Notes from Jan

Still Possibilities

December 31, 2016

Sitting by a warming fire, reflecting on a year almost drained of all but hours.

The family’s skiing, while I enjoy the quiet of the B&B where we’ve cozied ourselves in the Berkshires. .

Let it snow.

And it has.

Jud would’ve been off skiing with them.

Sometimes makes me wonder why I’m here and he’s not.

Jud was always more fit than I.

Better at so much.

Here I sit, head resting on the wing of the chair, substitute shoulder, staring off into space, wondering.

Wondering why this second year without Jud felt so much tougher?

Wondering what’s ahead for our world, our country, our family, me?

Meanwhile, I hear Maggie’s reminder to Popo, “Don’t worry, Momo will be with you soon.”

Does she have “a word from the Lord,” as some might say to underscore their point?

I wonder how to keep reality and hope balanced, like Jud did so well, right ’til the end?

Dare I hope, while doing the duty nearest at hand, to hear angels sing, to hear Fear Not, wrapped in the Good News, that  I, like you, have a Savior, Christ the Lord?

Is it still possible to go to Bethlehem, to meet Jesus, and like the shepherds, return home, different?

As this year slips into another, I wonder what’s still possible?

Holy puzzlings.

Still life.









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  • Reply Randall K Mathews December 31, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Dear Jan:

    I hope and pray that Maggie is wrong about her Momo leaving this world anytime soon!! We need your radiant smile, your sense of humor, your weekly blogs, your love for family and friends. Shall I go on? Alice and I are so grateful that God brought you into our lives.
    Do enjoy a spectacular skiing vacation in the Berkshires. It brings back fond memories of our skiing vacations in Switzerland and Austria. Alice spent a lot of time reading books and drinking great coffee while our kids enjoyed the slopes.
    See you in church!

  • Reply David Smith December 31, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I preached on Psalm 121 a few yreas ago, when we lived in the mountains of Arizona. I used the KJV to drive home the intentional, purposeful, and, I suspect, therapeutically-necessary action: I WILL lift up my eyes… I see King David having a self-help session with the Spirit, “David: get your eyes off yourself. You’re down inna rut and contemplating your navel isn’t gonna do it. Look up. Look out and away from yourself. Eyes off thee and up to Me and My mountains!” And the rest of the Psalm is David’s getting back to basics: God is with me, watching, protecting, and planning just where He is going to (surprisingly) use (even) me next.

    Love and peace, David.

  • Reply Alice December 31, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    As I came to the end of your post, I sat back muttering Holy, yes, Holy, yes, Holy. Too deep for easy comments. Too personal to ignore. Too true, touching me deeply. Thanks, Jan.

  • Reply Nancy Mering December 31, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    What Alice said . . . We can’t help but feel (some of) your ongoing pain, Jan. I’m so sorry with and for you about that.

    Still, may the new year bring surprising moments of true joy to you . . .


  • Reply Dale Lefever December 31, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    You are here for people like me, so don’t leave before I do!

    Love, Dale

  • Reply Liz Freemantle December 31, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Dear Jan I had wanted to send you a card but ended up timing out with my shoulder surgery. I’m sidelined for other reasons than you from outdoor activity but also in a contemplative mode. In fact I’ve spent this whole year recovering from one health issue or another. I think a lot of people are in wondering and watching mode at this time due to many factors. When combined with grieving I’m sure that it packs a wallop, dear soul. My wish and prayer for you and for all is to learn something new and beautiful and unexpected as you patiently and courageously make your pilgrim’s journey. I love you! – Liz

  • Reply wendy lane January 1, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    I think so often the best teachers are students who had to work to learn what they are teaching. Like you. So often you encourage us to hope, in practical, tangible ways.

    And I believe yes, yes, YES it’s possible to still meet Jesus! And when you do, impossible not to return home different!

    Have you read the book “Hope Heals” by Katherine and Jay Wolf? A friend just gave it to me, and I’m reading it now. Wow. Check out the website

    Love you!

  • Reply wendy lane January 1, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    And – what Alice said too!!!!! <3

  • Reply Valerie McCoy January 1, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Oh my, here comes my Greek self.
    Unless I am misunderstanding David Smith’s post (and forgive me if I am),
    I am inclined to nudge my elbow into his “therapeutically necessary” side.

    The grief that is felt in the 2nd year of loss is deeper, hits harder, plays out in the forefront of our dreams, and is a challenge to keep “reality and hope balanced.”
    You see, the first 12 months are deep in securing death certificates for every blessed insurance agent or store merchant, keeping the family whole and confident in the ‘all will be well’ moments, and embracing extended friends and loveables with “whatever is pure, whatever is trustworthy, whatever is of good report…think on these things.”
    The 2nd year of grief hits like a tsunami because it comes down to m.e., not paperwork. It’s personal, it’s anguish, it’s longing and longing and longing. And yet it is also the excruciating task of taking my beloved’s hand from mine and placing it into the everlasting Fathers……knowing that I must now wait till we are reunited.
    This 2nd year needs every embrace, every note, every conversation over a cup of tea, every kleenex extended without judgment.
    These tender journeys I learned while working with Hospice and having the distinct honor of watching lovely people go from this life to the next.
    Having already spoken too much, I end with my own exhortation to beloved Jan…..
    I’ve got the kleenex, I’ve got the cup of tea, I’ve got the embrace; don’t hesitate to borrow any and all.

  • Reply Rita Dove January 2, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Dear Jan,

    I have so many days where I am wondering like you—so many things. In this 2nd year, the reality of being separated from James is being fleshed out—and it often takes my breath away. So much so that in a million years I could not express my ponderings as you do so poignantly and clearly. Aha! That’s it! What Jan said. I can’t count the number of times, for instance, I’ve wondered why I am still here instead of James. He was gifted in so many ways. Yet, here we are— pondering, striving, crying, praying, loving, and doing this earth-side living until…

    Yeah, what Alice and Valerie said.

    Much love

  • Reply Sharon Eaton January 5, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Dearest Jan,
    I am just reading this post thismorning due to another move on December 23rd (just up the street ). As always, I am so touched by your situation & your pondering about it all…Life after…!
    I also applaud so many of the comments, to this post & wish I could wrap my arms around you & make it all better…but you seem to be able to look to God’s caring for you very well even in the midst of deep sorrow!!
    I so appreciate your thoughts & ponderings each time I read them…I do hope you will explore publishing them all for those of us who have yet to walk this path, dear Jan!!
    May God bless you in this new year!
    Hugs & much love,

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