the extinguished light

I stand cloaked in the words

that threaten to envelop me

if I do not give them breath and life

 

and still I stand

hesitant

unsure of the tempest

that will come

if they are given voice

 

for though I love the rain,

the storm both frightens and thrills me,

I seek shelter but do not cover my eyes

 

fascinated

intrigued

terrified

 

and then the darkness comes

as it always does

and the light is blown out,

it must be saved for others

for another

dark and cold

night

 

but not for this life

it doesn’t matter

she won’t need it anymore, they say

 

they don’t realize

the candle won’t be as bright

the next time they seek its glow

 

one less person to reflect

the radiance

 

and the tears fall

on the unhallowed ground

and no one grieves anymore

 

IMG_6250

 

 

 

Fiction or Non-Fiction?

It amazes me how our children pick up on things that are on our minds and hearts, without us even speaking them.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m tying what they’re asking into what’s weighing on me.

Either way, Cooter and I had some interesting conversation today, while he was trying to distract me from the fact he was NOT doing his math.

“Mama, why did they execute people back when they did all that?”  (We’ve been studying some Elizabethan history.  Henry VIII, his wives, Lady Jane Grey–oh how I love her)

Oh me.  If only that were a thing of the past.

“Well, I guess they were using it as a way to punish them for committing a crime.”

He thought for a minute.  “Must have been a pretty bad thing they did, if that was the punishment.”

What do I even do with that?  I chickened out.

“Well yeah, I mean, I guess they thought so at the time.”

“Why did they wear masks?  The ones who were doing it?”

“I think it was to protect their identity, so no one knew who was actually doing the executing.”

“Oh.”

A few minutes later, after he had sat daydreaming, he dropped the real bomb on me.

“Mama.”  I looked up.  “Do you believe in God?”

Oh.  Okay.  I got this one.

“Yeah.  Yes.  I do.”

He stared out the window.  “Huh.”

What?  “Well, do you, buddy?”

He shrugged.

Really?

“Do you not believe in God?” I asked him.

He shrugged again.  “I guess.”

Then he asked me the biggest question of all.  Oh, to think I thought I had this.

“So is God fiction?  Or non-fiction?”

Wow.

“Ummm, well, since God is real, then I would have to say non-fiction.  True story.”

He nodded his head.

“What about you?”

Cooter thought for a minute.  Then he answered with a gentle nod and looked away, “Both.”

IMG_7047

 

 

As I thought back over his words and all I see and read and hear and thought about all of the brokenness, I think Cooter might have this exactly absolutely 100% right.

God, in our world today, is both fiction and non-fiction.

We have this writing, these stories, these words–this truth–in the Good Book that tell us who God is.  How God is.  That God is.

Then there are our hearts and our thoughts and what we say and what we do that tell a whole ‘nother story of what and who we think God is, but sometimes–much of the time–I think we might just be wayyyyyy off base.

As someone I love dearly has said, “I think we’re all going to be real surprised.”

Just like I’m surprised by the deep thinkers my children are sometimes.  One minute they’re arguing over who forgot to flush and the next minute we’re talking theology and philosophy and the ramifications of the death penalty.

May today be a day of living the truth and not the stories that we tell ourselves to make things a little easier.

It might be hard, but the little ones and the not so little ones–they are paying close attention and taking notes.

Love to all.

Go Grow in a Brick

The weather here–rainy.  Rainy and cold.  Has been for a couple of days and tomorrow won’t be much different.

The folks north of us are preparing for snow.  In Georgia, that’s a pretty serious thing.

So many of my friends all over have been dealing with multiple snow days and hazardous weather conditions.  As a matter of fact, I think my friend in Oregon might be the only one I’ve seen mention how nice the weather is.

And that has me scratching my head.

This morning in the drizzle, Miss Sophie and I ventured out for her morning constitutional.  My fingers were crossed inside my jacket pocket that she would be quick, and we could get back in before we were soaked.

I stood and she sniffed.

And that’s when I saw these little precious ones.

First I noticed this one in the bricks on the backside of our mailbox.....

First I noticed this one in the bricks on the backside of our mailbox…..

and then this wee one.....

and then this wee one…..

Well I’ll be.

And it hit me this morning that this was a message I needed, and you might too.

Do you know what it takes to grow a plant?

I’m going back to my early elementary years, but I’m pretty sure it’s soil, water, and sunlight.

These little guys are lacking two out of those three things.  Sure, there’s been plenty of water, but little sunlight and NO soil.

Well I’ll be.

See, there are folks who would shake their heads and tell me that no, that plant can’t grow there.  These would be the same folks who would tell us that it goes against reason that a bumblebee or a hummingbird can stay in the air.

And yet…..

just like these little flowers (I just know there will be flowers), they can.  And they do.

Every.  Single.  Day.

So today or tomorrow or whenever the next time is that someone tells you that you can’t do something–and you know there will be someone who will, there always is–think about these little plants.

The bright spot in my day. And in my heart.

I can.  I’m not going to let anyone tell me I can’t.

Besides, my Papa killed can’t all those many years ago.

And it’s a good thing he did, because the only time we should be saying “I can’t” is when it comes to something we shouldn’t.  Never doubt you are capable of making something happen.  Set your heart and mind to it, and go for it.  Go grow in a brick.

It’s possible, you know.

Don’t let those naysayers nay you.

Go be you, and know you can.

Love to all.

 

 

My Glass Was Never Empty

Saturday I had the privilege of singing the praises of two of my favorite “things” in life–

my daughter and my alma mater.

Thanks to one of my Piratefriends, I served on the Discussion Panel at Wesleyan College for parents of potential students.  This day was extra special because it was for Scholarship Day.

I love sharing about the changes and growth I have seen in my daughter since she arrived on campus in Fall of 2013.  I love talking about my years there and what our campus does better than all the others.  I just love being home.

It was a beautiful day at Wesleyan.  After the panel discussion, we all walked over to the Oval Hall for a lovely buffet lunch.  The room is already so elegant, and the place settings and beautiful desserts and delicious looking dishes made it all the more so.  We each had a glass of water and a glass of sweet tea at our place.

There were servers busy making sure no one’s water or tea glass was empty.  They kept the chafing dishes full of vegetables and chicken and salad.  They were quiet and efficient.

As we dined, the Wesleyannes came in and sang the Doxology followed by another beautiful song.  The young women all dressed in their matching gowns had voices that blended beautifully and made magic in the room.  I noticed the young woman who had kept my water-glass full standing off to the side listening.  As soon as the music was over she went right back to filling those glasses.  Her respect touched me.

A few minutes later one of the Wesleyannes stepped up the microphone to share the story of her choosing Wesleyan a couple of years ago.  The young woman server, so neat and crisp in her black and white ensemble, was standing close by.  Again she stopped and looked to the speaker.  What struck me most was the expression on her face.  She couldn’t be any older than the young woman speaking.  The emotions that this realization stirred up made me look away.

I am so lucky.

So is my daughter.

And so are every one of the young women who are enrolled at Wesleyan.

I looked at my glass.  The server was conscientious and had a good work ethic.  It was never more than half empty.

Why was it that she was working the luncheon where so many women around her age were busy making decisions and dreaming about a future in college?

I don’t know her story, really.  Maybe she’s a day student somewhere.  Maybe she is saving up to go to college one day.

But as I saw the intense respect and focus on her face, I knew that we are fortunate beyond measure.  I gave thanks once again for the sacrifices my parents made to make sure I could go to college right out of high school.  And I don’t want my children to take for granted even one day the privilege that getting an education is.  Not everyone is so lucky.

I’m thinking about the young woman who made sure my glass was always full–I hope her glass stays full as well.  I hope her life is full of love and laughter, and that she dreams big and has the resources to make those dreams come true.

Let us make today one of seeing those around us and knowing they have a story too.  And one of giving thanks for this life we are so lucky to have.

Love to all.

IMG_6981

My Daughter is Also My Sister

Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year.

Right up there with Christmas and Easter and birthdays in our family.

Huge.

It was STUNT weekend at Wesleyan College, my alma mater.

My second home.  The place of many joyful and wonderful memories.  The place where I figured out what I believed and tried it on for size for the first time.

Where I became a Psychology major and experienced great internships at places like the Methodist Children’s Home and Macon Outreach at Mulberry UMC.

Where I made friends for life and promised to be loyal and true to this place that built me.

And where I had the great privilege and honor and pure-tee fun of being a part of this great tradition, STUNT.

This is the 119th year of this event, which was begun to raise scholarship money for a sister who couldn’t afford to return to campus by a group of students all those years ago.  They would not let that happen, so they started this competition between the classes where each class writes and produces their own comedy musical.  The winner gets the coveted STUNT Cup.

That’s what the sisterhood at Wesleyan is all about.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve last seen each other or talked, if one of us needs something, we are there.  I’ve had my sisters sit with me in darkness–be there when I was grieving, show up at my Mama’s funeral, send me messages of encouragement, and challenge me to step outside my comfort zone.  I’ve had my sisters remind me to give myself grace, and show up to cheer on my daughter and her class.  They’ve even been known to wear a class color other than their own, just to encourage another.

And that’s huge, y’all.  Once you enter as a Purple Knight, Golden Heart, Green Knight, or Red Pirate, you spend the next four years and the rest of your life pretty much embracing that color.

It’s all about the sisterhood.

And so was yesterday.  I took our Princess up for the day, as this is her favorite day of the whole year–when alumnae bring prospective students to campus for fun and friendship–some are their own daughters, some are not.  But all enjoy and have the time of their lives, which might explain why our Princess had her bag packed to go since she got back from last year’s STUNT.

It was a day spent with people I have known and loved for a long time.  Familiar faces etched onto my heart, almost as though they are a part of me.  My PirateFriend and her OnlyFriend, who shared the story of their friendship that began the first day of their freshman year, with the comment, “Hey, I like your pants.”  Y’all this is the friendship of a lifetime–I’m going to start telling people I like their pants.  If that’s the kind of lifelong sisterhood and love that comes of it, we should ALL be telling someone we like their pants.  They played a trivia game with the young girls visiting, and we laughed and had such fun.  We even sang and danced to the original number written by the group, “Rosie had a little puppy, and it’s okay to love puppies.” (sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”–a future hit, I’m telling you)

I loved hearing the years the daughters of my friends will be there.  I look at my baby girl and know she will be there on campus with some of these other legacies, and I smile.  We will be attending STUNT for many, many years, and I like the sound of that.

As the day went on, we were joined by more friends–sweet faces that haven’t changed one bit since graduation.  We took pictures and hugged and laughed that we had become those “old” alumnae who show up for things.  And we loved every moment of it.  One of the most precious moments was when my oldest, a sophomore at Wesleyan–more importantly, a Red Pirate–came up and met members of my class.  They embraced her as one of their own.  My favorite photo is one I’m not in–it’s my girl with my Purple Knight sisters.  Who stepped out of their knighthood for the night and cheered on the Pirates.  Auburn was the chair of her class’ STUNT committee for the second year in a row.  She and a committee of three other women from her class wrote the 30 minute comedy musical–they wrote the script, the songs, cast and directed it.  They have only been rehearsing for the past two weeks.

It’s tradition.

As the classes marched in one by one, each class sang their cheers.  “Night of the Screaming Women” is a well deserved moniker.  We’re loud and we’re proud.

Yes. We.  All of us alumnae were cheering along too.

And when the lights went down, my last glance back behind me showed me faces I have known for almost thirty years.

I was glad the room was dark.  I may or may not have teared up.  Ahem.

There were Purple Knights, Green Knights, Golden Hearts, and Red Pirates there, all with anticipation and beauty and joy etched into their faces.

And my girl’s 84-year-old grandmother was in the audience too.  There because of love.

But then, weren’t we all?

Yes.

The night was a good one.  The STUNTS were all good, and the Pirates won.

Well, in my book they did, but the judges saw it differently.  The Golden Hearts won the STUNT Cup and the Spirit Cup.  As seniors that was especially poignant.  They were thrilled and the night ended with lots of laughter and hugs and encouragement. With goodbyes and promises to see each other soon.

Before the Cups were announced though, there was a passing of the hats.  The Co-Chairs of the different committees will be Chairs next year.  It was time for them to name their Co-Chairs who will be the Chairs in 2017.

Since shortly after Aub set foot on campus, my girl has hoped to be tapped for this.  She’s spent years poring over my yearbooks and looking at the pictures.  She knew I loved STUNT and that I served as Executive STUNT chair my senior year.  “Mama, I want to do that too.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

Well, only if you really want to.  I wanted her to do what she wanted to do at Wesleyan and not relive my years.

Long story short.  (or maybe a little shorter)

Last night her dream came true.  Auburn was named Co-Chair for 2015-2016.  Her junior year.  In the words of my daughter:

I.  Can’t.  Even.

As the announcement was being made, my classmate who is now an amazing member of the faculty at Wesleyan came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me.  She held on tight, and–

I.  Can’t.  Even.

See, she’s not one of my daughter’s professors.  It’s likely my girl won’t ever take a class from her.  But my friend has found her and loved her and–

Well.   She didn’t have to.

But that’s what the sisterhood is about.  And it lasts beyond the four years.  It lasts through generations.  And beyond.

It’s forever.

My friend whispered in my ear, “I’m so proud of our girl.” And she hugged me again.

Through my tears, I said, “Thank you for loving her.”

She waved her hand, “Don’t thank me for doing something that easy.”

Oh, my heart.

Today there have been so many pictures and posts on social media from my friends sharing their joy and happiness over being together yesterday.  One GreenKnight friend has said on more than one occasion, “It’s like going home.”

Amen.  And yesterday I sat upstairs in our “house,” and watched my girl and her sisterfriends SHINE like the stars they are.  I stood on stage with my sisterfriends and sang a song that another professor wrote, “Wesleyan is my school, Wesleyan is your school…..”  And my own daughter said she bawled.

She once told me that her friend who was STUNT chair last year was my special sister because we had a lineage between us of women who were tapped by the one before her, and it eventually was traced back to me.  And the one who tapped me and so on.

Well, huh.  I never thought of it that way.

And so now my oldest and much loved girl is a part of that lineage.  And I couldn’t be more tickled–because she’s happy.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

My girl and me as the evening came to a close.

So yeah, my daughter is also my sister.

It’s a Wesleyan thing, y’all.

And I’m a Wesleyanne for life.

I’m thankful for that and for all the treasures which that has brought and continues to bring me.

Love to all.

 

Identity Theft and Taking Life by the Tail

Just another Cooter story to share a smile with you this weekend.

We watch some cooking shows together as a family.  These are usually recorded so we can zip through commercials.  Yeah, our time is that precious.  (And yeah, the commercials are usually that bad.)

Sometimes one of the remote controller people (read me or the Fella) will have gotten up for a minute and miss fast forwarding quite as quickly as we would like.  Sometimes (movie/tv show previews) this results in someone (me) hollering, “Noo, close your eyes! Plug your ears! Nononononono!”

*sigh*

A couple of nights ago, we were watching and the beginning bits of a commercial came on that was about identity theft.  Well, the prevention of it.  You know, one of those services.  To protect you.

As we fast forwarded, I caught some curious glances from the littles.  Sure enough, our Princess couldn’t sleep. She came in after 10:30 that night and said she couldn’t sleep.

“Mama, can someone steal my identity?”

“Well, you’re not on-line, so I’m going to go with no.  Nope.  They can’t.”

She nodded.  This seemed to comfort her, which I was glad about.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized it was on Cooter’s mind more than him repeating the words “identity theft” over and over and over the night before.

He came and found me still in my bed underneath my pile of covers including the huge handmade afghan I rescued from the GW Boutique.  It was cold and I was reticent to get out and face it.  He gave me a big hug good morning.  He rooted around in some things next to his Daddy’s nightstand and brought up the Star Wars window decals his Daddy got for Christmas.  We talked about putting them on Daddy’s car and mine.  And then he dropped the bomb, “Daddy wants to park his Z in the garage when it gets fixed.”

He looked sideways at me, awaiting my reaction.  The Z is his Daddy’s “baby.”  She’s getting some long-awaited engine work done, so she’s not here right now.  I caught the glint in his eye, so I decided to play it up.

“Nooooo!  Once we finish cleaning out the garage, I’m parking my car in the garage!  If anybody’s parking in there, I am!”  I really put it on thick.

That boy laughed.  Oh my heart.

“Yeah, if he parks the Z in there, I’m going to go out there and push it back out!”

Oh me.

“No buddy, that won’t be cool.  I’m just teasing.  But it is nice to know you’re looking after me.”  I paused. “Are you going to take care of me one day when I get old?”

He was looking at his book.  He shrugged.

“C’mon bud, I don’t know if I can count on the girls.  Will you take care of me?”

He knew I was messing with him.  He nodded, “Yeah, because they’re boring.”

Then he said, “I will but you have to come live in CooterLand with me.”

Ah yes.  CooterLand.* (And that’s the correct spelling. I just asked.  But he says it more like Koo-ter-len.)  This is all a part of his real estate he’s hoping to accrue.  He wants to build his own country.  It sounds like a peaceful place, but everyone will have Nerf guns, so I’m really not sure.

“And in CooterLand, no one can steal your identity or your money, because I have a plan.”

And there it is.  He was concerned.

“Yeah, you do?  What is it?”

“Well, they can’t get your money because in Cooterland, you have points you can spend, and they’re all stored inside your phone.”

“Interesting.  So you just use your phone to get what you need?”

“Yep.  And you don’t have to worry about someone stealing your phone because it knows who you are and no one else can use it.”

Huh.  Where was this going?

“See, it uses technology and it scans your eye.  And it will only open up for that one person because of their eyescan.”

Wow.

I have to say, I’m impressed.

When I was his age, I was afraid of the dark.  And death.  And that ghost story where the line goes, “I’m on the first step…..I’m on the second step…..”

Yeah.  Terrified.

And here he is, just turned eight.  He heard something that gave him pause.  He asked what it was, and he came up with a solution.

That right there.

I am a little excited to see where life is going to take him.

No.  Wait.

I’m excited to see where he’s going to take life.

Because he’s already taking life by the tail and giving it what for.

Already.

May we all find the courage to face our fears and turn them upside down.

Love to all.

 

 

*CooterLand–name has been changed, well, obviously.  But when it’s open, you will know it, because it will be the most awesome country around.  And well, there’ll be all those Nerf guns.  :)

 

Making Room for What Is Coming

So it’s Lent.

A season which is confusing at best.

For me, anyway.

My first exposure to Lent and the longest lasting impression of the season for me is one of giving something up.

That was in college when I had a friend who was Catholic.  So we all gave up something. (Ummm, in most cases, I think it was chocolate.)  It was interesting too, because there was the debate of whether or not Sundays counted as part of Lent.

After college, I found my way back to the Episcopal church, where Lenten traditions were observed, and yes, we gave up something, and Sundays did not count.  I gave up sweet tea (clutch my pearls and gasp), which was VERY significant and a challenge for me.  Rather than keeping the tea in the house, on Saturday afternoons, I would ride to town and pick up an extra-large (read half-gallon or some ridiculous amount like that) of sweet tea from Dairy Queen (closed on Sundays) and tote it back home and keep it in the frigidaire until Sunday.  It lasted me all day.  Oh my land,, with all that sugar it should have lasted me a week.

Then there were years I gave up chewing gum.  Another nail biter.  But I made it.  Then there were years that I gave up eating meat during the daylight hours.  That was interesting, especially when I’d go to Mama’s and she made her “green pizza”–spinach quiche with bacon on top.  She would either make me one without the bacon or she’d pick the pieces off my slice.  Mama was like that.  Supporting whatever I had going on.

It was important that I did something each day to focus on the season.  In more recent years, I’ve struggled with healthy eating.  I found out during a book study where we limited what we ate that, while I do not have an eating disorder, it’s best not to mess too much with my eating habits.  It’s a rocky slope.

And so I don’t.  I enjoyed reading the thoughts of a friend about Lent (it’s a must read–you’re welcome), as in we need to create space for what is coming, much like a bird does with a nest.  That I can get on board with.  That is exactly what I need this year.  Creating space.  Quieting my spirit.  My mind and my heart open.  Yes.

A work  in progress, but I’m embracing it.

Some folks are taking the forty days of Lent to get rid of 40 bags of stuff.  That’s ambitious, and I’m impressed.  It terrifies my pack rat, semi-hoarding sentimental self, but for those of you attempting it, you go!  I’m proud for you.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished emptying out a storage unit of things from Mama’s, and then we cleaned up a LOT of stuff (read “we only had a path from the door of the garage to the door of the house” *ack!*) from our garage.  So Imma have to rest on my laurels from that one for a little while, realize I’m okay without all of that stuff, and then I’ll be ready to tackle another pile or closet.  But it  probably won’t happen during Lent.

And I’m okay with that.

The thing about cleaning out our homes and our souls is that a lot of it is trash, isn’t it?  So often it’s not really anything anyone else can use, even though we surely want to recycle it and pass it on.  Sometimes deliberately (with a sad, tired pair of shoes or that Chia pet we never opened) and sometimes not so much (passing on the ugliness and hurt we’ve been feeling).  But it’s still trash.

Nobody wants that Chia pet.

I’m just saying.

Or that hurt and pain either.

Let it go, folks.

Hugh Hollowell shared about some things that had been “donated” to Love Wins, “a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.”  (Chia pet included.  I can’t even.)  His friends and folks who cared commented, sharing things that well-intentioned people had donated to their missions–expired food items, used bars of soap, used underwear, torn up furniture.

Y’all.  For the love.

So as we clean out our hearts and minds and spirits and closets, let’s remember to let the trash go.  All the brokenness and broken things we’ve tucked away and can do without, so can everyone else.  I’m all about sharing the joy and hugs and encouragement and items in gently-used condition (I love me some thrift shops, y’all know), but sometimes folks are better off if we just toss it in a bag and take it to the dump.  Literally and figuratively.

Others, especially those hurting from their own stories, shouldn’t have to deal with our rubbish.

May we all find something wonderful–joy, a smile, kind words, a pair of gloves, or a much-loved, still lovely blanket–to share with another today.  It’s all about building that nest.  To have room for what’s coming.

Love to all.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.