“Writing is therapeutic. It saves lives. Your truths are eager to come out. Let them spill onto the page, and see what doors writing opens for you. Your story is buried treasure.
One of the simplest, most private places to write is in a journal. It allows you to vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. It lets you analyze or celebrate. It allows you to finish a thought without interruption. The journal validates your right to be who you are.” — B. Lynn Goodwin, “Celebrate Your Uniqueness” in Inspire Me Today.
B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, which is currently holding its 10th Flash Prose Contest. She’s the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, and a YA called Talent, which Eternal Press will be publishing this year. Her short pieces have been published in local and regional publications.
Lynn will be on a panel of editors at Writers Forum in Petaluma, California on May 21, 2015.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Marlene. Inspire Me Today is a great site, just like this one.
If you’re reading this, please take a look at the contest in the gray box on the home page at http://www.writeradvice.com. Not right for you? Pass it along to someone who can use it. It’s good karma…
mcullen Post author
The Beauty of We
By Eva G. Cooper
Some of you may know I came to the United States as a political refugee from communist Czechoslovakia. Some of you may remember how, perhaps even the year, and where I lived before I came to Petaluma. Some of you do not know me at all.
Please allow me to share a bit of my life with you.
I came to the St. John’s Episcopal Church, at Fifth & C Street, thirty years ago. To be precise, on Sunday, March 3, 1985. How do I remember? It was that first Sunday after the Saturday morning, when I saw the higher power was real. The morning when I realized that only God knew what I needed after the darkest night of human despair. The “Great I am” posted a child drawing of a rainbow high in the attic windows and greeted me with a simple sign “Hi, Eva.”
However, that story is for another time to tell. Today, I would like to share with you something beautiful that I experienced recently.
Since 2009, I had been traveling back and forth across the Atlantic, to resolve an inheritance my great-grandmother left when she died in 1949. Many thorny legal issues, family conflicts, and pains surfaced again. When I finally got hold of our family court case file and read yellowed pages of documents from that past era, my heart broke.
It is water under the bridge, some people say, let us move on. Not an easy task to reconcile past acts and their consequences, I say.
On the bright side, I savored fabulous home cooked meals prepared by those who invited me back to their homes. I made rounds, and sampled their best baking: traditional kolacky. To boost my morale, the hosts kept pouring treasured home brandies: slivovice (plum), orechovice (walnut) and medovina (honey). Between the legal paper chase and court hearings, I squeezed playtime with my late brother Matthew’s grandchildren. I re-connected with my childhood friends.
During one of our chats, I mentioned to my friends that I would like to meet relatives of my favorite teacher. I wanted to share with her descendants the meaning of a precious gift she gave me when I was in the fourth grade. I needed to tell them in person what it meant, then, and how grateful I continue to be, today.
For years, I kept yearning to give a pearl of my life to someone who might appreciate it. I had that deep desire in my heart, for someone to hear and understand my testimony of what that gift was. And in a roundabout way, to explain what were the bequests of my teachers’ lives. As my new life in America began to unfold, it was revealed to me how our lives are and continue to be inter-connected, even after death.
Imagine my shock and delight on Easter Sunday 2012, when my friend Jitka called me. Out of breath, from the top of her lungs, she screamed:
“Eva, we found the teacher! She is still alive, and lives in an old people’s home in Velvary!! Here is her phone number!!!”
Thus began my journey back to another chapter of my life.
What a privilege it was to speak again with my favorite Class Teacher Olga Krizova. Coincidentally, her last name means cross in Czech. And, what a priceless moment it was to see her later that year, face-to-face!
We met in her bright, sunny, small room. Along with customary flowers, I brought her a Czech edition of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. Her mind was as sharp and curious as ever. Sadly, her eyesight was almost gone. She asked me to read to her a dedication page I had written for the book.
I still brush away tears, as I recall when she asked permission to touch my face. Still feel her gentle fingers touching first my nose; then circling around my cheeks. Her warm, loving hands capping mine; ever so tightly. Still hear her voice pitched to a higher octave of unfiltered gladness.
Imagine! I had a rare chance in my life to thank my elementary school teacher. It was a sacred moment, as I told her in my native language, in person, how much it meant to me when she penned verses into my Memento Diary, back then in the fourth grade.
“…seek the truth, love the truth, hold the truth, defend the truth, ‘till death. “
Famous words of the Bohemian martyr, Master John Hus,
burned at the stake in 1415.
As my Class Teacher, she understood. It indeed was a turning point in nurturing my mind, heart and soul. The compass implanted into my heart, pointing the way when days got foggy. The key that later unlocked many mysteries of life, brought forth the fruits of transformation of one life for sure, my life, beyond anything anyone could have imagined, back in the Stalin era of the Cold War.
This January 2015, my beloved schoolteacher turned 91.
I called her to wish her Happy Birthday. As usual, she was interested in how I was doing, how my life in America was going on… We talked about disconcerting current events in the world. We shared our love for humanity, and deep concerns for the next generations.
We discussed spiritual matters. She asked what my opinions were. I explained my various points of views. She listened, shared her observations, and posed more questions: “What is my theory of life?”
In the midst of it, it dawned on me. My teacher kept asking me questions, seeking answers to what was perplexing her mind. She reflected what was in her heart. She respected me. Most of all, she revealed to me her teachable heart. What a precious gift!
In the days that followed, I pondered gems revealed in our conversation. Another epiphany came to me, when I began to string my thoughts together:
“We” begins with “I.”
“I” and… who else…?
O the Beauty of, We…shall see…
And, if I cannot change the past, why do I care…?
Perhaps, that is a theme for another time of sharing.
In closing, I would like to hear from you. What are your reflections, what is meaningful to you?
Eva G. Cooper is a retired Senior Investigator of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). She conducted complex civil and criminal investigations of “white collar crimes” in the broad arena of employee benefits and pension trust funds. One of her high profile criminal case took nine years to investigate and prosecute, and included the first murder of an indicted co-defendant. Her passionate interest in truth finding led her to research collaborative methodologies of team building, non-violent communications, and the principles of Justice that restores and heals. In addition to her role as a case agent, she served in a collateral position as a Manager of the Federal Women’s Program (FWP) for the San Francisco Region IX, and was honored, along with two hundred women from all walks of life to be invited to the White House by then the First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. This historic reception, held in May of 1995, was to celebrate the 75th anniversary of women’s right to vote, establishment of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, and that year’s project Working Women Count!
As a Christian, over the years, Eva dared to deliver an individually imprinted gift, Oswald Chambers’ daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, to many high level federal officials in U.S., and Europe. The Czech edition of this book is dedicated, among others, to Master John Hus, her hero since childhood.
mcullen Post author
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Eva.
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