A Season of Grieving

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Today it happened. The [last] issue of Alive Now arrived. I read the Managing Editor’s introduction inside the front cover and the “Last Page” — fittingly a poem by frequent-contributor Jan Richardson — as I always do. Then I set it aside. I will savor it in its own time, during March and April. Recently I received a refund check from Upper Room Ministries [PO Box 340004, Nashville TN 37203] for the balance of my subscription. I send the check back with a note that I would MUCH PREFER having Alive Now than any refund. I asked them to look for a way to restore Alive Now as a living devotional guide. I have walked with this publication for more than two decades. The cover has a Celtic look. Beautiful. Thank you, Beth and other editors, writers, supporters.
-Deborah, Shared on Facebook

It was a year ago in January when we learned that the Weavings journal would be brought to a close. The subscriptions had dwindled down to just a few and income from subscriptions didn’t begin to cover the costs of production. In June, we made the same determination for Alive Now. The last Weavings — November/December/January — arrived in people’s homes in October. The last Alive Now — March/April — is in the mail right now.

Since the first of this year, I’ve slogged through days like I was trying to walk through an ocean. I was weighed down by my grief and the grief of readers, world-wide.

I have nearly completed all the tasks of “stopping.” I realize, now, that it has been like journeying with two best friends in the process of their dying. Alive Now and Weavings, in hospice care, are nearing the ends of their journeys.

I am so grateful that I had these two friends for so long. And I’m so sad to see them go. But I’m weary from the process of watching them end, from responding to the grief of myself and others. From taking care of the last collection of articles, the last editing, the last contracts and check requests, the last printing, the last delivery of the copy to the office. I am nearly finished with the last of everything … and I’ll be able to turn over the future of these fine publications to the movement of the Spirit and the creativity of The Upper Room staff.

I’m so grateful to all of you for walking with me, for your incredible loyalty through the years, for your writing and your photography. For your purchasing and your gifting. For your support and enthusiasm. And for your feelings of loss, your solidarity, during this season of grieving.

We will be conducting a ritual of honoring and releasing Weavings on February 21 at 2:00 p.m. (CST). I hope you will think of us during that time. Also, we have back issues of Weavings available for sale for a short time. (And we have a place for you take a survey and share your stories of Alive Now.)

Thank you all for your support. We at The Upper Room welcome your prayers as we discern our next steps. And I’ll be moving on to a new role at the office. And, like Julian of Norwich reminded us, “All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well.”

Thanks be to God for these two friends, Weavings and Alive Now.

The Long View

When I feel despair about
The way things are
Or hopeless about
What is to come.

When I feel lost,
No longer sure of the paths
I am to follow.

When I have worn myself out
In anger or in worry.

I catch a glimpse
Of the blip of time
In which I live.

A fungus on a stump.
A stream of water carving a path through a boulder.
Prophets preaching in the wilderness
Or bearing witness on the street corner.

Let me not give up.
But, instead, hold on to
The long view.

Believing that the arc of history
Moves towards love,
Towards justice,
Towards life.

Show me my part
In this long journey.

A Message from the Trees

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I walk outside
And look up at the tree
In my front yard.

Its branches, bare.
Leaves, long shed,
Were raked and carried
To the backyard months ago.

But I see buds growing in the branches,
Promising life that will return
In its season.

What message for me, for us,
In these months of fear and challenge?

That though we have lost
Hopes and dreams …
That though our plans,
Swept up,
Now lie in the bottom of dust bins …

We are alive, growing,
Dormant, but still grounded in earthy hope.

Step outside and look toward the sky.
Life and hope and promise
Are growing in hidden places,
Preparing to break forth
In beauty and strength.

A Prayer for a New Year

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For a new year,
A new day,
A new moment
We give thanks.

We yearn for
Happiness and prosperity,
Joy and love,
All the while knowing
That each day brings
What it brings.
Knowing that on some days
We will face
Sadness and injustice,
Grief and despair.

In all, let us be open
To grace and courage,
To trust and longing,
To hope and determination,
As we walk beside you,
Your hands and feet and heart
Of justice, love, and peace
In the world.

May we recognize
Your presence in
Each moment,
Each day,
This year.

Old-Fashioned Calendars

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Maybe it’s because I love beautiful photographs, but I’ve always had one of those calendars that hangs on my wall. When the new month arrives, I turn the page to see what picture will accompany my journey for the next thirty days.

When Jack came to live with us, I started making calendars of Jack photos and/or cartoons. I made one for myself and gave them as gifts and such. (I now have six-year’s-worth of old Jack calendars that I can’t seem to throw away.)

This year, I pulled together some of my favorite pictures from my Scotland trip and made a calendar featuring Scotland. I think I’ll have a Jack calendar here at home and a Scotland calendar at the office.

Anyway, I realized that others might have the same old-fashioned craving — for a calendar that travels with you through the year. If you do, I have a few you might like to consider. Just take a look at them at Redbubble. (If you are a photographer or an artist, you might want to check out Redbubble. You can upload your works and have them printed on everything from cards to calendars, to phone cases, clocks, and mugs.)

And if anyone wants an old Jack calendar, just let me know. 🙂

Christmas Eve Memories

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Christmas Eve,
Holy night.
Memories creep into
My mind.

Smells of evergreen
And candles, lit.
The worn, waxed chancel
In a church sanctuary.

Organ, piano, flute, guitar …
Play into the quiet night.
Dad’s voice, leading
“O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

The smooth candle in my little hand
Hoping, waiting, for the flame
From the Christ Candle.
(Will I get to hold it this year?)
The darkened sanctuary,
Each lit candle
Adding to the brightness.

“Silent Night”
Sung by young and old,
Friend and stranger,
Joined together around the world
By hope that light will
Shine in the places of conflict,
Loneliness, despair.

Come, Holy Child.
Bring joy, love, hope, comfort, peace.
We await your birth.