We haven't lived in this community for very long. Under a year, in fact. Oddly though, in a village of folks that have mostly grown up here and know the land like the backs of their hands, we have found a real home for ourselves. I have never had the misfortune of feeling like an 'outsider' in Lake Cowichan.
I was filled with joy as new friends and neighbors came to our new home to share the Holiday Spirit at Christmas. This unexpected warmth and welcoming made the transition of living away from my extended family so much easier.
A man that we had met briefly as the father of one of our kid's friends passed away recently. My daughter and I went to the memorial service to pay our respects and to show support for the my daughter's friend who had lost her daddy. While my husband and I certainly knew her parents by name and face, we hadn't really gotten to know them all that well.
We have however come to know their 10 year old daughter through our own. And she's here so much that she has become like family to us all.
The entire time at the service my mind reeled. Thoughts, memories, impressions and emotions all flooded together in a jumbled mess. This caught me off guard. I hadn't known the man we came to pay tribute to long or well. I didn't recognize 90% of the faces in the pews. Yet, so much came to me in that small amount of time.
I thought about the Priest and the church and my thoughts on what he said. I thought about religion in general and my thoughts on that. I thought about how much this man who had died accomplished in his life despite being so ill since age 14 that he spent no less than 40 hours a week in dialisis. I thought about the strength I saw displayed in his widow and child as they struggled to bring a sense of closure to their loss. And I thought about the words his brother delivered in the Eulogy. I wondered what might be said of myself if it was my funeral. And I thought about my own life and what I am doing with it. And when I got home and sat down with my cup of coffee, I thought of how this man who I did not really know in life had given me so much to contemplate with his death.
A death can bring so much thought and emotion. It has a way of stopping us in our tracks long enough to examine what really matters most to each of us individually. Sadly, this often only lasts for a short time before we return to our routines, material concerns and every day life.
Keeping a journal can lengthen this awareness. It can make it permanent. In the short term, my journal writing helps me bring order to a flood of feeling and thought and allows me the opportunity to express my experiences. It helps me grieve, vent and determine what the truth is for me as a person.
In the long run however, journaling keeps me connected with that deepest part of myself. It keeps me humble and aware of the greater things in life such as the value of time and loving others. It keeps that big picture fresh and helps me to be a better person as a result.
All of us are busy. We go to work, we raise our families, we strive to succeed, we count off the days. I don't think we'd be fully human if we didn't get caught up in the materialistic and task parts of life. I am no different in that I spend much time thinking of the laundry that needs to be done, the articles that have to be written and the appointments that have to be kept.
But, in that small amount of time, when I am alone with my journal and with myself I am able to see so much more through the reflection of my experiences and the written words that flow from my pen. In this space, there are no mundane concerns. The dishes and deadlines are pushed to the back of the priority line-up. I treasure the balance and greater understanding this wonderful activity brings.
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