My mother died two years ago this September.  The news came from a former family member.  So, I was not given the sacred opportunity to be with her in death, preparing her body to expire, or saying goodbye well.  I know the song I would have sung over her, but I was not invited.   I did not make an announcement on social media as many did not know of my relationship with my mother.  We had been estranged for many years.  So, there were few condolences.  I am grateful for those who knew the story and walked with me.  

Contrary to popular belief, estrangement was something that came as a last ditch effort towards repair and reconciliation. It was not done in a fit of anger; or on the spur of the moment.  For me, it was not forever.  I truly just needed a space to breathe.  The door was shut, but not locked.  I spent decades trying to avoid it preceded by trying to set boundaries, initiates discussion, and limit contact in significant ways.  I thought that if I just found a different way to say it, to invite repair and new fellowship, that they (she) would hear the truth, engage, and own harm.  Doesn’t everyone want to know the truth?  After all, regardless of who she was married to she was my mother. We were blood. That should count for something.  Right? 

We live in a culture where motherhood is exonerated. A parent who initiates no contact is presumed to have good reasons and is widely supported, while an adult child is labeled as disloyal, selfish, difficult, a bad person, and just plain crazy.  Likewise, often labeled sinful in their “dishonor.”  Yet, my agony filled with worries and misgivings also contained a hope for repair and connection.  I knew she could not, but I so hoped that she could.  I always hoped that she would.  

I believe she couldn’t, because what I was inviting my mother to do – she could not do for herself.  Boundaries were met with defensiveness and threats, gaslighting, with denial and refusal to take responsibility.  There was a lack of respect towards me, with a response of filial duty. 

Yes… my estrangement was a last ditch effort to stop parental abuse and invite a new fellowship with my mother and her husband.  Something I desired for me, my husband, and my daughters.  Sadly it did not happen. 

Her death brought grief for what could have been.  Truly, in my life our mother/daughter fellowhship had died years ago.  Yet, an eventual relief settled as time passed.  I no longer had to invite and endure rejection, betrayal, with hope deferred.  Something else that is rarely spoken of with a death of an estranged parent.  Yet, I do believe that wherever she is, she now knows the truth.  And, one day we will sit together and all things will be made right.  

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There is a cottage away from the suburbs gently nestled within rolling hills, wide-open spaces, and a canopy of stars at night.  I feel my heart and body settle as we pull through the gate and head to the vine-covered sanctuary. For almost 15 years we have journeyed here to rest, write, or romance.  It has become a sacred space of ritual and play; where deep calls to deep with the howls of coyote, the movement of deer, and the calls of the owl.  I could not wait to introduce this retreat to our 5-month-old puppy, Gypsy.

One morning, just before sunrise, Gypsy and I took off over the hills to explore. She excitedly devoured all the scents from the previous night. We watched the deer run across the field, navigated the cattle guard, stayed far away from the donkeys, and chased a few bees gathering their morning pollen. At one point, I wasn’t sure who was walking who.

Suddenly she came to a halt on the crest of a hill. Unhurried, I watched as she stood regally surveying the dotted wildflower expanse. In the breeze, a strand of DNA whipped around her nostrils, pricked her ears, and stirred perhaps forgotten things or a memory from long ago. Her lanky body settled into the earth wrapping her in a wild yet ordered beauty. The moment became luminous. My heart quickened.

I stood and wept.

One look and anyone can see that Gypsy is a beautiful rescue dog. She is a mix that includes great white Pyrenees; unbeknownst to us when she became a part of our family. She is made to survey and guard the land and its inhabitants from sheep-stealing wolves.  Gypsy’s Retriever side loves her people and the water while her lanky poodle legs are active, and that nose can flush out the biggest rat.  Yet, her home with us is in the suburbs.

Gypsy, like all creation, is an expression of a divine idea.  The hillside perspective brought clarity to Gypsy’s true identity.  Standing in the breeze she appeared to possess a fullness of life that took my breath away. It seemed that Gypsy knew who she was – and it called to her in the primal melody of the wind.

My tears?

Untangled from suburbia, I was able to see more clearly.  Gypsy’s beauty unfolded before me, stirred my soul, and called forth my presence.  The gentle tune opened forgotten sanctuaries in my heart and neglected voices became audible.  Once again reminding me that I am alive, not here by accident and that I am on a journey to become fully who the Divine has created me to be. Ironically, the shadow of living as if I had forgotten contrasted with its opposite highlighted the beauty of the moment.

I am not sure how long Gypsy and I stood on that hillside.  It seemed like hours, while in reality, it was but a twinkle of time.  It grieved me to leave the awe of some eternal embrace.  And I grieved for my pup who would return to a life in the suburbs.

I hope that in a world that so easily entangles my heart, that blindness and habit will not dull my mind to the possibilities and richness that each moment offers.  Nor may I fail to see and be amazed by beauty.

saltines

Fretting is in my DNA with a gene variation that predicts a tendency to ruminate.  In fact, parts of the brain associated with planning, reason, and impulse control show increased activity in worriers.  Without getting into the science, our genetic makeup interacts with the environment, causing some of us to be more susceptible to fear and anxiety.

My childhood was bathed in the fear and anxiety of my mother and grandmother.  Worse-case scenarios dripped through my growing mind and body with little rest.  As a young child, I was unable to choose how to respond to their anxiety and would be swept away by the current of fear.  Even as a tiny little girl, I was expected to calm them down.

Considering this fact, I was doing well navigating the Corona Virus panic.  I was concerned but my body was calm, and my thoughts were logical.  Even the hoarding and empty grocery store shelves did not send me into outer space.  I laughed at the absurdity of the amounts of toilet paper, bottled water, canned goods, and charcoal leaving the stores.  Often times in one person’s cart!  In my eyes, people were definitely over-reacting.  I used words such as selfish or ridiculous to name their hoarding actions.  Then during one trip to the grocery something shifted in my body, and I felt very young and afraid.

They say trauma begets trauma.

When I was 14 years old, we had moved, and I was in a new school.  This was not new for me.  I had moved 26 times and had been to 11 different schools by the time I was a senior year in high school.  A superpower of hypervigilance enabled me to assess quickly the cultural differences between Southern California and my new home in Missouri.  Over the years, I had learned how to quickly adapt and survive to diminish the painful “new girl” label.

Missouri was not California.  Some adjustments were easy, while others seemed out of my control.  The lunch hour proved to be one of those challenges.

In California the outside courtyard provided an atmosphere of communal eating where students mingled freely.  Lunches in white paper bags decorated with fruits sat dappled amongst the beige lunch trays.  At this new school, I learned the hard way that bringing your lunch signified you were “white trash.”  A table in the far corner was for brown bags.  And as I stepped into the lunchroom, there was no way of hiding my brightly adorned lemon lunch bag.

The cruel taunts were relentless and lashed at my soul.  I thought I might die right then and there.  Added to the lunch pressure, I was a varsity volleyball player.  All athletes ate at a group of tables.  None of them brought their lunches.

I went home begging my mother and stepfather to allow me to buy my lunch at school.  I explained the situation – more than once over several weeks.  No matter how I appealed my case, the answer was a firm no.  My mother’s pursuit to be a Proverbs 31 woman was to be respected.  I did not understand.  In spite of my mother keeping a running tally of available money in her wallet, I was pretty sure that we had the money to buy a school lunch.  If not, we were a military family and I knew my school lunch could be provided for free.  I felt trapped.

School was important to me.  Since kindergarten it had been my only safe place.  A refuge from abuse.

So, I weighed the cost.  I was already not eating breakfast due to nausea in the mornings (a story for another time), but survival at this new school meant adhering to cultural norms. It was possible that I could stretch my coin purse stash until I could find the right words to persuade my mother and stepfather.  Thus, the first of many lunches was thrown into the trash as I entered the school building.

Then I got caught.

Eventually, people on the bus started making fun of my sack lunch.  So I began hiding my lunch in my dresser until I could get rid of it unnoticed.  Unfortunately, I forgot about two of them and my mother found the lunches.  I was punished because of the disrespect I had shown to my mother.  Going forward, my mother would control the food I ate – from after school snacks to dinner portions.  Also, if I did not want my mother’s lunch, there would be no lunch.  While my already meager allowance was cut to fifty cents a week.

I never complained about the punishment because I thought that I had deserved it – after all, I did throw away the lunches made by my mother.  And besides, by my own choice I had already not been eating lunch.  I did continue to ask off and on for a school lunch.  The answer was always the same.

For about 4 years of high school, with volleyball practices and after-school games, I made it through most days on a ten-cent ice cream sandwich.  Once home, I was allowed 5 saltine crackers for an after-school snack.  Then dinner portions were strictly monitored.

I cannot tell you how good those 5 saltine crackers tasted!  My undernourished body soaked up their goodness and found a measure of rest.  To this day, crackers still provide a sense of comfort.  My body remembers and calms with each bite.

So, what triggered the shift in my mind and body at the grocery store?  The signs limiting purchases.  Scarcity! In an instant, I was no longer a 50-something woman, I was a ravenous 14-year-old girl who did not know how she would survive.  All logic went out the door and the rumination began.  How would I survive?  We are going to die!  I must gather resources before they are all gone!  I remember thinking, “Good grief Robyn, what’s going on?  Get a grip woman!” 

When I returned home, it was evident that a 14-year-old’s very real fear of scarcity had influenced my shopping.  You guessed it; the bags contained more than a few selections of crackers. My 50-something-self chose not to open any of the boxes.  Instead I made the choice to honor that long-ago teenage girl and seek the generous care of a kind man she has known for most of her life.  My husband listened to my fears and provided me with the much needed comfort of his words and arms. The world did not change, but my mind and body began to calm.

Perhaps during this collective time of trauma, it would benefit us all to recognize that trauma begets trauma.  Let us bear our stories with much kindness – not only for ourselves but for the sake of others.  Because you never know how old a person might be feeling who is standing 6 feet away from you in the grocery store.

As a friend stated after reading this blog, “I believe kindness begets kindness.”

Angelic Star over Bethlehem

The tears ran freely down my cheeks. A woman sat across from me in visible mental anguish. Her aching body bearing the violent struggle within as she cried out, “Can’t you glue me together? I have to know this darkness will end!”

This Christmas season, I have found myself disrupted by nativity scenes aglow with candlelight and a rosy-cheeked baby peacefully sleeping in a manger. Yes – it is true Jesus, the Light of the World, was born that holy night. He is most worthy of devotion and his birth was a sacred moment.  I too would have fallen to my knees in quiet awe and adoration.  And yes, I do long for peace on earth goodwill toward men.  But I think the night of Jesus’ birth might have been a far cry from a peaceful, silent night.

The angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  ~ Luke 2:13-14, New Living Translation

Why would an army attend a birth? In terms of faith, the Light born had pierced the darkness with violent repercussions. Chaos broke out in the spiritual realm as the babe pushed forth from Mary’s womb. Perhaps the disruption began at conception… but Jesus birth signals the beginning of a great battle where He is victorious over the kingdom of darkness through His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension!

The resistance is born! And the darkness quakes…

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… ~ John 1:14, New King James

For me, this has been a year of much joy. It has also been a long season of outcries for rescue – for me and for others. There have been moments of feeling a profound, unraveling of the world around me. The darkness seemed to press against my body. And I cannot explain it, but even within my doubting and no apparent answers – I have felt Jesus’ presence.

So, I need the nativity to be about more than candlelight and a sleeping baby. My heart needs for it to include the Warrior to come.  The Jesus of Revelation 19 – with fire in his eyes who rescues humanity once and for all from the darkness!  Yes, I need it all, white horse, sword, and King of Kings and Lord of Lords tattooed on his thigh.

I need the baby, the man, the Savior, the resurrected Lord, the ascended and coming King, who is named Faithful and True.

My tears for the woman I mentioned were empathic but also personal. I have seen and experienced the dark side of the ravages of sin, addiction, neglect, and abuse. If Jesus’ birth is not about invading this darkness, then there will be no peace on earth.  But we seldom talk about that part of Jesus’ birth.  Perhaps we think it might ruin Christmas.  Yet, it is the very hope that she and countless others trapped in darkness need to have included in the joy of the season.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  ~ Matthew 1:2, New King James

Of course, I don’t know the facts of Jesus’ birth, but my spirit knows, and my body feels the significance of his birth. My heart aches for the hope of Jesus and his kingdom. It is the glue that keeps me together. And I do believe that one day… the darkness will end.

Oh, Jesus, may the hope, peace, and glory of your rescue come quickly to this unraveling world!

 

 

 

Retro old desk mirror frame. Vintage style sepia photo

My heart pounded as her hands ran gently over each fabric draped curve, lovingly coming to rest on her hips. With each dress, she joyfully turned and twirled, looking at her body in the mirror with such ease. I smiled at the familiar toss of her hair, sparkling eyes, and playful grin, so reminiscent of a two-year-old I once knew playing dress-up.

It was glorious and disruptive to watch. Where and when had the woman standing before me come to love her body? Sadly, I knew where and when I began hating mine.

Woefully unprepared for puberty, I was sure that I had cancer and tried to twist off the nickel-sized lumps under my nipples. It was a stressful and confusing time for an almost 10-year-old girl who would not hear the facts of life until school started again that fall. Oh, I knew women got breasts; I just didn’t know how you got breasts. Finally, a friend, who had read her sister’s copy of Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret., told me what was going on with my chest. At least I wasn’t dying, but my fear turned to anger. I did not want breasts, and often in tears, I would hit my chest with my fist.

I wanted to stay a little girl.

By this age, I was already acquainted with the physical violence that others could do to your body.  I knew that kind of abuse and how to survive. Perhaps I sensed that the changes in my body would also change the violations. And they did. My breasts, my female body, was made fun of and sexually abused.  My body got me into trouble. I hated it.

Sadly, there would come a time I no longer needed an abuser to harm my body. I was quite capable of cursing it, starving it, pushing it, and generally being unkind.

This summer, a friend of mine wrote a stunning tribute to her husband on their anniversary. She sat in front of the mirror and observed her body. She thought about what it would feel like if he was no longer there. She said it was a sad thought, but it came as she saw and named all the life written on her body. A life they have shared together, which he has invited her to love her body and her stories.

I thought she was brave.  Not for publicly sharing her words (although so good), but for the act of kindly observing her body.

We live in a culture where we are not always taught to love our bodies or name them as good.  Often, as women, we are taught through spoken or unspoken words and deeds to hold our female bodies in contempt.  And for the most part, the church certainly does not teach a woman to love her body.  Self-deprecation is more widely accepted, whereas a woman loving and naming her body as good is deemed prideful.

Honestly, I also thought…  “She is young, and there is no way I’m going to sit in front of a mirror and observe this fifty-something body and all the life it has lived.” Yet, I too, have been invited into loving my body and naming it good. Something I resisted far too long.

As I looked in the mirror, there were no huge revelations about the outward appearance of my aging body.  Really entirely predictable, and whatever I focused on became more prominent.  That was a little disappointing.  So, I began to observe how the visible and the less discernable details interconnected.  Stories of joy and sorrow flooded my consciousness.  I could feel them in my body and see them written all over my body as if holding me together.

Loving my body continues to be a journey.  Nevertheless, I am grateful for a body that has sustained me and held so much for me in this life.  I truly love being a woman and name my body as good.

Even more, I am grateful to have witnessed my daughter celebrating her body.  It wasn’t prideful.  It was stunning!

 

colorful butterfly flying free in the middle of nature“Choosing to respond to hope takes courage, vision, and patience.”

Jan Meyers Proett, The Allure of Hope

As a little girl, I had a lot of imagination that life would work out.  Even though my world was filled with confusing and harmful experiences, I believed that if people knew the truth that it would turn everything right-side up.  After all, that is how it is supposed to work.

That younger me held on to the barest thread of hope.  I was undaunted by the lure of the adults in my world to be realistic, practical, or refute hope.  My young heart was determined to call others to what could be and expose the true reality of the present.  My young voice offered freedom.

However, as time passed, I grew weary of being seen as odd and began to hide my hopeful creativity. I exchanged it for anger and indifference, which brought me a new power.  Bottom line, the risk of hope just wasn’t worth it anymore.

Gratefully, God is healing my wounded heart.  Along the way, He has called me to live in the tension of the ‘not yet.’ Once again, He has ignited my imagination for the future, beauty, and glory.  With this, I once again offer freedom to myself and others.

 Recently, this has been most true in my relationship with my father.  So, for years, my father has managed the status quo of our wounded relationship with conversations about the weather.  He has sat comfortably while I waited and imagined the sweetness of restoration. To more fully uncover the fiery hope within my heart meant the very real possibility of piercing disappointment.

I am created to be restored in relationship.  Dan Allender writes in his book Healing the Wounded Heart that the movement of restoration can only be entered through the doorway of disruptive beauty. “All over the world, beauty has disrupted the status quo of a cruel and heartless world.”

Several years ago, I mustered the courage to disrupt my father’s status quo.  Occasionally, I would send him a photo of my family and me. His response was always polite, but nothing that my heart yearned to hear.  Then one day I sent a grainy black and white photo of the two of us. I am an infant, and he holds me gently on his lap at his beloved piano.

Something changed.  My father began to ask me questions about who I was – not merely shallow facts.  I also cautiously asked about more personal matters.  We rarely talked about the weather.  While friends cautioned, my body took in the goodness of this beauty.  I felt the fire of hope run through my veins.  Once again, I imagined so much more for my father and me.  I could feel this part of my world begin to rotate!

Part of the courage of hope is dealing with piercing disappointment.

Perhaps he got scared… my father seemed to guard secrets buried from his past with harsh words.  He has not changed.  Thus, more intimate father-daughter conversations ceased.  And I felt foolish.  I should have known better – me of all people.  My brain screamed a familiar refrain, “Robyn, you are so stupid!” “You blew it!”  Except I could fix this by resolving to never speak to him again. “It’s just not worth it anymore.”

Without hope, I would not be where I am today.

Hope is messy and rarely an orderly experience.  At times the vision I have for my father and me drives me crazy.  I am confused about why his angry words intensified my thirst for our restoration.  I cannot seem to push it away this time.  I am hungry for what could be!  Yes, even if hope seems impractical, unrealistic, or if it means deeper heartache.

Oh my, I do love the tenacious little girl who embraced her imagination for hope.  Her willingness to arouse desire, expose realities with truth and imagine a different future.  That is who I want to be going forward – a woman who responds to the gentle strength of hope. I want to live my life believing in hope’s alluring promise that good is yet to come and incite that in others.

That’s not foolish.  I believe there is a Hope who will one day turn this crazy world right-side up.  And that my friends is a hope that is worth the risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

flying dandelion seeds on a blue background

It can feel rather tenuous to sit in a circle of women.  Especially those you do not know well. Then add that after only 3 previous weekends with these women you will share an artifact that represents who you have been created to be for the kingdom of God. And if that isn’t enough vulnerability, you will then bless each woman with words and receicve words of blessing from these women on the last day.

Needless to say, after a personally tumultuous year, I was feeling rather vulnerable and very protective of my artifact and my heart.  I wasn’t sure how they would hold either one and I felt anxious and a bit fearful. Then it dawned on me…  I longed for the blessing of the women around this circle.  I could taste the desire.  And if I wasn’t afraid before – I sure was now.  It all felt pretty risky.

I have also ached for the blessing of my mother.  Words that consecrated not only her love for me but that she knew me.  Really knew me.  I waited to receive words and actions that told my soul that she knew places of my heart like no one else.  A kind of knowing where you live life fuller and breathe deeper.

Now, let me clarify. My mother’s blessing did not have to be perfect.  That is not what I’ve yearned for at all.  Confession is also a blessing. Owning how you have wounded the heart, mind, body, and soul of another.  But not to bless, in any way, leaves you with only one option.  To curse.  Perhaps that seems harsh, but it is true.  Think about it.  There is no in between.

My mother died late last year.  This Mother’s Day season leaves me with ambivalent feelings.

Sadly, we had been estranged for many years and with her death a relief has slowly settled.  The angst of the years has departed.  Now, there may be those who say I did not love her well.  It is a fact that I did not do everything right, but I continued to invite restoration and offer forgiveness even when I believed she could not engage or perhaps better stated – would not.  My heart was for her to live fuller and breathe deeper.  So, in that I believed I loved her really well and blessed her life as a woman and as a mother.  I truly wanted so much more for her.  And for me.

Then there is a deep grief for the lost hope of creating a new kind of fellowship with her on this earth. From a tiny girl I was truly for my mother like no other.  She could not see it.  Actually, I believe that she did and used it for her sole benefit.  A piece of my heart feels bare; for there will be no mother’s blessing over my life.  Although I lost her in many ways decades ago, this grief comes as a bit of a surprise.  And, I welcome it.  For I know, in the end, it will bring healing and life.

So the time came to share my artifact and eventually be blessed by the circle of women.  Seven women’s words spoken over my aching and fearful heart.  Will they see me?  Will they speak to who it is I truly am?  Will it be authentic and not just an assignment created for the program?

I am sure I wasn’t the only one feeling and thinking these things.  I felt like a little girl – maybe five-years-old, longing for a woman, motherly women, to see me.

All I will say is that in my heart I felt known.  Never have I had words spoken over me that brought a continuous stream of tears.  And.  I breathed a little deeper.  Thank you, thank you, good women!

And a thank you to the many others in my life who have filled the gap of my mother’s blessing.  Women who have blessed me well.  They have brought me closer to my God who loves me completely and knows me fully.

Oh my, our hearts long for a blessing.  I wonder, who is it that yearns for your blessing?  I urge you, take the risk.  Regardless of the response – for it will be well with your heart and soul.

butterfly-1518060_1280

Over my years of healing, I have had the privilege of having the best Story Sages in the world hear and engage my story. Although the story has always been mine, there are times when I was not able to see the truth by myself – as I was just too close to the pain.

Most of us grew up knowing a bit about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. We know about the ravenous consumption that brings the caterpillar to find a perch to form a chrysalis, and the end result is the emergence of a butterfly. Yet, the truly amazing part of this transformation is there is no structural similarity at all between a caterpillar and a butterfly.

Sources indicate that inside the caterpillar are “imaginal cells” that have remained dormant during most of the caterpillar lifecycle. These cells represent the blueprint of a flying creature. Initially, each imaginal cell operates independently. The immune system of the caterpillar identifies them as a threat and goes on the attack. Yet the imaginal cells persist, multiply, and connect to one another forming clusters. These clusters begin to resonate at the same frequency and communicate in the same language. Eventually, a caterpillar must surrender to the imaginal cells to be born a butterfly… to become what it was created to be!

In my life, each Story Sage has helped me to identify many individual truths in my childhood trauma narrative. I have felt these truths within my body. However, as truth was named, my old survival defenses often attacked the truth. Yet as I continued to hear from these dear sages, the truth has persisted and multiplied. And I am so very grateful.

Yet, sometimes I believe one must find and speak the truth for themselves. After all, the decision to surrender is all mine.

Recently my body has recognized that my “imaginal cells” have clustered and are speaking the same language. “Robyn, it is time. Release the old. It is not what you were created to be!” Ironically, “release” was the word I reluctantly chose for this year. At the time I had no idea what that could even mean.

So, I have known on a dormant level that I was not complicit to the sexual abuse that occurred during my childhood. And, I have ravenously endured shame to sustain control and some semblance of life. If I believed I was complicit, then I could do something about me. Yet, I have felt full and heavy with a sense there was more.

In March, profound truths were revealed about my complicity as a thirteen-year-old. I went back to the bedroom in my mind and watched the scene. In the dark of my twin bed, I saw the light of three truths that had never been named in all the years of my healing process. I was not complicit! And it was no longer just head knowledge.

I began to feel this cluster of truth and others resonate within my body at the same frequency. As if new information was passing back and forth in the same language until there was a tipping point. My immune system was failing. I could no longer just eat the leaves of shame – I knew that I couldn’t stay the same.

I cannot fully explain, but something shifted in my body and brain. Somewhere along the line, I ceased acting in protective mode and surrendered to my “imaginal cells” to become more fully Robyn. Sure, I could feel the writhing struggle to release the old and then the soupy mess of change. Eventually, there has been a rest. Yet, don’t be fooled by the stillness, it is where the real transformation is happening.

So, I am grateful for every Story Sage that has engaged my childhood trauma. You have seen me and named truth well. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I would not be emerging if it were not for your kindness over my life. And, it has provided a space for me to name deeper truth that others have not.

I just believe sometimes, a person must find and speak the truth for themselves. After all, the decision to surrender is all mine.

It was my time.

 

Music background design.Musical writing and Christmas carol

I was not disappointed to open the Christmas gift and find inside my requested wireless headphones. Attached was an envelope from his stationery. The ones I sometimes find upon my pillow. So, I was going to wait until later, but my husband insisted that I open it in front of everyone.

As a child, piano music filled my home. It was our lifeblood, putting food on the table. We traveled from city to city chasing my father’s dream to become famous. He was headlined as “The Young King of Ragtime” singing and playing top pops from the Gay ’90s to the fabulous ’50s.

I remember singing songs like “Five Foot Two” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” by his side at the top of my lungs. A few years ago he told me a story about one of his gigs. I was two years old standing on the bar doing the twist to one of his songs. People loved it, and apparently, I did too.

The entertainment business was a hard life for a young family. And the temptations too great for my handsome and talented father. So, the piano music left with my father. Never to be heard in my home again.

My mother remarried, and it was as if our previous life never existed. I still loved to sing and listen to music. Yes, even dance. As a teenager, I’d practice behind the closed doors of my bedroom. Watching my moves reflected in the mirror of my dresser.

I yearned to go to a concert. It seemed everyone my age was going to Foghat, KISS, Styx, or Queen concerts. I was not allowed to go. Apparently, concerts were from the devil. I heard my youth leader at church say that only burn-outs went to rock and roll concerts.

So back to the Christmas envelope… I opened the flap and unfolded the contents. Inside was a printed website receipt for tickets arriving by mail. My response was something like, “No way!” He replied something like, “Yes way!” I was going to a Fleetwood Mac concert in February!!

Waiting was actually good for my heart – something fun to anticipate that kept me going in this busy season. But as the time got closer, I found my heart starting to doubt my desire. I had talked about this for years.  What if I didn’t even like concerts? What if I wouldn’t like Fleetwood Mac – my bucket list band? Bottom line… what if I was disappointed? I felt the walls of my heart begin to rise.  It was a struggle to keep my heart open.

But when I walked into the venue and saw the Fleetwood Mac sign…there was no doubt my heart was all in. I began to cry. Not for the band, but for the redemption I could feel swelling within my soul.

Oh my… I danced, I sang every song at the top of my lungs, I cried, and I laughed. I felt 2 years old and 5, 7, 13, 17, 20, 30, 40, and a woman in her 50’s. I was me! And, I worshipped. That’s right, I worshipped. Not the band, but God. Yes, He was there. And how could He not be when I was surrounded by 1000’s of people created in His image.

Even though I am getting older, I felt the child in my heart rise above.  And I know that He will be with me in the changing tides, helping me handle the seasons of my life.

 

Pinus taeda seen from below

I watched the tall loblolly pine sway with ease in the blustery morning.  This tree presides over others of its kind and the hardwoods behind my house.  Yet, I look on with concern. In its youth this member of creation experienced trauma. I can clearly see its wound as it curves severely and gradually straightens.

And I cannot help but wonder if one day it will fall.  Wreaking havoc and trauma for me.  After all, whatever happened years ago has undoubtedly left it in a weakened state.  Yet, looking closer, I see the struggle to recover and survive.  It seems to have fought for its life.  I like that.

The loblolly is an aromatic tree that has a tendency to take over abandoned spaces.  It provides shelter and food for many southern animals. Squirrels make their home in the forks of its branches.  Woodpeckers feed upon the insects it attracts.  Many birds and small animals consume its seeds.

So this day, I watch. It seems to embrace the wind – gently swaying as its canopy is tousled – as if somehow stronger, more flexible, because of its trauma.  Standing in all of its 100+ foot glory within the chaos of the wind with its crown facing the sun – living into what it was created to be.

I see it with new eyes this day.  Wounded, resilient, strong, and giver of life.  I want to be like this tree.