Some of my greatest learning periods have accompanied loss.
I was thinking about that a while back. I remembered the hard lessons that came when my ability to earn a good living took a hard crash and when my normally cheerful nature disappeared. Things that would have been plenty hard on their own were worse because I had taken them for granted. I'd thought they were parts of me, so when they were gone I questioned what I had left.
Remembering that - in this era of hard times - I had to wonder what else might go. I did not think of writing, though that was a thing, but I did identify something that would be an issue.
My natural tendency is to love. It's not just that I believe it's right, but it flows for me. It is usually easy for me to like people and see the good in them and to be happy for them. I thought that might be the most key part of my identity, as well as a key part of my faith. Losing that would be a problem. I tried thinking about prevention or safeguards, and the only thing I came up with was that if I felt my love slipping I better pray.
It was probably happening before I noticed it. Where I first started noticing it was listening to a friend who has had her own hard times, but things are starting to get better. I found myself less happy for her. There was just such a hole inside from wondering when my turn would be.
The last time I remember feeling jealousy was around 1997. I must have really backslid to be facing it again all these years later.
You would think that having thought about the possibility and potential strategies in advance should help. but I didn't really pray about it that much. There were so many other things that I needed to pray for - things that dominated my brain - that it was easy to forget.
Still, there was a level on which I was trying to keep love alive, and I didn't recognize that right away either. This Christmas I found myself with a strong desire to bake for our neighbors.
I have had two other rounds of Christmas baking. Five years ago it was geared toward people from church, and the time before that (possibly ten years ago, but I am not sure) was for friends. It's not that I only do Christmas things every five years, but big rounds of baking are rare.
Another thing that I lost on my computer was my recipe file. When everything was down there wasn't even a way to look up recipes. Still, between recipes on packages and recipes that are simple enough that I remember them (and also buying one container of dough), I made cookies: chocolate chip, oatmeal butterscotch, peanut butter (with and without chocolate kisses), and brownies. Because out of the fifteen houses on our block, only four are dog-less, I also carried along a bag of dog treats.
The reason I know that the last time I baked was five years ago is because it was Sandy Hook. The local shooting here and then the much worse shooting there had cast a pall over the year, and I instinctively felt that my answer was to cook and deliver it away.
I didn't know why I felt so strongly that I needed to take plates to our neighbors, then I started to think that maybe it was to lift the gloom of this rotten year.
It could also have been to connect. There were some good visits. There were some where I made Mom come because I knew there would be visiting and she needed it too. Maybe it was to let the neighbors know that we can be there for them. I don't know. It was just what needed to be done.
Maybe I needed to know that I am still capable of giving and doing. Anything but money, anyway. I took a backpack of leftover emergency supplies downtown too. No, there's not much I can do for the homeless, but they can use those things better than I can.
(Of course, as I left the group I was talking to, I saw a city worker with a trash can, and suddenly felt disapproved of, but maybe that was my imagination. If not, that problem is the system, not me.)
And maybe I should start praying more about that. However, I must also admit that a later failure of love was very helpful.
I hope to write about that Monday.