What Would be Spoken © Rolly A. Chabot
We are chilly here this morning and the chill has reminded me of the passing seasons and what we can soon expect. This winter nature has given us all a bit of a break. Winter arrived last year the first week of October and stayed with us well into the end of March. This followed by two months of very cool days.
I recently returned from several days at the cabin along the glacier fed Clearwater River. You guessed again I was fly fishing, getting in touch with nature and all she has to offer. Toss in some time to reflect of what the last year has brought and it has been a hard year with the loss of a few near and dear, yet there has been many blessings.
I have been around for 67 of these changes of watching winter come and go. Like the seasons, there has been death but also new life. Sit back and spend a little time as we ponder something we often care to not think of and yet we will all face the day. Death is final for us in some ways and yet with faith we have assurance of something far greater... as you read this please know I do not judge. Instead know that I love each of you in a very special way. Gather in close, the Fireside is a place of warmth and love. Stay as long as you like and again the door is wide open for you to leave your comments... please do say hello.
As a Pastor and Chaplin I have been called upon to direct services for loved ones or speak at funerals of the lives of those whom I have known. It is interesting the human mind can conceive such thoughts as I was standing in my waders with water rushing past fly fishing, yet it is the place I can think with clarity. Each cast of the fly line brings on the hope of a rising trout who would take my offering, only to be admired then released to be caught by another or perhaps myself.
I began to think of the many just in this past 10 years who I have come to know and love, who have passed before me. Some passed quietly with great peace, some struggled for their final breath and yet others passed a violent death. Each faced the same ending, the same ending we will all face. Life as we know it si so very fragile. I have no idea where some who will read these words are in their faith, nor will I judge where you should be. That choice is your own, all I can do is love you right where you are. For me it is the assurance of knowing my faith offers me a far better place and I am so thankful for it.
No matter where you are, take a moment and close your eyes and imagine you are sitting at your own funeral, listening as each person shares a little of the impact you have had on their lives. The question comes to mind, what would they say? It is common place to speak well of those we know but what if people could speak their minds openly and freely... now there is something to think about.
Where, What and When
I have no idea what you are thinking right now but for me I would like to think what was spoken would all be good? In truth though I would have to include those who may not have all that much good to say in regards to some of the wrongs you and I have made towards them. The old saying you reap what you sow comes to mind. This is one of the many reasons over the years I have made many attempts to make amends for the wrongs I have committed. Hopefully I have done enough they would speak kindly of me. I truly think it would be a colourful display of speeches, some long and some very short.
I smile at what some would say and shudder at what others may say even though I have asked forgiveness. Either way I can say that I have tried. Death is to be a celebration of our lives, a place where we leave a legacy. Even though a loved one has passed away, their spirit lives on through us. This being what they have taught us, the memories we are left with, hopefully it is something which brings a smile to our face.
Many who have left me with something, a recollection of their love and compassion, a favourite saying, hopefully an action which I carry forward to the next generation. If we leave the world behind in anger and bitterness, then I think it is what we leave for others to remember us with. Several years ago I had the honour of being involved in a service for an elderly lady who had three children. All three carried anger and bitterness towards their mother. She was the first to admit to her volatile parenting, yet found peace later in life. I still can not believe they never even came to their mothers funeral. The only family member was a grandson, the poor young man was the only person representing the family. The other 300 plus were people who had come to know her as Grandma or Mother Marie. I spoke with the grandson after the funeral, he was the only person who saw the change in his grandmother and accepted and forgave her.
I was able to spend a great deal of time with Marie prior to her death and she shared many things with me of her life. She had been an angry lady who had alienated most of her family and they failed to see the change in her the last few years. They carried their anger and disrespect past her death and sadly well into their own lives. What a shame they refused to forgive her in later life.
I have learned to be thoughtful of my words, my actions and the way I look at others. At one time it was all in a negative sense as it was what I learned in my younger years. Somewhat of a family heritage I suppose but mostly fuelled by own actions.
Can we change, can others change us. They can but we have to be ready to change as well. Often I would be told of my ways and how it hurt others. My response was simple, I would just blame it on my upbringing, blame it on anything or anyone as long as it was not me. How selfish my way of thinking became as it fuelled who I was becoming. Another drink, another hit, another score would take the pain away. Once the crutch was gone and the withdrawals had subsided I was able to witness first hand the trail of destruction I left behind.
It was then I had to stop and take stock, an inventory of casualties. All the negatives pointed right back at myself. It was no easy task as I think back to accept my wrongs. I can tell you it is painful to realize what I hated about others and their ways was exactly what I saw and hated about myself. Do you get the picture of the way we have become. I give titles to things and I would have to call it "Stinking Thinking." It stinks because your mind adapts to it and it is that same thinking that poisons our minds and the lives of many around us.
The same anger creates the elements of the negative thinking and all you attract is negative relationships. One feeds the other and before you realize it you are on a spiral heading in one direction we can only call a downer, a clear one way street to unhappiness.
Clean and New
Nature has a clarity about her which is real. During the hard years it became my source and place of peace. Today is not much different, it still remains my place of cleansing and deep thought. It is near impossible to look upon a chickadee sitting in your finger and be angry at the world. To hear its little chatter as it twists it head from one side to the other attempting to understand what you are saying while you do the same.
Are we much different than the chickadee when we want others to hear us. Do we really listen to others as they attempt to tell us what is on their hearts. My intuition tells me no, the world we live in has become so busy we pass off the notion we should simply pick up the phone or stop and say hello, yet are we truly so busy we can not stop long enough to be compassionate. Why did the little chickadee stop and rest upon my hand, why do we have the people we do in our lives or why are we in theirs. I would like to think because he had something to teach me about love and trust.
I have heard it said many times over the years, "I wish I would have taken the time to say hello or I love you just once more. We say it after a loved one passes away far to often. Grandma Marie would ask over and over "Why do they not see me as I am today Rolly? I have changed, why do I have to do these last days of my life without them?" It is a hard question to answer, yet Marie took peace in knowing those who were around her loved and understood her. It brought a smile to her face and some comfort to her soul understanding she had made a difference in our lives. Even though I reached out to the family, there was nothing I could do to change them as they had decided to stay right where they were, angry, even though I told them the old Marie was gone and the new was their true mother.
They Come and Go
Many storms have come and gone in nature. Some leave refreshing rain and supplement the growth of everything. There are also the storms which devastate all in their path. Fire is a great example of what we see happening in people today. It comes along much like anger, we speak things and do things without thinking of the aftermath. Our tongues are like the flames that sweep over the floor of the forest and destroy everything in it path.
I have walked through many a burned out forest and I am always amazed at what I see. The fire has swept everything clean yet there is hope in the new growth beginning over again. The hope is tender, it is pure and it is nourished on the past destruction. The old devastation is feeding new life, the new life is living on the decay of the past.
Would I be fair in saying we could be the same. Can we rebuild new from the old ways, can we restore relationships. If the seed can struggle to survive and grow in a once harsh environment then I would like to think we can as well. It has to start somewhere my friends, it can start with you and I. Take the time today to reflect on your past, if possible make amends, lets start the new in ourselves.
Nature is such a teacher of life for me. To stand and look at the small fragile little Chickadee perched on my hand, I have two choices, one to love it and relish in the moment or the other is to crush it in anger. Which is the way you want to be remembered... hugs and much love to all...
© Rolly A. Chabot