‘Tis Always the Season

Six months from now many of us will be menu planning.  Or mapping out the mother of all shopping experiences.  Or listing things we are thankful for.  Planning holiday gatherings and wondering if it’s a good time to start shopping for Christmas.

This is not one of those “y’all get ready, Christmas is so many days away” posts.

This is quite different actually.

We are six months from the start of the holiday season.

Inevitably hearts and minds, reflecting what they are thankful for, will turn to those who have less. Those who are in need.  Without enough food.  Without shelter.  Without a home.

Many people reach out and offer their resources and time to those agencies and people whose mission it is to feed the hungry and support the people who are homeless.

Which is absolutely wonderful.  And resources wisely invested.

Unfortunately, these missions and folks helping people in need are in desperate need of these resources all year long.  While we hate to think of folks being out in the cold of winter with no place to go, imagine not being able to escape the oppressive heat, or the torrential thunderstorms, or the incessant attack of gnats and mosquitoes.

I once met a woman who had been living by the river to escape some of the worst of the heat.  She came to the meal that we all shared on Sunday nights covered in mosquito bites.  It was heartbreaking that something like a can of bug spray would have made all the difference in the world for her.  Something that would have been cheaper than a pair of gloves and a hat in the cold of winter, but just as important for survival.

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So this is not a “Hey Christmas is coming–feel the pressure–and dread it already.”  This is a reminder to drop by your local shelter with those travel soaps and shampoos.  Take a few cans of bug spray with you.  Or call the soup kitchen and offer help with a meal.  Everyone loves the idea of serving the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but folks need feeding all year long.  Maybe check and see if a program in your community helps provide food on the weekends for children who are on the free meal program at school.  The school year is coming to a close, and these littles ones will be home…..and hungry…..more than they have been all year.

There are as many needs that need attending to as there are people in our world.  My point is not to make anyone feel guilty or to tell folks what they need to do.  We can get both of those from any number of other places–we don’t need to make each other feel bad.

My point is–the need is always there.  If you felt moved to help at Thanksgiving or Christmas, please think about helping out now.  Right now is when the giving to these helping agencies goes way down.  Your help is needed more than ever.

Let’s all make tomorrow a day to help another.  With our gifts, talents, and resources.

Giving and sharing never go out of season.

Love to all.

 

 

 

If you don’t know where to start in helping folks, here are a few places to start.  You can do a search for your own local agencies.

Love Wins Ministry  Raleigh, North Carolina

Daybreak Shelter Macon, Georgia

Backpack Buddies, Bare Bulb Coffee  Kathleen, Georgia

Macon Outreach at Mulberry UMC  Macon, Georgia

Family Promise of Greater Houston County  Warner Robins, Georgia

Macon Rescue Mission, Macon, Georgia

 

Again, this list is just a start and by no means exhaustive of all the great folks who are helping others.  If you have any to add, please do in the comments so we can all learn more about these missions.   Thanks.

 

the boots

her boots standing over by the door
ready and waiting
were once white I believe
but years of trekking through the garden and the Georgia clay
in the heat of summer and the cold of winter
had turned them an off brownish-orange
and still they held up

just like the one who wore them
day in, day out
covering her feet so’s the job what needed doing
could get done

she was strong and wore them well
finishing the task at hand before the sun set
when she went in the old house
and set them once again by the door

I bet she’d wonder why all the folks are wearing
the boots
now
where is the garden that needs tending
which animal in the pasture needs seeing about
which young’un has wandered off out of earshot

her boots were made for working
and that’s just what she’d do

but these boots today
in all kinds of styles and colors
with nary a red clay mark on them
would make her wonder

just where is it y’all are going
that you need those boots to get there?

Order in the Chaos

In the midst of a week of realizing, once again, just how much is out of my control, I tried to keep my hands busy. If my hands were busy, maybe I would focus on the task at hand instead of my heart hurting or the troubles of my friends and family.

Or not.

But it was worth a try.

It was funny what brought me the greatest comfort. It wasn’t the nap. (I know, I was shocked too.) It wasn’t bingeing on Netflix or picking up a book.

It was tackling Mount Washmore that had collected on Cap’s couch. With all the comings and goings of the past few days, clothes got clean but not folded or put away.

It was time. As I matched socks and sorted out each child’s clothes in stacks by pants, shirts, and unmentionables, I found peace. In the quiet with the melee of the house in the background (because it is rarely ever completely quiet around here), I folded and just “was.” No thought train running through my brain, no emotional rumination, just quietly picking up one article of clothing, folding it, deciding where to put it, and then moving on to the next piece.

One piece at a time. Slowly the pile went away.

My Mama used to say loading the dishwasher for her was like playing Tetris. Trying to figure out how to place each dish in just the right spot to fit all of the dirty dishes in there.

Making order in the chaos.

That’s what I did yesterday. I can’t fix all the things that are rolling in around me, but that pile of laundry? Folded, sorted, and put away. Done.

That I could do. That I could control.

And it felt good.

Sometimes it’s the simple things to help us swing back toward “balance.” And balance is what I long for.

May you all have a load of laundry to fold just when you need some peace the most.
Love to all.

through the keyhole

the storm upon us
gave no warning
there was barely time to close the windows
and lock the doors

the dark clouds obliterated the sun
it was as though night had fallen early
though the day was not half over

we gathered and huddled close
trying to ignore the howling winds
and torrential rains
a long day and night of it

we became so accustomed to the roar
and chaos and fear
that when the skies began to clear
and the stars came out
we were loathe to open a window or door

we did not trust it
it seemed safer
to remain locked inside
forever
where the storm’s tentacles could not reach

we stayed tucked away there
thinking only of what we had before
the storm
and having no energy to move into tomorrow
or to gaze at the light of the stars

we soon forgot the scent of the flowers
and the color of the hummingbirds’ wings–
of the buzzing bees gathering their sweet nectar
and the song of the frogs at dusk
we had no recollection

we were numb to all but the worry and the dark

until through the keyhole
came whipping a little breeze
its tiny whistle a melody to lift the spirits
of all tucked away in sadness

refreshing, tickling our faces, whispering in our ears,
blowing through an air
of hope
and love
and memories of the joy from before

that promised to come again
if only we would open the door
and let the light back in

 

Photo by Lee Morley via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/spookman01/

Photo by Lee Morley via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/spookman01/

“Well, What About Them?”

Today as the crew and I began the work of coming to terms with our shock and grief, we did what we have done in the past when the pain has been great. We circled the wagons and hung close together.
Aub had a couple of things she needed to do at school and I had a couple of errands to run as well, so we all loaded up and headed out.  Together.
This meant that when we got home, there were a fair number of things that still needed tending to.
I asked different children, usually in pairs or all three, to take care of one task or another.
Not once, but twice, I got the blank stare, no action, and I heard the “Well, what about _______? She/He isn’t…..”
Y’all.
No. Unh uh. Not even.
I will turn this house. Upside. Down.
Not even joking.

We are all a little tender right now, so I tried to give some grace, but just no.

What if WE ALL waited to tend to what we could do on the list of what needs doing in our world–what if we all stood around waiting on so and so to do THEIR part first, and then we’ll get on it?

I am having none of that, I tell you what.

My dear sisterfriend who left this world on Monday was having none of that either. She saw a need and she got on it. She didn’t wait on you or me to get in there and stand alongside her. She fed people, and then the rest of us joined her. She loved all, and we learned to do so too. She kept on standing up for folks who weren’t being heard, and we began to see and hear them and follow her example.

She didn’t let any dust settle around her feet. She was always moving toward the goal of following in the dust of the Rabbi,  loving and caring and speaking out for folks.

Tonight I am thankful for her and the life she lived. I am thankful for this zany bunch I get to call mine for a time.  I love them dearly at the same time that they make me question my sanity. As they stare at me, wanting to know why their siblings aren’t being called to task, I remember that we are all on a learning journey, works in progress, and I have hope. And patience. Just like my Mama and my sisterfriend and my Aunt and so many others have had with me.

May none of us ever sit around waiting for another to step in and get things started…..
Love to all.

One Life I Loved

A beautiful soul has left us, and my life will never be the same again.

In the midst of a day of tending to school and grocery runs and appliance repairs, I got the call that broke my heart.

My dear sisterfriend is gone.

Suddenly and unexpectedly gone.

And I find myself feeling very, very lost.

My friend was a colleague, a mentor, and a trusted and much beloved friend.

"Lasso the Moon Together" by Wyanne

“Lasso the Moon Together” by Wyanne

She loved elephants.  Last year when I found the print, “Lasso the Moon Together” by the very talented Wyanne, it had her spirit written all over it.  She has helped me reach the stars, and I love her to the moon and back.  She has lifted so many up to reach their full potential, by believing in them and empowering them and putting them in touch with the right resources.  Most of all she has loved us all, just as we are.

Little did she know when she toted leftovers from church to the downtown area to share with folks who might enjoy them all those years ago that she was starting a ministry.  One that would be far-reaching and change all of our lives for the better.  Because of her being interruptible and unselfish and giving on a Sunday afternoon way back then.

She and her family moved to downtown Macon to live among the folks she cared so much about.  The folks she loved knew it.  She was not just about the words, she was about action.

I remember one day in particular that she made herself interruptible, taking time away from her job and family to join me in a trip to be family for one of our friends who had finished his rehab program in Statesboro.  We laughed and cried together, and if I didn’t know it before that day, I knew it then.  She was a kindred spirit.  We were sisters who needed each other.

An elephant never forgets, they say.

My sweet, dear sisterfriend, I love you and I will never forget.

I won’t forget the song that plays when I call your number and get your voicemail.  “One Life to Love” by 33Miles:

You only get just one time around
You only get one shot at this
One chance to find out
The one thing that you don’t wanna miss
One day when it’s all said and done
I hope you see that it was enough
This one ride, one try, one life to love

I won’t forget how you loved, girl.  And how much.

I won’t forget your patience with my littles when we were together.  I won’t forget the lessons you taught me about compassion and tough love and how to empower without enabling.  I won’t forget how you were a voice for those whose were unable to speak for themselves.  Or how you gave so much of your time and hugs and resources to make our community a better place for all of us to live. I will remember how you encouraged me to write my first letter to and later visit our friend who was incarcerated.  I won’t forget the smile that the mention of your sweet grandson put on your face.   I will always remember how you changed my Aub’s life, not once but twice, caring so much about her future and where she is heading.  I won’t forget how generous you were with your thank you’s and that you took time to write handwritten notes to so many of us, an expression of love we will always have.  I will remember your wanting to come to Daddy’s funeral and getting lost, bless your heart–but that you wanted to come, that was such a comfort to me.  One of the books you suggested I read is one of the big reasons I finally started writing again. (I wish I knew what book you were reading last month that you said I needed to read.)  I won’t forget your hugs and your generosity and your words of wisdom.  You have taught me so much.

And yet I still have so much to learn.

I’m not ready to let you go.

And yet I must. You have ridden off into a better place.  One where no one is hungry or homeless or weeping from the brokenness.  I hope you will finally understand and won’t ever forget how precious you are to us.  To me.  Thursday I will keep our lunch date.  I will remember what you have taught me, and I will try to figure out what you planned to say about all that is going on right now.  What a jewel you were in our midst, a beautiful, unpolished gem.

"Come Dream With Me" by Wyanne

“Come Dream With Me” by Wyanne

Our world seems a little dimmer now, but tonight, as I stand out beneath the sky and look up at the stars, it seems brighter where you are.  My life will never be the same, my friend, but know this, you changed me for the better.  You not only dreamed of a better world, you got in there with your hands and your feet and your kind, precious heart and made it so.

And that I will never forget.

Love you, D.  Well done.

 

 

 

*****Many thanks to my friend Wyanne, a brilliant and talent artist and dear soul, who allowed me to share her artwork with y’all.  

 

She Had Me Seeing Red

This morning as I was taking Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional, the sun was shining, and it was already well on its way to becoming a summer scorcher.  In May.  *sigh*

After she took care of her business and we were heading back, the heat made me rethink my whole “open window” policy I’ve had lately.  Today was probably going to be an AC kind of day, I was thinking.  That made me think about power bill, and I thought back as to whether I’d already paid it or not.  That reminded me that I needed to see about replacing my debit card, because I am pretty sure it went through the washer and maybe the dryer because it’s a little warped, only it’s been a while since that happened, if it even did happen, so it wouldn’t work at the grocery store last night or the drugstore last week.  One simply does not need a sporadic debit card.

And then I started thinking about all of the other things that I had on my to do list and that was when I saw them in front of me and all but heard Mother Nature holler, “Stop it!  Hush up!  I can’t even hear myself think!  Why can’t you be quiet and listen for a moment?”

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It stopped me in my tracks.  And in the quiet, I heard only my own breathing and the whisper of one word.

“Red.”

That was it.

As I stood looking at the red roses, I thought about little ones and wonder how many run-on sentences play through their thoughts.  Or would they simply cock their heads, look at the flowers, and think “red?” And then just quietly (or maybe not so quietly) be?

I don’t know.  But sometimes I think we/I might think too much.  Sometimes it might be more soul-filling to think less.  To shut out all the lists and the worries and the obsessing over things said and done and that which has yet to happen…..and just see the world for a moment.  In all its raw truth and beauty and brokenness.  Take it all in without analyzing or trying to figure it all out.  Just see.

The voice that had me seeing red today called me out.  Called me out of my own head and thoughts and paths I travel so often that the trail is worn.  It called me to travel down a quieter one, even for just a few minutes, and see beyond all the data running through my head like a ticker at the stock exchange.

Just see.

Red.

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Pink.

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Yellow.

All the colors.  All the grass growing in the cracks in the sidewalk.  The little worms trying to escape the heat of the day. The birds flitting about preparing their nests.  The bees drawn to the delicate white blooms on the green tree by the house.

All of it.

As I finished my walk, I found myself breathing a little easier.  My step was lighter.  It was like turning off a switch–turning off what had been stifling me, like the heat in my closed up house before I turn on the air conditioning.  Turning off all the chatter.

May we all be able to find a few minutes to do that everyday. Turn off the endless input and processing in our brains, hush up, and just see red.  And all the fabulous palette of colors painted just especially for us.

Love to all.