Letter from Cynthia, Winter 2016

Dear Friends,
                What a wonderful topic for winter – warmth.  Many thanks to all of the contributors to this newsletter who have given us a broad perspective, from the physical to the soul expressions, of what is meant by warmth.  As parents and professional carers of children, it makes sense that we often tend to focus on the physical.  Knowing that the young child’s sense of warmth basically needs to be educated, we are given the mandate to cover them in layers and help them to grow into the understanding that layers can come off one at a time when appropriate.  We are meant to understand that sometimes their resistance to warm clothing is simply the feel of it –  bulky or scratchy or heavy or cumbersome – and we do what we can to mitigate that by the choices of clothing we make for them.  Giving in, however, to their plaintive cries, “I’m not cold!” is not the answer.  Cold children tend to play more frenetically and less creatively.  They need to keep moving to generate warmth, thus unable to enter into deep play.  Of course, the other side of the coin is the overdressed child who can become equally agitated or even lethargic.  We want to check on the layers now and then.  A worthy goal is to keep their core warm and cozy both outside and in (with warm drinks, for example).
                 Soul warmth has been a major experience for me as of late.  As most of you know, and as Rahima kindly points out below in the family news section, my husband Michael, who has been LifeWays’ Student Financial Services person, fell critically ill on September 11.  We are pleased to say that now, after four months in hospitals and re-hab centers and one month living with our young family in Sacramento, he is gaining strength.  We are told that he will eventually walk again.   And this is where the soul warmth comes in.  We observed it daily in the nurses and therapists who offered tender loving care and surprisingly delightful humor.  We experienced it in our grown children and my sisters who stepped out of their own very active lives to step into ours.  We experienced it tenderly through thousands of prayers all over the world and the ongoing GoFundMe site which you can read about in the link below.  And we experienced it within LifeWays North America.
                 My friends, please know that this wonderful organization that you support and love is comprised of some of the most loving and enlightened humanitarians on the planet.   The LifeWays Board, Student Services Directors, Lead Teachers and Staff rallied in a most remarkable way so that our absence from the work caused little more than a blip.  Please join me in expressing profound gratitude to all of them with a particular shout out to Mary O’Connell and Rahima and Agaf Dancy, who stepped in with such care and kindness to keep LifeWays running beautifully. 
                 A final note on warmth of spirit. In the midst of what was at times a fearful chapter of our lives, a precious little spirit winged his way into our family. I will never forget the drive to the emergency room to meet the ambulance that was delivering Michael there from the skilled nursing facility due to a rapid heartbeat.  I answered my cell phone to hear our oldest son say, “Mom, when it is the right time, please tell Papa we have named our son Ian Michael.”  Now, three months later, we are living with this little family, and there is daily joy in watching Ian and his Bop (what Ian’s 2-year-old sister, Eloise, calls her grandpa) each gaining new capacities.  The gauntlet has been thrown down, and we are eagerly cheering to see who will walk first – Ian or Bop.  Right now Bop is in the lead since he can already roll over and sit up, but Ian is definitely making strides forward.  We will keep you posted!  

Warmly, Cynthia

Cynthia Aldinger is Founder and Director of LifeWays North America