Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In honor of Gloria Kidd Brown

I knit my six rows of the traveling shawl last night, and had a wonderful feeling as I was knitting of connecting to all the other knitters who have and will have worked on the shawl by the time it is completed in October 2009. I rarely have such moments of connectedness to others around the world. The most vivid memory of such an experience for me is childbirth. I remember each time I gave birth reaching out to other mothers around the world laboring at the same time as I was. It was good to know I was not alone.

But we are also connected to people around the world in the most difficult of times. I think of difficult times in our lives as opportunities to learn compassion for others. Our community church was attacked by an arsonist last week, and it was such a blow to so many in our small town. In the first week people seemed to say,"What kind of person could do this kind of thing?" There is so much frustration around the unknown. What really struck me in this experience was that the feelings we in our community feel about our church must be intensified a thousand times or more to match the intensity of feeling of those whose ancient mosques have been destroyed in the Middle East over the past several years. The history, the family connections, the pain. And how difficult it is to suffer such a blow knowing who the culprit is and not having any recourse because of the lawlessness of the situation. I have long felt compassion for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the arson in the church next door brought their experience closer to home.

I guess I'm thinking that disease is an awful and awesome opportunity to learn compassion for others and the struggles of their lives, which may go unnoticed by the majority of us. I am honored to be a part of this project, which brings disease and awareness of disease to the forefront.

I knit my rows in honor of several Vermonters who shall remain unnamed, and especially in honor of Gloria Kidd Brown, the mother of my friend Stephan Cantor. Gloria died in 2006. She was in her lifetime a breast cancer survivor. A strong and vivacious woman, Gloria was an architect, a baker, a potter, a mapmaker, a community activist, and a wonderful mother, grandmother, and friend. Soon after she died, a friend published a book of Gloria's recipes and wisdom, from which I'd like to quote two passages. One is one of Gloria's favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill:

"If you're going through hell, don't stop."

The other is from a letter she wrote a year before she died:

Dear God,

You probably know I have a problem.

You know, You passed me by in the language category. I'll forgive you for that because You outdid Yourself in doling out the friends category.

Good heavens, I've got friends all over the place. Like all friends of friends, mine have helped me many times through my life's journey. Sometimes they make me crazy worrying about me though! They even gave me a wad of ready cash to help fix my ol' house. Can you beat that? Oh, excuse me, I guess You could.

A formal and serious letter is called for--or, knowing me, a simple note might do? I just want to let them know how much I really love them, how very much I admire the talents of each and every one and appreciate their generous gift for my 74th going on 75th birthday.

As usual I will be most thankful to hear what You have to say. Maybe You have already said it!?

I believe in You,
Glo ooooo ooooo oooo ria

Here is a photo of Gloria's daughter, my friend and neighbor, Stephan Cantor, holding the Travleing Shawl.

It has been an honor to be a part of this project.

1 comment:

Someday said...

I love this post - very thought-provoking! So sorry to hear about the vandalism, though.