My Greatest Gift

On this December 20th, I must say that despite its ups and downs, or more accurately, downs and ups, 2017 has been a good year for me. But as you read the following, remember I said downs and ups. And also remember it was a good year.

I spent January through March eating vegan food, carried over from October, 2016. It was my second try at veganism, and I don’t know whether I failed, or it’s just not for me. I also don’t know if it matters.

Little did I know the Ides of March, March 15th, would be such a “lucky” day for me! Looking back that day will always stand out in my memory. That’s when
The Blind Poet, Freddy G.
joined Behind our Eyes, a group for writers with disabilities. I will never forget what I thought: “Freddy G. He’s either a rapper or a sax player.” Well, he is neither, but he does love music. We truly connected through our writing, which is spiritual and inspirational for both of us. We value honesty, positivity, and spirituality, and that is very clear in our writing. Because of this we became friends before I even realized it. Now hold that thought, because Freddy is featured in later events this year.

Starting in February and through Lent, I wrote extra songs, with the encouragement of a pastor and 2 friends. You may know I’ve made the commitment to write one song every week. I am happy if there are extra ones, beyond the one I’ve promised, but usually they are just that – extras. They don’t fulfill the weekly requirement. Well, this year was different. Stay tuned!

April was National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), and just like last year, I wrote a poem a day, or 36-in-30, because there were some Limerick collections. Also in April I was shaken by the first of 2 car accidents. I was bruised, and the chest pain lasted several weeks. Fortunately, no one in the vehicle was seriously injured. However, I’ve had trouble riding in certain vehicles, and with certain drivers ever since. After the accident I started sharing work with Freddy that I didn’t share with others. It was a gradual opening up that just felt natural.

April was a busy month, as my ordination license renews annually, and I am always proud of that. In addition, I had the opportunity to sing for residents of a local nursing home. I was worried the residents wouldn’t be able to relate to my original songs. But I worried for nothing. I don’t know who enjoyed the afternoon more – me or the residents. One man said, “I could have listened to you all day.” And a woman who heard me sing before requested some songs. They weren’t on my list, but I had to do them. It’s not every day you get requests for your own work; so that was an honor to me.

In May Freddy and I started talking on the phone. Again it was one of those things whose impact you don’t know until later. And it had quite an impact!

Several things happened in June; let’s take the less fortunate ones first. Turning to reach for something, I tripped over a toy truck, knocked into a small table, fell, and sprained my right pinkie. This is the same finger I fractured as a child; so I am blessed it didn’t break this time. I spent 4 weeks in a splint, playing only ukulele because it was easier on that hand. And every day Freddy emailed or called, asking, “How’s your finger? Did you have your coffee? Did you meditate today?” And still I didn’t realize what was happening. For lack of a better phrase, how blind could I be?

A second car accident shook me in June. No one was hurt, though we missed a telephone pole by about 2 feet! Why couldn’t they keep that detail to themselves? It didn’t help my nerves or blood pressure one bit. However, it certainly gave me something to be thankful for. As I said after the first one, “That could have been so much worse!” Not 3 minutes after I got out of the car, Freddy called and asked, “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” Our spiritual connection is the only explanation of how he knows these things, before I even speak.

The week after this accident, I ended a difficult friendship. And later that week, I received the most precious gift of a personal love poem from Freddy. We have been a happy couple since then.

July and August were quiet months. But at the end of August was the injury that inspired the song,
“Give Back to You.”

Freddy also wrote a story about how strong I was during the weeks when I wrote 3 songs instead of 6. Though I did not feel strong, his support and encouragement touched me deeply. Those extra songs from earlier in the year came in handy when I could not play, and didn’t know if I would ever play music again. I do play now, thank the Lord! But my hands need more caution than before.

In September hurricane Irma reared her ugly head, giving Freddy and me a literal storm to weather. And weather we did, with God’s protection and peace. It inspired the song,
“Centered in the Storm.”

That 7 weeks of muscular injury really put a damper on my plans. I had scheduled a trip to Miami for October, but was in too much pain to make travel either practical or fun. So with great regret I canceled the trip. That was another storm we had to face. But I turned 33 and celebrated my first enjoyable birthday in a long time. I got my cheesecake and one wonderful present, a story from Freddy. And near the end of October, songwriting resumed as usual. I remain truly grateful for that!

In November, the season of Thanksgiving, I made that trip to Miami. It was fun, beautiful, sweet, and lasting. It was great to spend time with Freddy and trade the Pennsylvania cold for sunny and 85 degrees, even if only for a weekend.

Now as I write this, it is Advent. In these weeks leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth, I truly have a lot to be thankful for. In the words of one of my favorite Bible verses:

And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.
–1 Cor. 13:13 (NASB)

May you be surrounded by love this season, from those around you and above all from the Spirit of Christ within you! Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2018!

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