I can’t answer the prompt “Believe” without rerunning this blog from a few years ago. Go HERE to see it.
Why We Believe
I think the reason why I believe is probably at the root of it the reason why we all believe in something. It is just such a miracle that anything exists and that I get to be a part of it. What are the chances out of the entire universe that I would be born at all, let alone born to the time and place and parents that I was? And what are the chances that I would be healthy and have the benefit of an education and that I would find the courage to live the life I want to and continue to have that courage into my sixties and I hope my seventies and eighties and nineties.
I can understand why it would be hard to continue to believe in the magic of life if one were ill or abused or confined or physically handicapped, yet people do continue to hold onto every scrap of existence. Life is such an incredible thing and to not appreciate it when we have every reason to appreciate it is such a waste.
There is so much cruelty and oppression and greed and poverty and disease and sadness in this world. Yes, we do what we can to fight it, but an additional and very important way to fight it is to be as productive and happy as we can be. Polarity demands its opposite and the world changes for the good by holding onto as much of the positive as we can. Living it. Promoting it in others. Helping each other. Good mothers and fathers do this every minute of every day and those of use who don’t have children can do it by trying to be surrogates for those children and those adults who need our care and help. This help may be given in an organized fashion by volunteering and donating or by the way we treat others in our every day life. We can be observant. We can be helpful. We can be as kind to each other as possible, given that we are human and feel anger, fatigue, frustration and hopelessness.
At the end of the day–even the worst day–we get to choose whether to give up or to continue to believe, and even if the choice is to give up, we have one more chance. I think dreams are messages and reminders we send to ourselves–little boosts encouraging us to listen to that deep part of ourselves that will always believe, even if it has to go on without the support of our conscious minds. It is the part we get to when we write or draw or paint or dance or sing or play an instrument. That is the importance of the arts. They connect us to our beliefs.
So when I find myself floundering, whatever time of the day or night, my easiest way to find a reason to keep going is to do what I’m doing now. To write. Or to make art out of whatever I find around me. For in this aspect, art imitates life. It is simply looking around for what we can find around us and making the best of it. Someone once says “It is the job of the artist to take the detritus that the world creates and to hand it back to the world as art.” That is exactly what I do in my “found art” collages. And this, at the end of the day, is enough for me to believe in.
Click on any one of the images to enlarge and enter gallery. Can you find “Lord Love a Duck,” a pheasant, frigate birds, the ballerina, puffin, a seal, a sea bird, wild pig or “Found Heart?” I just realized I left out my favorite, so I’m going to add it below.
The Prompt: In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?
I don’t know of anyone who loves Christmas as much as my mother did. She could barely wait for Thanksgiving to be over to put up her tree. Those trees were covered with icicles, bubble lights, angel hair and boxes and boxes of ornaments saved and added to over the years: blue or pink plastic birds whose legs fit over the branches so they seemed to be standing on them, a treetop angel with spun white hair and a face cracked and marbled over with age, strands of large lights and later dozens of strands of miniature ones, homemade ornaments, glass balls, plastic stars, candy canes—each year the number of ornaments grew. The tree was always fresh and the largest she could find, screwed into the Christmas tree holder that held water to keep the needles from falling off for as long as possible.
Under the tree was always a skirt of White pull-apart Christmas “snow,” a plastic church that lit up inside and presents, presents, presents: handmade gifts from the church bazaar, clothes and toys purchased in Pierre, 60 miles away or ordered from the Montgomery Wards or Sears catalogs. The tree went up the day after Thanksgiving and came down only after the new year had arrived, but the pine needles in the carpet crevasses and its borders along the wall remained like hidden memories to be discovered for months afterwards.
The year my mother died, my sister Patti could not bear to think of putting up a tree or celebrating Christmas. I was far away in Mexico and it was the first year in her life that she hadn’t celebrated Christmas with my mother. I knew she was grieving, but I was deep in my own sadness of the past year. In January, I had a hysterectomy and on the day I returned from the hospital, I learned that my mother had gone into the hospital.
My doctor had forbidden air travel but we considered putting a mattress in the back of the van and having my husband drive me from California to Wyoming, but my sister assured me there was no need. It was nothing serious—just a bout of pneumonia. We’d been there for Christmas less than a month before and we could come again once my mother returned home from the hospital.
But that trip was never to be experienced, for within a week, my mother had passed away. In March, my husband Bob flew to Michigan to be with his mother who had gone into the hospital, and after ten days, she, too, passed away. Then in September, two days before we were to drive down to Mexico to move into our new house, Bob discovered he had cancer and lived just three weeks. All-in-all, a sad year that had been moderated by our happiness in looking forward to a new life in Mexico.
A few months after Bob’s death, I went forward into that new life, but my sister was left in the town where she and her husband lived and where my mother had lived for the last six years of her life. Everything around her reminded her of my mother; and with the advent of Christmas, those memories grew more poignant.
The small Wyoming town where my sister lives is two hours south of Billings, Montana, which is her usual shopping town and where she goes to get her hair cut and to the doctor. A few weeks before Christmas, when a friend asked her to accompany her on a shopping trip there, she agreed. Even though her heart was not in it, as they browsed in a local store, she bought a few items, paid for them with her credit card and carried the bag to the car.
It was not until she got home and unpacked the bag that she found the small package in the bottom of her bag. She unwrapped it, trying to figure out just what it was––nothing, surely, that she had purchased. As she removed the final layer of paper, this is what was revealed:
Where had it come from? How had it gotten into the bag? She had not purchased it. It was not listed on her receipt. Nor had her friend purchased it, so it wasn’t a case of the clerk putting it in the wrong bag. Was it the last Christmas miracle provided by a mother who over the years had so faithfully purchased the new boxes of fragile icicles to hang above wrapped boxes that contained dolls, new Christmas dresses, ice skates, princess phones, bottles of bubble bath or miniature formals for our favorite dolls? Skunk games and paper dolls and books, first watches, necklaces, music boxes and drop seat pajamas? With no other explanation, my sister could not help but consider that perhaps it was a little message from my mother, urging her not to give up her faith in and enjoyment of Christmas.
It has been fourteen years since my mother died, and my sister has hung the ornament on her tree every Christmas since. It has been a few years since I spent Christmas with her, and I had forgotten this story, but yesterday, when I arrived in Phoenix to spend Christmas and took pictures of her tree, she repeated the story again.
Her tree is miniature in comparison with my mother’s tree, but it is infused with my mother’s love of Christmas and everything it entails —a childlike sense of wonder that to this very day, my mother encourages us to share. Tonight, as my sister and I fill stockings for each other, her husband Jim and the longtime friends who will arrive tomorrow, I’m sure she feels as I do––both of us “good girls” who are minding our mother by remembering to BELIEVE in the magic of Christmas.
HERE is a link to my favorite photo of my mother, plus other stories about her.
For more Christmas trees around the world, see: http://silverthreading.com/2015/12/06/christmas-trees-around-the-world/
and, consider posting a picture of your tree-topper HERE in Hugh’s blog to provide a meal for a hungry dog.