Good

November 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

1 Peter 3:13-22

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.

At the end of June, a gale came from the west. In the grey swirl of its wind it called us home. A single blow from above opened the door as the tree sent a ray of light into our cell. We were free.

I dropped the ball in the lap of our Lord. My heart broke open as I poured out my hopes and dreams on Saint Ann’s quiet altar. Shrouded in darkness, my tears fell in secrecy as I asked my Father to show me the way. Take me. Take my heart, take my hope, and lead us away.

The morning we left was like a dream. In the dark, our friends lent their hands to our mission as we got ready to face the road. Three thousand miles lay ahead. My boy was strapped in his car seat, forward facing, in the seat next to mine. His eyes were poised to eat the road.

As mile after mile fell behind, the great question opened ahead. We didn’t have enough money to make it this far. We had faith, a direction, a gallon of holy water and our prayers. As the miles rose up to greet us, we also had friends.

It was the sea of hands, from in front and behind, that lifted us out of our trap. It was the conviction of our purpose and the shine in our eyes that made prejudice and judgement fall away. In towns across this country, tiny rural places, unflinching eyes shined with the love of Christ as they met my tattooed face.

The love of Christ looks past the things of the world. In the love of Christ, we tunnel straight into the heart. When we find the truth we don’t care what it is called, or even if it lacks a name. Truth knows truth; and when we find it, we celebrate our coming home.

This past Thanksgiving, a new friend Arica had reached out a hand. Only here a month longer than we, she wanted the feeling of family and community in her home. We gave our “yes” and spent two afternoons in the church kitchen getting ready for the feast.

We showed up with faces glowing with hope. Juggling whipped sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing and peace cobbler, we wobbled through the door. The thump of music and the buzz of car engines from a video game met us as inside six wee ones scrambled around six adults. Every kitchen surface relied on the lightness in our hearts to hold the bounty that Arica had spent all night preparing.

We were ready to eat. I peeked under each foil cover as my stomach digested itself. “When is dinner?” I asked her. Arica moved around us with composure and grace, touching dishes and adjusting foil covers. “I don’t know.”

A woman from Arica’s church, Miss Karla, had invited us all to eat. Her dinner was at 4:30. It was only noon. Everyone was starving and the food was within reach. Arica had been up until seven a.m. cooking it. I wanted to eat it. She asked for a vote and we all said “Eat”. Miss Karla would have to be disappointed.

Arica’s graceful,movements corralled the space. Somehow, one shower washed 10 people as we considered our dilemma. Deviled eggs appeared and disappeared, and more eggs were put on to boil. In my hand appeared a cup of the most delicious coffee as I waited for our quiet matriarch to announce our plan.The pressure was applied. We wanted to eat now.

As she listened to our grumbling, her children were groomed. Three tiny people took their turn between her knees as her purposeful hands worked over their bodies. Dabs of lotion were rubbed, rubbed, rubbed, until tiny curls bounced and faces glistened. Each child, in their turn, stood as if hypnotized as their mother tended them.

My own child within went to its knees. I longed to be one of them, to have those hands pass so brusquely and confidently through my hair, over my round and waiting limbs. On her face emotions swirled. She laid a thin veil over it, and weighed each choice.

“I can’t disappoint Miss Karla,” she announced. “My heart just won’t feel right if I let her down. I have to go to her dinner.”

In this crowd of impatient, hungry people Arica could have very well suffered for doing what was right. I was one of those pushing to eat now and forget Miss Karla. Still, Arica would not. She had a commitment, and she was going to honor it.

At Miss Karla’s, I jumped into the fray. Fourteen hungry people had walked through her door. As much as they insisted my help wasn’t needed, I began to wash dishes. Eventually, pie crust was handed to me as my experience in that area surpassed those of the others. I mixed and rolled, and I shared our story. We’d come through another door of fellowship. Around me, were the arms of my companions in Christ.

What does that even mean? What is a companion in Christ? Is it someone who says the name of Jesus the right number of times each day? No. As the Bishop reminded us in his sermon today, being a Christian means being different in the world. It means rejecting the values of the world.

Arica heard the call. It came from her heart. It required her to behave with respect, love and honor. Karla had heard it. It came from her heart when it excited her to prepare food for 14 strangers. I heard the call when I made pie crust in a stranger’s kitchen, and when I chose hunger for the sake of love instead of instant satisfaction. We hear it when we recognize the Christ in actions taken by people who will never, and need not never, utter that name.

Unity, peace, compassion, generosity, sister- and brotherhood are all the watchwords of the one we call Jesus, but Jesus is so much bigger than that. Jesus is bigger than His own name, bigger than His own ideas, big enough to reach into every part of our world if we look and share with open hearts and eyes.

Good. Fairness, real love, and real concern for others and for the world: this is what we are called to practice. Anyone who practices it by any name–or none at all– is our sister or brother. When we take down the walls created by labels and words, we make more seats at the table.

As I worked at Karla’s elbow, as I honored Arica’s word, as I stepped out in faith into an unknown world, I stretched my arms to expand our family. I am so eager to do good. I need to be a part of something eternal, something holy. On the other side of this, my babies are waiting.

Today, the Bishop talked about how we were required to be something different in the world. Forget what the world values; forget what the world expects: What did Christ ask? “Would Christ sleep outside of Wal-Mart for a flat-screened T.V.?” he essentially asked.

In other words, look again at your values. Look at the values of Christ. Who cares what you call it. Be eager to do good. Suffer for what is right. This life is a weigh-station for something much more. Think carefully about what you put on the scale.

In the days since Thanksgiving, I have thoughts of Arica. I consider her quiet poise, the massaging way her hands passed over her children, her insistence on respecting Karla’s generosity and feelings. Eager to do good, she listened to our grumbling while she following the goodness in her own heart. That hungry day, I watched her blessings multiple; and I fixed my eye on a sister who has a lot to teach.

Arica, thank you for showing me the good. I am so thankful that you join me on the path. Here’s to love, sister.

Return to Me

November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Malachi 3: 5-7

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

Wild winds of abuse and grief had herded me into West Virginia. My sweet babe emerged in the eye of the storm. A peaceful birth into my own hands, a new rush of power swirled in on the February winds. For the first time in years, my body opened willingly; and untold joy appeared.

Cutting wind came from the rear. The storm of grief was not silenced. A penetrating fear rose as I imagined a gaped-grin creator flicking Its tongue at my tears. Outside of my window voices howled. Vulgarities spilled down alleys of social and emotional isolation. Feelings blocked by years of neglect and abuse, the sufferers believed themselves impossible to hear. Rage and pain swirled outside my windows, delivered at top volume. I kept my hand near a paper bag for the panic that would inevitably strike. My body drew into a tight ball of fear.

Eventually, I prayed. No god, no hope, my slippery grace resistant to even the most modest forms of peace, I prayed. One night, from the chair, I heard the sounds of abuse rising from outside. I gripped the chair and squeezed shut my eyes.

Behind my lids, I didn’t see a vision from outside: I saw my boy. I saw his sleeping shape, a soft “s” aglow in quiet light. I needed a way to change this course, to break this line of thinking, to make a way out. I clutched my lap, hung my head, and prayed.

There was nothing there. Nothing I felt, nothing I knew, only something I wanted: hope and purpose. “Here I am!” I cried. “See me!” I cried. “Touch me!” I cried. I lifted my hands to the sky as my tears washed me. From the cradle of that chair I offered my willingness, my will and my life. I offered it to nothing. In my offering, I had one request: touch me. Let me feel you. If I have reason to hope, if I have reason to relax, give me a direction for my life.

A blast from the west drove the tree down on us. We reached for its power as we climbed up and out of the hole. From that first night, I rested my new faith upon it. From our neighbor’s sweltering second floor we watched a strange salmon sky. There was a message in it. It was time to go.

Three-thousand miles lay behind us. From the corn to the plains to the Sand Hills to the mountains, a new faith carried us on. In messages like those from Malachi, I find my peace.

God loves justice. God does not do what he hates. God has a special love for those of us who suffer. Our raging, righteous Jesus champions the cause of every ne’re do well, outcast and struggler as he sweeps us up on his brisk walk to peace. Whatever he asks, I strive to learn. I know I will fail; but the Holy Three will see me trying my tail off to get it right.

Tonight, as I typed here, I watched a flutter rise and fall in the light from my lamp. Eventually, I glanced up to see a ladybug light on the base of the lamp. Conditioned to love ladyBUGS, I scooped it (her) into my hand for release. Earlier, another bug that was first suspected a cockroach had been trapped with a paper and cup for release. I didn’t want to touch it.

The ladybugs feet tickled the inside of my clasped hands as I thought. What other prejudices of mine pollute my thinking? Who said I held beauty in my hands? Who said some brown thing was ugliness? In what other ways do I lack courtesy and fairness? I puffed my creepy-crawly into the wind. I have a lot of thinking to do.

In all of this, I had only one certainty: I love and desire peace, justice and equality. Since my request, I’ve gained much more. A love rose up from beneath me. God has shown me how He makes Himself real in all of you. My cry for my Father was answered by the bounty of hands that appeared, and continue to appear. “Let me feel You,” I asked. And I do.

Invitations

November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

The past few days have been couched by heavy skies and strong gusts. The verge of something terrible is suggested, but never comes about. Cradled at Kris’s backdoor, the cold winds only entertain us. We eat, drink, play and rest in our safe, little pod. Firmly seated in the thrust of the wind we journey on.

We plan our departures between the gusts. Darting between them keeps us reasonably dry as J strains towards puddles. When is a good time to have a child soaked to the bone? There are few occasions on a 50° day. I think I need to pack several changes of clothes and plan a Puddle Jumping Excursion to give my sweet one a chance to soak himself.

We spent the day at the church cooking for Thanksgiving. Not only was is great to have access to their facilities, it was great to be a part of the liveliness of their day. When I asked Mother Kathleen to use the kitchen, I hadn’t counted on getting to hear bell choir rehearsal. I hadn’t counted on Angie’s company, either.

The babe was transfixed by the sound of the bells. He took a seat and watched them, unmoving, for at least 20 minutes. If his hair ruffled, it was the wisp of a wind sent rolling from the curl of a tuned brass bell.

As I sat out the ingredients, I swore out loud. “Crumbs!” I cried out. A woman walked by as I exclaimed, freezing in her footsteps. “What’s wrong?” she asked me.

I had forgotten eggs. I needed six and I had none. Without provocation or hesitation she hopefully stated, “I can go to the store for you!” I stood humble in her offer. It was all over her face. She wanted to help, I needed the help and God had opened the door for communion and fellowship. I accepted her loving invitation, and was blessed both by eggs and her company. Small steps toward community grow on.

After a long day in the kitchen, I was ready to go home. We had a movie to watch and I had a bed to lay on. As I rounded the corner I found Kris, in front of her computer, wrapped up in her blanket.

She flashed her face to me from its folds in inquisitive surprise. As her eyes caught me, I felt a slight lift. Without her, we wouldn’t be here. The hands that held her blanket had curled themselves around us, drawing us over 3000 miles. Because of her, this had magically become our home.

Hurried, we greeted her as we ran to our tiny house to settle down. I had buttered a piece of cornbread for her. I stuffed it into her hand before retreating to our little home. “You are so good to me,” she said. From the folds of her blanket came the soft glow of love.

A little over a month ago, we met our friend, Arica. She had been here about a month when we first arrived. Partnered with a friend, they followed a job to Longview. The job didn’t pan out; but they decided to set down roots here.

From our first words, Arica and I were connected on the grounds of justice, peace and growth. She works at one of our favorite thrift store, so we have occasion to run into her. A week ago, she invited us to share our first Thanksgiving here with her and her family. “Thanksgiving is a time when you have people over. We don’t have anyone to have over. Come over!”

I took in the warmth of her invitation. They are new in town, just like us. They are flying on faith, just like us. With six little ones in their household, ages 6 to 3 months, this is going to be an experience. I absolutely cannot wait.

When I asked what we could bring, Arica suggested a pan of dressing. “I make a cornbread dressing,” she said. I snatched her arm in sisterly passion. My mother is from the South. If it’s not cornbread, it’s not dressing. We’ll each share our own style, as well as our own style of sweet potatoes. I think this is going to be delicious.

I feel like I’m playing the Trust Game: close your eyes and fall backwards into a friend’s arms. The tree raised a call; the shout itself came from God. We followed it west, to this new place. A reason is waiting for us here. “Close your eyes; and fall,” it’s telling me.

Arica is doing the same thing. She told me from the start that faith was her only option. I believed her as I watched her at her work. She is a woman with love, hope and willingness leading her forward. It was with those full arms that she reached out to me.

I’m standing back. From my vantage point of surrender, I see a net in the making. Woven beneath us, ground forms piece by piece, hand in hand in hand in hand until we wonder where all the hands are coming from. They hold our arms, our legs, our necks, our heads–until they are carrying us.

Through them, God carries us. The hunger for right, for compassion, for the ways of God, draw us on. In the narrow neck of the bottle sisters and brothers are found.

 

 

Coming Out

September 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

My son and I have moved to another home for our last weeks here. Our dear friends at Barista’s have opened their home to us. We couldn’t be more lucky. Barista’s has become another oasis for us. On the main floor is a coffee shop and café, in the basement is a pub with a spacious garden, upstairs some of the owners of the pub reside. Life bubbles all around us here, from the sounds below to the mingled aroma of food and coffee. It’s like resting on a cloud.

From the time I moved to Arkansas, I was underground. No one heard me, no one saw me. Any terrifying thing could happen at any moment of the day. Every part of me that I valued was systematically stripped away. No help was came. He starved me. I got smaller. When I escaped from that hell I was almost gone. Now, I’m so eaten with anxiety that sometimes I can’t catch my breath. It’s kind of like the temperament of mice, nervous and jumpy. They know they are at the bottom of the food chain. I’ve been trained to feel like prey.

There is an inviting pub just two floors down, here at Barista’s.The jolly clanking of glass and the tumble of voices invite you to take part. Before the abuse, there would have been no question. Now, I feel short of breath at the very thought. I tried to come down last night. I was feverish to set up my camera so I could watch J while I socialized. When my foot hit the bottom step, I panicked. My son’s charms mask my awkwardness. Without him, I was lost. I spent the rest of the night in our room.

Tonight, after my boy went to sleep, I took a shower, put on pretty pink clothes and came downstairs. Kim is working tonight. The requests never stop and she never stops answering them. The room continues to swell with laughter and Kim moves faster and faster. Her still presence in the flurry of her movement is my touchstone. I was so worried that she’d think I was staring, pressuring her for attention and service. My anxiety rose to suffocate me while I coached myself to let go. When I told her I wasn’t trying to pressure her she said, “Oh, I know! I knew you’d be patient! You want some of my pizza?” She likes me! A few of my chains clattered to the ground.

It’s another layer opening, a part of our lives moving into something else. We spent two healing months at the church. Our time there, the peace we felt, allowed me time to gather myself, to think. Now I get to learn how to be with people, again; how to live past my self-doubt and fear. It feels almost weird to say it, but it almost seems like a part of the plan.

 

The Price of a New Life Is Your Old Life

August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

We spent time with Elise again, today. She has taken us to several of my boy’s doctor appointments. Today it was the chiropractor and the dentist. I joked that I was taking him in for a tune up before getting on the road. We also planned to visit our friend, Maggie, from church. She recently moved into a retirement facility. Maggie has a special place with my boy. He always remembers to pray for her. “Don’t forgeeet! Maggie!”

I was excited to share our project with J’s chiropractor. She knows what a much needed change this is. I knew she would also appreciate the depth of this experience for us, in many ways. I’ll miss the smell of her when she approaches us, her bright face, her warm voice. Dr. Letty has been a gift to us. It was hard to hug her knowing that it was probably the last time. I don’t like to let go. It made me think of a quote by Samuel Shoemaker, the Episcopalian priest who led the American branch of the Oxford Group, “The price of a new life is your old life.”

It’s more than running to something. Whether I wanted to be here or not, we’ve woven our entanglements. We’ve laid down emotional ties to the treasured people we’ve met here. I don’t like seeing people for the last time. As we prepare to embark on this journey, part of the preparation involves saying good-bye. A dear friend of mine, Millie, taught me not to say good-bye. Instead we say, “Later.” She’s a Jehovah’s witness who is confident in “later” and who also doesn’t like the finality of good-bye. The other side of the country is far away. You can’t get around that fact.

Maggie didn’t want to say good-bye when we departed. I know she hoped we’d enjoy a meal with her, but we’d visited a good while and needed to get the boy home. She said she hoped we’d come back before we left. She didn’t want to say good-bye forever, either. I quoted my grandfather, Lupe, “If I no see you more here, I see you over yonder.”  “That’s lovely,” said Maggie. I’ll miss her radiant smile, her obvious beauty even at 91, the easiness of her nature.

When we walked away from her, Maggie stood on her frail legs, watching. She didn’t want to enter the dining hall until she had savored every drop of our visit. She is an intelligent and capable woman. Loss of freedom is painful for her, and she is lonely. I blew her a kiss as we walked through the outer doors, knowing we’d never see her again. “The price of a new life is your old life,” I thought.

I don’t like to perpetuate the myth of birth as painful, but it doesn’t feel like a back rub. As much as I want the new life, the price of giving up the old one is still quite high.

J checked out, from stem to stern. Another rejuvenating visit with Dr. Letty was followed by another perfect report from the dentist. He’s ready for the road. I am trying to emphasize the positive nature of this transformation so that he can look forward to the trip and not getting caught up in the sadness of departure. Still, we will both shed tears as part of this much-needed change. The irreplaceable people that we will miss are worth the heartache. It’s only grief for the loss of their company, their companionship, communion. I just keep telling myself, “If we no more see you here, we see you over yonder.”

Our Last Month Before Leaving

August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last night was our final night sleeping at Saint Ann’s. I relished the peace of the church for our time there. It was almost like the old-fashioned notion of going to a sanitarium, the kind in movies with rolling green lawns and luxurious bathrobes. After the last few years, I needed a sanitarium like that. The scars of abuse, the weight of grief, and the stress of needing major change have worn me down. Saint Ann’s has helped me to get my spiritual, mental and emotional feet under me. I’ve never been especially graceful, but I’m in motion.

Kissing the back rail of Saint Ann's to say Thank You

For our last month here we’ll be staying with our friend, Gary, from a local store. When he offered us a place to stay, I was really touched and relieved. He doesn’t really know us, but his kind heart was called to answer our need. I didn’t think we’d have to take him up on his offer, but here we are. I can almost hear that voice talking to me, again.

Gary invited us to lunch on Sunday to show us his place and share a meal. Communion. I think we were all a little nervous at first. We only know each other from talking at the store. Gary was putting food on the grill for us. I watched him cut potatoes and shuck corn, spreading them lavishly with butter before putting them on the fire. He had a package of hotdogs thawing in the sink. “I’ll let those thaw a while,” he said.

A little while later, a covered dish appeared. “What’s that?”, my little one asked. “That’s for your mom,” he told him. In the container was a t-bone steak that he had marinated for me. He served this luxurious meal to me and took nothing for himself. I realized the hotdogs would be his own dinner, later. This humble man had given the best he had to offer to us and had taken nothing for himself.

While we were there, he opened his cupboards one by one, showing us all he had. They were filled to the edge. They couldn’t hold one more box, bag or can. In the refrigerator were two unopened gallons of milk, one regular and one chocolate. He had grapes and bananas, too. At the time I was so overwhelmed with the uncertainty of staying with a virtual stranger that I wasn’t even able to really understand what I was seeing. Later that night, I woke suddenly. It was for us. He was extending to us the fullest measure of his generosity and grace, setting a place for us at his table, offering us communion.

Last night was our first night in this new place. Gary’s home is comfortable and cozy, a very inviting and homey place to be. We went to bed before he got home from work, but when I woke at 1:30 to use the bathroom I found him in the living room watching television. On the counter was a package of goldfish crackers with a note on for my son. He had parked one of my babe’s little cars on top. In every elegant part of his gesture there was love and warmth.

Sunday’s sermon is still resonating in our lives. The warmth of companionship, communion, has been offered to us by someone whose every action toward us has felt like the loving hand of God moving in our lives. Even in uncertainty, We moved forward in faith, believing that God would lead us to a safe place to gather ourselves before getting on the road. God’s love touches us through our friend’s every gesture. His kindness and humility are like a warm embrace, a kiss on our cheeks that wishes us bon voyage. The message that started with a tree is still being spoken and we are listening with gratitude to every word.

Communion

 

Saint Ann’s

August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

When you enter the front doors of Saint Ann’s, you are in the narthex. Our dear friend, Elise, has been my Episcopalian history and terminology instructor; she taught me that term. She delivers lessons from her broad bank of knowledge in an off-the-cuff, matter-of-fact style, but you can tell she has a deep love and sense of pride for this place and its history. She’s devoted her life to the care and service of Saint Ann’s. Elise has been a big part of making a home here for us. We’ve spent a lot of time sitting in this magical place, just us and Elise.

Elise playing ball with my babe

In the narthex, there is a big book on the table for guests to sign in. Our names are there with the date September 4, 2011.  That was the first time we came to Saint Ann’s. I was nervous. My previous experiences with religion made me skeptical, but I hoped I could get through church without too much discomfort. We needed community, companionship.

Today, Reverend Lisa talked about the word communion, what it is, what it means. She described communion as literally communing with others, sharing the warmth of companionship. She said it’s about being a part of one another as well as a part of God. Saint Ann’s has given us that gift. We have a place here. We have become a part of instead of apart from because of the characteristic open embrace of the Episcopal Church.

Lisa also talked about how communion is meant to put us in companionship with Christ, which is a very comforting idea. But my favorite part was when she talked about what that means. She said communion, coming to the table to share with God and one another, is supposed to transform us. She talked about being mindful of what that looks like, about bringing the love and compassion we get from God into our hearts so that we can extend that same grace to others.

That is the wonderful Episcopalian call to action that I love so much. Going to an Episcopal church is like going to an AA meeting, or a therapy session. That makes it different from my other church experiences. In the Episcopal Church they tell you about the love, grace and forgiveness you get; but they move past that and get down to changing our actions and our thinking. Rather than being just recipients of love and grace, we are supposed to give it, too. What good is all this love, justice and peace if we keep it for ourselves? It’s about communion.

Lisa also said, “Come broken and be healed.” If I hadn’t already been crying, I would have started then. So much in me is broken. When we first came to St. Ann’s, I could feel the pieces rattling around inside of me, a hollow vessel filled with shards of pain. The knowledge and perspective Lisa and Richard have shared with us poured something else into my vessel. It has poured in understanding, patience, healing and peace. I am still broken, but the pieces are being knit together with the fine things we have found here. They cushion those sharp corners. They give me a chance to see a purpose in my brokenness, and a hope that I could become whole.

Saint Ann’s has changed me. The Episcopal Church reflects back to me he dearest things I have always wanted for myself. It nurtures my own goals and values. I have cried many tears in my pew at Saint Ann’s; but mixed with my tears of grief there have also been tears of relief. Saint Ann’s has given us the companionship of friends, and of God. When we wrote our name in the book that first day, we really had signed up for communion. And for transformation.

No Looking Back

August 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Sometimes there is no looking back. I was adrift in uncertainty, but something in me was awakened. I rubbed my eyes and looked around. And I prayed. For a long time I had prayed for change, much-needed change. There had been no movement, and every sparkle of hope fizzled out. A small glimmer of something burned inside of me to keep me going amidst the fear that it would never end. I kept praying.

It may sound like weird hocus-pocus to say I heard God speaking to me, but I did. I heard it in my heart so clearly. I had this feeling that if I just kept trying, kept moving forward, that something was about to happen. Everyone said the tree was a message, a mysterious fortune imbedded in disaster. I had an odd confidence that God had a plan of action that would soon unfold.

When your children pass away, faith becomes very confusing. Why did I have confidence in this prayer when prayer before hadn’t saved either of my sons? With Erik it was over a week of constant vigil, thousands of people praying everywhere. When they told me that there was no hope, that he was brain-dead, a wall came down. An intense volley of prayer had been hurled at the unyielding threat of Erik’s death. Why did God say no to my children, no to their lives?

I cried out, “This is RIDICULOUS!!” again and again. One amazing minister there said it with me. That comforted me like nothing else did, though I felt no comfort. It validated me, I’ll say. Not comforted. Comfort is not possible when your child dies. Still, I was grateful for that minister, then and now. He planted a seed in me. He gave me the chance to see the death of my child, my children, as something separate from God.

I don’t know. I can’t know. An answer without words stirs in me but doesn’t have enough form to be defined. I have to focus on what I do know, what speaks in my heart. Something in my heart was saying that I should just keep doing that, keeping listening, and the answer would come. The tree was kind of like God clearing His throat. To hear the rest required patience.

I try to stay tuned into the message. “We’re not going back,” I told my son. “We’re just going to leap into adventure! Is that o.k. with you?”  He leaped to his feet, gave a few hops, and threw his arms around my neck. His yes came out through his giggles. So with his vote cast for adventure, hand in hand, we journey on.

The Tree

August 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Some of you may remember the storm that came through the north central and northeastern part of the US at the end of June. I hadn’t even heard that a major storm was coming, not really––at least not one that major.

I was at my desk with my son sleeping right next to me. In an instant, the room was vibrating. A sound like a roaring train was coming down on us. It sounded almost alive.
“If that is a storm,” I thought, “we are in big trouble.” A ripple of fear went through me. I ran to the door to see what was coming. A thick, smoke-grey cloud consumed the road, driving and swirling. The top of it mushroomed up to cover the sky, barely over the tops of the trees.

Just in that moment, I heard a sickening crack. A boom shook the house. It was over the room where my sweet babe was sleeping! I tore down the hallway to rescue him. All I could think of was Arthur and Erik, my other dear sweet ones, already gone. “Please don’t take my only living babe!!” was all i could cry out, from my whole heart.

When I saw my son asleep on that bed, I froze in motion. The sight of my beautiful child mesmerized me, still here, still whole. I ran to him, scooped him into my arms and screamed for help. The tree had come through the roof over my desk. Rain was pouring in on top of my computer, which I need to earn a living. Our young neighbor burst through the front door, “I’m here! I’m here to help you!”. She was an answered prayer. She helped save both my baby and my computer. I was so grateful she came to our rescue. She was the extra pair of hands I needed, just at the right time.

Stunned and wet, he and I whispered side by side in the sweltering heat until long after sundown. This was something new for both of us. The sky was the strangest, darkest salmon color that night. The color lingered like it was the new sky of alien world. It was, in a way. From there, nothing would ever be the same for us. Nothing would go back to normal. With the loudest knock I had ever heard, something new had arrived.

From the front of our dear friend, Brian’s, beautiful shop. It has been an oasis for us.

Building Adventure

August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s all coming together. I can’t believe that an idea that seemed like a distant fantasy is turning into a living creation. Bit by bit, a notion is growing into an intricate reality. It blows my mind!

My project is about change, about growth, about hope. It’s adventure, it’s humor, it’s life unfolding. Part of me is still distant from it, like I’m watching it happen; but I try to keep it in the here and now. Inch by inch. Do the next right thing. I’ve invested a lot of prayer in this opportunity and I’ll invest plenty more. It’s a joy. What an opportunity! Rebirth! But it’s real. It’s here. It’s my long prayed for Grand Opportunity.

We’ve charted a course. All along the way are beautiful, historic Episcopal Churches, each with their own unique presence and traditions. What fantastic territory to explore, especially with my sweet babe! We are going to take beautiful pictures of these places and share all of these gorgeous, interesting things with you. We’ll also share our adventures, our challenges, and the people we meet––and we will meet a lot of people. There aren’t many more social than we two. I think our friends would testify to that. :)

We’re also going to share something of our own history, surviving abuse, being transformed by the loss of my children. Things got so dark after that. Being a part of St. Ann’s has helped to let some of the light back in. Really, being a part of St. Ann’s has changed our lives. When the wide-open arms of the Episcopal Church took us in, I found a view of God that made me feel better, not worse. The Church has given us a great gift, and I want others to know about it. That is why once we get to our new, far-away home our collection of lovely photos and stories will go into a big, dazzling picture book, complete with a directory of all the Episcopal Churches in the United States.

I can’t WAIT to visit all of these places! I can’t sleep at night for the thrill and the fear. I don’t like to go fast, and I’m not much of a daredevil, but I’d say the feeling I have right now is probably not unlike the rush of adrenalin and joy once must feel when pushing off of a steep ski slope or jumping out of a plane. What a rush of world that is about to go by us. What kinds of things will unfold for my little boy? I can’t wait to find out.

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