the crack in the darkness

what if

as we sit in the darkness,

trying to figure out how to piece it all back together

again

each time we feel the pain of the losing

 

what if,

as the darkness threatens to envelop us,

and all the light that we cannot see

is just out of our reach

 

what if

the one good thing we can do

the smile we can give

the hand we can hold

the love we can share–

 

what if

that is how the Light gets in?

 

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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

 

Thankful That It Makes No Sense to Them

The littles and I were heading back home this morning from our OutsandAbouts, when our Princess noticed the street sign.

“Mama, they have named a street after Mr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Look.”

I nodded.  “I see that.”  Interesting that after the years of Sundays travelling the street of that same name in Macon, she finally noticed the one we are rarely on in our own town.

“Martin Luther King.  Is he the one who stopped slavery?” Cooter asked.

“No, he’s the one who stopped ‘For Whites Only,'” she replied.

“Why would anyone want to do that.  For whites only.  Why?”

They both were quiet then.  I guess I was up to bat.

I sighed and focused on the traffic on the road.  “Well, I guess some people didn’t care for folks who were different from them, maybe they were scared.  So they didn’t believe that everyone had equal rights.  And they tried to keep them separate, away from them.”  I paused.  “But everyone was created by God and is loved by God–so everyone is equal, right?”

A check in the rearview mirror showed their nodding heads in agreement.

“That just doesn’t make sense.  For whites only.” Our Princess got very quiet.

But not Cooter.  He only gets louder the more excited he becomes.  “YEAH!  That doesn’t make ANY SENSE AT ALL!”  And he flung his arms out dramatically and then folded them to his chest in certain indignation.

Wow.

I’m not quite sure where they learned about Dr. King.  I’m replaying shows we’ve watched and books they’ve read in my memory bank files, and I can’t pinpoint where.  I will ask them tomorrow.  This morning I was so surprised by the turn of the conversation that I forgot to inquire how they knew who he was.

Tonight I’m thankful that things like this make no sense to my children.  I’m thankful that they have conversations like this one, every now and then, where I can see straight through to their hearts, beyond the bickering and drama of siblingship, straight through to what really matters.  I give thanks that they are indignant about injustices such as these.  Because I know, and one day they will too, that the struggle for true equality is far from over.  They will need their caring and indignant spirits to carry them through hard times and brokenness so they can make a difference, and maybe one day their children will find all that is happening today so far-fetched they will think their Mama or Daddy is making it up.

Fingers crossed.  And toes too.

Love to all.

 

Giving Thanks for Echoed Fears

Today when I was driving, making time to get things done, checking things off my list, I heard an old song by Pam Tillis–“Land of the Living,” written by Tia Sillers and Wayland Patton.  I have her Greatest Hits CD, and this was one of my favorites on that CD back when I was transitioning from my previous life into the new one I could barely fathom.

A line from the song today struck a chord with me, a different one from the many that did back then.  It was–

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One of the things taught about good listening is focus so you can repeat the problem or concern back to the person who just shared it.  If you can rephrase it, the person you are listening to knows he or she is being heard.

I think this lyric has a double meaning.  First, we all need to know we aren’t alone–that someone else struggles along the same path we are on.  They get it.  Second, when someone “echoes” our anxieties, worries, fears back to us, we know we are heard.  And maybe even understood.  Someone cares enough to really hear what our heart is trying to say.

Tonight I am thankful for the one who heard my fears today and echoed them and even had me laughing over them before it was over with.  That’s good stuff for sure, and I’m glad I can call her mine.

When I see someone who seems sad and struggling, I worry if they are alone in this world–if they have someone to listen and to help them over the bumps in the road.  Or to splash through the puddles with.  And laugh out loud.

As I give thanks, maybe I also feel challenged to be that someone for another.

As Mama used to say, “Pay it forward.” By, well, being the feather.  #bethefeather

Wishing you all someone to echo your fears, someone to listen–because your story matters too.  Love to all.

 

on going back

going back

to the person whose heart you hurt

oh so long ago

and saying “I’m sorry,

it was my brokenness,

not yours”

courage

going back

to the person whom you

might have offended

and saying, “I’m sorry,

for the words that came

without thought”

humility

going back

to the person you’ve

been so angry with,

listening

and then saying, “It’s okay,

it’s over, my heart just let it go”

grace

peace

hope

it is in the going back

that we can move forward

and beyond

lighter

and with a full

and thankful

heart

love

 

 

Those Days That Leave Folks Out

Dear Hallmark,

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Girl Who’s Tired of Being Reminded

 

Okay, this one probably isn’t going to make me very popular.  If you are one who has always and will always love the “day” celebrations honoring this one and that one in your life–then okay.  No offense meant.  Personally, I’m over these days.  Valentine’s.  Mother’s Day.  Father’s Day.  Grandparent’s Day.

Why can’t we honor and love and be kind to these folks everyday?  In the words of Miss N from my Sister Circle, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”

I’m thinking it’s because you won’t buy a card if you’re doing it everyday.  Right?

All right, in all seriousness, here’s my problem with the “day” thing.  It excludes people.  It leaves folks out.  And that was in my Mama’s top three rules.  “Don’t leave anyone out.”  I’m not placing all the blame at the foot of the card companies, but they are the ones whose displays and tear-jerking commercials remind us we must do something for the day.  Them and the sales on things that are not related at all–like grey tissue boxes and size H crochet hooks made from rosewood.  And 20% one item coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond in the mailbox in honor of the day.  (They never expire you know, despite what they say.)  And then there’s some pastors and church folks who decide to honor those special people that day.  *sigh*  What a relief it is to be in church on one of those Sundays and get through the whole service without mention or reminder.  So thankful when that happens.

Sure, it’s wonderful to honor your parents.  Or your grandparents.  Or the love of your life.  I’m all for it.  I grew up doing it, making cards, cooking waffles for a special supper, making a cake with so much blue dye in the icing it almost took my Daddy out–yeah, I was full of the love and the spirit.

But now…..

I see it a little differently than I did back then.  I see my friends who have no roof over their heads, remembering children who long ago stopped searching for them.  Or parents who did the same.  I see the Mama who had to do what no Mama should do–go through a day all about Mamas when she, for the first time in years, had no child to hug her or treat her to dinner.  I see a child in adult’s clothing, gripping tight the tissue hidden in her hand, so she can wipe the tears quickly so her own children won’t notice her pain.  I see the young woman bemoaning another Valentine’s without someone special to share it with.  I see a child torn as she tries to honor one while grieving another.  And then there are those who are estranged from the one the day calls us to love and honor.  It’s painful and private and suddenly a spotlight is on the relationship that isn’t.  And all of these precious people put smiles on their faces and try to carry on as though nothing is out of sorts as best they can.  So those who are having a wonderful time celebrating maybe won’t know.

I love my children and Fella.  I appreciate their efforts to honor me and make me feel special on that day.  Hey, I appreciate it any day that happens.  And I want to honor my Fella as a good person and Daddy.  But we tend to keep it low-key.  The Fella says he’s just happy to be home.  I usually have help making his favorite dessert and we hang out and call it a day.  And it’s good.  And I’m thankful he’s okay with low-key because anything else would send me on another spin on the grief wheel pretty quick.  As it is, when I’m by myself I say a quiet thank you to the man who loved and raised me, and I try to move beyond.  That’s hard to do sometimes.  I don’t know how my Mama did it all those years.  She made us feel special that we were honoring her, all the while she was grieving the relationship she never had with her own mother.  And we didn’t know until we were much older.

If you love these days and really get into them, that is great.  I think it’s wonderful the ones who go all out with teas for their Mamas or big barbeques for their Dads (and vice versa), big candlelit dinners and a night out on the town with their Valentine, or a picnic with their grandparents.  Love it.  Keep on loving those precious ones you treasure.  In your own special way.  What I’m asking is for a little patience and understanding when I seem less than enthusiastic.  I’m all about loving on folks, but sometimes that looks a little different than what many might expect, I guess.   I struggle with days and things that make people feel left out or like an “odd man out.”  Fitting in is a good feeling, and that’s hard to do when you’re not a part of the celebration through no fault of your own.

All I’m asking is the next time one of these days rolls around, maybe take a look around and think about how someone else might be feeling.  And be okay with wherever he or she is.  Maybe, if you are so inclined, be a safe place for them to be, away from the hoopla and festivities.  #bethefeather

Happy Everyday and love to all.

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Asked, “What Are You Afraid of?”

Last week my friend Michelle who writes over at Correct and Continue posed the question–

What are you afraid of? 

In the moments of quiet that find their way into my days and rapidly disappear, I have thought about this question.

And I have worked on my answer to that.

Spiders.  Definitely.  No doubt.  I don’t play about that.

I have finally decided to find it quirky and embrace it rather than work through it.  Family lore has it that when I was maybe four and Sister was nearly one, I started losing it over a spider I saw on the floor.  Sister reached over and smashed it with her hand.  She may or may not have then licked said hand.  That bit’s a little fuzzy.  Needless to say, I spent all my years after that, when I was living at home, calling her to my rescue.  One of the reasons our front porch and front flower bed needs so much attention now is my arachnophobia.  I’m done.  My Fella knows, and he says we will do it together.  I’m good with that.  Spiders.  Just. No.

Boogie Man.  Well, who’s not, really?  Am I right?  The embodiment of all evil and darkness in the world.  Don’t need him around either.

Something bad happening to someone I love.  Been there, done that.  But I don’t think that exempts me from a future without any more of this.  When the littles get sick, like Cooter has been since last night, if I don’t block the door so Anxiety Girl can’t get in, I have to deal with her and all of her what if’s and panic-laden thoughts.  I’m trying though.  She and I really aren’t good for each other.  At all.

Oh I could go on and on.  Odd stuff.  Thanks to the Tylenol tampering and subsequent deaths of 1982, I have a moment of stress when I open a new bottle/bag/container of something.  I want to make sure that joker is SEALED.  I unplug things that my Daddy taught me could be fire hazards before I leave my house.  I double-check the locks at night.  And when I’m leaving.  I worry that I will lose my wallet.  Or my phone.  I’ve tried to do both a time or two.

But none of those can touch what I think is my greatest fear.

I am afraid of becoming comfortable.

I could, you know.  I have the potential to do just that.

I could stay at home and hang out in my little world of times tables, Harry Potter reading, Lego building, cleaning up, cooking and feeding, and teaching and healing and kissing boo boos.  I could do that, and it would be okay.  It would be comfortable and the right thing and I would be taking care of business in my home, in my own part of the world.

But here’s a thought.  One that speaks to my heart and calls me out.  Something that I saw today on the Facebook page of Love Wins Ministries, which “shares unconditional love and friendship with the homeless and poor population of Raleigh, North Carolina.”

Yep.  See, if I become comfortable in my own little world, oblivious and unaware and indifferent to the suffering and heartbreak and loneliness and brokenness of those who share this world with me, I’ve missed out.  That is my fear.  That I will become comfortable and unaware and indifferent.  And if I do, an important part of living, of being on this journey will be gone.

I’ve learned this, through watching my parents and the example they set:

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 

Fill in the blank with almost anything.

Just because you can–

eat the whole pizza at one sitting…..

get a new credit card…..

speak your mind to the one who cut you off in traffic…..

buy yourself a new purse, a new car, a new pair of boots……

doesn’t mean you should.

We are all connected.  I can become comfortable and indifferent and think that any one of those things won’t affect someone else.  In my own little world, I might think that what happens to “them” “elsewhere” doesn’t have one iota of anything to do with me.

And I’d be lying to myself, wouldn’t I?  Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

What is my greatest fear?

Losing that sense of connectedness, however painful as it may be to be aware, connected.  And living in my own little world, unaware and indifferent to the stories of those around me.

It could happen.  It would be so easy to go there.

But for me, I can’t let it.

Because while I’d be comfortable, I wouldn’t be living the life I was meant to live.

And that’s what I’m most afraid of.  Not living as I was meant to.  Made to.

Love and a beautiful, uncomfortable moment or two to all.