getting his things in order he contacted his Priest to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes ... With everything in order, the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him. 'I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.' The Priest admitted he was puzzled by the request.
The young man explained. 'My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say: Keep your fork. It was my favourite part because I knew that something better was coming ... like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie ... something wonderful and with substance. So I just want people to see me there ... and wonder: What's with the fork? Then I want you to tell them: Keep your fork ... the best is yet to come.' The Priest kept his word and shared the young man's story, telling his congregation that he was sure, like him, they would never forget its symbolism and encouraging message.
Especially at this time of year we may watch re-runs of classic movies with their 'feel good' message. What are your favourites? I have many, including White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, with Maureen O'Hara's famous line: Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to. Surely the best example of hope is with the seasonal favourite, It's a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey is about to jump off a bridge in despair until rescued by his guardian angel Clarence and shown the rich meaning of his life and the difference he made in helping others.
As 2021 draws to a close, consider taking a quiet time to write down the many 'Glad' moments that made you stronger and your life richer, taking them with you as a solid foundation, or launching pad, for 2022. English poet Cecil Day-Lewis believed that we do not write in order to be understood, but to understand. Writing can also help alleviate pain and sadness, like sharing with a trusted confidant, and can turn on light bulbs of hope and new ideas. As with many of you, I've lost good friends this year, but the losses have left treasured memories, and those will never leave me.
As we return to the light, may you and those you love be safe, be healthy, and when you think of our young man's story, may it remind you of the rich meaning of your life.
Until we meet again, from my heart to yours, blessèd be ... Namasté.
Rev. Dorothy Blandford, Ph.D
Apt. 202 - 1655 Martin Drive
Surrey, BC, V4A 6E1, Canada