The To and Fro, Then and Now

Some time around the middle of the day, I was exhausted for any number of reasons I could choose from, so I stretched out for a few minutes with Miss Sophie supervising.  She’s really good at that.  The Fella was home, and the littles were working on their lessons, so I had a few minutes to close my eyes.

It was one of those weird, not quite deep, slumbers where I’m aware but also resting.  Hard to explain.  I was dreaming of sorts, I think, when I felt myself being pulled back up to the surface.

In that moment, this thought crossed my mind as the image of our backyard swing came into focus in my head.

It hardly makes sense, does it, as to why change is so hard for one who loved the back and forth and up and down of sitting in a swing?  How is it that so much is terrifying and worrisome when going higher than ever before used to bring such thrills?  Why is a leap into the unknown so frightful at times, when leaping from a moving swing filled all around with laughter and cries for “Again! Again!”?

Turns out my life is so much like being on a swing.  So what is the difference from then when I loved it so much to now?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that on that swing I was controlling the “how high” and most of the time I could stop the swing when I wanted to and come back to stillness–to the balance found exactly in the middle of front and back, to and fro, forwards and backwards.

Balance.

If y’all need me, I’ll be in the backyard.  Looking for some of that.

Love to all.

Tire_swing

By Luke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Running for Love

From rising before the crack of dawn to walking with Miss Sophie this evening, from the icy chill of early morning to the warmth of the afternoon sun, today has brought a plethora of images of new life and sweet life.

The last of the blooms on a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

The last of the blooms on what I believe is a Japanese magnolia at my favorite campus.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny's farm.  I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

These sweet yellow flowers remind me of my Granny’s farm. I love them and all the warm fuzzies they bring.

 

This tree has been bare all winter.  Look at that beautiful green!

This tree has been bare all winter. Look at that beautiful green!

 

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky.  I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

Each of these leaves was smaller than the tip of my pinky. I love to see some baby goats and baby puppies and babies of all sorts and kinds, but baby leaves are pretty cute too I think.

 

And for the sweet.  Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears.  It's Easter, why not?

And for the sweet. Cinnamon rolls thrown in the oven when we got back home, and our Princess decided to top hers with her all-natural gummy bears. It’s Easter, why not?

 

But the sweetest image I can only picture in my head.

My brother, who is a minister, called me after church today.  He was, in his own words, honored to be the one to give the sermon at their Community Sunrise service this morning.  When he told me what he talked about, my heart was full, and I wanted to give him the biggest hug.

But it’s not geographically possible right now.

He talked about the story found in the Good Book in John 20–the story of John running for the tomb.  My brother pointed out how grownups don’t run toward something like that very often, so filled with love and passion.  He’s right, isn’t he?  Children seem to have cornered the market for running with joyful abandon, but not us adults.

Except for my brother.  He runs and chases his children. And mine.  And Mess Cat’s little guy.  He’s good at that.  So much so that his presence is requested outside at least once every day when they are here.

Children like to run towards someone or something they are excited about, something or someone who fills them with joy.  Children also like to be chased.  Pursued.

I love this story, and what it challenges me to do.

I need to seek joy.  Pursue it.  Run towards it.  Run towards the new life that can come from loving all and from caring and showing compassion.  Forgetting what I look like while I’m doing it, I need to run hard and catch that joy.

Who in your world needs someone running towards them?  Who needs someone in pursuit of them because they are loved and cared about, so they can see and feel that?

May we all find what makes us run with joyful abandon towards it.

Love to all.

For Those Who Can’t Yet See the Sunday

The phrase “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” is triumphantly taking over the social media I see.

That is wonderful.  Powerful.  Empowering.

But really, really hard for some.

In We Make the Road By Walking by Brian McLaren, he writes from the point of view of the ones who felt lost on that Saturday. The ones who had traveled with and learned from the One who had perished on the cross.  The ones who had loved him so.

“Perhaps our descendants, the disciples of the future, will call this a day of waiting.  But we are not waiting.  For us, there is nothing to wait for.  All we know is what was lost yesterday as Jesus died on the cross.  For us, it’s all over.  This is a day of doubt, despair, disillusionment, devastation.”  –p. 162, Brian McLaren We Make the Road By Walking

Bless them.

And us.

For there still walk among us those for whom there is no waiting.  The ones who can’t see a Sunday in their sights.  Those who are in despair and disillusioned and no amount of talking about the light that is coming will change that.  The ones who are still lost and reeling from the shock of their devastation.

As we awaken and proclaim life and resurrection and joy on this Sunday, let us remember those for whom this day does not reveal an empty tomb–those for whom there is still the darkness and the torn and brokenness.  Those for whom healing seems an impossible dream.

And as we remember them, let us love them.

It is my hope that in that loving them, something will be resurrected in their hearts, and they will find the strength to go on another day.

Best wishes for light and love to all.

******************

We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren can be purchased at your favorite bookstore or by clicking the link here.  I haven’t read the whole book, but I have found it a thought-provoking and yet easy read so far.

Easter Grass

Last night as I was piddling around here late after everyone was asleep, as I tend to do on nights before the big holidays *ahem*, I looked at shredded colored paper and thought how lovely it was to be able to color coordinate the paper with the baskets.  (This was thanks to a find at the GW Boutique.  This is not how I normally roll.)  I remembered the green plastic grass from my years growing up.  After we fished out all of our jellybeans and Robin’s eggs (aka “lipstick eggs”) and bubble gum eggs and so on, we took all of the “grass” from our basket and placed it back in the Sunbeam bread bag that it had been stored in since the previous Easter.  I can remember the colors fading and wearing off the bag over the years, we used that same one for so long.  I am sure we got our money’s worth out of that single bag of Easter grass.

As I did what I do last night, a story my Daddy told me came back to me and I had to sit down on his brown couch that is in my home next to Mama’s end table and lamp and smile and remember.

When they moved to the house on the farm, Daddy was around Cooter’s age–maybe 7?  He remembered their Easters.  Daddy said he and his older brother would go out in the yard the day before and dig a small hole, about the size of a bowl.  When they finished they would pick grass and line the “basket” with real grass.  Their eggs would be left there to be found on Easter morning.

Isn’t that the sweetest picture?  I can see my Daddy as a little fella, digging in the ground, crouched over his hole, working intently, occasionally pushing his hair out of his eyes, and focusing on getting it just so.  Then running all over, picking and pulling up grass, the very grass that was cool under his bare feet in the heat of the day.

What a precious story.

And one that makes so much more sense and feels so much more authentic than our plastic or shredded paper “grass.”  And what a relief it must be for that poor little Bunny that he doesn’t have to find his way inside.  I love that tradition and that story so much.

Sometimes the simple ways are best.  I wonder what my crew would do if I have them dig their own baskets next year?  Worth a shot?  Just imagine the memories–good? bad?–that could come from that.

Love and merry memory-making to all.

Sunday’s Coming, But It’s Different for Everyone

Saturday.

It’s been on my mind all day today, what with today being, well, you know, Saturday.  And tomorrow being Easter.  And I’m wondering what that first Saturday was like, the one after the horrors and sadness of the day before.  I usually do that every year about this time.   I think about the day and wonder about different things.

I wonder, I mean I was just thinking, did anyone walk up to those who were grieving the loss of the one they loved, the one who had been brutally and suddenly taken from them, and say, “Well, it will all be okay.”   “Don’t worry, he’s in a better place.”  “It’s all a part of the Master plan.”  I just wonder…..

It was Saturday afternoon.  I’d spent the better part of the day at my alma mater with my oldest for scholarship day, a day filled with interviews and forums and walking all over campus.  I’d been anxious and worried, as Mama had been in the hospital for three weeks and moved into a different room on a different floor just the afternoon before.  I wanted to be with my oldest, but I also wanted to be with my Mama. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, a nurse was adjusting some of Mama’s IV’s and medications, and it was apparent that things were not going well.  The nurse was trying to bring up some numbers and down some others.  She saw my face and looked at my seventeen year old, and said she was too young to be in the room.  What she didn’t say was I’d be asked to leave if I let the panic in my face be unleashed.  Mess Cat, who had been with Mama all day and the night before, took my girl and went to get a bite to eat.  I was sitting by myself, willing Mama to fight this unknown evil and soaking in the first quiet moments of the day. 

And then she walked in. 

She introduced herself as a hospital chaplain. 

Ah yes, right.  I had asked one of the patient representatives about having a chaplain come in and spend some time with Mama.  She had been so comforted by her own pastors and friends who had come in and visited.  We had been told by at least one nurse that Mama didn’t seem to be resting well at night.  I had wanted to ask the chaplain on call to check in with her during those long night hours when we hadn’t been allowed to be with her, prior to her moving to the MICU the day before. 

She sat right down next to me on the couch that would later fold out into a bed for me and Mess Cat to sleep fitfully upon.  She asked me how I was doing. 

“Okay, I guess.  I mean, well–” I gestured toward Mama in the bed a few feet away.  I started to explain what we were hoping for.  “I am glad you are here though–“

She interrupted me.  She was not there because she’d gotten the message that Mama needed visits.  I’m not sure if we were on her room list and needed to be checked off or if the nurses had asked for us to have a visit to get through this difficult time.  Whichever it was, she was not going to sit and listen to me explain about Mama.  She had her spiel, and she went into it.  About how I needed to turn to my faith and not let the darkness overcome me.  That I needed to turn to God. 

It was overwhelming to tell you the truth.  In the past forty-five minutes, I had driven across town while listening to my oldest compare the two colleges she’d visited over the past week, parked on the roof of the parking garage, where I’d changed out of my dress pants and into the jeans I’d brought, switched from dress shoes to my comfortable ones, entered the hospital, walked down to Mama’s floor, been admitted to the unit (imagine having to have permission to see your Mama!), and been hit full force by the apparent problems that were needing to be addressed for Mama.  I was having to think about changing her code status; and if that weren’t enough, this woman who didn’t know me or my Mama or what we were going through, and apparently wasn’t going to take the time to hear any of our story, tells me I need to turn to God. 

Excuse me, lady, if it’s all the same to you, you don’t know me like that. 

Before I could pick my chin up off the floor, she patted my hand.  “I tell you what, I want you to sit here,” she patted the couch, “just sit right here and think about God your Father.  Just think about Him and how much He cares for you and take all of that in, and I’ll be back in 30 minutes and we’ll talk about how you’re feeling then.” 

My chin slammed back down and hit the tile floor again.  The only thing I could think, as I held back the tears was, “My Father is gone, and I’m scared I’m losing my Mama too, and you want me to sit still?  There are things I.  Have.  To.  Take. Care.  Of.  That I Must Do.  Thank you, but NO.” 

Instead I sat and didn’t dare speak for what might come out of my mouth.  The one who had raised me better, to act like I am somebody, lay only a few feet away, and for all I knew, she could hear every word.  So I just stared blankly at this woman who called herself a chaplain, as she gathered her clipboard, handed me her card, and made her way out of the room. 

Soon after that Mess Cat and Aub came back in the room.  I shared with them what had happened.  I was livid–appalled, and they were too.  When the chaplain came back, my sister excused her and told her it wasn’t the time.  And it wasn’t.  I was signing paperwork about insurance coverage, as Mama had been in the hospital enough days that they needed additional information.  Right after that, I talked with Dr. G, who was such a great ally for us and good advocate for Mama, and I signed paperwork, changing Mama to a DNR. 

Horror.  Sadness.  Nothing like what those who loved Jesus and watched the crucifixion went through, but painful still.  As I sat there on that Saturday, waiting and wondering and talking to God, and shaking my head, hoping it was all a very, very bad dream,  someone sat next to me and said, “It will all be okay. God’s got this.” 

And all I could think of was, “Really? Because I’m not so sure. Couldn’t He have stopped this at any moment?”

I wonder if any of them–any of the disciples, Mary, Mary Magdalene, I wonder if any of them thought these same thoughts–if any of them wanted to scream and punch a wall.  I wonder if anyone, well-intentioned as they might be–said to any of them, Just sit here and think about your faith.  Trust.

I wonder what it was like fearing you had lost the One who gave you new life.  The One who made a way for you to live out your life.  The One whose example you sought to emulate.

Or maybe I don’t have to wonder about that part so much.  Because in just over twenty-four hours after the chaplain visited, my Mama was given new life of her own, healed, no more pains and heartaches–she joined my Daddy and the little ones whom she never got to hold.  The woman who gave me life, who called me out about my poor choices, set a beautiful example of how to live, and loved me through everything–she was gone.

The brokenness of Friday, the waiting and wondering and heartbreak of Saturday, and then there’s Sunday.

Tonight my heart is heavy for those for whom tomorrow does not bring joy.  Easter is more than a day, it’s a lifting of the spirit.  And not everyone is able to have that on this day.  There are friends in the hospital, friends who have just said goodbye to someone they loved most in this world, friends who are waiting on tests to come back, friends who will wake up in the cold air of morning and their day will be no different from any other, except that those who pass them by, seemingly without seeing them, are dressed a little brighter, a little fancier.

For them, Sunday comes, but Easter may not.

May our words be a comfort and not leave the ears upon which they fall filled with sadness and hurt, may we understand that not everyone is able to rejoice on this Day of days, and may we seek to listen and to love first and foremost, putting others before ourselves.  And may the quiet moments of this day sound louder than the festive ones, filling our hearts with more to ponder upon as the sun sets and a new season begins.

Love and understanding to all.

 

 

 

In the Waiting and Uncertainty

Yesterday I was at the Getting Place getting some “stuff,” and this gave me pause.

Black jelly beans.  They were Daddy's favorites.

Black jelly beans. They were Daddy’s favorites.

And made me a little sad.

The Easter Bunny brought us jelly beans every year, tucked in our green plastic grass that was put away in a bread bag every year for safekeeping until the next Easter.  And every year, I would dig through and pull out the black ones first thing.  And pass them to my right.  Where my Daddy sat at the end of the table.  They were his favorites, and little on Easter morning brought me as much joy as giving him these favorites of his.

This was in the day before they bagged the black ones separately all by themselves. Once they started doing that, I usually picked a bag up for him–sometimes for Easter, sometimes just because.

He’d keep the bag with a twist tie on it, and it would be stored in the little wooden box that sat by his recliner in the living room.  Daddy would pull out the bag, untwist it, pour a few in his palm, and eat the licorice flavored sweets.  Then he’d twist the bag back up, and tuck it away until his sweet tooth called out for them again.

I read something years ago about Holy Saturday, which is upon us now.  That first Saturday–the day after Good Friday.  It was described as a day of waiting, of uncertainty, of in-between.  A day of not knowing.

I think back to the time after Daddy was diagnosed with Lymphoma, his Giant to fight, in 2009.  So much of that time felt just like that–waiting, being uncertain, weeping for what we were most afraid of, feeling in-between, longing for resurrection in the form of good news–remission, a cure, a misdiagnosis, a miracle, something, anything.

What I didn’t know or see at the time is that in those moments of waiting, there were many small moments of redemption and life-affirming joy.  In the midst of the fear, there was faith.  In the grasping for answers, there was hope.  In the moments of worry and sadness, there was laughter and light in his eyes, his voice, his stories, and his words.  In those moments of being in-between, the who we were with conquered where we were.

And that’s as it should be, isn’t it?  Even in the hardest of situations, because of who I was with, I was able to get through the where and the what, and move beyond with a tad bit of hope and a whole lot of love.

Daddy’s jelly beans.  A precious memory.  But what makes it so special is the memory of his hand held out to accept what I offered from mine.  The smile on his face, acting like he was surprised that I didn’t want them myself.  The way his eyes lit up when he bit into the first one every year.  Daddy loved black jelly beans–he loved us even more.  And in the waiting, in the uncertainty, it was that love that conquered all.

May your waiting find you surrounded by those who love you, and may you find the joy and peace of Easter waiting for you on the other side.

Love to all.