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.
Adrian Small says
Sorry to hear about your fall and COVID. I hope you are both doing better. I wish you a healthier 2023 full of success. I also want to share with you the following, to hopefully cheer you up:
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
Let’s have a call sometime.
My best to you and Jim.
Mary F Meyerson says
This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for us. In addition to this: “Change what I can. Accept what I can’t control. Don’t whine (that’s tough!)” my father’s advice helped. He used to say, “You can’t control the cards you’re dealt. You can only control how you play the game.”
I hope the rest of your recovery goes smoothly.
Sorry to hear about your recent injury–we wish you well–We’re in our 68th year of marriage–God has been good to us.
Have a happy and healthy New Year.
Jack and Jeri Walsh
Nicholas Mirkay says
I really needed this message today! So helpful and extremely pertinent to my life right now. Best wishes to you and Jim in the new year for continued happiness and good health! Big hugs, Nick
Roy Parker says
Spoke with Kim over the phone yesterday.
First time we have spoken & caught up on a great deal of family history.
Looking forward to our next conservation.
Carolyn, hope you are “ mending well”
M. Jane Markley says
Outstanding article and so timely. It reminds me of the old saying that ”getting old isn’t for sissies!!” Hope you are feeling better and know you are ready to make the best of 2023!!
Barbara Lawson says
I am not surprised that you battled back from your accident and continue to deliver your positive message! You are a true inspiration for all that you have accomplished.
Phyllis Holt says
So glad the old year has passed and you are facing the new one positively. That is by far more reversals than your share, and over Christmas was the ultimate! I do pray for your continued healing! Love and prayers!
Becky Mertz says
What an awful way to end the year. I am so very sorry things took a turn for the worse.
I am inspired by your positive spirit!
I am forever reminded of God’s Grace in life …I am truly a positive person and know how I have been blessed with this attitude which serves me well daily.
Your in my prayers,
I recall Gordon Cosby speaking of hallowing his diminishments. I too seek that mindset. I so appreciate your expanding the concept for me.
Carol A Christian says
Wishing you a healthy and happy 2023. Hope you are recovered from your injury.
We have just sold our home in NC, after 41 years, and have moved to Florida to be closer to our kids. It is a huge change for us, has been tons of work, and is very exciting. We’re starting a whole new chapter in our lives as 70 somethings! Will be in touch with you when we are settled into our new home. Sending much love to you.
ERNEST D GRANT says
Happy New Year Carolyn,
Clearly, you had a tough December, but I’m happy that you are recovering and that you retain that fighting spirit! Near the end of December, it dawned on me that I had not received the December edition of “Tough Conversations.” I thought that maybe the writer, editor, and publisher were on vacation.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL!! Until I became an old man, a snake was about the only thing that I really feared. Now, the fear of the snake has been replaced by the fear of falling, hitting my head on a hard surface and being disabled. I don’t “carry a big stick,” but I do “walk softly.”
Walk softly Carolyn. Fortunately, you have two hands, but you only have one head.
April Yamasaki says
I’m sorry for your fall, Carolyn, but so appreciate your spirit and thank you for sharing. I hadn’t heard of the phrase hallowing our diminishments, but love that on so many levels. Thank you and all the best for 2023.
Oh the lessons we have to learn to know there is Good in everything! I, too, was in a walking cast for 12 weeks for a broken foot and had Covid starting Christmas Day. I learned so many lessons during that time. I say “Thank you God”. May you find the Good in your experiences.
Carolyn Parr says
Thanks, Maxine, for taking the time to write in the midst of your “diminishments.” I hope you’re healing quickly.
Carolyn Parr says
Rather than publish all of them, I want to thank everyone who wrote sympathetic comments. I want you to know I’m healthy again, and grateful for all the love.
GLENN DOW says
God bless you, Carolyn. Your tenacity reminds me how (whatever shape our head is in) we must let our heart (whatever shape), to lift our soul to get us out of bed at 4:30, to read my Rick Warren devotional to find the uplifting of my soul to follow the Good Shepherd & contnue to try & serve the community I am in. On my 88th birthday, I will be giving away a good amounts of both devotional books, etc. also WW2 books, in hopes of completing my “Kid’s Eye View of WW2” to share vocally & in writing. It’s important to remember, that we Can still have One Mission. All of that despite the fact that we lost three of our (Opal’s)family members (her brother-in-law & his wife, & Opal’s youngest brother in four short months in 2022. So she & I & supporting children/grands must “Keep on Keeping On” thru 66yrs of marriage & decline & somehow continuing to serve despite arthritis, etc.& decline. Love you!