I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday

Snagged from the Internet
Today is a big day in the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday, the beginning of what is known as Holy Week. It marks the day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and, as we all know, it ends next Sunday when Christians mark the day of Easter. I am just one of many who would carry palm fronds to church to mark the day and listen to the sermon admonishing us to be better Christians. I still feel quite nostalgic when I think of all those years I attended church and tried to be a good congregant. Today if I go to any church at all, it's a nondenominational one that doesn't follow the liturgical calendar.

Next Sunday, Easter is a day for kids to color eggs and hide them. I wonder how in the world it became a day filled with chocolate bunnies and hard-boiled eggs. Few even mark Palm Sunday, unless you're going to a Christian church that does such things. But maybe it's only because I no longer put myself into situations where attending church is something one does. It reminds me that just because you don't see a particular event, it doesn't mean it's not happening somewhere. I'll bet there are millions of palm fronds being waved in millions of churches around the world, and I am just simply no longer tuned in to it.

When I lived in Boulder, although even then I wasn't a churchgoer any more, during this week I would take five days out of my busy life to meditate and retreat from the world in a nearby convent with the sisters of St. Walburga. I wrote about the experience on this blog back in 2010, and if you're interested, here's the link.

It's been four years since I wrote that. I just reread it and realize that half a decade is not a trivial amount of time. The person who wrote that piece is still me; I'm just older now and deeper into my years of retirement. This time that I take on Sunday mornings, just me and my laptop (not to mention the entire world of the Internet if I choose) has been going on for hundreds of Sundays. I don't think I've missed any, and I just checked: I've written 283 posts on this blog, which I began in December 2009. Wondering what I said back then, I just reread my first post and realize that some of the comments were left by people who have been following me since I first discovered the world of blogging. My friend Connie who lives in Minnesota is there (Far Side of Fifty), having come over from my other blog.

Have I said everything I wanted to say? It doesn't seem so. I've made new friends and look forward to hearing what he or she will say in the comment section. I am not one of those who responds to every comment, but I do check out the blog of any new person and will begin to follow those who interest me. My world has become much more centered around the blogosphere, and it's hard for me to imagine how I would have fulfilled my need to write if I hadn't started down this path. Expressing myself, writing down my thoughts and feelings, is just part of who I am. Although I do get the occasional urge to create something more permanent, for some reason I am not drawn to becoming a published author. I guess it's because of all those books that were created for my boss during my working years; I learned that when something comes out in print, there is no going back. If I choose to change something on any of my previous posts, it's a quick little update and there you go, nothing is unchangeable. I really like that, having published books that required an errata sheet. As hard as I would work to make sure there were no errors, there were always some, and a few were egregious enough to require a written retraction. If I don't like something I wrote earlier, I can delete it or change it. What's not to like about that?

I'm taking a class next weekend, both Saturday and Sunday. Remember when I wrote about wanting to find out more about becoming involved in what it takes to become a Death Doula? Well, next weekend is a training class for wannabes. Some of what I'll learn about is (from the class description) "body preparation, vigil presencing, active listening, holding sacred space, how to integrate multiple traditions into a cohesive respectful offering, working with many options for burial presentations, and many hands on skills." That's a lot to take in during two eight-hour-long days. I'll probably write a bit about what I learned on Saturday when I'm sitting here next Sunday, which also happens to be Easter. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Years ago in Boulder I took a two-day training class to work as a Hospice volunteer. That training was intense but very valuable. It's been almost three decades since then. I spent the next two years spending time with the dying person while the primary caregiver took a break. After those two years, however, I couldn't do it any more. But I will always be grateful for the families and patients who shared their lives and their death process with me. Now I'm ready (I think) to take it up again, in a different way than I did before. This class will give me the opportunity to find out whether this is what I want to do or not. I'll also meet some new people who might become friends, who knows? In any event, it will be educational. I'm looking forward to it.

And here it is, another post written, my tea gone, my partner still sleeping beside me. One big difference is that it's no longer dark outside, but the sun is up and a light rain is falling. I'll be going to the movies with my friend Judy later on, but I'm feeling more centered now than when I first woke up, not knowing what would emerge from my mind today. I'm always a little uncertain: does the brain still work? Is there anything new to write about? And now it's time to start my day, everything having worked just like always. Oh, and make sure you take the time to share a smile with a friend today. The world will be a better place if you do. Until next Sunday, I wish you all good things.


Linda Reeder said...

I had forgotten it is Palm Sunday. I no longer am a church goer either. But remembering that it is Palm Sunday also reminded me that it is our wedding anniversary! 46 years. I forgot because today we are traveling south to a big family reunion at my sister's home in Winlock. That takes precedent over the anniversary.
I admire your desire to care for the dying. That is not something I could easily do.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Ha! Just like a bad penny I turn up:) Well a photography class was my guess. I think you will make a wonderful Death Doula, it won't be easy but few things in life are.
I think I read someplace where eggs are a sign of rebirth and that is why they are so prominent at Easter.
I was raised LCMS...Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. One of the strictest Lutheran Churches out there...they have many doctrines that they follow.
I know I am saved by grace and not works...that is the important part:)

Anonymous said...

Well good luck and best wishes to you, as you embark on something new. You will make a great volunteer.

The Broad said...

Wow, DJan, what a wonderful thing for you to do! I think you will be a wonderful help to people facing the end of life.

I went to church today, very early, and received a Palm Cross, which is the way people receive their palms in the UK. No waving of fronds here! I find for me, Holy Week is an important time for reflection and introspection each year. In the UK it is much more difficult to not know that Easter is coming. Easter weekend is a big holiday period -- Good Friday is a public holiday as is Easter Monday. Whereas in the States the only thing you might see in some stores are Easter baskets. I loved it in Germany where there are wonderfully decorated Easter eggs and even Easter egg trees in peoples gardens!

Elephant's Child said...

I am fascinated by the concept of death doulas, and am really looking forward to hearing about the training.
Death is something I don't think our culture handles well. Not before, not afterwards.
Not easy work, but beyond valuable. And something you would grace.

Sally Wessely said...

Yes the children were waving their palm branches in church today. It reminded me that we had communion around my father's bedside on Palm Sunday thirteen years ago. He died the next day. He was more than ready to go. His body was worn out, but his mind was sharp, and his faith was strong.

I admire you desire to pursue a new path. This training is a valuable skill and one that takes a special person. You would be that person.

Tabor said...

So many years ago I was a church goer and greatly involved in all the efforts. Now I only go to church to see my grand children Baptized...but not feeling its importance. I loved palm sunday much better than EAster. Now off to see what a Death Doula is.

Arkansas Patti said...

Since you have all ready worked in hospice, I am sure you will be a fine death doula. I couldn't do either but admire the heck out of those who can. Let us know how the training goes.
I am like you in preferring blogging to being an actual book author. I think the thing beside the easy editing that I like is the instant gratification. You write your piece in one day and in that same day, you hear from your readers. Gotta love it. Keep em coming Djan.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Interested to see what you write about learning how to become a Death Doula!

The Furry Gnome said...

Palm Sunday here, and we got palm leaves to wave!

Red said...

A lot of good stuff was covered in this post.You always need new challenges for personal growth. Helping people in difficult times provides the opportunity to make things count.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I enjoyed this looking back and evaluation of blogging and how it relates to the ongoing process of life. As is often the case, this time we share several thoughts in common. One I especially appreciate is that in our earlier lives we were involved with organized religions … still recognize the importance of our spiritual selves … and yet no longer need that organized aspect. I think you are right on about the millions of palm fronds being waved. I would not deny that religious ceremony to anyone although today I don’t feel I need to participate. I did go back and read your post from April 24, 2011. What an interesting post. You will laugh, but the thing I come away with is … I need to go back and read all the old Eye posts before I found the blog. : - ) Now, getting back to this post … I’m impressed with your experience with Hospice. I am currently dealing with that whole issue and my spouse’s father. Hospice workers are simply amazing. I do not know how they do what they do … I could not do it … but it is so appreciated. I was also involved with that as my father and mother passed. I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences in your class this coming weekend. Wishing you a fine week ahead and thank you for sharing your blog. John

John's Island said...

Thanks for your comment and question on my blog this morning ... I left an answer for you on there. I am curious about why my posts don't show up in your reader as soon as they are published. I recall a while back they were running about one day late. If you want to give me the name of the Reader I will read them the riot act. Not that it would do any good, tho. :-) Have a great day! John

Linda Myers said...

What a great new opportunity!

Rita said...

I feel it is as much an honor to be there at the arrival of a new soul as it is to be there at the departure. I want to hear all about it. I hadn't heard that term until you brought it up a while back.

I don't remember when we crossed paths in blogland, but I'm glad we did. :):)