Web Inspirations

Web Inspirations for Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere

Nov 23, 2009

The Gift

A story about an old Bendix washing machine helped one man get through the valley of loss.

His parents acquired the washer when John Claypool was a small boy. It happened during World War II. His family owned no washing machine and, since gasoline was rationed, they could ill afford trips to the laundry several miles away. Keeping clothes clean became a problem for young John's household.

A family friend was drafted into the service, and his wife prepared to go with him. John's family offered to store their furniture while they were away. To the family's surprise, the friends suggested they use their Bendix while they were gone. "It would be better for it to be running," they said, "than sitting up rusting." So this is how they acquired the washer.

Young John helped with the washing, and across the years he developed an affection for the old, green Bendix. But eventually the war ended. Their friends returned. In the meantime he had forgotten how the machine came to be in their basement in the first place. When the friends came to take it away, John grew terribly upset -- and let his feelings be known.

His wise mother sat him down and said, "Wait a minute, Son. You must remember, that machine never belonged to us in the first place. That we ever got to use it at all was a gift. So, instead of being mad at it being taken away, let's use this occasion to be grateful that we had it at all."

The lesson proved invaluable. Years later, John watched his eight-year-old daughter die a slow and painful death of leukemia. Though he struggled for months with her death, John could not really begin healing from the loss until he remembered the old Bendix.

"I am here to testify," he said, "that this is the only way down the mountain of loss...when I remember that Laura Lou was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to. And when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and thank God that I was ever given her in the first place."

His daughter was given to him to love and nurture. She never belonged to him, but he had the awesome privilege of sharing her life for a while. When he realized that simple fact, everything changed. He could now begin healing from the tragedy of her loss by focusing instead on the wonder of her life. He started to see Laura Lou as a marvelous gift that he was fortunate enough to enjoy for a time. He felt grateful. He found strength and healing. He finally knew he could get through the valley of loss.

We all experience loss -- loss of people, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of independence, loss of esteem, loss of things. What if you view that which is lost as a gift you were given for a time? Perhaps that simple choice of trying to reframe your loss will change sad memories into thankful ones. And perhaps it will get you unstuck and back on the road to healing and wholeness.

-- Steve Goodier

Did you know that practicing some form of relaxation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself? Taking time each day to quiet your mind and breathe deeply, can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your day and into the night. And dedicating a day every week for mental and spiritual renewal is equally important.

We're told that the word "relax" has its origin in the Latin word "relaxare," which means "to loosen." When we relax, we are in effect loosening tension, releasing tightly held energy and letting go. From the state of relaxation we can experience calm peacefulness.

Another great word is the Hebrew word "Shabbat" which, of course, is a day of rest. But it quite literally means to "quit; stop; take a break." Whatever you are doing, stop it. Whatever you are saying, be quiet. Sit down and take a look around. Don't do anything. Don't say anything. Fold your hands. Take a deep breath...

Extended periods of rest are a biological necessity. The human body is like an old-fashioned wind-up clock. If it is not rewound by rest, ultimately it will run itself down.

A group of Americans made a trip with Brazilian natives down the Amazon River. The first day they rushed. The second day they rushed. The next day they rushed. One day, anxious to continue the trek, they were surprised to find the natives seated together in a circle.

When asked the reason for the delay, a guide answered, "They are waiting. They cannot move further until their souls have caught up with their bodies."

Do you owe yourself time to let your soul catch up with your body?

-- Steve Goodier

Popular Posts