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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Bright Spot - April 2015
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

The pavement was wet, the day overcast.  Autumn had descended on Kentucky in earnest; even a little wisp of wind sent leaves stirring, whirling before they fluttered to the ground to rest.  Many of the tree branches were already bare.  But many leaves still clung to their hosts determinedly, hanging on a little longer.  The colors on the trees were dull, and most of the trees wore leaves of brown.

My husband Tom and I were driving home from Kentucky after visiting with my sister and her husband who had returned home from rehab after a stroke.  Our mood was quiet.  We had been saddened by the fact that the stroke had forever changed both their lives.  Sickness has a way of changing the bright colors of our worlds of hope and brightness to a drab grey. 

Most of the landscape along the highways, like our mood, was devoid of color.  But ahead of us, proudly standing close to the right side of the highway, something caught our eye—a splotch of bright yellow-orange color, a tree that almost glowed.  It stood out vivid, distinct, and cheerful against a backdrop of less-than-colorful companion trees, a few of which were already bare.   

“Tom, look at that tree!” I said excitedly as our car approached the tree.  “Isn’t that beautiful?”  That one tree painted a cheery contrast to its dull surroundings.  

Our car whizzed past the delightful sight too quickly, but Tom and I talked about that tree as we traveled on down the road.  We wondered how it had escaped the cold and frost that had taken away the color from other trees.  As we drove, we hopefully scanned the road ahead of us, searching for more trees like that one.  But we never found another close to the beauty of that tree. 

I tucked the picture of that bright yellow-orange tree in its dull surroundings into my memory.  That scene is a reminder about life, nature, and people.  Life that brings us the sunny times and the grey times—sickness, death, and troubles.  Nature with its seasons—from birth to death, with autumn preceding winter.

During those difficult seasons, hopefully there will someone there to brighten your life when you need them.  People who listen and care are those bright spots in our lives, those that give us hope when our worlds are colorless and sad.  The Mother Theresas of the world who bring hope to the poor.  Or the Martin Luther Kings and teachers who encourage us to pursue our dreams.   

On a smaller scale, maybe that bright spot is a family member or friend who says “You can call me anytime”—I had such a friend after my husband died—I will never forget her.  Or maybe your bright spot is one who sends you a personal note.  Those who say, “I know it is hard, but you can make it.”  Or someone who says “Let’s go out for a cup of coffee.”  Maybe your bright spot is a good book, the coo of a baby, happy music, or flowers that emerge in the springtime—anything to add color to your grey-brown world.  

Sometimes we are challenged to scan the landscape as we travel along in life, challenged to search for that bit of brightness to give ourselves emotional boosts when we need them.  Perhaps it is our desire to escape our grey surroundings that makes us appreciate the bits color and brightness more when we find them. 

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a master artist, once said, “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun.”  In a sense, we are all writing our stories, painting our life pictures, while looking for sunlight. 

So as our hearts heal, maybe we can become someone else’s symbol of hope.  Maybe we too can be that bright yellow-orange tree standing in a patch of grey to “transform a yellow spot into the sun” for someone who is hurting.  Someday you may be someone else’s bright spot. 

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice 709 Liberty Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator