the bittersweet

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy
are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but
to mature and transfigure us.”

― Hermann Hesse

“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley


(image of the bittersweet herb Rue as seen on an herbal supplement site)

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint,
rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.
You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Luke 14:42

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, there are numerous references to
both plants and herbs.
With each, along with salt, having been seen as taxable commodities.

Since these were items that were sold, traded and bartered,
and whereas people were making money from the sales of such items,
officials naturally wanted to impose a tax.

And with such an early example of something so simple being taxed,
is it any wonder that something like tea, which would lead to a
rebellious bunch of colonists tossing crates of such leaves into a harbor, be of
any surprise…

And since both plants and herbs were playing such a pivotal role in early commerce
we began to divide them into categories…
with both sweet and bitter being the frontrunners in the categories of taste, use,
perception and enjoyment.

Enter the Passover seder with it’s mix of bitter herbs
And they shall eat flesh in that night, roast with fire,
and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:8

Or the admonishment of self restraint and to approach things with moderation….
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

So all of this talk of herbs and bitter and sweet came flooding in yesterday…
not because of Seders, or cooking, or bartering, or taxes or planting or even quiet reflective Biblical readings..
It actually came about as I busied myself getting ready for of all things…
to take a baby shower on the road.

For you see this is the first big family event that is taking place
without well, family.

We’re having a big baby shower in Atlanta for my son and daughter-n-law this weekend
and I’m the one putting this little shindig together.
There will be about 60 friends and family, old and young, near and far who will
come help them, as well as the grandparents to be, celebrate…

It will be there at what was Dad’s house…with what was once my childhood room now becoming a nursery.

Usually when I do these sorts of events, my trusted helper is and always has been,
right by my side—that being Aunt Maaaatha (aka Martha).

She would have flown up earlier this week, coming with her sleeves rolled up,
ready to jump in with both feet as we’d cook, prepare, buy, shlep,
and haul things here, there and yon.

And whereas I’ve been busy making plans, making orders, purchasing,
cooking and packing everything up… getting ready to transport
things to the big city, I can’t help but feel that tinge of bittersweetness.

What has always been a team effort is now a solo event…
Each time I stop long enough to take a breath, I am a bit haunted by what’s missing.

My dad’s only remaining cousin, who at 92 is the oldest and last living member
of that clan, will be making the trip.
My aunt, my dad’s sister-n-law, who is also 92, will join us as well.
As the top tier of the family now prepare to welcome the newest forthcoming member.

Yet knowing who won’t be with us physically at this party has left me a bit wistful.
But whereas I know there will be those who will not be with us physically,
I do know they will there in spirit.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

25 comments on “the bittersweet

  1. Lynda says:

    It is indeed at special times like this that we miss those whom we love and who have passed on. Yet, as you mention, they are there with us at all times. I can only imagine the gala affair that you will make of this celebration of the little one-to-be! Your son and daughter-in-law are blessed. Enjoy!

  2. Wally Fry says:

    Will be both happy and sad huh

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    God always replaces those we’ve lost with a new life. How cool to celebrate in spirit with Aunt Mahtha on this wonderful blessed occasion. I know you miss her, but you are going to love being a grandma and that new child will fill the spaces immensely!

  4. Another timely message….Couldn’t help but think about what Joshua and Caleb probably felt as they walked into the blessed promised land! So many started the journey with them, but didn’t make it in. I’m sure they carried in their heart’s, the memory of some of their closest family and friends. As we journey following God, some people transition, some leave, and some stay..#bittersweet

  5. hatrack4 says:

    I’m visiting my sister today, just the two of us and our spouses. When my parents passed away the reunions stopped. When my wife’s mother passed away 7 months ago, we discussed how the family unit has been redefined. She visited her brothers and sisters this past weekend for her brother’s wedding (first time married at 68), but when we said good-bye, we kind of knew that it was for the last time. Sad, but life goes on.

  6. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    Amen Julie 🙂

  7. So difficult to watch our loved ones move on to heaven and to be left behind…But I know that there are a great many in your family who look to you in the way you looked to your Aunt Martha. I imagine you are truly loved. God bless you, Cookie! I have grown to see you as a friend through your wonderful writing and look forward to your posts!

    • Thank you Lynn—I thought I started “following” your blog the other day but guess I hadn’t hit follow hard enough…anywhooo I think I’m on board now—finally 🙂
      I”m a bit of a slow learner 🙂

  8. Sarah says:

    Well, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend despite the bittersweetness. There’ll be so many lovely folks there making new memories. How wonderful you are to organise all that. God bless you. 😀

  9. oneta hayes says:

    Some will just be in “the other room.” Listen closely; you may hear their giggles as they watch on while you welcome your little one. Who knows? I don’t, but I’m sure memories of them will high-light your day even if accompanied by bitter-sweetness. Peace and hope will be with you.

  10. Dawn Marie says:

    The sweet sands of time…. Thank you for sharing them with us! Hugs & Blessings!

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