Advent Word: Encourage

Earlier this week, my friend Rose sent me an email, wondering if I still had a copy of a poem I had written for a remembrance ceremony about “gifts.” She knew I had written and that we had read it at a holiday memorial service about ten years ago when I still lived and worked in St. Louis.

As soon as I received her note, a few lines rushed back into my mind but I knew that I didn’t have a copy of the original. I lost many of those files during my cross-country move. At that time, I mistakenly thought I wouldn’t need them anymore. I told her I was sorry I couldn’t help.

I kept thinking about the poem, though. I was kicking myself for being so careless to have lost it.

A few days afterwards, Rose sent me a message. She had reached out to another bereavement counselor colleague in St. Louis to see if she had a poem or reading on the theme. Not only did she have a poem….she had MY poem! Attached to her message was the same poem, “There is a Gift…” that I had written 10 years ago and 500 mikes away.

When I read it, memories and emotions came streaming back. I realized how my life has spiraled back around to touch again on these themes of loss and love, grace and growth. After I wrote that poem I moved away and took on new directions. My writing turned to scientific journals and research reports. I developed new skills, acquired new knowledge, and took on different roles in leadership. I am not the same as I was when I wrote this poem. But, it still speaks to me about my core values, and the beliefs at the core of who I am.

Today, I reflect on the word, “encourage” and I take in the layers and depths of encouragement that I have received and given today. When I take in the word, I know true encouragement is not just a little pep talk or confidence boost. It is the sharing and embodiment of the courage to live. We encourage one another because we need to jointly share in that embodiment of love and strength. We need each others words, and ideas, and embraces. With encouragement on the journey, we become more than we would be capable of becoming on our own.

To encourage is a great and mighty gift.

So, I will share encouragement by passing along this long-lost poem as well:

“There is a Gift….”

In the scrapbooks and memory pages of the mind

thoughts of you have formed a cherished and unforgettable image…

In remembering you, there is a gift.

The tears fall at times we least expect

no amount of time, space or new experience will ever

replace you…

In shedding tears, there is a gift.

Glimpses of you are caught

in waking mind, moments before dreams melt into daily reality…

In cherished connection, there is a gift.

The deepest longings of the heart

escape into the night air, acknowledged by a gleaming star…

In quiet reflection, there is a gift.

Other eyes are moist with tears,

other arms reach out to help and other

voices encourage us…

In sharing grief, there is a gift.

Life has challenging lessons,

love is stronger than anything; love is stronger than death…

In learning this, there is a gift.

We gather under the star light,

each candle spreading light, each light honoring a life…

In your life,

in our own living,

there is a gift.

In response to the AdventWord global advent calendar project with the Society for St. John the Evangelist. Today’s word: #Encourage. Follow the worldwide advent calendar at:

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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