They are all gone now. My beloved cousins Michelle and Martina posted on Facebook of the passing of their mother (my Aunt) on Sunday, November 22nd. She goes to the halls of the Ancestors, joining a long line of family that has moved on to the Summerlands.
My Aunt was the last one left of the aunts and uncles of our immediate family. My own parents passed on long ago. We are the only ones left, the five cousins from my father’s side of the family. There are some second cousins, and maybe third cousins, too. But as family goes sometimes, we have become strangers to the others as the branches of the tree grow outward.
My two beautiful cousins are truly incredible people. They are strong women, generous women, amazing women who stood up, stepped up, and did what needed to be done when my Aunt’s health was failing. It was not an easy journey for them but they took care of her until the end even as they struggled in their own lives.
And now what happens? Will we all become strangers again? I hope not. But you know how families are. When we are young it’s one thing but as we get older our lives take off in different directions and things change.
I look out my window to a dull and dreary winter day, foggy and damp. It is near Thanksgiving now and the world is in chaos, unrest, and upheaval and still we go on. In spite of everything in these uneasy times we endure, adapt, and adjust to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of events.
I am grateful for what I have; grateful for the time I have shared with my cousins; grateful for the support of friends and family when they needed it. I hope for them, too. I hope that all their dreams come true.
Gratitude is the lifeline of hope.
The following excerpt is from an article “On Hardship and Hope” by Daisaku Ikeda that appeared in Tricycle-The Buddhist Review magazine, Fall 2017 edition:
Hope, in this sense, is a decision. It is the most important decision we can make. Hope changes everything, starting with our lives. Hope is the force that enables us to take action to make our dreams come true. It has the power to change winter in to summer, barrenness to creativity, agony to joy. As long as we have hope, there is nothing we cannot achieve. When we possess the treasure of hope, we can draw forth our inner potential and strength. A person of hope can always advance.
Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else—by the encouraging words of a friend, relative, or mentor—but it must be fanned and kept burning through our own determination. Most crucial is our determination to continue to believe in the limitless dignity and possibilities of both ourselves and others.
You can read the full article here: https://tricycle.org/magazine/how-not-to-despair/
The practice of gratitude is a mindfulness practice. Gratitude keeps us present. It is the secret to happiness.
When we are grateful for what we have, for the good people in our lives, and the circumstances that help us along our path, that energy fuels hope. It sets the tone, raises the vibration, and sets all manner of ideas in motion. When we fail in appreciation we fail in hope. The loss of hope eventually becomes the loss of faith. When we lose faith we hit “empty”.
We do what we can in tough times but sometimes all we have is faith that things will turn out for the best; hope that the future is brighter; and grateful always for the good people in our lives, the things we have that truly sustain us, and the opportunities that may come our way.
Have a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving!