When anyone asked my late husband Jerry, “How ya doin’?” he’d often respond, “Hallowing my diminishments.” Jerry borrowed the phrase from Teilhard de Chardin, a 20th century Roman Catholic theologian he admired.*
A friend recently recalled this expression when her 90-plus father-in-law had to stop driving. “How do we hallow our diminishments?” she asked.
I needed to figure this out for myself.
In early December I fell and broke bones in my dominant hand, requiring a cast, supplanted by a removable brace. Then Jim and I both caught covid and were quarantined through Christmas. The record cold and snow kept Carolyn’s daughter, Kim, marooned in Syracuse. On Christmas day Jim’s daughter Michele and two grands brought a poinsettia and had to leave it on our patio and communicate through a closed sliding glass door.
Christmas cards went unsent, gifts unwrapped and ungiven. No tree.
As the year turns, here’s how I’m trying to hallow (honor, make holy) my own diminishments:
- Be brave.
- Change what I can. Accept what I can’t control. Don’t whine (that’s tough!)
- Remember what my friend Lauren said, “Grace abounds in our broken world.” Notice it.
- Let my soul grow.
- Deepen my compassion for others who are grieving diminishments, not only the aging but everyone of any age who is suffering loss.
- Practice gratitude. Here’s my own list:
- Friends and family who care, pray, and show up with casseroles
- 85 healthy years of life
- Two loving, supportive, good-looking husbands
- Kids who are good people and grandchildren who are flourishing
- A fascinating mid-life career
- Two books published after age 70
- And, undergirding it all, a faith learned at my grandma’s knee when I was three years old and still believe: Jesus loves me.
How are you wrestling with loss as the year turns?
* John Yungblut, a Quaker, took the phrase as the title of a pamphlet published by Pendle Hill in 1990.