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The Fire of Endings


We had a lot of rain while up in Canada, but one evening was particularly beautiful and the world was on fire for a brief window of time.  We often think of endings as only sad, but I find there is a beauty to them as well.  Against the fierce edges of life, things around us suddenly become more vivid.  Endings can bring us gifts of awareness we did not have before.  I am thinking about limits and endings a lot these days.  My father-in-law was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has heart disease, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago and also has a history of stroke.  I am filled with sadness for them as they navigate these years of their lives, letting go more and more.  I am sad for my husband who has not had to deal yet with the loss of his parents and who so lovingly walked along side me when my parents died.  They may still live for several more years with modern medicine, but they are forced to release their independence slowly, a task that has not been easy for them.

Mostly I want to hold my husband closely, against this fierce backdrop of endings.  Each day a gift, each moment a sacrament, each heartbeat a treasure.  I want to breathe in love, breathe out love.

This has been a very good year for us even amidst our losses.  My life is abundantly blessed, I do work I love, I have people in my life I care deeply about and who care for me, I celebrate beauty every day.  Something about endings ignites the fire of gratitude within me until it becomes as vast as the purple evening sky spread across the ocean’s horizon.

What endings do you celebrate as the year draws to a close?  Which endings make you hold on to life and love more passionately?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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12 Responses

  1. yes it sounds like there are some good places to kayak around here. the youth directory of our church also got a kayak for Christmas and a book that talks about kayaking in this area! we are both looking forward to getting out there together. and of course i’ll share photos of our adventures throughout the year. hmmm…maybe i should get a waterproof camera.

  2. I love kayaking Bette, how very exciting! Are there good places near you to do that? Blessings on your creative process, I know you have many gifts to share, so bring them on! :-)

  3. I enjoyed the black background for the Advent season but now it is time to enjoy new light as well. “The Fire of Endings” – a beautiful title for the end of 2006. My heart is with you and your in-laws as you both face their health clallenges together.

    With every ending, God gives us a begininng! A time to grieve and a time to smile. The endings I celebrate are to hopefully shed my procrastinations and to focus more on creating and birthing the art that God placed within me AND to take more time to be in Nature!!! I received a kayak from my family for Christmas :)

    Peace and hugs,

  4. christine–in your two recent posts i hear the tension of endings. even as i look forward to ending a somewhat painful year, i cannot do so without remembering the moments of beautiful fire and life that have been breathed also this year. your words are wonderful and your photos stunning. blessings to you at this time of endings and new beginnings.

  5. Thanks for sharing about your own losses Me. I am fascinated by the varying colors of grief. I lost my last grandparent about six years ago and it was a good death, he had been ill for a long while and his heart was broken after he lost my grandmother four years prior.

    Thank you too for the comments on the photos. It was an incredibly beautiful window of time where I just sat in awe as the sky kept changing and revealing more new wonder.

    Blessings to you, Christine

  6. Right now, I view the impending end of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather has congestive heart failure and things seem to be deteriorating rapidly, my grandmother is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s where it affects her physically. In many ways, their lives were hard and greedy – and the impact of them on my life has not been particularly positive – except for the fact they birthed and raised and incredibly compassionate and strong woman in my mother. Even their sons have not been blessings in my life or my Mom’s. Yet, my Mom will hurt deeply when they die.

    The most beautiful ending I’ve dealt with is my paternal grandfather – in his last couple of years even though he was vigorous and healthy for his age – I could tell he was gently letting his grasp go. His grace and dignity were powerfully moving to me…and when he died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack – the grief was clean and pure – it was simply (and still is) the missing of his presence.

    Now his son my uncle is working through the same thing – letting go but his is harder he has a family that is still young his youngest just left for college this year, a wife who needs him, and the long deterioration of his illness and he is such an inspiration to me as he too lets go gracefully.

    Endings usually mean a new beginning, if we are willing.

  7. My partner talks about the healing gift of fire and ending on his blog too, he put it in story form, I’ll have to send you the link. I am sorry to hear about your in laws. Your partner though, will be very blessed with you by his side with you having already walked this road before and knowing how to turn even these things into their own sort of healing and beauty.

    Blessed New Year : ) Wendy