Much is taken, much abides
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
I knew this Christmas would have to be different, so I didn’t even try to capture any of the old magic. Instead, I tried to find reasons to rejoice in what remains of the abundant blessings that have colored my life. Earlier in the year, Jeff and I had talked about possibly going to visit my “other Mama and Daddy” this Christmas season, if he was able. This is the family with whom my parents, siblings and I spent pretty much every Christmas (and a lot of Thanksgivings and New Years and other times too) during our childhood. I didn’t want to give up on the idea of the visit, so a few weeks ago I called my sister Carla and asked her to meet me near their home atop Lookout Mountain. We went to see them on the day before Christmas Eve.
I have always felt lucky to have this wonderful second set of parents in our lives. They were close friends of my parents before I was born– in fact, “Tuffy” and my Daddy grew up together, and remained lifelong friends. How exciting to be seeing them again, enjoying a delicious meal and home-baked cookies Betty Jo made for us, just as she had done countless times when we were kids. We were able to visit with two of their children whom we hadn’t seen in many years, along with two of their grandchildren and one of their great-grandchildren.
We marveled at the view from their deck on a sunny day in late December, feeling happy we had come and already planning to come back again sometime. We all are older now, having each endured much loss and sorrow, but the heartfelt bonds that drew us together for years remain strong and vibrant.
If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you have lived enough years to identify with the mixed emotions one experiences when much has been taken, yet much still abides. I wish for you, at the close of this year and into the dawn of the new one, many opportunities to rejoice in what remains; to connect with all that has made you the person you are, with deep appreciation to mingle with whatever grief you may be enduring. This blending of time and joy and sorrow creates a powerful alloy. May it fill you with renewed strength to face whatever lies ahead.