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By MARGIE ADAMS
At this time of the year, “the skies hang grey and heavy, the wind gnaws and bellows. Life changes drastically from the velvet days of early autumn. The things we love begin to die right before our eyes. The roses begin to shrivel on the bush, the sun draws away. ...Then the streets get quieter and the neighbors disappear inside their houses and the days darken before the light has had time to seep through the mist of morning. The earth rests,” writes Sr. Joan Chittister, author and advocate.
That imagery is powerful. As we draw closer to the longest night of the year, life changes for us. I can get swept up in the gladness of the season or experience a “nesting” of sorts. I know I am not the only one who is away from family during this time of the year.
And for some, this will be the first time they spend the season without someone they love. Two weeks ago, more than 40 people gathered together at the Hospice Remembrance Tree at The Plaza mall. They were there to honor and remember those who had died in our community in the past year. Dozens and dozens of names were spoken with reverence and respect, each a human being with a story.
My brother died this year. I am still able to hear the sound of his voice and see his face in my mind's eye. For this I am grateful.
Last month I came across a photograph of us standing in the garden linked in an endearing hug that put smiles on our faces. Forty years later, another happy photo shows the grey hair and wrinkles we had earned.
Each one of us has a story. We carry with us the story of a person who was loved and loved us; memories, celebrations, hardships and joy.
But now comes the silence.
Sr. Joan puts it well: “Silence is a frightening thing. Silence leaves us at the mercy of the noise within us. We hear the fears that need to be faced. … We hear the emptiness that needs to be filled.”
“Unless the Lord had been my help,
My soul would soon have settled in silence.
If I say, 'My foot slips,'
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up.” — Psalm 94: 17-18
Loss, just like the blanket of winter, is a necessary part of life. The death of a loved one changes us. It shifts our meaning and purpose in life. It makes us look at the present and the future with new eyes.
Amid the silence is a thin space between our hearts and the heart of God. It can be the time when we let go of things and find our souls once again. We can discover what really and truly matters to us; what it means to love and be loved. We can recapture the richness of relationships in the most surprising places.
Margie Adams, MA, is the staff chaplain at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.