Monthly Archives: February 2021

Reflection from Michelle

One of my favorite daily reflection books is Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening” and since I felt uninspired today (it happens) since my head and heart are filled with work on the home bathroom, I’m sharing February 28th reflection from Mark Nepo.

“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”

E.E. Cummings

The stones at Chimayo

On the way to Chimayo, a woman saw two Spanish farmers repositioning stones in the riverbed to redirect the flow: she felt compelled to help.

She had the feeling that this had been done for centuries-their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, each in their own time and way, picking up the same stones pushed about by storm or drought and putting them back so the water can continue.

It seems this is the never-ending work of relationship, each of us in our own time and way moving the stones between us, repositioning the heavy things that get in the way, so that life of feeling can continue.

The weather of simply living jams things up, and we, like every generation before us, must roll up our pants and sleeves, step into the river, aaad unclog the flow. Of course, we need to ask, What are the stones pushed about between us? What are the heavy things that keep getting in the way?

No doubt, they are infinite and particular, but often, they are made of habits of not: not seeing, not hearing, not feeling, not being present, not risking the truth, not risking the heart’s need to live out in the open.

That we close off, jam up, spill over, and dry up are all part of being human in the gravity of time. That we feel compelled to stop and help even strangers move the heavy thing out of the way is an impulse known as love.

Practices:

  • Identify something heavy within you that seems to be in the way
  • Does it have to do with a habit of not? If so, try to name what it is you are not allowing to flow freely within you?
  • If you are not seeing, breathe slowly and begin the vow to see. If you are not listening, breathe slowly and begin the vow to listen.
  • If you need help in moving it, whom will you ask and when?

Some days Mark Nepo just hits the spot.

May you be the love you seek and may you be a blessing to the world or just for today for our residents.

Warmly,

Michelle

Reflection from Jennifer

The story of the Detroit, Michigan singer/songwriter Rodriguez sounds too fantastical to be true.  Rodriguez released his debut album “Cold Fact” in 1970.  While it didn’t sell very well in the United States, the album made its way to South Africa and became a huge hit.  This was during the time of apartide, when South Africans lived under an authoritarian regime with institutionalized racial segregation and the country was largely shut off from contact with the rest of the world.  The album spoke to the political climate of that time, with its songs of sorrow and struggle and justice, with titles such as “The Establishment Blues,” “Crucify Your Mind,” and “Rich Folks Hoax.”  My favorite is “I Wonder.”  Here’s a taste of the lyrics:

I wonder about the tears in children’s eyes
And I wonder about the soldier that dies
I wonder will this hatred ever end
I wonder and worry my friend
I wonder, I wonder, wonder don’t you?

These songs served as anthems for this era in South Africa and Rodriguez became a legendary character, complete with rumors that he died while performing live on stage.  Yet Rodriguez was completely unaware of his success and went about his life in Detroit, working mostly in construction.  In 2012, the documentary Searching for Sugarman attempted to tell this story as the filmmakers set out to uncover the truth about this mysterious artist, and they ended up finding Rodriguez, very much alive.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and led to the album’s re-release.  Rodriguez then toured worldwide and performed in front of crowds of adoring fans. 

This story reminds me of how we often don’t know what impact we’re having on others.  Certainly this happened on a large scale as Rodriguez was completely unaware that his music was inspiring a nation, providing hope and momentum to a movement towards justice and peace.  But I think this also happens in small and subtle ways every day.  In the Jewish tradition, when someone dies, the custom is to say, “may their memory be a blessing.”  Our whole lives are blessings.  Every day we have the opportunity to be a blessing for one another. 

When we pick up the phone to call a friend, our listening presence might be exactly what they need.  When we smile at the clerk at the grocery store or thank the person re-stocking the shelves, we might be the only smile or the only thanks they receive that day.  When we share our struggles, we might bring some comfort as others learn they are not alone.  Our words and our actions are powerful and contain the potential for transformation. 

Today I invite you to remember that in all you do, you’re making an impact.  May your life be a blessing.

Blessings & peace to you,

Jennifer, CPE Intern 

Reflection from Marianne

“Sometimes, we need to be reminded that we are beautiful, spirit-filled, powerful beings. Each of us has gifts and talents that we can give to the world like a peacock spreads its glorious tail.”

~ Anonymous

Thank you for sharing your glorious gifts and talents with Havenwood Heritage Heights.  May joy and peace surround you and bless you on this day and always. 

Marianne DiBlasi, CPE Intern

Reflection from Mary Anne

We haven’t had a typical severe New England winter. Yes, we have had snow, but not the back to back storms with 6 to 12 inches at a time. Other than the large storm in December, the winter storms this year have been mild. We are beginning to see longer days and more light, but knowing New England, there may still be snow in March or even April. Some people may remember the April Fool’s Day snow storm a few years ago. Regardless of the size of the storms the maintenance department at Havenwood Heritage Heights has been diligent in the work of keeping the roadways, parking lots, and sidewalks cleared. I have been fascinated by the use of the Bobcat snowplow. It looks like a little PacMan whipping around scooping up the snow. The operator of this machine seems to be having a good time—zoom, zoom, twirl, twirl, scoop, scoop, and the job is done. They are doing this at any time of day or night. Then they come back and scatter sand and salt. This is a reminder that there is a team at HHH. For all of the residents, whether in the Health Services Center, The Lodge, Assisted Living, or Independent Cottages, it takes a village to keep everything running smoothly. I offer deep appreciation and gratitude for all of the team members at HHH. I wish I could take a ride on the Bobcat. Maybe I’ll ask if I could take a whirl some time.

Through the weeks of deep snow
we walked above the ground
on fallen sky, as though we did
not come of root and leaf, as though
we had only air and weather
for our difficult home.
But now
as March warms, and the rivulets
run like birdsong on the slopes,
and the branches of light sing in the hills,
slowly we return to earth.

Wendell Berry

Mary Anne Totten, CPE Intern

Reflection from Sarah

Each evening I realize how happy I am when there is light in the sky just a few minute longer.

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period –
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands aboard
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay –
A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Emily Dickinson

The beauty of spring sunlight is nearly upon us. Rest easy as March approaches, the days grow longer, the temperatures warmer, and winter isolation begins to draw to a close.

Sarah McEvoy, CPE Intern

Reflection from John

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

William Carlos Williams’ famous poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” is short, fragmented, and incomplete. Yet in this imperfect prose this poem finds its full power, its perfection as a poem.

This evocative poem made out of broken, ordinary prose has no beginning and no ending.
It is a slice in time, caught out of the corner of one’s eye. Yet the world is different after the sighting.

In my hurried, fragmented, imperfect day, The Red Wheelbarrow calls out.
It reminds me that my messy to-do list might be hiding a glimpse of the sublime.
Maybe it’s a sign of the Divine presence keeping me company during the day.

Today, instead of the wheelbarrow, God’s presence will show in a resident’s grateful smile.
Today, instead of chickens, it will be a fleeting moment spent with my hand resting on someone else’s.

Every moment of my day contains the possibility of poetry, usually when I least expect it.

John Terauds, CPE Intern

Reflection from Cherie

Where’s Your Rainbow

The first time I watched The Wizard of Oz I was a young girl glued to the television. I was amazed at that moment when Dorothy’s world turned from black and white to full color. I realize I could have been afraid of the witch, or amused by the munchkins, or perplexed by the flying monkeys, but for me the magic was in the color.

I’m just realizing now, after almost fifty years that the theme of color runs throughout that story. There were ruby red slippers, a yellow brick road, and the Emerald city. The song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, stirs nostalgia in our hearts and once again underscores this theme of color.

Color and rainbows symbolize hope for so many and for so many reasons. We see them after storms of all kinds, when things have settled, and we need assurance that we are ok and that we will continue to be ok. They are the embodiment of hope.

Rainbows can come in unexpected packages at unexpected times. I drove to a pond yesterday. On it were kids and adults swooshing around on skates and hitting pucks with sticks. I walked up to the edge. My hands were in my pockets, my favorite purple hat was on my head, my eyes were closed and I just listened. I became aware of the sun on back, a car pulling away, and a dad tossing a hat to his daughter. But I kept turning my attention to the sound coming off of the ice.

It’s a sound you don’t often hear, the swooshing and the smacking out in the open air. For me it felt like hope, it felt normal. I needed normal yesterday. So, yesterday my rainbow came in the form of blue skies and yellow sun and silver blades on white ice. It was beautiful.

Sometimes rainbows come as gorgeous bands of color; sometimes they come in unexpected packages. Today I am thankful for rainbows, in whatever way they choose to come.

Reflection from Jennifer

Does your family have a favorite go-to tv show, something that everyone can agree on?  In my house, we’ve gone through phases of “The West Wing,” “The X-Files”, and “The Office.”  We’re on a “Criminal Minds” kick now.  If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a classic crime drama, following the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.  It’s actually pretty fun to watch with others, as we share our suspicions and piece together the evidence throughout each episode.  One unique feature of the show is that it begins and ends with a quote, as if each episode offers a profound life lesson.

I certainly enjoy good thought-provoking or inspiring quotes, but I find myself feeling like the story of each episode, the twists and turns along the way to solving the crime, is enough.  In life we can’t always summarize our day in one line or find some profound meaning in each moment.  I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t be learning lessons every day or finding meaning in our lives.  We should.  But sometimes it’s enough to get through the day.  Sometimes it’s enough to have a pretty crummy day and simply feel sad or upset or frustrated.  Sometimes it’s enough to just feel what we feel for no particular reason.

I’m reminded of the Lord’s Prayer and the words “Give us this day our daily bread.”  When we pray this, we’re asking for just enough for today, without worry of tomorrow or thoughts of yesterday.  This day, this moment, is enough.  All we need is just enough to get us through.  It’s OK to pray for something to be just enough.

I invite you to pray for what might be just enough for you today.  It might be something like, “God, please help me to just get through this next hour.”  Whatever it is, whatever you’re feeling, whatever’s in front of you today, just know that it’s enough. 

Blessings & peace to you,
Jennifer, CPE Intern

Reflection from Marianne

It finally happened this week; I saw the first signs of Spring!  Outside my window, I saw my first Robin with its magnificent red breast foraging around in the earth looking for tasty worms and other insects to eat.

That same afternoon, I went to the local Trader Joe’s and was greeted by an explosion of Spring flowers – daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and azalea plants. I nearly wept with joy right there in the middle of the store to see their gloriousness blooming in every color of the rainbow. I heard the tulip plants calling out. “Take me home and let me brighten your day with radiance!”  I heeded their call and selected a plant with tulips the color of a spectacular sunset.  This jewel of a plant is nestled by a window and flourishing in the sunshine.

These signs of spring are small, yet I find myself savoring their presence and promise of new life after a long, dark winter. 

A Serious Frivolity

Bernadette Miller

Savoring the substance
of existence
is a serious
frivolity.
Someone must do it.

Someone must love
luminous hours when leaves
marry light and refuse
to stop
shining.

Someone must speak
the sweetness
of lilacs
before it is lost
beneath smog.

Someone must bask
in the beauty of blessing
because the news knows only
brokenness.

When you give yourself
to a particular place
the power
and peace
of that place
give themselves
through you.

So savoring the substance
of existence
is a serious frivolity.
Someone must do it.

Will that someone
be you?

May you savor the delights of spring and the blossoming of new life that is coming into being.

Marianne DiBlasi, CPE Intern

Reflection from Mary Anne

“I Have A Dream”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

February is National Black History Month. This speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., always inspires me. It is good to read it, but it is even better to hear the live recording. Imagine this speech being given on a hot sultry day on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963, with a crowd of 250,000 on the National Mall. This was 58 years ago. Savor these words, and realize there is still work to be done.

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.  We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.  We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.  We hold these truths to be self-evident that all (men) are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plane and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.  With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.  Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. 

So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. 

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

And when this happens, when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last.  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

Mary Anne Totten, CPE Intern