Friday, October 18, 2013

Heart-Swell — Peter Black

Modified slightly from original post-Thanksgiving article, written for P-Pep! column and published in the Southwestern Ontario newspaper, The Guide-Advocate – October 17, 2013.                                       
How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Sweet . . . or bitter? Perhaps bittersweet?
Bittersweet – I’m sure that’s a how a friend of ours felt about hers, for while she is grateful for her wonderful family, she cannot help but recall the sudden death of her husband two years ago, which occurred within several days of the Thanksgiving weekend.
My wife and I enjoyed lunch and a pleasant visit with her last week. It was evident, though – and perfectly understandable, that a clear element of sadness surfaced, especially in view of the approaching anniversary of her loss and the holiday weekend.
We were glad and honoured to have known Ron and worked with him many years ago, when I was the couple’s pastor. He was an upstanding man in the community, who was unashamed of his Christian faith, but who quietly lived it, taking an interest in people and performing deeds of kindness, without fanfare, behind the scenes. It’s mostly since his death that I’ve learned more about how active he’d been in this way.
I look back to a particular day before the Thanksgiving weekend in which I experienced a great sense of what I’ll call ‘heart-swell.’ It happened when May and I took an hour out of a busy flurry and went for a walk on a community trail by the golfing greens; something we’d done less of this year. It was an absolutely glorious fall day.
A brilliant sun lit up the goldenrod, and purples, whites and yellows of wayside flowers, contrasted by beige and brown of broad-leafed tall grass and bulrushes. Acres of golfing greens flanked the open areas, and in places we swished our way through fallen leaves and enjoyed the music of creek waters singing through rapids. 
My private sentiments on that walk were similar to those I expressed in a recent article, about how I’d wished that everyone on the globe were blessed with the beauty and tranquillity that I enjoyed at that moment. On our trail walk I breathed in deeply and thanked God for sight and hearing and the ability to be out enjoying these wonders. I also spared a thought for those who lack those faculties.  
The heart-swell included my sister Marg and her husband’s safe return from the UK, and also relief that our recent musical stint at a church’s anniversary service went well, and that our voices held out so we could fulfil that commitment. Gratitude for many more blessings of everyday life, of family members and friends, and of our community and country flooded my heart and mind. Nature’s beauty has a capacity for elevating wonder and intensifying appreciation.
What stands out as you reflect on the fall season thus far and your Thanksgiving weekend? Your heart aches for someone who passed away since last year or one now living too distant to journey home? A relational difficulty’s left an empty chair? I hope you experienced some heart-swell too. Making a modest contribution of items towards a local food bank is a simple and effective way for expressing gratitude, and that connects you to other people’s lives and homes, even if you don’t know them.
David expresses heart-swell in numerous psalms. For example: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise . . .” (from Psalm 8:1-2a).
May heart-swell prompt heart-felt praise from our lips as children of God.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). (Finalist -- Word Alive Press ISBN 1897373-21-X)
His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. Peter’s current book project comprises a collection of 52 column articles.



Donna Mann said...

Peter - such a familiar feeling to sit with someone who is grieving. It was good you were there to share lunch and conversation - one of the best ways to share grief with another. Ron sounds like a person we should all have in our address book. Thanks for sharing. Donna

Janis Cox said...

The heart swell description certainly describes what happens when we are attached to someone. You did the best thing - be with her, empathize and love her.

Blessings to you,

Peter Black said...

Thank you and blessings to you both, Donna and Jan.
As with a number of our mutual TWG friends, this lady has experienced wave after wave of bereavements and challenges, even since her husband died, yet she remains faithful. Hmm, she holds on to her Lord, who is faithful. ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Peter, a calm reflective message sharing both heart-swell and loss. You were a blessing to that woman this Thanksgiving, I'm sure.

Peter Black said...

Thanks, Carolyn.
For me, it is a great help that May and I have been spared as a couple and that both of us can come alongside in such a case as this. ~~+~~

Kathleen Gibson said...

I always wonder why I leave off visiting this site until I'm scheduled to post! I'm always fed by what I read here--and your post is no exception. My heart swelled in sync with your words as you described your friend's situation, and your walk in the beautiful Ontario woods. (That's our Thanksgiving tradition too--we were joined by three grandbeans this year.) Thank you for the reminder to not only be grateful, but to provide for others a reason to be grateful as well. God is indeed gracious, isn't he?

Thank you, Peter...stay full of wonder.

Glynis said...

A tranquil, lovely post. I love the 'Heart Swell.' I need to experience that.
"Nature’s beauty has a capacity for elevating wonder and intensifying appreciation." I love this.

...and you sing? :)

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