Always

The world has lost another beautiful soul.

Tonight I give thanks for this talented actor whose portrayal of Severus Snape as written by JK Rowling in the Harry Potter novels taught some, reminded others, that there is more to people than what meets the eye.  Professor Snape reaffirmed for us the truth in Mary Lou Kownacki’s words:

Engrave this upon your heart: there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you heard their story.

Many of us spent years until the release of the seventh book in the summer of 2007 disliking this man and his ways, distrusting him.   And then, in that book, the details of his loyalties are revealed, and we learn the story of who he was and how he was treated before and whom he really loved, and what he did for that love. And then…..we realized…..

this is not a world of easy black and white.  There is no all good or all bad.

It’s all grey.  The good with the bad.  The broken with the beautiful.  The light and the dark.

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So can a talented artist like yourself.  Well done, sir.  

Thank you, Alan Rickman, for bringing this to life for us–for your part in teaching us to look beyond the story we see–to listen and hear what is not always easily seen or shared.  You shall be missed.

Always.

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The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas…..

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Sweet ornaments made by my sweet friend that remind of the way the sounds of the season resonate with my soul and what a treasure friendships are.

Tonight I sat listening to the carols being played and sung by people who have come to be a part of my family.  As they sang and played the guitar and the flute and the drum box, I was, once again, moved to tears in the midst of “Silent Night.”  As I wondered why, the image of women singing this to themselves in the midst of waiting for news from the war came to my mind and heart.  I wondered what it was like for my Granny singing this back then.  Or my great-grandmother before her.

And then it hit me what a precious thing it is that they did.  They sang these same carols that I sang as a child and sang tonight.  The same ones, I’d venture a guess, that my grandchildren will sing along to one day.

Then I thought about three different Christmases and how dear they all are and how they connect me to my story–

Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.

And for all of the new ways of doing things like tracking Santa with an app on our phones or sending Christmas cards through email or social media or going to the movies on Christmas day–all of which are wonderful in their own way–the old traditions that connect us to those who have gone before us are truly beautiful.  Decorating the Christmas tree, making homemade Christmas ornaments, baking cookies and other treats, singing Christmas carols, caroling, making time to visit with family and friends, reading the Christmas story together, sitting out milk and cookies for Santa…..

priceless.

Tonight I’m thankful for the traditions that have and will last through all three Christmases.  It is a good feeling to be a part of something that has come before and will last long after I leave this world.

Silent night, Holy Night…..

Love to all.

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This evening as my Aub and I gathered together in a circle of 100 or more people gathered at the Vigil, I looked down in the midst of the singing, and I saw this leaf there on the ground in front of me.  It intrigued me and comforted me.  As prayers were said for the one inside the building hidden by the woods, awaiting to know if her life was about to end or not, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.  As prayers were said for the ones who know and love her and would grieve for her both inside and outside of the building with the bars, I focused my heart on the prayer and my eyes on the leaf.

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At first I thought it was a cross, but as I looked a little longer, I realized it was a dove.  Of peace.

And my heart and soul breathed a sigh of release.

And a prayer for grace and mercy.

Tonight I am thankful for a life that is still being lived, a story still being told, and for the souls who shared their stories and hopes with us as we stood in the cold and hoped and prayed and laughed and cried together.  I am thankful for weather delays and cloudy medicines and the chance that hearts could still be changed and justice and mercy can go hand in hand to continue the life of one who cares, who has saved lives herself, and who has told folks they were better than their circumstances.  Of one who loves.

As for what tomorrow will bring, I focus my heart on the prayers and my eyes on the dove.  On peace.  And grace.  And mercy.

And I know that whatever story comes next, in the end, Love Wins.  It just has to.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Other Thoughts:  The Sanctity of Life and the Miracle of Grace

 

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Why We Usually Run Out of Ketchup

English: A bottle of Heinz ketchup

English: A bottle of Heinz ketchup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s just not on my radar.

I live in a house of ketchup eaters.  Of which I am not one.  At all.

I grew up with them too.  Sister loved ketchup so much she would eat it on everything from eggs to the Friday night fishsticks.  (We didn’t have them every Friday, but when we did have them it was usually a Friday.)  I don’t remember how old I was when I turned away from ketchup, but I do remember why.

Ketchup is red.  (Well except for that weird phase they went through about ten or twelve years ago where they marketed purple and green ketchups, yeah, RED.)

Blood is red.

In my very young mind, I could not comprehend that vessels contained the blood in our body.  I figured that it was all just in there hanging out together.  I also didn’t understand that our food wasn’t in there free floating.  Put it all together and I decided not to eat ketchup because how on earth would the doctors distinguish the blood from the ketchup if I got sick?

Ummm okay, did I mention that I was very young?

That same youth and lack of comprehension about how the world worked was what made me afraid when I realized we were not inside the dome of the earth–that we were actually standing on the outside of the planet and the only thing holding us in place was something called “gravity.”  All of a sudden I felt so small and vulnerable.  And very hopeful that gravity would never stop working.

Fear is an interesting interpreter isn’t it?  Fear that comes from not knowing, not understanding.  It filters everything through the unknown and comes out on the other end creating stress and worry and exhaustion.  And strange habits.

Like not eating ketchup.

Oh sure I’ve eaten it since then.  And occasionally I find it tasty.  But mostly I don’t care for it, and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t because a tiny bit of that worry from when I was small still lingers.  Not rational, but maybe.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of our Princess sniffling.  I’m afraid she’s gone from allergy symptoms to a full-blown cold.  (Can I say how unfond I am of ragweed?)  It was then that I noticed that my bedroom door was only opened about six inches.  Hmmmmm, I thought, that was odd.  My bathroom door was near about closed. Even odder.  I went to check on Princess, found her awake, and asked her if she had pushed the doors to.  Waiting for her answer, I was thinking, “Please say yes.  Please say yes.”  But instead she answered in her sleepy voice, “No.”

Oh boy.

I spent the next hour, in the darkness, fighting fear with common sense.  I knew that no one had broken in, but the darkness and the unknown kept pushing the common sense and what I did know back against a wall.

Fear.  It’s why I Iose sleep some nights.  It’s why I often don’t try new things and why I avoid old ones.  And once upon a time, it was why I stayed indoors and tried not to go outside very much at all.  Fear is why I avoid my front porch when Aragog’s successor’s web is visible, and it’s why I panic when our Princess starts getting sick.  Fear, it is the impediment to living life fully.

I have spent many years working on the fears that come along irrationally.  And not all fears are.  (To paraphrase my Mama, “Sometimes if you aren’t fearful, you don’t understand the situation.”)  It’s the irrational ones that I want to eke out into extinction.  When even my plans and dreams get filtered through the lens of fear, it is time to do something.

I love this story.  It is endearing and eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time.  And joyful--there's joy in there too.

I love this story. It is endearing and eye-opening and heartbreaking all at the same time. And joyful–there’s joy in there too.

I’m reading a book recommended by my friend and wonderful writer, Karen Spears Zacharias–“Whistling By the Graveyard” by Susan Crandall.  The main character, nine-year old Starla, tells it like this: “Whistling past the graveyard.  That’s what Daddy called it when you did something to keep your mind off your most worstest fear.”

Whistling past the graveyard.  Yes.  I know what that feels like.  Only usually for me it’s a way of breathing.  Or whispering the same words over and over to bring me peace and comfort when I’m most afraid.  Or it’s picking up the phone and calling……Sister, Mess Cat, Bubba, my Aunt, a friend, someone I love and trust.  Just to keep me distracted long enough to get over the wave of fear and worry that can come without a moment’s notice.

It’s time I start whistling more and worrying less.  Let go of those fears that cripple me and my ability to take the next step in whatever it is.

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I love this quote by John Wayne.  Yessir.  That’s what it is.  And I’m thinking after all the times I’ve given in to the fear in my life, it’s time that I learn to saddle up.  There is not right or wrong in the trying; it’s just important that I do it.

So in addition to finishing the book I am reading, I need to learn to saddle up regardless.  It might be scary and it might be way out of my comfort zone, but that’s what true courage looks like.  In the face of fear, not in its absence.

Oh yeah, and one more thing for that to-do list.   Add ketchup to my shopping list.  I think we might just be out.  And tomorrow is very likely going to be fish stick Saturday, and goodness knows these folks can eat some ketchup.  I might even have some myself.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover, or T-Shirt Slogan, or Pajama Bottoms…..

So I sat in a courtroom today and was overwhelmed by the broken stories that surrounded me.  Broken relationships, broken finances, broken homes.  At one point I just hung my head from the weight of it all.

I sat, listening and remembering all the times I sat in that same courtroom waiting to see if I’d be chosen for jury duty.  (I never was.)  The first time was when I was in college.  I was so young then.  Things looked a lot different in that grand room today, and I promise you they haven’t changed so much as a window blind.  Especially not those hard wooden benches.

This. The exact same shirt the guy had on!

This. The exact same shirt the guy had on!

I looked around and saw a man seated in the middle of the courtroom.  His shirt had the message on the back:  “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”  Which cracks me up.  But as I sat there, I wondered if he had really thought through his shirt choice.  He was there, part of what seemed like a less than amicable case.  I sat thinking, as there was little else to do.  Phones were to be shut off, I couldn’t see the only clock in the room, I really couldn’t hear the folks giving their side of each story, and I had left my book at home despite my good intentions.  The more I thought about it, I realized maybe he wore the shirt to garner the same wherewithal that I wore these for:

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When I wear these, I feel like I can conquer the world.  At least my little small segment of it anyway.  So I wear them to bolster my confidence and remember the girl I was raised to be by the folks who gave them to me.

Maybe the shirt does the same for this guy.  It sounded like he was going to need it.

So yeah, I decided that instead of judging folks for their fashion choices in situations such as court or theater or LIFE, maybe I should be a bit more understanding.  Then my eyes landed on the woman in her pajama bottoms.  No sooner than my brain and eyes had done a double take, she ran out of the room about to be sick to her stomach.  Ah.  Bless her.

Around our house, the motto is “Comfort is King.”  I get it.  I had to fight the urge to wear my jeans today.  (I compromised with a denim dress, my boots, and a rather matronly sweater.  Ignore the safety pins in the back of my GW Boutique dress to make it fit.  The sweater covered them, and I only set off the security scanner twice.)  So yes, I knew what prompted her to wear the pajamas, and then the fact that she was sick…..I wanted to applaud her for even showing up.  Bless her heart.  (and stomach)  Not everyone who is supposed to show up actually does, did y’all know that?  Anyway, I wanted to high five her, but I didn’t, out of respect of her condition and my germophobia.  But I did in my mind.  (Does that count?)

And so it goes.  My lesson for today was don’t judge folks.  Period.  I don’t know what path they walked that brought them to that room, just like they don’t know my story.  The most important thing we’re told to do is love other folks. I think it’s time to look beyond tattoos, piercings, baggy/saggy pants, and all the stuff that makes us different–and look to see the person beyond all that window dressing.  Not all who have body piercings or tattoos are uncontrollable wild creatures, and not all who wear business suits and buns have their acts together and are productive members of society.  We all have hearts and a story.  It’s time to cut through all the extra stuff and just listen.  Listen for the heart in each story, to what brought them where they are.  And to love.  In the end, all that extra stuff really doesn’t matter anyway.  Bottom line–we’re more the same than we are different.

Life’s just too short to believe otherwise.