A Book Review

Today, I’m pleased to bring you a guest book review by Linda Scisson.

This excellent little book, Mysterious Moments, reminded me of my own experience in coming to terms with my brother Will’s death. Linda sums up it much better than I could in her excellent book review below.

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A Review of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief

by Linda L. Scisson

It’s not every day a relative writes a book, and it’s certainly not every day that a relative writes a thought-provoking book that deserves attention among the blog-site world (and elsewhere). I’m speaking of Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief (Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University, Library Partners Press, 2017) by Jane Williams, PhD. Jane, a recently retired clinical psychologist, is my second cousin. Jane’s paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather were sister and brother. In other words, our dads were first cousins.

While the book’s title is Mysterious Moments, the operative word is “suddenly.” Throughout the ten narratives, based on real life experiences of loss, transformational moments are introduced with phrases like, “suddenly she realized,” “without warning and without any effort, she suddenly . . .,” or “suddenly, in the middle of my distress a healing thought . . .”

On a similar note, with the adjective mysterious appearing in the title, the reader discovers that often a moment appears in an unusual way that brings comfort, healing, or a deeper understanding to a person dealing with grief.

Based on Jane’s clinical experiences, Mysterious Moments allows us to have a better understanding of the idiosyncratic and often mysterious process of grief. That is, the book is not a step by step, self-help book on the stages of grief. It is a book to savor the stories. Why is that? Because one will find lessons to help in this challenging world that includes, like it or not, a delicate emotion called grief.

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Dr. Jane Williams

And the author’s credentials speak for themselves. Dr. Jane Williams has worked for over 25 years with individuals who have experienced trauma, life threatening illness, and grief. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA and Harvard Medical School. At Harvard, she trained in medical crisis counseling and later developed the Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. And she has helped develop grief programs, made national presentations at grief conferences, and published peer-reviewed articles on grief.

And I might add the University of Arkansas’ “Hog Call” would not be an unusual sound to Jane, as she was raised in Russellville, Arkansas, attended Hendrix College, and graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. And some folks in our state would recall Jane’s leadership in the Pulaski County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

 

While grief is a universal experience, whether one currently calls Arkansas or North Carolina their home state, I believe this is a book to place on your reading table. Admittedly, a box of facial tissues nearby would be a good idea, as Mysterious Moments is a tender book.

When I first heard about Jane’s book in April (2017), she asked me to let her know what I thought about it. By email, I did just that in mid-May. Having read three reviews by professionals on the book’s back cover, including sterling comments by a former president of the American Psychological Association, I decided to write my own brief reviews. Here are three of them:

(1) The multi-colored working of the Holy Spirit weaves through the ‘mysterious moments’ in 10 easy-to-read stories. Williams’ book is a beautifully understated spiritual book without one specific scripture quoted or referenced.

(2) Continuity and clarity and care — that’s what you’ll find. I did not feel the author was rushed in writing it, and I did not feel rushed in reading it. But I was quite curious what the ‘mysterious moment’ was going to be for each of the 10 stories.

(3) Mysterious Moments calls one to rest in the tension of one’s grief and rest in the grace of one’s eventual, and often unusual, transformation.

Hopefully, blog-site readers of “Reflections from Dorothy: Reflecting on Life, Love & Faith” are convinced that it is no mystery that Mysterious Moments: Thoughts That Transform Grief by Jane Williams, PhD is a polished gem that I am fortunate to have suddenly discovered, and think you will be, too.

 

Linda L. Scisson is a retired administrative assistant and author of Durables: Articles, Poems, and Reviews and One-of-a-Kind Christmas Quiz.  She lives in Little Rock.

 

A Note from Dorothy: I want to add my recommendation to Linda’s excellent review. Mysterious Moments is a quick read that I believe will bring comfort and hope to anyone struggling with grief.

You can order Mysterious Momentsfrom Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Or ask you local bookstore to order it through Ingram.

WHEN BLUEBIRDS DON’T COME

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Courtesy of Freeda Baker Nichols

Awhile back, I wrote about friends posting pictures on Facebook of bluebirds, my bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have the proper habitat, and how a friend’s suggestion spurred me to buy a bluebird house. Read it here, BLUEBIRD HILL.

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My heart nearly thumped out of my chest the day I spotted a bright blue bird on our deck. But wait. He didn’t have a rusty breast. I looked him up in my bird book and found he was an Indigo Bunting—our first. Isn’t he beautiful?

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Courtesy of Freeda Baker Nichols

The bunting continued to visit—for which I was glad—but in truth, my heart was fixed on bluebirds.

Finally, after another week, I looked out to see a male bluebird perched on top of the birdhouse. His mate was peering inside. Each day I watched, hoping to see them, but they showed up only one more time.

I pushed back sadness.

While I continued my vigil, Baltimore Orioles and a Rose-Breasted Grosbeck dropped by. One day, I found our cats mesmerized by two tiny gold and black birds resting outside the patio door—Blackburnian Warblers—the first I’d ever seen.

Blackburnian Collage

We fed yellow and purple finches, titmice, cardinals, mockingbirds, wrens, waddling doves, and red-winged blackbirds.

A Moment of Truth

We were bird-rich.

So why did I feel poverty stricken?

The answer rocked me.

I was ungrateful.

I was as ungrateful as a toddler, demanding his friend’s toy truck when a fleet of new ones lay at his feet.

Only instead of trucks, I wanted bluebirds.

Shame crept over me as I thought of all the amazing avian gifts God had so recently sent us.

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Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, and Blackburnian Warblers visited us.

More Questions

What if bluebirds never nested in my handsome birdhouse?

Could I not rejoice in the bejeweled creatures that regularly frequented our deck?

I could.

I would.

With a sheepish prayer of repentance, I released those bluebirds to God, resolving to simply concentrate on whatever riches He provided each day.

And I’m making progress. Occasionally, when I glance at the bluebird house, hope rises for next year. But I’m leaving that to the Lord. When I find myself obsessing, I’ve found it helps to sing or quote a familiar verse: This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in IT. (Psalm 118:24).

Could you be missing God’s blessings because you’re focusing on the wrong thing?

If so, I invite you to pray with me: O Lord, give us grateful hearts for the gifts you send. Deliver us from ingratitude.

And you might want to sing that chorus.

In the meantime, may your day be bluebird rich.

. . . in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians. 5:18 [NET] 

 

 

HELLO AGAIN

 

Navarre Pier

I  haven’t posted in a while because we’ve been in Florida relaxing, sitting, reading, and sometimes just staring. Except for jotting down observations in my journal, I haven’t written a thing beyond a few short posts on Facebook and necessary responses to email & messages by iPhone. I guess you could say, I’ve mostly been offline. It was a restful time, but I’ve missed blogging. So here I am again with reflections from early one morning.

 

Quiet Beginnings

It’s early as I step out on the balcony, coffee cup and journal in hand. No breath of wind, the sea below is a glassy aqua.

Where waves pounded the shore this time last week, only lulling swells lap against the shoreline in a chorus of swish-swoosh. Each swish drapes the shore with ethereal white lace that dissolves with the next swoosh.

In the distance, small birds rock on blue water looking for a seafood buffet. A barge towed by a small tugboat works its way across the gray horizon, and I idly wonder what their business is this early morning.

The same breeze that cools my cheek and bare arms glides across the ocean below, producing more rickrack than ruffles on its surface.

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A line of pelicans flies by overhead.

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Another bathwater day as Terry calls it—calm, gentle—perfect for small children or for Mom to soak away the weariness in her soul.

A father, mother, and preteen daughter pause at the end of our boardwalk for a picture of the girl, and she throws out her arms, tilting her head in such a way that I although I can’t see it, I know she’s smiling. They make their way down the steps and across the sand to the water’s edge, where they proceed in follow-the-leader single file, heads tipped down, probably looking for shells or that Elusive Sand Dollar.

Within minutes they switch directions, angling back across the sand toward the boardwalk. Daughter gravitates to Dad, momentarily clutching his upper arm. As they pass beneath my perch, I want to call out, “Enjoy her company. The time is fleeting. Too soon, she may elect to sleep-in instead taking of an early morning walk with you.”

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Caroline Day, Norcross High School 2017 Graduate

Having just attended my youngest granddaughter’s graduation, I’m almost painfully conscious of the rush of time. I couldn’t help wondering if her dad’s short, solitary sojourn on their back patio just before our departure that morning was his way of putting on his armor.

Later when we teased about handing out tissues for the ceremony, he grinned and declared, “I’m happy!”

We all echoed, “So are we.”

And we were happy to celebrate her accomplishments and pleased she’ll be going to college in the fall.

Still, it was bittersweet as is any change of season.

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19