Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Hope and Gratitude

Advent and Lullabies

wraps today’s anguish
in lullabies

Living with unexpected physical challenges feels like a roller-coaster ride. Up one day, down the next. My short list of essentials for each day is simple: write, read, listen to or play music, exercise, rest, and prepare food as required for my diet. Sometimes my energy level is up, and I’m able to do everything and then some. Other days, I pare it down.

I’m not in love with this situation. Nonetheless, over the last two years I’ve accepted my wellbeing as my number one priority–not the way the house looks, or showing up for gatherings I used to attend regularly.

As the first-born of four daughters, I learned to neglect my own wants and needs in favor of caring for others. Today I often think of myself as the little girl I once was. I focus on listening to her and comforting her–acknowledging in the present that she still lives in me and still needs affection and affirmation.

All I have is one moment at a time–the precious gift of the Spirit of my Creator. Writing has been my best tutor when it comes to connecting with myself in the present. It’s demanding, but immensely rewarding when a haiku or poem begins to take shape on paper because it’s taking shape in me–echoing what’s going on inside me. The haiku above is a case in point.

Even Jesus wasn’t born into this world immune to tough choices or anguish. I can imagine his earliest comfort included lullabies. They also work for me. Especially when I sing them to myself as a way of bringing my past into the present.

The Christmas Lullaby tune above is “Restoration” from William Walker’s shape-note song book, Southern Harmony. It’s an old American tune, sung here by Doc Watson.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 December 2017
YouTube video found here 

beggars all

St. John's Abbey Church Interior

feet shuffle
down multiple aisles
approach the altar
sacraments of life
and death remembered

the sound of shoes
resonates against concrete
moves us to receive
hope for life and death
a crumb and a drop
spiritual food for body and soul

It’s 1980-something. I’m sitting in a long pew just beneath the balcony in St. John’s Abbey Church. The sanctuary is full of visitors, members, and local residents of Collegeville, Minnesota. We’ve begun moving forward to multiple stations where we’ll receive the sacraments. This is an ecumenical Eucharist; all are welcome.

It isn’t far to the stations set up near the center of the sanctuary. Architect Marcel Breuer collaborated with Benedictine monks to design this space. They ensured no one would be more than 85 feet from the altar. They also excluded columns, drapes and sound baffles.

No ecumenical Eucharist has moved me to tears as this did. It was the sound. It wasn’t the readings or the homily, or even the hymns. It was the inescapable sound of feet shuffling along the concrete. Beggars all, slowly making our way forward and then back to our seats. Like the thief on the cross. The one who didn’t stay sitting in his seat, but got up and led the first procession to the cross on which Jesus lived and died for us.

I first posted this on 30 September 2015. Yesterday I noticed someone had read it. So I checked it out.

I couldn’t help making a connection with recent events here in the USA. No one event captures everything. Instead we’re faced daily with more evidence that things fall apart, and that nothing we do can put them back together.

Yet we have every reason to hope. Not because we’re people of good will, love everyone, exercise deeds of kindness and mercy, or anything else we might find praiseworthy. Rather, it’s because of what God offers us through Jesus Christ.

All we need to do is get up out of our seats and get in line behind the thief on the cross. Offering ourselves just as we are, and counting only on God’s great mercy.

Praying you find rest for whatever is wearying you this Sabbath.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 August 2017
Photo found at

My one-of-a-kind body

Dear Friends,

This past week was a blur. Not a horrible blur, but the kind that softens my outlook and strains my capacity to take things in. I knew it was coming, yet living through it physically and emotionally was more exhausting than I anticipated.

It’s all about my dear, one-of-a-kind body. The one I’m learning to treat tenderly–with special care, huge respect and growing gratitude. It’s easy for me to fall into a sense of despair when things don’t improve as quickly as I’d like.

And yet…the outcome of this week’s saga is positive. I now have four more lab tests to get through—three involve separate blood draws. The other is a 24-hour collection I won’t describe because you really don’t want to know.

I met my kidney doctor on Wednesday, and relaxed immediately. She had a welcoming, patient-centered approach and treated me as the adult woman I am. I was surprised to hear she wasn’t sure what’s going on in my body. The numbers are clear on my lab results for the last ten years.

At the same time, having seen me, she doesn’t consider me an ‘average’ 73-year-old woman. For example, I’m still physically active and don’t look that old. Hence the standard measurements don’t necessarily apply. So she wants to find out whether I’m at an earlier stage of kidney disease, or whether something else might be going on. I left with orders for further testing.

My exhaustion continues, as do other issues that have plagued me for the past year. Which brings me to yesterday’s appointment with my integrative doctor. She’s also totally patient-oriented, and is treating me for adrenal disorder (sometimes related to kidney problems).

Last December she told me it might take 2 full years to recover my energy. Along with more supplements and directions about diet, she gave me a list of changes to make in my lifestyle. I had to start putting myself first, cutting way back on things I didn’t need to do, meditating regularly, enjoying the outdoors, and I think you get the picture.

In short, I had to begin loving my body more than I loved pleasing or even being with other people. I had to treat my weary body as tenderly as I might treat a newborn baby. It’s no exaggeration to say I was a rank beginner at this, even though I thought I’d been treating myself well.

After reviewing how things were going in all parts of my health care, she wrote orders for follow-up blood work, gave me a big thumbs up, and sent me home to carry on!

The way ahead still feels heavy. My attitude, however, has changed. Each evening I make a short journal entry about how I’m feeling. Now, instead of dwelling on the challenges or discouragements of each day, I recall things that brought me joy and delight.

I’ve also decided I might like to live to be 100 after all! Not because I think the world is getting better each day, but because I’m finding ways to celebrate little things instead of focusing on stress-points in my life or in this world God loves so much.

With hope and gratitude,

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 June 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Tender 

Music | #3

Van Cliburn performing in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory during the First Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958

Van Cliburn performing in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory during the First Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958

I’m out with D, my temporary chauffeur, for a quick trip to *Raider Joe’s, aka Trader Joe’s. On our way home, heavenly music begins pouring out of the car radio. When I get into the house I turn on the radio to listen to the entire piece….

Music from heaven
Washes over my soul and body
Soothing beauty from angelic fingers

It’s Van Cliburn playing Tchaikowsky’s Piano Concerto #1. Read the rest of this entry »

A tough old hen

tough old hens

The sun is shining! I’m alive and getting clear about what to do and what not to do to help my one and only heart. Here’s a quick update just for you!

First, the good news. Read the rest of this entry »

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