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Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Walking the Lonesome Valley

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I'm not going to die,
I'm going home
Like a shooting star.
You've got to walk that lonesome valley
Well you gotta go by yourself
Well there ain't nobody else gonna go there for you
You gotta go there by yourself .

Death of friends and loved ones and the process of grieving is difficult.
What can I learn to help me go through this with serenity in my heart?

Entrée: Inwardly Alone by Vicki Woodyard
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Inward honesty is reflected outwardly - or so runs the principle of the inner determining the outer. This morning I had a quiet epiphany. I saw quite clearly that my spiritual path is one of inner aloneness. I actively seek, through meditation and silence, the experience of unity, which is a form of aloneness... of all oneness. I sat there and saw, possibly for the first time, that it is good to be inwardly alone. In fact, God asks this of us.

If anyone looks within and is honest, they will see that there is no one “in there” but them and that they are enough. Not only enough but sufficient. “My grace is sufficient,” said Christ. This is anodyne for the lonely.

I received an e-mail last night from an old friend. She was letting me know that her brother’s grandson had just died at the age of five. I would know, she said, how he felt and might want to write them a note. The phrase that came to me was that this precious child would be a rainbow on their inner landscape. Since my daughter died when she was seven, I am qualified to speak of the inner landscape. Mine remained unpeopled for years, but I was desperately looking for company, for consolation.

No more. When I can sit with silence and not fight being inwardly alone, a miracle occurs. I remember myself... that my spiritual quest is into aloneness. Often it is the inner equivalent of scaling Mount Everest. Only planting the flag of victory will do. If I succeed in planting this flag inwardly, then the outer will reflect it. I have made the two into one... and the One prevails.

About the author:

Vicki Woodyard is a spiritual writer who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Since her husband Bob’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma in 2000, they have been active participants in The Wellness Community there. Speaking and writing about their daily experiences with cancer and the lessons that they are learning is healing, says Vicki. "I hope that people will visit our website and read for a while. They will see that the gift in cancer is growth. Grace surrounds us, enfolds us, even in our darkest hours. Receiving the unwanted gift is an act of courage that is always rewarded." Visit to learn more about this remarkable spiritual couple, and to understand what it is like to Nurture the Now. Stay updated on the latest news for Bob and Vicki HERE.

Second Helping: A Final Goodbye by Mark Victor Hanson, author of A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul
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"I am going home to Denmark, Son, and I just wanted to tell you I love you."

In my dad's last telephone call to me, he repeated that line seven times in a half hour. I wasn't listening at the right level. I heard the words, but not the message, and certainly not their profound intent. I believed my dad would live to be over 100 years old, as my great uncle lived to be 107 years old. I had not felt his remorse over Mom's death, understood his intense loneliness as an "empty nester," or realized most of his pals had long since light-beamed off the planet. He relentlessly requested my brothers and I create grandchildren so that he could be a devoted grandfather. I was too busy "entrepreneuring" to really listen.

"Dad's dead," sighed my brother Brian on July 4, l982.

My little brother is a witty lawyer and has a humorous, quick mind. I thought he was setting me up for a joke, and I awaited the punchline - there wasn't one. "Dad died in the bed he was born in - in Rozkeldj," continued Brian. "The funeral directors are putting him in a coffin, and shipping Dad and his belongings to us tomorrow. We need to prepare for the funeral."

I was speechless. This isn't the way it's supposed to happen. If I knew these were to be Dad's final days, I would have asked to go with him to Denmark. I believe in the hospice movement, which says: "No one should die alone." A loved one should hold your hand and comfort you as you transition from one plane of reality to another. I would have offered consolation during his final hour, if I'd been really listening, thinking and in tune with the Infinite. Dad announced his departure as best he could, and I had missed it. I felt grief, pain and remorse, Why had I not been there for him? He'd always been there for me.

In the mornings when I was nine years old, he would come home from working 18 hours at his bakery and wake me up at 5:00 A.M. by scratching my back with his strong powerful hands and whispering, "Time to get up, Son." By the time I was dressed and ready to roll, he had my newspapers folded, banded and stuffed in my bicycle basket. Recalling his generosity of spirit brings tears to my eyes.

When I was racing bicycles, he drove me 50 miles each way to Kenosha, Wisconsin, every Tuesday night so I could race and he could watch me. He was there to hold me if I lost and shared the euphoria when I won.

Later, he accompanied me to all my local talks in Chicago when I spoke to Century 21, Mary Kay, Equitable and various churches. He always smiled, listened and proudly told whomever he was sitting with, "That's my boy!"

After the fact, my heart was in pain because Dad was there for me and I wasn't there for him. My humble advice is to always, always share your love with your loved ones, and ask to be invited to that sacred transitional period where physical life transforms into spiritual life. Experiencing the process of death with one you love will take you into a bigger, more expansive dimension of beingness.

About the author:

When Mark, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, is not speaking, writing or marketing his next best-selling book, he and his wife Patty live in Newport Beach, California with their daughters Elisabeth and Melanie. Together, the family nurtures dozens of chickens, 8 pigeons, 5 cats, 5 dogs, 3 rabbits, a multitude of fish, 4 horses, 1 peacock, 1 hamster and an organic garden complete with fruit, vegetables, herbs and is full of hummingbirds, butterflies and wonderfully fragrant flowers. Go to for more!

Soup to Nuts: From the Feedback Button
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Susan Friesen wrote, "I have written to tell you that now both Shivan and Lindsea have idiopathic (unknown cause) dilated cardiomyopathy. It is extremely rare, and doctors are stumped. Genetic studies are starting, but even so, doctors can't say that's the answer for this situation, as a genetic marker would need to be located.

"Lindsea is in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCLA Med. Center, expected to stay there until a heart is available, as her heart is so weak and it may take quite awhile until she can tolerate oral medications that allow her to leave the hospital to await a transplant. Lindsea is doing well in the ICU. She has a blood clot that medication is trying to thin. She is listed for a heart transplant and I ask that you share with many people her need for many to pray for her and send cards and letters of encouragement."

Susan, a subscriber to Friday's Inspiration Weekly, posts regular journal entries to the site, telling about Shivan and Lindsea's progress. It is truly heart-rending to know that this family has had two of their daughters stricken with this extremely rare ailment. Read more about this family in a Santa Maria Times Article and be sure to sign Lindsea's Guestbook with your prayers and words of encouragement.

Click to send your FEEDBACK to me right now!

The Whine List: 1998 Meridian Coastal Reserve - Edna Valley Chardonnay
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Enjoy the Sports Whine of the Week with a glass of Meridian's Edna Valley Chard 1998. The Wine News says: "This is a Chardonnay that brims with complexity – oak nuances, a satiny-smooth texture, the creamy-custardy flavors that come from disintegrating yeast cells, and the lovely ripe peach and sunny stone fruit flavors that extend from the entrance through the middle and down the long, long finish." Around $16 at most wine sellers, it is great for entertaining!

Main Course: Giving a Voice to Sorrow
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Gene Amole, columnist for The Rocky Mountain News was dying. Loved by so many, he still shouldered his responsibility to his faithful readers. He kept a diary, and one of his entries reads, "My life doesn't exist by itself. It is woven into the fabric of our family. As I grow weaker and less able to care for myself, the fabric loses some of its strength. What I have to do is keep reminding myself that I am not dying alone, that part of my family is dying with me..."

We leave so much, and so many, behind when we die. The loss is felt deeply by those who continue on - family, friends, acquaintances. Those who live on realize that, so many times in our life, we have faced good-byes of one kind or another, and somehow managed to get beyond the pain of parting.

I attended a funeral service for my mother's sister this week, and it brought home one of the most bittersweet good-byes of all, the loss of my own mother. Another member of my family passes on, and we grieve the loss. Again. We are not past the pain, just yet. We have not quite healed from the last one...

The kids, grandkids, and the great-grandkids were there. Somehow, it was comforting to know that the generations would carry on - the fabric of our families would continue to be woven in their lives. Her classmates from the graduating class of 1940 were there, as many of them as could attend. Their numbers grow smaller as their school chums cross over, one by one. Who among them was not thinking, "who's next?"

It is hard and frightening to deal with death, a subject about which we talk little. Yet when it is there and a reality, it must be faced squarely, because we have no choice to do otherwise. When it takes someone dear to us, it is important that we give a voice to our sorrow. At the memorial, we cried not just for Auntie, but for the others who had preceded her - Grampa in 1969, Gramma in 1989, Dad in 1995, my dear nephew Jeremy of AIDS in 1997, Mom in 1999... others, so many others.

In the midst of this grief, laughter. Not out of place in this family, mind you, because a sense of humor runs in this family. One of the older grandkids took it upon himself to speak aloud the many thoughts that some had expressed quietly, or privately. She was a funny gal, and had lived in interesting times. She asked for jazz at her funeral, and the music was top-drawer, no question. She loved to shop, but often took her purchases back to the store. Pepper was her favorite, and perhaps only, spice used in cooking. More, much more. To speak of these things about her gave her life dimension, depth, and a quality that could not be dimmed by the means of her passing. When he was done with this tearful-but-joyful eulogy, there was little that could be added.

Rituals like this are important to humankind. Without ritual we would have less continuity, less civility, less warmth and commonality with one another. Like the rest of our family, but perhaps moreso, Auntie had her own rituals, among which was reading the Daily Word. We giggled about a few of her other rituals, but we realized the vital importance of this ritual, this gathering in love, to honor the memory of her.

Yet, this is a ritual with which we never quite become comfortable, no matter how many times we practice it. Still, this ritual is better than grieving in silence, far better than pretending the loss doesn't hurt. Because it does. It always does.

The sorrow of that loss needs a voice. It is the voice of that part of me that died with her, and the voice of that part of her that yet lives through me. It is the voice that reassured her, while she walked through the lonesome valley, that she was not truly alone. And it is the voice that reminds me, neither am I.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2003

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