Lifespring courses wound me up like a top. I spun from Anti-Racism Team to tennis lessons, Meals-on-Wheels to apple-picking to flea market sales. Holy Joy Spirit, I tried to do too much; lost sight of You except for Dayspring glimpses. Yet You breathed full-time life into Dayshare with group home exercise classes, one-on-one car or wheelchair-lift van rides and door-to-door planned routes for group outings especially with the Vietnamese Seniors. Thanks for safe driving all over DC, MD and VA, plus Baltimore, Lancaster PA and even NYC. Thank You, Abundant Provider, for countless hours of help maintaining pool, house, cars and van. Jesus, how You blessed that last year with daughters home and deacon son nearby! God forgive my dozens of whirligig church visits; thanks for Servant Leadership School, Compassion Group and caring women friends.
Came to my senses at Dayspring through yoga prayer; sensed shalom with Ruthie’s last words “It’s so beautiful” same words my heart sang on each Dayspring visit. Yet lacked a sense of direction at work though I was Activity Director at Bedford Court; at home, though daughters and others thrived there; at church, though I attended two or more most weeks. Lacked common sense to slow down and grieve: kept square-dancing, going to concerts, plays, movies; all my senseless yearnings centered on one man who gave me a sensible diagnosis after ten months— “no chemistry, too judgmental”. Meanwhile I bought a 15 passenger van and built the Dayshare Newsletter mailing list. Renewed friendships at 25 year Calvin College reunion and grew new ones with Margee Iddings at Rising Phoenix.
Worked six months at Great Oaks as Recreation Therapist for nine developmentally disabled adults. Drove Jean to Montrose Christian, friends’ homes, the mall, Ted and Le’s; Ruthie to medical appointments. Found a new church home, worshipping in the round at Silver Spring Presbyterian, receiving my first starword. Lived for evenings, weekends, trips, retreats, reunions.
Duped by ISOs, yearning for companionship, dabbled in dating. Relieved Ruthie could return to her New York apartment, but—-oh no! Her cancer came back. By then I was Activities Director at Sylvan Manor, facing state inspections, resident and family expectations. Sad I couldn’t attend but so grateful for Rhonda’s Calvin graduation, first of the fourth generation before Grandma Ribbens died. Brought Ruthie to her Pocono cottage in August; Rhonda moved in with Jean and me in September.
Single, but not singleminded; divorced, needing to reconcile with kids; dependent on Aunt Ruthie who bought the house (and full backyard pool where she and Mom hoped to swim). Jean was back with me finishing 8th grade at WCS; a basement renter helped with expenses those first months. Seniors Ministry gave me a thirty-hour week but with DC Department of Aging providing meals, Ella as site manager, three potential directors and plenty of volunteers, I was job-hunting. Newly retired, Ruthie was diagnosed with colon cancer; lived with us after weeks in NYC and DC hospitals. Newt’s summer repertory (including Duff) blessed church and community with one more wonderful show — Into the Woods — which affirmed my affinity for trees.
Every day new combos of jobs, friends, family, walks, drives, prayers, meals. Oh, the places You led me, Spirit! The ways people encouraged me to lead in senior center formation at DC CRC, adult day care at University Fellowship and art classes at Sarah’s Circle. Oh, the dear faces helping me focus on whatever was true, noble, lovely: Elizabeth O’Connor in “Journey to Freedom” (Call) class at Servant Leadership School; Katherine and Louise at my apartment; Joe Bailey, Dr. Tom, Clara Chichester, Mr. Walton and other Daysharers gathering around lunch tables at church. You blessed our comings and goings, Gentle One, working for our good in all circumstances: October birthdays 12, 21, and 43 at my apartment; Thanksgiving with family in Blacksburg; Duff and Dave’s help moving from hi-rise to Hillwood; last times at the dome—Mandela’s release on TV; last time playing piano by the big window; last paper routes for Jean and me; first trip to Nancy and Marv’s in New Hampshire.
Family Wellspring, thank you for brother Bill’s welcome back at Calvin where Rhonda was a student and Duff came singing Godspell one more time. Holy Love, thanks for your language streaming in journal dialogue over step-stones on Pocono, New York and Front Royal trips alone or with others. Shalom Spirit, thank you for amicable separation, for my first apartment and Masters degree, for the Collingswood job, for Dayspring and Dayshare.
Reading Elizabeth O’Connor’s Our Many Selves, feared I had way too many, all competing, none complete. Shivering Child cried for non-working woodstove. Artist drew self-portraits; poet wrote haiku.
Dream Log Keeper questioned therapist; Would-be Nun did last ditch family counseling. Wife took Florida trip with husband. C’s Mom idealized church hike. R’s Mom beamed as she made Profession of Faith. J’s Mom okayed Friesland trip. Homemaker battled fleas in carpet, beetles in crawl space. Niece winterized, cleaned, planted at Pocono house. Budgeter fumed at tax debt levies and credit card interest. Seniors’ Minister served as Beulah’s conservator. Master’s Student led Seniors Summer in Park program. CRC Member published Banner Voice.
Dear Marjorie at 40, The sulking is ending and mulling beginning. Look into basset hound Charlie’s eyes. Walk to Angela’s or even to church. Listen to Rhonda about that too-friendly teacher. Wait with Beulah to see the doctor. Draw those joy and care-lined faces. Pray for Faye and kids to find safe housing. Praise for trees, deer, water, sun. Lose your impatient self in divine surprise at Dayspring Silent Retreat Center; find your Spirit-breathed Shalom self. Savor the lectionary readings. Enjoy West Side Story— yes, four times!
Journals noted simple joys: morning woodstove fire-building fired me up. Letters from Mom, Joyce, Ruthie and Grandma Ribbens brought smiles. University of Maryland classes in Gerontology and Recreation renewed my devotion to Seniors’ Ministry at DCCRC. I rejoiced with Joyce welcoming baby Clara and with Nancy for her Silver Spring B & B. But grieved my failures as wife and mother. Duff graduated from Takoma Academy; sang “You Are the Light of the World” in Godspell. How many dear words from this my favorite DCCRC summer musical still rev me up today!
Heart surfaced back in Michigan with Jean at Gram’s memorial service and in New York on Ruthie’s balcony. Driving Edwina to dialysis kept me real between paper route, carpool and church secretary trips to the printer. Heart leaped as Duffy starred in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and soared as I joined The Ribbon peace march. Post Distributer and Housing Rehab Inspector Ted bought an RV; we drove cross-country but family bonds only weakened as debts and taxes rose.