Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Infused words

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos

Last month, I was at the library one day looking for a book that might help my daughter with a paper she was writing for school. As I browsed the shelves, I found a book called The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain by Scott Cairns.  After having watched my father decline into dementia for years, caring for him, and then finally moving him into a nursing home, I have done a good bit of thinking about suffering. I left the library that day with a tall stack of books for my daughter and a tiny 126-page treasure for myself.

Ironically, just a few weeks after I picked up that book, my father’s suffering came to an end. As I mentioned in my last post, he passed away mid-December. And I have to say, there is great peace in knowing that he is no longer suffering. But we seek solace in many different ways, and after receiving the comfort of friends and family, I was ready to pick up Scott Cairns’ book to hear and learn from another’s experience. Just a few paragraphs into the book, the author writes, “Like most people, I, too, have been blindsided by personal grief now and again over the years. And I have an increasingly keen sense that, wherever I am someone nearby is suffering now.” His words are infused with empathy and compassion and though the author and I are strangers, I read them as the words of a friend.


The day following Dad’s funeral, I was drawn back to my desk, eager to get back to the business of writing. Friends advised me to give myself time, not to rush back into things, but I had to wonder, if I was not writing, what I should be doing. Getting back to words on the page was what I longed for.

Likewise, Cairns’ speaks of art as a form of consolation. “Laboring over the wheel, the canvas, the written page, or the musical score can bring to the laborer a powerfully consoling sense of purpose.” He then quotes philosopher George Steiner for a helpful sense of why this is so: “Any coherent understanding of what language is and how language performs. . .any coherent account of the capacity of human speech to communicate meanings and feelings is, in the final analysis, underwritten by the assumption of God’s presence.”


For me this brought to mind the four different clergymen who stopped into my father’s hospital room during the week he was dying. Although we only personally knew one of them, their words and prayers were no less comforting for having come from strangers. Their words were infused with strength, joy, hope, love, beauty, and truth.

What are your words infused with?

40 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Ruth! I love that...someone nearby is suffering now. I am keenly aware of this at this point in my life. I may have to find this book of which you speak :)

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  2. Ruth, I just read your home page and I hope you've either finished or thrown out the old Halloween candy and have moved on to fresher Christmas or holiday delights. I received several boxes of treats this year and it seems the more I exercise the heavier I get. Chocolate and exercise seem to work together to create a stronger me--one who is ready to face the coming year! LOL
    Typically I try to inspire or emote a little hope in my readers and sometimes I just make them laugh.

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  3. Beautiful and heartbreaking all in one. I don't know the answer to your question. I don't think I've thought about it, and that's probably not a good answer. As for reading, I love books that touch my heart, whether with joy, hope, sadness or laughter.

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  4. The power of simple words never ceases to amaze me. I can only hope that mine are infused with honesty from my own life's vision.

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  5. That sounds like a powerful book. I'm glad it helped you during this difficult time.

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  6. Such a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you were given some comfort by words, something a writer cherishes.

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  7. This post was lovely... thanks so much for sharing. So much heart, emotion, and realness. :) For me, right now, hope is the big thing my words are infused with. I went through a period where I didn't have that--and now that I do again, I'm not letting it go. :)

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  8. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. We had this situation with my mother-in-law, with an Alzheimer-like disease, and then she died unexpectedly this fall. What an incredibly difficult road. We are still reeling from the drain of seeing her with the disease, trying to care for her and my father-in-law, and then the trauma of her passing. I will definitely look for this book, and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I'm glad you jumped back into writing. I think sometimes, that makes the most sense.

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  9. What a beautiful, thoughtful post. I am so glad you came by my blog today and left a comment so I could find you.
    karen

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  10. A truly great, evocative post. I try to always be aware that everyone is having a harder time than they appear. I hope you visit my blog and like what you find. I followed you over from Alex's blog, Roland

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  11. Ruth, so much of what you say resonates. When I was terribly ill last year, I became more aware of the others who were suffering. I am now very much attuned to those who need my prayers. They needn't even know ...

    I am glad that you are finding consolation in writing. And your words lift my spirits. I can only hope that my words will lift yours to the Lord. I am holding your family in prayer.

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  12. I'm glad you found this book at this time. It sounds like it has been a comfort.

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  13. Glad you have peace although I am sorry you lost your father. Sounds like that book will be a Godsend right now.

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  14. It's always good to stumble upon things to help us when we least expect them to. Sorry about the loss of your dad. I lost my mom this year too.

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  15. Ruth, that last picture brought tears. Am glad you found a book that could offer the right ... comfort at such a difficult time. I don't know exactly what my words are infused with, but I hope they express Honesty.

    And Hope.

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  16. I must have missed the post about your father. I am so sad to hear that he passed away, but at the same time, happy to know that he no longer has to suffer. That knowledge is such a blessing. I hope that you and your family will be able to have peace during this time. And I am glad that you were able to find such a wonderful treasure, infused with so much compassion.
    HUGS. :)

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  17. Sorry to hear of your Dad's passing, Ruth. And so glad you have your faith, family, and your writing to help you through. Words can be so powerful, to help and heal.

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  18. To answer your question, my words are infused with experience, and a large part of that experience is loss. My father died unexpectedly two days after my daughter was born. A year later my mother was diagnosed with severe dementia. They wouldn't let her come home with us so she went into a nursing home. Five years later, I lost her too. There was a release/relief that came with her death because she'd suffered for so long and yet there is also guilt that I couldn't do more for her, for either of them.

    We all cope with grief differently. For me, keeping busy helped a lot and through my writing, I found I could examine my emotions and thoughts too.

    I hope you find a way through your loss. All the best for 2012.

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  19. So sorry to hear about your Dad's passing. It is never easy to see someone you love suffer. I am glad you are at peace with his passing. I will keep you in my prayers, Ruth.

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  20. Such a wonderful post, Ruth. The power of language has always amazed me. I guess that why I'm such a reader/writer. Your post today reminded me of something I read just last night in "My Reading Life" by Pat Conroy. Here's what he wrote about a lesson his teacher had taught and the truth it had imparted to him as young boy.

    "Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world . . . ."

    Continue to heal and honor your father as you're doing--with words.

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  21. This is such a beautiful post! I hope my words are also infused with positivity, hope.
    Thanks Ruth :)

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  22. Hi Katie, I think you'll be blessed by this book.

    Eve, Oh yes, must update the home page. Thanks for the reminder. I have most definitely moved on to Christmas chocolates: coconut wreaths, chocolate dipped cherries, thin mints. . .the list goes on and on.

    April, Books that touch our hearts in some way are the very best. And that's my goal with my own writing as well.

    Joanne, Honesty and experience - a wonderful combination!

    Kelly, Yes, it was "meant to be" I'm sure.

    Catherine, Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words.

    Morgan, I'm so glad you've rediscovered hope. Hold on tight!

    Heather, Your experience sounds very similar to mine. It is so hard to watch a loved one suffer with this disease. My heart goes out to you.

    Karen, Glad you stopped by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Roland, A great way to think and help us remain sensitive to those around us! Thanks for stopping by.

    Vijaya, I didn't know you had such a hard time last year. I'm glad you are better now and were able to take from that experience an increased sensitivity towards others. Your comment reminds me of a great book I read years ago, "Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something." I think I'll pull if off the shelf and reread it.

    Susanna, It has been helpful, yes.

    Alex, Thanks for stopping by and offering your condolences.

    Peaches, I'm sorry about your mom. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    Claudine, Judging by not only MY CLEAREST ME, but also your blog posts, I'd say your words are definitely infused with honesty and hope, as well as beauty and peace and love.

    Leigh, Thanks for stopping by and offering your condolences and hugs. It's wonderful to have such supportive friends.

    Kristine, Thank you. Indeed, words are powerful things.

    Fi, I'm so sorry that you've had to experience so much loss. I know there's a lot of pain and guilt in having to put a parent into a nursing home. Writing is an effective way to work through all of the emotions. I'm glad you had that to help you cope.

    Sharon, Thanks for dropping by and offering up your prayers!

    Lee, Thanks for sharing that quote. I'm going to check out MY READING LIFE.

    Coleen, If your blog is any indicator, positivity and hope shine through your words!

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  23. I don't even remember if I knew this or not. I'm sorry for your loss, Ruth. But I know what you mean about your father now being at peace. I've felt that way about a lot of people I've lost.

    Writing is awesome therapy - we can lose ourselves in other worlds when we need to get away from our own.

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  24. I'm glad I didn't miss this beautiful post, Ruth.
    Peace.

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  25. Hi, just posted a blog post in which I gave you an award. Have a look.

    http://fionajphillips.blogspot.com/2012/01/award-from-fellow-blogger.html

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  26. You have an impressive list of stories of articles. Congrats.

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  27. So moving. I am sorry about your father. It’s a tough time I know. So beautiful that you found that book in a time of need. It’s interesting that I was just on a blog where someone is have a tough time coming to terms with the loss of their father. It was stirring up memories of my own and everything surrounding the day of loss. The next blog I clicked on was yours and I find this post. Interesting, don’t you thing? Is there a hidden message in it all or just a coincidence?

    Congratulations on your award!

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  28. What wonderful quotes, especially the one about being aware that at any given time people around you are suffering. If the whole book is that good -- wow.

    I'm sorry about the loss of your dad, and glad that writing is helping you. Whenever I hear or think about how art, words, and creating connect us to God, the prouder and humbler I feel to have this calling. Bless you!

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  29. Wow, sounds like God guided you right to that book. I'm so glad you found it and that it's helping to console you in your time of grief. Even though you're at peace knowing that your father is no longer suffering, it's never easy to lose a loved one. And each of us has to work our way through the mourning process in our own way. It makes sense that writing would help you through it. Thanks for sharing this with us, Ruth. Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

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  30. So sorry to hear about your dad. December/January seems to be a bad time. Writing is sure to help, all the best.

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  31. I hope the holiday period wasn't too painful for you. We all cope with bereavement in different ways. I'm so pleased for you that you're able to return to your writing and find comfort in that. I've always been a firm believer in the therapeutic values of writing but I'm not practising what I preach right now. I'm still struggling to get back to any in-depth writing since Mum died in April. Maybe with the new year I can try and move on.

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  32. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad.

    My prayers go out to you and yours.

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  33. I'm sorry for your loss - but your strength and purpose are an inspiration. Nice to meet you
    Laura x

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  34. A time to reflect and remember all the wonderful memories. And the kindness of people. I am sorry for your loss, and hope that the memories can bring some comfort.

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  35. Don't know how I missed your post. So sorry for the loss of your father. It is great that this inspirational book came to you at this time. Holding you in light and love.

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  36. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm also sorry you had to witness your Dad suffer from dementia, that must have been hard.

    Thinking of you.

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  37. I'd like to thank every one of you who stopped by and took the time to leave me words of support and comfort. The friendships I have made through this blog have been such a blessing.

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  38. I'd like to add my support for you as well. Take care. As Patricia says, I hold you in love and light.
    Clarike Bowman-Jahn

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  39. I'm delighted to find your blog as a result of a comment you left on mine. And to find this post on suffering...the timing seems divinely inspired (since I just posted today about writers and suffering!). I am very glad to know about Cairns' book. And uplifted by your insights.

    I wish you many blessings and Perfect Peace as you continue to honor your father's life.

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