that door

you’ve seen enough of them slammed in your face
and those few that were slammed behind you
but this one
was different

you knew the possibilities that lay behind it
you knew the stories of what could be
and all the maybes and likelies

and still it was terrifying
because this one
this one

you were going to knock on
and wait

and you with your brave self
did
just
that

you knocked
and waited
and slowly the knob turned
and it opened
and there were the possibilities of all that you hoped for
dreamed of
wrote about

so beautiful with all the could be’s
that it took your breath away
scary and exciting and dizzying and amazing
much like looking over the side of the Tallulah Gorge
leaning in, but not too much, not just yet
taking time to adjust your vision
and find your balance
on the precipice of something so grand

a place where each step is measured carefully
climbing down to where everything,
all the precious little details
come into focus,
a place where beauty and dreams and hopes
all join together there in the place that few
dare to tread
the place that takes every ounce of courage
and letting go and trusting
and not looking down
to get to

you will get there
and when you do
don’t let the past make you look back at how far
you’ve come
instead take a moment or three
and make camp
right there
in the valley
of all you’ve hoped for

even if
it looks
nothing
like what you
imagined
it would

sometimes flowers
bloom in the
cracks
made by storms
long past

Tallulah_Gorge_(c,_1894)-_USGS_

Tallulah Gorge, circa 1894 Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7632628

Because I Kept Breathing

Today the writing prompt for our Rising Bloggers group was “Something your body has taught you.”  You can find other posts on this topic here

The night that the Fella came and got me on my evening walk in August of 2009, my whole world changed in that instant.  I went from being a wife, Mama, new homeschool teacher, and mildly concerned daughter of a Daddy who had been having a few problems to a terrified little girl who could not imagine life without her Daddy.

When my husband told me that Mama did not want me to come to the hospital that night, he said instead she wanted me to call my siblings.

I called each one, and tears and plans and hopes and fears were floating in the air above us like particles of dust do in the afternoon sunlight that pours in through the living room windows.

When I called my Brother, he was quiet for a moment on the other end.  He lives several states away and coming home in a hurry was not an option for him.  “Oh Bubba,” I said through my tears.  “If something happens to Daddy, I don’t think I will be able to breathe. I just can’t.”

But there’s this.

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In the weeks before my Daddy died, I stayed up late stripping pork roasts and putting them in the freezer, baking cakes to put back as well, and simply thinking and planning and trying to stay one step ahead of What Might Could Happen.  My body was exhausted but my spirit, my mind, and my heart said it must be done.  And they were right.

And my body is, at times, stronger than my spirit. Stronger than I ever knew.  When my heart broke completely at 4:30 p.m. on 17 November 2011, my body pushed through and did the impossible.  It kept on breathing, sleeping, doing what needed to be done.  Even when all I wanted to do was give up and crawl under a blanket and find myself waking up from a bad, bad dream.  And yet I kept breathing.

It’s amazing to me the balance between body and spirit.  When one is broken or lost, it seems that the other is there to pick up the load.  During Mama’s HospitalStay we all kept so many balls in the air, I know it was nothing but sheer willpower of spirit that kept us going.  Our spirits seemed to cheer our bodies on–“You can get up early in the morning to finish that laundry, to pay those bills, to make that phone call, to read to that child, to put supper in the crockpot…..”  It was three weeks later when Mama’s fight for comfort and healing ended that the roles reversed.  When she took her last breath and the nurse we grew up knowing nodded his head from her doorway, in that instant, my body nudged my spirit and said, “You take a rest. I’ll take it from here for a while.”

And so it was my body that took over as I washed her face one more time.  It had brought her such comfort in life, and now it brought me comfort.  As if by rote, my body got me through the whirlwind of the next few days–planning and running errands and welcoming and greeting and thanking folks and saying goodbye.

20131024-215518.jpgIf one believes that, as the Good Book says, we are created in the Image of the Creator, who is three in one, isn’t it fascinating to see how these two sides of our selves work together?  We are not all body or all spirit, but both as one.  Both need food to survive and time to rejuvenate and heal.  It takes both to live this life that is so full of laughter and joy and tears and sadness.  It takes both to love with our hearts and our hands.  It takes both to defend what we believe in with our minds and our bodies.  And it takes both to say goodbye.  To touch a hand and kiss a forehead one last time, and to let them go with our hearts where they need to go.

When I asked my body what it felt like was the greatest thing it could share with me and the world, it was this:

“I don’t work alone.”

And though I can’t run a marathon or even jog around the neighborhood, I am strong, stronger than I ever knew.  I know.  Because I kept breathing.

Bold and Beautiful Things

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So this happened today.  Aragog has moved a little further from the house.  He is now starting from the corner of the house and tying out with ONE STRAND to the Loropetalum that sits across from the corner of the house in the flowerbed.  He is very skilled, and I continue to be amazed with his intricate designs.  I suppose as long as he stays there, and I keep “limboing lower now” under where he attached his web to the bush, we’ll all be okay.

Here’s the thing that I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around all day long.  The very thing that sustains Aragog is the thing that transforms and ultimately destroys the web he worked so diligently on. And then he has to start over, and he usually moves on to another spot. That’s powerful.  And hard.

Are we like that too?  Do we need the things that we work so hard on, those things we throw ourselves into, to be transformed or destroyed so we will actually move? Move to do something bigger and better and bold, like hang our whole well-being and existence on one well-placed strand of webbing?  When things we work hard on are destroyed, do we have what it takes to begin again?

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I have not lost my arachnophobic ways.  I found a small spider crawling across the floor this evening.  He was crawling IN MY HOUSE.  My house, my rules.  And that’s all I have to say about that.  But I am beginning to respect Aragog; he must be doing all right for himself because he seems to be getting bigger.  BIGGER.  But he’s also being bold.  He started out with a much smaller web just over my front door, and now his web and all its connecting lines are stretching out at least four times as large as the original.  That one strand thing is blowing my mind.  How strong it must be.  Well played my bold friend.  Well played.

And by tonight it was gone.  Between the breakfast, lunch, and supper he caught earlier and the  breeze blowing and the neighbor child who came up and used one finger to break the link with the bush (that took my breath away for a moment, I’m not kidding–I was NOT happy), it was all but gone by the time the sun settled down behind the copse of trees.

Seeing Aragog begin again each morning this week has given me hope.  I know, weird, considering how I feel about spiders.  But the fact that he can begin again each and every day and NOT GIVE UP, though he must be extremely tired, THAT is the stuff that movies with great soundtracks are made of.  You know, the ones that have you cheering on the character who, by all rights, should be curled up in the fetal position because he or she has been through so much.  But no.  There he/she goes again, picking him/herself up and starting again.  With one strong strand hooked to the Loropetalum, slowly but steadily working step by step in the dark of night.  When things are the darkest, he or she finds what it takes to begin anew.  And to do bold and beautiful things, no matter how fleeting they may be.

That right there.  That’s what I want my story to look like.