In the Gloria!

A quote from the poet – Emily Barret Browning (1806-1861) Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; And only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries“.

Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
Lang zal hij/zij leven, (Long may he/she live!)
In de gloria,
In de gloria,
In de gloria,
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!
Hip, hip, hip, (hieperdepiep) hoera!

This is an old Dutch song that is sung when someone has a birthday or other significant celebratory event in their life. Notice each phrase is repeated three times for special emphasis. The GLORIA has a special mention here, I think it means as long as life lasts and from then on and into an eternal different plain, FOREVER. Usually the person so honored would then distribute an edible gift to those present. (at school, everyone in the class would be offered a candy, or a piece of cake or cookie)

This year is a special year of celebrations for me. Not only is it my 80th birthday but also it will be exactly a year ago that I had my by-pass surgery. I received a miracle, I have healed and life is good!

There is so much in our lives to be thankful about. The recent events (July 2021) in the world, (floods in Europe and tornadoes in Barrie, ON, so close to home) made me realize again that the edge of despair is always close by. I am more aware of my most blessed position and residence, now that I will become an octogenarian, than ever before in my life.

In my father’s generation there are only a few who lived to be this old. My mother Trientje Oosterveld was 80 when she died; my dad, Derk was 78; my father’s mother, Oma Titia (Grasdijk) was 87, (she was a strong woman); my Opa Jan was 74; my Great-Opa Jan was 73; my dad’s older sister was 97, (she was still biking in her 80s) his one brother died at 56; the other brother was 80. On my mother’s side most of (her brothers and sisters) my aunts and uncles, died in their 70s or early 80s.

It has become a habit for me to note the obituaries in the Hamilton Spectator especially on Saturdays morning when there seems to be a long list of persons who have passed away during the previous week. I read that many are in the 80s and 90s and I am taking note!

Life is good! Longevity is what everyone wants and seeks for in their life. Medical advances, access to care, prescriptions or herbal additions are abundant in every pharmacy and the discovery and promotion of drugs and health products continue to be produced and manufactured everyday that have helped many persons manage and recover from health issues and concerns that killed people 100 years or even 50 years ago. Treatments and cures of every kind can be obtained and purchased. Some of these are extremely expensive as they are produced in small limited batches for exceptional diseases that only the rich or the well insured can afford. The promos for health products knows no end. Hospital medical surgery techniques now are wonderful and almost magical. (See the Covid treatments and vaccines development recently) Thank God for the Canadian Health Care benefits that we as citizens enjoy in this country.

But besides all of these wonders there is also much disappointment in that the obituaries, which do not cease, eloquently continue to describe and record the griefs and sorrows for the passing of a loved one. There is no end. It is what life is.

But life still also has its great “I’m alive” moments.

One of the greatest pleasures for me is to sit quietly outside in the early morning in a garden, a camping spot or place of restfulness somewhere, and just listen to your surroundings: the sound of a summer breeze in the trees; the song of a little wren; the fluttering of a bee, working already with the early morning light doing what bees do – busily gathering honey and spreading life’s fertility from plant to plant; lake water crystal clear lapping at the edge of a sandy beach; the sight of an ant carrying to its nest food for winter; the occasional tweet of the cardinal and the majestic posture of a blue heron in a misty sunlit pond and the bright yellow petals of the sunflower standing tall among its garden companions.

How sweet it all is. This then is a time to give thanks. A time for a soul to remember the goodness of life. A time to give thanks and say a prayer to the Giver of Life, to feel humbled by the created world we see, touch, smell and hear. Go ahead take a breath and smell aura of the garden. Doesn’t that give you a crisp new feeling of new hope, new starts, and the joy of ‘just being alive’ satisfaction?

And as you listen closely with you heart and soul, you will hear the whisper of God in the breeze, echoing in your resting soul stillness.

“For you my child, I made all this, come, enjoy, work and be joyful; till in the GLORIA.”

July 18, 2021 (on being 80 years young) JS