Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sorrow and Joy - a real tossed salad

These are pictures of Vinnie and me at the beach. We tried to go to the beach every June for our anniversary.

I love springtime. It's my favorite season! I love some snow - as long as it's just a little snow and it doesn't interfere with life, work, etc, I like it. I like summer because there's swimming, and long sunny days, and since the invention of A.C. heat is nothing to really complain about. I love fall because, let's face it, the leaves are absolutely gorgeous and the cool days are a relief - the AC can be turned off and it's a break on the old wallet! But spring is the sign of new life. I love the color of spring leaves - they are lime green - a fresh, clean, new green. That is the only time you see leaves that color. I love the regathering of birds that are happy to be home again, chirping and singing their wonderful tunes of love as they mate and give birth to a whole family of new baby birds. I love seeing butterflies start to appear and of course, my favorite of all - the hummingbird appears again.

Spring is also a time when I get in the mood to eat fresh veggies again and salads. Salads are interesting - think about it - a salad is a dish that allows us to combine all kinds of vegetables and or fruits, cheeses, meats, mayo and or other dressings, nuts too if you like and toss it all up. I love that...the toss it all up and create a lovely, delicious, eye pleasing dish called a salad.

Life is a bit of a salad too, isn't it? We can have all kinds of experiences, good ones, bad ones, sad ones. We could say that a full life is to have experienced a well mixed salad of all kinds of things. I think it is our selfish nature, and perhaps the influence of our American culture that makes us want all the ingredients to be ala carte in life - we can pick and choose and if we don't like one, we can toss it out instead of toss it in. We want to be wealthy so we can pay to have the bad removed and not deal with pain, sickness, and sorrow. But some sorrow just surpasses the ability to live blissfully. Death of a loved one comes to everyone eventually.

Now salads are meant to be enjoyable, refreshing, delicious. I also grew up forced to eat everything on my plate. It made me fatter, yes, but it also made me more apt to like a lot of foods I might otherwise assume I don't like. Life is a salad. It's a mix of all kinds of things and if you know the Lord, and He has helped build your faith, as tough things come your way, you will learn that things like sorrow CAN be mixed with joy. I think there is a sense of guilt that is either built into us at birth or somehow built into us in our culture, that if we are full of sorrow, or even if we think we should be and that we are being loyal to someone (like the dead person) so we want to stay there - sad. There seems to be this idea that if we are supposed to be sad, that there is not supposed to be joy too. Well, if life is a salad, why not?

It's the bitter and hard that draw us close to God so we can't complain when we experience it because God uses it to draw us closer to Him, to show us the junk in our own heart that still needs to be gotten rid of, and He shows us that if we lay ourselves down in his hands, no, life may not look like it would if we were the captain, but it would be an awesome life, a life where we learn how God can use ordinary people for Him, instead of living life for me. It's a more fulfilling life anyway...believe me! So if we can understand or grasp that to any extent, we must also be thankful for it, right?

When I was still taking care of Vinnie, I remember one day walking by this beautiful basket I created for my daughter's bridal shower. It had pink flowers all over it and a pink organza bowed on top of the handle. I remember thinking for a brief moment that I would make my bedroom and bathroom full of flowers when Vinnie was gone. I felt TERRIBLE for thinking such a thing! Shame on me! I felt terribly guilty for this thought and mentioned it to a friend of mine, a lady who had lost her husband to cancer too. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Don't you feel guilty about that!" She said, "That is the Lord showing you that there is and will be joy for you even after Vinnie's gone. Don't feel guilty, look for more of those things so your heart is prepared to find joy. There will be plenty of sorrow. Look also for joy."

I am here to tell you that there is joy and sorrow mixed. I am sad that Vinnie is not with me to talk to in the evening, but I love the new bedroom set I have and Vinnie would never have loved that lavender stuff! I'd trade that lavender stuff in a heart beat! But I can't, so I will just enjoy it. There are many things I'd rather have the way it used to be, but they will never be that way again. I can cry about that, and I do, plenty, but it's not going to change what is. So...I must find joy, little things that make me smile, laugh, or just fun (without being sinful or gobbling up my finances) and do so even in the midst of still deep sorrow. And the greatest of these joys in finding that God still loves me, still talks to me, still has a plan for my life. THAT is real joy too. Joy and sorrow would not be my choice in life. I was happy the way it was. But since sorrow is in the mix, and here to stay for a long, long time, I might as well as find a way to endure it - like in a salad that has a lot of other things in it too - like JOY!

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