Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

2010 was a most challenging year, one that forced me to face my aging in a scary way. I was hampered by a cough and hoarseness all Spring. Then in June I suffered a stress fracture and in October a bout with diverticulitis. These maladies changed my life in significant ways, including my part time work in the city and my daily walking routine. But I learned much from the experiences – that I am not in complete control; that Angel, my friends and family provide generous loving support; and that perhaps it is time for me to slow down and dig deep. So off I am in new directions: leading a series of workshops on late life spirituality and looking forward to a Contemplative Formation program at Mariandale next year.

Many celebrations to report. In May we had a combo-gala for the 3 Payne grandchildren's birthdays, Chase's confirmation and Sierra's First Communion, plus Angel's 70th. And how fantastic when Lisa surprised us with a visit in time for the party! Marina started taking a class at the community college, while continuing her job at the library. Chase is pursuing film classes, along with tae kwan do. Sierra was a helpful companion when I was convalescing from my fracture. My son Angel got a new job in Pennsylvania, and grandson Sam took classes in the gifted program at Montclair State University. Now they will have to move. The California grandkids – Aidan and Jackson are now at the same school, and doing great with ice hockey lessons. I missed seeing them this year.

My sister Kathy is a great pal and we get together often. After a difficult pregnancy, my niece Audra had a healthy baby boy in February; Dylan's smile lights up my heart! We love seeing him and his big brother Braden. My Pennsylvania cousins paid a visit with their cousin from England in June. Like myself, so many family and friends faced health challenges this year: my cousin Cindy, brother-in-law Jose, my friends Arleen and Sister Pat. Happily all are on the mend. But it makes you stop and ponder.

I am so grateful for my friends, who I meet with often: Pat N.; Peter and Ann; John and Bea. Connected with Sr. Jean Canora and Pat Healey from Catholic Charities days. And my “Met Club” friends pushed me around the Garden in a wheel chair when I couldn't travel. I am truly inspired by all the wonderful people that God has blessed me with.

The book in which I contributed a chapter was published – Spiritual and Psychological Aspects of Illness (Paulist Press).

2010 may have been trying at times but it was also filled with blessings. And so I look forward with great hope to 2011. May you all enjoy a Christmas season and new year of peace, health and moments of sheer delight!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Dreams

In the midst of this cold Advent season, I feel grateful. Grateful for the peace and nourishment of Mariandale Retreat Center, for the cold clear nights when the stars dazzle my soul. Grateful for family celebrations - the happy birthday dinner for Tina last week. For the creativity and splendor of the Botanical Gardens Train Show and for the gift of sharing it with friends and family: Sister Pat and Terry, Angel, Kathy, Rich, Braden and Dylan.

And I am grateful for the gift of a poem which I share with you.

December Dreams

Am I the bright red leaf clinging
to the bare branch for dear life?
Why can’t I let go like Freddy the Leaf?

Am I the cold December sun sinking
fast into the dusk?
Why can’t I shine one more time?

Am I the silent Yuletide carol?
Why can’t I be the living bird
perched high atop the Christmas tree?

My spirit longs to soar free,
to snap the thoughts that chain me to
my self.

Oh let me rise on eagle’s wings
until You hold me in the palm of Your hand.

© E.M. Ramos 12/2/2010