Mud

I’ve been thinking about mud.

Yes.  Mud.

Lately I’ve been reminded of the grime and grit and dirt that is left from the past.  Leftovers from hurts and loss and betrayal.  The residue of pain.

And it occurs to me that no amount of sweeping or thinking or “letting go” will ever get rid of all the dust and dirt from the past.  It hasn’t worked so far.  There’s always some lurking in the dark corners waiting to drift back into view.

Always.

And then, overwhelmed, the tears come.

Suddenly there are drops and rivulets flowing.  Down into the dust and dirt and grime of memories and things better left unremembered.

Then, as it all runs together…..

there is mud.

Remember playing in the dirt when we were little?  It was really hard to do anything with the dirt alone, but if you added a little water…..

mud.

And all kinds of things could happen.

Things could be built.  The mud was cool and soothing on our hot bare feet. Frog houses were made and pies were “cooked.”

The versatility of mud is nothing new.  Long ago it was used for all kinds of things, including putting together a house.  In some cultures it still is today.  Mud is also used for beauty treatments.  Imagine that, beauty coming from mud.

And there’s even a story in the Good Book about a blind man being healed, given his sight, when a caring man named Jesus made mud and applied it to his eyes.  His vision became clear.

Mud.

The only difference between the residue of pains past–all that dirt and grime–and mud is our tears.  If we can stop holding it all in and be brave enough to let the tears flow, a beautiful transformation can occur.  All of that from the past can become something we can build on, that we can create something new from.  Beauty can be found in the midst of the brokenness.

And I’m guessing our perspective, our vision, our view on life might change for the better too.

It’s okay to cry.  Let the tears flow.  That’s how the healing begins.

Love and wishes for the healing powers of mud for all.

 

 

A Place to Turn Around

Being in a new place can be confusing.  The roads are all different.  It’s easy to get disoriented.  North.  South.  Left.  Right.  This road is a dead-end.  This one doesn’t lead to where you thought it did.  LOST.

It’s just hard.

When we were on our Adventure to the Mouse House (I refuse to call it a vacation, people–vacations are about naps and books and time on your hands), it was very easy to get off track.  Each morning we set out to visit a different park.  We’d think we knew which way to turn based on directions given at the place we were staying or by the phone GPS or mostly by what we remembered from the day before.  We were on a mission–cram in as much fun as we possibly could in the hours we were at the parks.  This required us to get to each park as quickly as we could.  So we could start having Much.  Fun.  We had no time for directions really.  Let’s just wing it.  And GO.

Ahem.

Every single time.  Not kidding.  Every single time it turned out we had turned the wrong way.  Magic Kingdom was in the opposite direction of Epcot and Animal Kingdom was not the same direction as Hollywood Studios (just giving an example here folks, still not sure which was where).  Sometimes we realized it as soon as we committed to the turn.  But it was too late.   And they don’t like U-turns down there either.  So each time we would have to find a spot to turn around in, get back to the light and correct our way.

The fire station that was our safe place to regroup and get turned in the right direction

The fire station that was our safe place to regroup and get turned in the right direction

And just about every single time–well every time that I can recall–this was our safe place.  Our place to regroup and get turned around.  The fire station.

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Such a cute place too.  Look at it all painted with its Dalmatian spots all over it.

It got to be laughable.  When my awesome sister-in-law talked about her family following us to Land o’ Legos, Aub’s clever friend said, “Okay, but we have to make a stop first.”

I looked at her, puzzled for a moment.  She continued. “You know.  The fire station.”

Y’all.  I nearly busted my seams laughing.  Out.  Loud.

That was a good one right there, I tell you what.  And true.

I was thinking about this as I drove home in the suffocating heat this afternoon.  We all get off on the wrong foot sometimes.  Headed in the wrong direction.  Sometimes that’s just what we need.  A place, a safe place, to collect ourselves, redirect, and set off again on the right path–in the right direction.  As I drove, I was thinking about where that place is for me, metaphorically speaking, where I go to regroup and redirect when I find myself headed down a dead-end road or feel like I’m lost.  For me it’s a person.  One whom I love and trust who will listen and help me find my way again–who will help me get better directions that I can follow this next time.

Any idea where or who that is for you?  I’d love to hear.

Wishing you all good directions and a place to go when you need to turn around.  Love to all.

The Number That I’m Most Afraid Of

Yes.  There is a number I’m afraid of.  You read that right.

Sometimes it just seems like too much.

Sometimes it just seems like too much.

It’s 70 x 7.

490 literally.

But I’m afraid it was symbolic, so it could be any number, infinity, or #asmanytimesasittakes.

None of them an easy pill to swallow.  Or anything I can or really want to wrap my brain around.  For sure, not my heart.

In the book of Matthew in the Good Book, that number is given.  In response to the question, “How many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me?  Seven?”

“Seven? Hardly.  Try seventy times seven.”

Oh my.

Y’all.  Imagine if someone hurt you.  Bad.  Knowingly.  Willingly.  Showing no remorse.  And hurt others too.  Ones you love.  What do you do with that?  How do you forgive that seventy times seven times?

I’ll tell you where I am at in this.  I’m still working on number one.

I have put it behind me.  Yes.  Moved on.  Yes.  Days go by I don’t think about it anymore.  But when my memory confronts my heart, my heart still folds its hypothetical arms and shakes its little head and walks off with a frown and a heavy weight bearing down.  Just.  No.

How am I supposed to do that?  How can I forgive someone who has never asked for my forgiveness?  Who has, with a great degree of arrogance and to any one who would listen, indicated that I was/am/always will be the problem.

I don’t even know.

It makes me very sad.

I know the words of the Lord’s prayer.  And how some folks say they can’t pray the words “Forgive me…..AS I forgive them” because they haven’t been able to forgive yet.

And I know the rest of that story from the Good Book about how often we are called to forgive.  How the King forgave his servant who owed him a great deal when the servant asked him to.  How the huge debt was erased.  And how almost immediately the forgiven one came across a fellow servant who owed him a relatively small amount, and even though his debtor begged for forgiveness, he did not grant it and had his fellow servant thrown in jail.

The end of the story is that the folks who saw all of this happen were appalled.  They went and told the King, who was furious.  He confronted the servant and asked why he couldn’t forgive someone when he had been forgiven such a great debt.  Then he made the servant pay back the great amount he owed.

I get it.

I am given grace beyond measure.  I am forgiven multiple times every day.  Always.  I am thankful.  Humbled.  Blown away even.  And appreciative–did I mention I was thankful? I know I didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it.  At all.

But 490? Or as many times as it takes?  Do You really know what that person did to me?  Have You been following this storyline closely?  Are You aware?  Because if You have, surely You wouldn’t be asking this of me.  You’d know it’s beyond forgiveness, right?  Right?  Rig–

*sigh*

I don’t have any answers tonight.  No ideas for how to get over this hurdle.  I’ve been hurt by folks before and was able to move right along, eventually forgiving, forgetting, even becoming good friends after all was said and done.  Thankful for them in my life.

But this one.  This One. Is. Very.  Difficult.

So if you struggle with a pain or hurt that you can’t get past, know you’re not alone.  I’m not saying we’re right in being where we are, just that we are in this boat together, floating around in the darkness looking for a  way out of the murkiness of hurt and frustration.

And if that number seems way too big for you like it does for me, maybe we should just break it down and work on forgiving in this moment right here.  Just this very one, not looking beyond it.  Not for them–the ones who hurt us–but for us.  So we can leave the darkness.

Love and Light to all.

 

 

Old Enough to Have a Back…..and then some

Today I was blessed by the bounty from the efforts of another.  I had the privilege of picking beans I didn’t have to plow, plant, weed, and care for.  All I had to do was spend a little time out there picking them and putting them in the bag to bring home.

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Wow. What a gift.

As I worked my way down the row, lifting the plants gently to find the beans hidden underneath, plucking one after another, I thought of my Daddy.  I used to pick from the garden with him just like this.  First at my Granny’s where she and my Granddaddy had planted more than enough and let us pick whatever we could use.  I loved sitting on the edge of the metal bucket, picking and dreaming and being with my Daddy.  Guess which one of those was my favorite?  I think picking beans and peas with Daddy was when I learned about a companionable silence.  Oh we would chat some too.  (Okay–me.)  But a lot of those times we’d quietly work in tandem, gently taking nature’s gift to fill our table and our freezers.  Later on after we moved to Blackberry Flats we’d pick together in the garden there.  Where Daddy rotated his planting year after year, working to find the best spot for growing and so as not to overtax the land.  After tilling, he’d use two bricks with string tied between to line up his rows for hoeing.  I sometimes helped with the planting phase too.  Again, the quiet.

Much like today.

I thought of him so much as I worked my way down the row.  I was determined to get through one row completely before I stopped.  He would have liked that.  Be methodical and commit.  Don’t go in there willy-nilly, picking first from this plant on that row and then from that plant two rows over.  Start, focus, work hard, and finish.

When I was about a third of the way down the row, I almost broke the silence by laughing as a memory came flooding back.  One time when we were picking together, I was maybe nine or ten, I started slowing down my pace.  Daddy asked me what was wrong.

“My back hurts,” I said.  (and possibly whined)

“Oh, you’re too young to have a back,” he said, dismissing my woes.

And that became the thing.  When I was toting around his first grandchild, I was reminded I was young, too young to have a back.  When I was working at a packing shed and helping load boxes of peaches, too young to have a back.  When I was in graduate school, carrying my backpack to and fro, still too young to have a back.

It was almost three years ago now, when Daddy was just about completely bedridden with the lymphoma and his broken hip that was slow to mend.  We were still taking him for consultations at the Cancer Center.  I had ridden over to drive him and Mama to the appointment.  At one point, I positioned myself so Daddy could put his arms around my neck, and I could help lift him from the car and swing him around into the wheelchair so he could go into the building.  I wasn’t very good at it, not nearly as strong as I wished I could be, and it was the kindness of a stranger that got the job done, bless her.  Trying to lighten the moment, I said something to Daddy like, “Well, if I’d a had a back, maybe that would have gone better.  But I’m not old enough to have a back.”  He looked over at me, from where he was sitting waiting to be called back, raised his eyebrows just like my Granny would have and said, “Oh no, you’re old enough.  You have a back.”

Huh.  Well good to know.

I wonder when on earth THAT changed.  Can you imagine all the time I missed, when I could have been legitimately complaining about the back I finally had?

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Today I smiled again as I stood, looking back at the completed row.  I enjoyed picking beans with my Daddy today.  I enjoyed my crew spending time with Aunt, whom they love dearly.  I enjoyed the generosity of my Uncle who works so hard to be a good steward of the land he has.  And I really enjoyed the twinges that had me stooped over for a full five minutes after I tried to stand up straight.  I was reminded all over again that I do indeed have a back.  And it wasn’t happy with me at all.

And yet, for some reason, all I could do was giggle.

For those of you old enough to have a back, congratulations.  You may express your discomfort all you want.  You’ve earned it.  All the rest of you, you’ll get there one day.  Until then, we don’t want to hear a peep about your nonexistent back.  You’re not old enough to have one yet.  😉

Love to all.

Mama and the Little Green Frog

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This little guy was waiting on me outside the other day. He made me smile. So cute. But I couldn’t get too close. I just wouldn’t. He was precious but those things can jump, did you know?
Family lore has it that one evening many years ago (I think it’s been 41), my Mama, who was pregnant with Mess Cat, was taking a shower in our little bathroom at the old house. The bathroom had a window over the shower which they cracked sometimes for ventilation. This particular evening Mama had a guest in the shower. A little green guy just like this one. He was camouflaged by the greenery outside the window until…..
he jumped in on top of Mama.
Landed right on her.
Bless her.
She did what anyone would do–screamed and ran out of the shower as fast as she could, never mind her wet and unclothed state. I remember standing in the doorway of her dark bedroom, the light from the hall sweeping across the bed where she lay sobbing. I was four, and all I remember thinking is “Poor Mama. My poor little Mama.”

I was thinking about that when I saw this guy for two reasons.
Number one, I was not going to put myself in the jump zone. Zoom on the camera works just fine thank you very much.
Number two, I wondered at how, despite this frog story, the frog became Mama’s totem. We gave her all kinds of frogs over the years. I even made her a fleece blanket covered in rainbow frogs. And she LOVED IT. I have no idea. Maybe it’s because she was a good sport? And it just caught on?
Maybe. Because she was definitely a good sport.
It’s funny, isn’t it? The things that just are and you never think to question it. Until one day you do and you find the answers are gone with those you love.
Tonight I’m thankful for all those years Mama received our frog gifts and loved them and put them on display or used them and said they made her “very hoppy.” Yeah, not only was she a good sport she was also very punny.

Wishing you a day filled with many hoppy moments. Love to all.

love, lightning bugs, laughter, and light

Tonight I am thankful for the freedom to sit back and enjoy time with family

watching littles chasing lightning bugs–nature’s fireworks show, and

seeing how they catch them, rushing over to show me with gentle amazement,

and then, just as gently,

they let them go

their sweet faces reflecting the goodbye flicker of light

from the tail of the ascending fairy-like bug

For laughter in the circle of stories and joy

in the shared memories

of those not there

For food that is plentiful and oh so good

and for the honor of joining in the simple act of

the washing, drying, and putting away,

elbow to elbow, more shared moments to tuck away

for when the winter comes

For bare feet and the smell of citronella

For children, big and small, swinging on a tire,

hung on the tree planted when I was only a teen

and sat under its stick-like shadow, dreaming dreams

and writing, even then

Tonight I give thanks for all of these things,

for flickering lights of fireworks in the yard where I grew up

and continue to grow

For the voices and sighs of my children who will

continue to make their own memories there,

as they watched fireworks sparkling and bright

THANKFUL

JOYFUL

PEACEFUL

In this world where children are kidnapped simply for wanting to learn

and parents don’t love the ones trusted to them as they should

Where animals are treated unkindly

and the stories of folks are filled with pain and brokenness

and darkness

Tonight I give thanks for the light–the lights,

and for a chance to get up again tomorrow,

another day to live and love and scatter rays of freedom

for all

with each step and in all that I do

For until we are all free

the lights are not bright enough

to show the ones who follow the way

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Love to all–

#bethefeather

 

It’s a Small World…..Give it Your Best

One thing you do a lot of when you visit the Mouse House and its many parks is walk.  And stand in line.  A lot.

One morning we were trying to fit in as much as we could before “hopping” over to another park where we had plans to eat.  Our older girls, Aub and her friend, were off and running.  They were trying to get in line for the Dwarves’ Mine Train before the line got too long.  They waited only an hour–ONLY.  And unfortunately they really didn’t feel it was worth the wait, like, say Space Mountain was.  Nevertheless they can say they rode it while it was still pretty new.

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The Fella and I wanted to take the littles on “It’s a Small World” ride.  I mean, how could we go all that way and NOT go on that one?  Such a sweet ride, and the sign outside said a 20 or 25 minute wait.  We looked and it seemed to be moving, so we decided to go for it.

We visited and talked and people-watched.  I have to say that my crew were troopers as far as the waiting game went.  Not that they weren’t begging us to fast pass everything and quite excited when we came upon a ride with virtually no line, but yes, they did really well waiting.  As we were about to board one of the little boats, I saw a gentleman who had come in on a wheelchair struggling to get up.  One of the park employees (ummm, “cast members”) went over and offered to assist.  She assured him he could ride in his chair and that she would get him up in the line so he wouldn’t have to wait any longer.  He very kindly waved the thought aside, “No, I want to do this.  I can walk that far.”

Y’all.  Bless him.

Such integrity.  Such willpower.  I don’t know anything else about this man, but I think he’s a good one.  He obviously was struggling to stay on his feet–the wheelchair wasn’t just a cool ride for him–and he was insisting on trying to walk down the dock, so no one else would have to wait to load his chair with him in it.  I wanted to hug him.

Because he gets it.  For as long as he can and as much of the time as he is able, he doesn’t seem to want special favors.

That’s the kind of person who deserves them.  Because he won’t take advantage of the situation.

People who disregard “handicap” parking signs make me crazy.  That’s one of my pet peeves.  Do you have all of your appendages?  Do they work?  Then give thanks and stop trying to take shortcuts.  You are lucky.  LUCKY.  Give thanks, take a deep breath, and park where you’re supposed to.  Some folks have to go through some pretty horrible things to get those permits.  I know I’m fortunate.  It’s not always fun walking in the 107 heat index across a sizzling hot black parking lot to get in and out of somewhere, but I don’t need the space.  And, unfortunately, there is always someone else who does.

I think about that gentleman and wish that I’d pointed him out to my littles.  Not for them to stare, but for them to see someone strong.  Someone trying his best and not making excuses. Someone to respect.

Disabilities are real.  So are physical limitations.  It makes me mad when people try to take advantage of the system.  I have a friend whose physical limitations have prevented him from getting a job.  He has applied for disability benefits but has been told that he doesn’t qualify because he could be an “envelope sealer” or a “nut sorter.” Not joking about those jobs either. They were on the denial letter.  Nuts.  I’ll tell you what’s nuts.  The folks I’ve met who do get disability.  Who can drive all over town and spend hours hanging out with friends, talking, doing crafts, making plans for get togethers, cooking for gatherings.  I’ve even had one person tell me she was going back to school as soon as she gets disability benefits.  I don’t know why she would be approved though.  She seems as capable as I am to hold down a job.  And yet, there are those who cannot work because of health issues or physical limitations who have been denied benefits time after time.

Could it be who your attorney is?  Who you know?  How well you fill out the application?

It must be.  Because nothing else makes sense.  We are paying folks who could at least stand for a few hours as a greeter to stay at home–no, to run around town and visit with friends and family and do just about whatever their finances will allow, while others, who deserve such benefits, are denied over and over again.

*sigh*

I will tell my children about the man rising up out of his wheelchair to walk down the ramp.  I want them to always give something their all–trying their very best in any given situation, no matter how hard.

That’s an important lesson to learn.  And to remember. Ahem.  For all of us.  It is a small world after all, and we need to take care of each other in it.

Love to all.

 

An Afternoon with Mama

This afternoon as I was out looking for one of my least favorite articles of clothing to shop for, I thought about my Mama.  She ruined me (no, okay, she “ruint” me) over the years.  I rarely had to go with her to the store.  She’d pick things up on sale (on clearance and WITH a coupon as my brother reminds us) and bring clothes home for us to try on.  To this day, I really don’t care for dressing rooms.  I’d much rather take things home and try them on there.  But, as returning things to some places is easier than others, today I found myself in the dressing room.  Thinking about how I miss the way my Mama took care of us like that.

Then before heading home, as I don’t have nearly enough books (whoa, was that lightning I just saw?), I popped in our local bookstore to check on a book or two for our studies.  I have to plan what country to move on to after Australia after all.  After looking for some books to inspire Cooter to step over into the world of chapter books and striking out on the search for Shakespeare comics for our Princess (yes, they exist, and yes she loves them–she read one in one sitting this morning), I meandered through the shelves, just looking.  I like meandering, and I don’t often get to do it when I have little people along.  They always have something they want to show me or just plain WANT, and so that sort of takes away the possibility for any meandering to occur.

And as if I weren’t missing my Mama enough already, I saw these

 

Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross

 

and these.

Diane Mott Davidson's Goldie mystery series

Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie mystery series

 

Mama LOVED books.  I cannot remember a time when she didn’t have one bookmarked, indicating she always had one going.  At least one.  She loved children’s books, but she also loved adult fiction.  She was especially fond of clever mysteries and southern charm.  She adored Miss Julia.  I have the ones she got over the years.  The rest she borrowed from the library to read.  I stood looking at them today, wondering if a new one had come out since she’s been gone.  But I couldn’t go so far as to take one out and check the copyright.  She also loved the Goldie character from Diane Mott Davidson’s mystery series.  Mama loved stories with strong women–yes ma’am, she loved women who fought for themselves and didn’t just stand around calling out for help.  In books and in real life.

Tonight I’m thankful for a few quiet moments of remembering my Mama.  Only it was more than that–it was like spending time with her.  As I drove through the little streets of my hometown and by my old elementary school next door to the new dance studio, I could feel her sitting beside me.  I could feel her warmth and her smile.  And that brought me great joy.  I miss her.  I miss how she spoiled me, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, and I miss how she loved me.  And I miss sharing good books with her.  We didn’t always read the same genres but the ones we did, we loved talking about.  We always got excited, anticipating a new release by one of our shared favorite authors.  I miss her every minute, and I am thankful for days like today, when the veil is thin, and I feel her with me so clearly.

Love to all.

 

Butterflies and Rain and Standing Outside the Dome

This morning school went so well that we had time for a swim.  While we were there, a toddler climbed out and said, “Dere he is,” pointing at a butterfly on the pavement.  My stomach lurched.  No no no no no, don’t drip on him.

I can remember when I learned two different bits of information when I was growing up.  One scared me, and one made me very sad.  Both were traumatizing.

The first thing was that when a butterfly’s wings get wet, they die.  This broke my heart, imagining the loss of so many precious lovelies losing their lives in a summer storm.  It is just tonight that I learn that might just be a myth.  But watching the little butterfly today, I know it’s not great for them.  With damp wings, she just flitted around, close to the hot pavement, and very much in danger of being trampled by unknowing feet.  It took me a long time when I was young to get through a rainstorm without thinking of the poor butterflies and getting a bit upset.

The next thing, the really scary thing, was the day I found out we live on the outside of planet Earth and not inside the dome.  I mean look around outside, that’s a logical assumption, right?  It looks like a dome above and around us, don’t you think?  On the day I found out we do NOT live inside a dome, the sky was the clearest blue with wisps of white clouds floating way up high.  The laundry on the line, soaking up the sunshine, smelled sweet in the way that only sun-dried laundry does.  The grass was summer green and freshly cut.  Birds were singing, butterflies were flocking to the butterfly bushes.  Idyllic.

And I was terrified.  I wanted to run in the house as fast as I could and stay there.  Forever.  You mean, we are just dangling on the outside of this…..ball?  At any minute I could float off into the nether regions of space?  Oh.  my.  stars.  Literally.  I was gripped with fear.  When my feet finally moved, I did go inside.  I felt very small and vulnerable and unprotected in a way I never had before.  And most likely haven’t since.  My whole world shifted that day.

Gravity’s a really, really good thing, I decided.  I tried not to worry over when it might give out.  Ahem.

All of that came rushing back to me today in the few seconds of watching the little girl’s delight with the butterfly.  Even though the information about the butterfly might not be completely accurate, and so far so good on the whole gravity thing keeping my feet on the ground, all of the emotions came rushing back too.  Fear, panic, sadness, pain, feeling lost and heartbroken…..

Isn’t it funny what can take us back in time?  What our brains decide to store and hang on to?  What they decide to forget?

And isn’t it interesting what our little people brains decide about the world and hang on to with a death grip, when we first start assimilating all the information in the world that’s out there to learn?  (I think I thought my parents were teasing or just flat-out ridiculous when they told me that about the earth.  I mean, how is that even possible, right?)

I look forward to tomorrow’s lessons.  I think I know what we will start off with.  A little research on butterflies (I need my facts straight–if I’ve worried for nothing all these years…..) and a lesson on gravity.  I don’t want them to grow up frightened or misinformed.  Life’s hard enough to comprehend without all that getting in the way.

Love to all.