Notes from Jan

Precious ProXimity

July 12, 2022

Sunday after church I pulled up to Chad’s house, then headed around to the backporch. I love porches. Cozy, their dog, welcomed me. I love that dog. He wears his name well, unless you’re a squirrel.

Chad fixed brunch for me, since they’d already eaten. Meanwhile, Maggie packed for camp and the others returned to matters at hand. So I climbed upstairs to their music loft to play the piano awhile. It was the piano I grew up with. Soon, Poco came up and stood beside me. While I played, she sang words to songs I sing to her when she comes for sleepovers.

It felt sacred. I love her voice, but better still, her presence. Somehow hearing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands” felt reassuring, connecting generations. Precious Poco. Kindness thrives deep in her DNA. Mind you, she’s tough, but not mean. Strong.

As I age in place, I’m grateful for the gift of proXimity. I cherish the closeness, nearby relationships with family, friends and neighbors. And then, my usual stores, doctors, church and the seasons. The familiar helps balance the fragility and unpredictability of life in a country and world divided and wary.

After making music together, we made-up words to a familiar tune. We sang of making rootbeer floats and watching movies together. Doesn’t sound very holy, but they were sacred times and are. After awhile, I headed towards the stairs. Time to go home. When I reached the railing, Poco took my other hand. I said, “I like that, Poco. I used to hold your hand to be sure you were safe. Now, you’re holding mine. Thank you.”

ProXimity. Choosing to say close. The X factor.

To be sure, we need more hand holding and less hand wringing. But fears abound.

So often at night, I recite, “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

God’s hands uphold us. And it’s more than lyrics when we sing, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” No matter how it looks or feels.

But sometimes, we need skin on skin. And Sunday God showed up through a Grand who took my old hand in hers and said without words, “We can do this.”

Precious proXimity.

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  • Reply Radina Welton July 12, 2022 at 9:59 pm

    How very sweet! Such very precious times! I look forward to “closeness” when we move to Oregon.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:18 am

      And you will have that with that precious Petrocelli family close by. As hard as moves are, you are choosing well, dear Radina. May God show up in ways you cannot imagine and add strength and joy to your days. Keep in touch.

  • Reply Jackie Larsen July 12, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    Love this!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:19 am

      Thank you, Jackie. I just read your response to Story Stones. Welcome to the blog.

  • Reply Beth Johanson July 12, 2022 at 11:23 pm

    Love love love. Hi Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:20 am

      What fun to see your name popup, dear Beth. Hot and humid greetings to you from New England. Are you still in the Wheaton area?
      Thanks for reading and taking time to connect.

  • Reply Dan Russ July 13, 2022 at 1:02 am

    And a little child shall lead them. We all need more Pocos in our live. Thank God!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:25 am

      So true, dear Dan, on both counts. Jesus lauds the faith and trust of children. We tend to wish them old before their times and miss the gifts they bring with sticky fingers and tender hearts.

  • Reply dale July 13, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Thanks Jan,

    I remember holding the hands of our children and then grandchildren and how small their hands felt in mine. Now, I am sure my hands feel quite small and weak in theirs. Hi-tech never will replace hi-touch nor should it.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:32 am

      Yes, my dear friend, we need hi-touch. I lament that hi-tech, too often, muscles out times together. I recoil when I see young or old, walking side by side, while connecting to others via cellphones. Moments missed. Your cabin on Burt Lake is a place to rekindle times of connecting with each other and nature. Healing and happy times to you, Marty and all who come to your sacred spot. I remember it well.

  • Reply Mark D Taylor July 13, 2022 at 9:26 am

    Grandchildren are indeed a gift from God. This week Carol and I are vacationing with all five of our kids and 14 of our 17 grandchildren in the Outer Banks of NC. Sweet times.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:37 am

      Well, dear Mark and Carol, that’s SWEET on steroids. So happy for you and all who gather. For me, there’s no place like being near water to feed mind, body and spirit. And nothing like Grands to multiply JOY and sandy tubs and floors. Enjoy!

  • Reply Joanne Davidson July 13, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Just the other day I asked a 91-year-old friend, ” How do I grow older gracefully?”. She told me you just do, but I now know that I will grow old gracefully with God at my side.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:49 am

      Dear Joanne, yes, God is with you and me as we grow older. But I have also found two other means to steady me as I go. One is to FEED GRATITUDE. A Thankful heart gives perspective and keeps us from looking over our shoulders, longing for what was or what might have been. The other is to ENJOY TODAY for the gift it is. Then, at day’s end recount the blessings, the surprises that came tucked into what seemed, at first, like just an ordinary day. Thanks so much for reading the blog and taking time to respond. You encouraged me.

  • Reply Wendy July 13, 2022 at 11:47 am

    It is just the BEST when our grandchildren (and children!) want to be with us! FaceTime and Zoom are great options, but the very best option is being together – “hand in hand”, singing, eating, laughing, just being together. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall to hear you playing and Poco singing – priceless. <3

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 11:56 am

      Well, we won’t win a Grammy award but we topped the charts with each other. Your grands are blessed to have you and Steve’s hands to hold. Nothing quite like it. Happy Summertime memory making, hand in hand.

  • Reply Jeanne Smith July 13, 2022 at 1:34 pm

    Dear Jan – You describe our stage of life so perfectly and what our greatest blessings and comforts are. You write so well and thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 13, 2022 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you, dear Jeanne. One of the gifts of this stage in life is time to reflect. Going slower has its advantages.

  • Reply Patty Wick July 14, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    So very beautiful !! Thank you for sharing your special time with family!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 14, 2022 at 9:26 pm

      You’re welcome, dear Patty. For many of us, the isolation during the pandemic birthed fresh regard for gatherings small or large with family, friends and colleagues. One day during lockdown, I was so desperate I almost hugged the UPS man! I think he requested a new route.I’ve not seen him since.

  • Reply Vickie Bardsley July 15, 2022 at 8:25 am

    I love this beautifully simple glimpse into your Sunday afternoon, precious for sure!
    Is there anyway I can contact you privately to share a story? Thanks!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 15, 2022 at 10:30 am

      Thank you, Vickie, for your words, as well. It was a “simple glimpse” but easily missed since I often want extraordinary and miss the beauty tucked into ordinary. As for your request, I’ll respond to you in another way so we can connect.

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