Recently, as I paddled on my favorite Rochester creek, I reveled in the newness of a totally familiar place. Although I hadn’t canoed here in about a year, I knew just what to expect: where there would be a ninety-degree bend, where a log island, where a dead tree. And yet the water was higher (and made for easier paddling) than last summer. There were no swans where a family hung out a year ago. Sandy beaches had given way to banks of sun-dappled reeds. Even in a place where I’ve paddled dozens of times before, there were new sights to draw my attention, new thoughts to explore in the silence.
I grew up in a loving family and had a mostly happy childhood. But no one gets through life unscarred. My mother had a devastating stroke at sixty-seven, my older sister died at forty, my middle child never turned fourteen. Meanwhile, I moved, slowly and uncertainly, from the intellectual, Southern, liberal Judaism of my childhood to a warm, traditionally observant Jewish lifestyle. And now I’m dealing with cancer. (You can follow my cancer journey at www.caringbridge.org/visit/bjyudelson.)
Through it all, I’ve maintained the glass-half-full optimism of my youth. I draw strength from nature, my Jewish community, supportive family and friends, and a loving husband (52 years and still at it). Not surprisingly, my personal writing explores family, nature, Judaism, and overcoming obstacles.
I expect this blog to do the same, as these are my passions. Well, overcoming obstacles isn’t a passion, but hurdles seem to be a consistent component of life. And I’d rather overcome than submit to them.
I welcome your comments on what I write. I hope you’ll return with your ideas, and I look forward to finding out where dialogue may take us.