Carrying Grief

The Altar for St. Ann  - St. Audoen's Church, Dublin, Ireland - (c) 2014 LMN
This past year, I suddenly realized that there wasn't a month that goes by that I don't remember someone in my family who has died.  Some months there are multiple anniversaries to remember. For example, my baby brother, Matt died 9 years and 364 days after my mother. This month, I observed 10 years without Momma being physically present and one year without Matt.  Needless to say, my heart is heavy.
Carrying grief is a balancing act. Some of us are able to walk the line without a wobble, others can hardly move, and still others fall into the pits of despair without knowledge of a safety net to catch them. Thing is, any of us can be at any point on this tightrope at any time.
When I began this blog post, I was betwixt and between as to whether to post it here or in my writer's blog, Words from the Heart. The purpose of both is to help bring healing, nurturing, and compassion to the world. I opted f…

Addicted to Media

Addiction can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. The latest is media addiction. What's that you might ask? 

Media addiction is when we are so attached to our cellphones, tablets, computers that we ignore human contact. We've all seen the pictures of kids in the schoolyard texting each other rather than playing. This is serious stuff. 

Media addiction is deadly - it kills our spirits, our creativity and our lives when people text and drive or text/walk. You Tube is filled with videos of people walking into holes, poles and oncoming traffic. I don't find these videos funny; I find them horrifying.

So, how do we wean ourselves off of media? As someone who can become as addicted to media as the next person, I work by mindfully tracking my use of "screen time."  

I have to use the computer for work, but I make sure I get up, walk around, talk to coworkers and breathe deeply every half hour or so. At home, I do the same thing. I get up, move around, talk to Roger, take a…

We Are All Just Stars...

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA
This past week, I had the pleasure of filling the pulpit at the Congregational Church in Sunderland.  This is the sermon I gave, which my daughters had asked me to publish.

We Are All Just Stars...  (c) 2020 Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
Nikita Gill wrote in the poem 93 Percent Stardust, “We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins,/ carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains./ 93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames, / we are all just stars that have people names.” 

When I read these words, it struck a chord. I immediately remembered that Carl Sagan said we humans were "made of star stuff," I have loved the image - the idea that something so foreign, so spectacular, so utterly mysterious as a star could be part of who we are. 

Since Sagan's commentary, scientists have proven that we are, indeed, made of star dust. The same bits of elements that have hurtled through space since the Big Bang, have …

Joyful Blues

As we enter the third week of Advent, - the week associated with Joy - we light the pink or rose colored candle. This candle is called the Shepherd's Candle.  Contemplating all this, observing advent, has been more of a chore than in the past. This season, the pain of grief has weighed heavy on my heart and soul, teaching me the true meaning of a Blue Christmas.

This year, I became that last member of my immediate family, when my brother, Barry, died. I am blessed with family still - four daughters, eleven grandchildren, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins - but, my "family" - the family of my childhood - is gone. Never could I have imagined the hole this would cut into your heart and soul.

So, how does one "celebrate" with this profound grief? To be honest, I am taking it one second, minute, hour, day at a time. I look for goodness in the world. Barry, during one of our last times together, asked us all to do good things for each other and the world. Those being som…

A Time of Waiting, A Time of Anticipation

“Maybe you have to know the darkness  before you can appreciate the light.”  ~ Madeline L’Engle ~
This is a time of great anticipation in many faith paths around the world. In the northern hemisphere, it is a time where the darkness of winter descends on the Earth. The longest night of the year comes at the end of December. Therefore, it is no wonder that Light, in the form of fires that warm and candles that brighten are an intricate part of so many celebrations.
During the earliest times of humanity, Solstice Yule fires brought light and warmth to the cold winter nights. Judaism celebrated the Miracle of the Lights with the lighting of the menorah. Christians used a circle of candles to observe the time before the birth of Jesus, who is called the Light of the World. The African diaspora, primarily in the US, remember their ancestors at this time of year with the lighting of seven candles. Each candle is a reminder of a specific virtue or trait. 
No matter what tradition you follow, the…

Those No Longer with Us

Norman Rockwell [Public domain]
This Thursday, people across the US will sit down with family and friends to celebrate the holiday we have come to know as Thanksgiving. Besides all the preparation going into cooking, many families enjoy the day by watching the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, while others might bundle up for a rousing game of football played at the local high school. Still others might be enjoying the pro ball found on cable.   

Thing is, this is the Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving. While I really enjoy Rockwell's work, I believe he did us no favors in portraying this day as completely blissful. For many, it is far from the idyllic scene he painted.

So, as those of us who will enjoy the day with family and friends sit before the bounty on our tables, let us think of those who will not be celebrating with us. Whether through death or distance, hold those whose chairs stay empty on Thursday in your thoughts and prayers and remember that for…

All Saints' Day

Fra Angelico [Public domain]
Many years ago, as a young girl, I would sit transfixed studying this painting by Fra Angelico. I tried to name the Saints pictured, many of them familiar thanks to the Sisters of St. Joseph and my mother. I remember asking Momma why we prayed to the Saints. She told me that Saints were like the Angels. They helped God take care of people. Made sense to me.
Today is All Saints' day. I learned long ago that Saints aren't simply Catholic.  Many cultures have Saints, so it would seem that this is a very special day for many.
To my favorite Saints (the ones I go to when I need a little extra help in life) St. Michael - the Archangel, St. Anthony, St. Theresa - the Little Flower, St. Jude, and Mother Mary, I offer prayers of thanks for all the protection and guidance given me through 60+ years of life.
May the Saints be with us all as we travel through life.  Blessings!