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Posts Tagged ‘Hope’


God whispers, “Wait!
I’m not done with you yet!”
Greet the sun’s rise
And wait for its set.

“The full day is Mine,”
So sayeth the Lord;
And rest in the night,
Not fearful or bored.

For night, like the winter,
Seeks not to destroy,
Darkness in valleys
Spawns splendor and joy…

Just when you think
You can’t take anymore,
God shows us the shutness
THEN opens the door.

Faith is an exercise
Not to achieve,
But trod as a journey,
Daily gift to receive.

Pause to see beauty 
Each step of the way,
And God will rain mercy
And grace on your day.

Where today’s poem was spawned…

Thanks, God, for faith, hope and love, the greatest of which is always love.

May we learn to be gracefully patient and guided by Love, each step of the way.

Lord, have Mercy, and thank You for unconditional love and the wisdom in Waiting.

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A vanishing point is an interesting study, and perhaps not just for points of convergence or disappearing lines.

I recently found some vanishing points in fire, fog and falls…helping the mind fill in what may lie just beyond, where lines, images and elements dissipate and invite imagination to take it from there.

Kind of like vague relationships.

In my line of work doing online therapy, research is showing that the “fantasy factor” helps both client and counselor achieve an optimal working relationship, even though the missing gaps may or may not be accurate. Freud was on to something when he chose to sit behind the couch, just out of the line of vision of the patient.

The brain and God are faithful to give us exactly what we need to get through this thing called Life.

My eyes saw these realities, but my mind filled in the blanks of what it might be like to go just beyond. I forewent captions, for you to enjoy them as you see them.

A recognizable scene, given pause, may rise to unrecognizable dreams. A waterfall seen from beneath, has an unseen origin, where gravity may not be so pronounced. A slumbering volcano is made awake and alive by rumors of gnomes and fairies beneath.

I invite your mind to fill in the blanks – joie de vivre! 💋

Thanks, God, for the fantasies and illusions that give us hope, faith and perseverance.

May we never tire as we approach the vanishing point, always finding that extra burst of energy to see what awaits us around the curve.

Give us courage to face what’s on the other side, just beyond our line of vision, and equip us with confidence to accept Your will as we pursue the point of convergence.

Take us around that distant bend, Lord, and infuse us with elegant grace and poignant wisdom.

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Who can resist a well-earned Special Olympics smile from a kid who wasn’t supposed to live past age 4?

David turns 18 in 22 days!

Thank You, God, for defying all odds, for playing the ultimate April Fool’s joke on death – showing the universe for once and for all that where death seems inevitable, life rocks on!

That there is no such thing as finality, that You are the only Omega…and Your gift is eternal life. May we always recognize that those things seeming to a close = opportunity for new beginnings in ways we haven’t yet fathomed.

And therein lies faith…and trust. Faith and trust that there is always more in store than we can possibly know or deserve in our finite wisdom. Thanks, God, for perpetual resurrection and preciousness in all things. SMILE!!

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I am blessed to live and work in a place where I can slip away to the beach for an extended lunch hour, if need be.

Need be often.

We have FINALLY kissed off winter here. I have entered the season of sleeping with the windows WIDE open so I can fall asleep to the song of the crickets, arise to the bright, cheerful sun, and trust that if it’s going to rain, it’s gonna RAIN torrentially in this subtropical climate then git along and give way to the sun again.

What I forgot when I slipped away last week for said lunch hour, was my sunscreen.

Shee-yit. (I am not cursing, um, this is my dialect, right?)

It was only an hour, and I was there for a very, very worthy cause, believe you me.

I even stayed in my work clothes, not one stitch removed (collective gasp).

Problem was, it was windy as all get-out. This seemed friendly enough until I sat there the first few minutes and realized the fine, sugar-white sands were painfully whipping at me with great speed.

This stung.

I turned my chair after the first 30 seconds and endured a bit more, before I turned my chair again, away from the onslaught. I tucked my bag under my chair so grains of sand would not scratch my cell phone buried deep within, or get in the pages of my monthly devotional, or find their way into my beloved change purse I bought from the Insectarium in New Orleans (where I hide my tiny iPod shuffle which contains the secrets of my heart).

I finally adjusted to a direction where I was at least oblivious to most the pelting sands, to where I could collect myself and pray and think and relax and indulge…and veg. “Funny how your feet, in dreams, never touch the earth…”

That day last week marked the one-year anniversary of my fading in and out of consciousness as I was rushed from one hospital to another, where they performed what I was later told was known in the trade as a “slash-n-gash,” a last-ditch effort to save a life of one bleeding internally. Spare no décorum, they sliced me open, hoisted aloft my intestines, vacuumed out the blood and gore, and hoped I came to.

And by God’s grace and the prayers of the saints, I did.

I continue to be guts-challenged, but am a living testimony to the wonders of modern medicine. And while things have never quite been the same, I have been able to resume most of my normal routine, including running, parenting, wifery and other antics.

So I cruised down to the beach that day to thank God for sparing me, for giving me another year of life. It was awesome.

I cried out to God for taking the child a year ago that day who had a nonstop flight to Heaven instead of having a layover with us here. It was grievous.

I celebrated all things saved, and mourned all things lost.

Why me, Lord?

I watched the seagulls petition me for my lunch; no dice. I watched tourists play chicken with the waves. Waves: 1; Tourists: 0.

I watched the fishermen catch supper. I watched the sun go from over here to over there. And the sea laughed when a higher wave washed all too close to me and my chair with my bag underneath, and made me quickly pick everything up and hightail it about 8 feet north so I didn’t get soaked.

That was when I noticed the sand-drift, like a snow-drift. The wind had been blowing so hard, my bag underneath was all but buried in sand. The act of picking it up in haste to move away from high tide caused even more sand to fall into my bag. I didn’t care what the people behind me at the stoplight thought on my way back to work; I took every item out of my bag and diligently shook out the sand (we just did an analysis of my front porch; perhaps an analysis of what’s in my bag should be forthcoming).

And snap my WonderBra and call me astonished…I did the same when I got home and discovered that sand had invaded the netherparts of my body, despite being fully dressed. In work clothes. In the tightest of crannies. Wth.

Glory be, for the last 5 days I’ve been afforded the luxury of not needing a necklace. You see, on that day, I wore my string of pearls. I am not the type to think about removing it (my alma mater was known for us girls wearing pearls-n-sweats to class). Thus, in that li’l ol’ hour, Mr. Sun blessed me with a gentle sunburn which outlined my pearl necklace, causing me to appear as though I was wearing my pearls, 24/7. This came in handy on opening day.

Was it worth it? Y’all betcha!

Thanks, God, for yet another new lease on life, for saving me over and over and over again. For allowing me to live to experience the discomfort of sand in my bra and the pain of sunburn and the sting of loss. And for the satisfaction of living to tell all about it.

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very deeply…and my lungs gratefully drank in every molecule of fresh sea breeze, walking the beach. The yellow flag corresponded to the rougher-than-usual waves. It would have been nice to do some boogie boarding, but even though the air was 75, the water was less than that. Too chilly for me, but not for several brave souls, some of whom were bikini-clad snowbirds and undoubtedly from regions northward. To them, this was winter bliss.

And yesterday I saw a new sport: Beach Frisbee in the fog. This was very interesting to watch, and I’m not sure I was quite able to watch all of it, the fog was so thick. Today was much better, though – bright sunshine and a south wind brought us perfect weather -you, friend, and me – to hang out together on our beach chairs. There were enough auger shells washing up at our bare feet for both of us to make an interesting mosaic.

Hey, dear friend…and happy New Year to you. Thank you for inhaling the sweet warm winds here with me, leaving behind all the toil and chaos of the holidays, shall we? It was delightful, but like all good chaos, it is nice in some ways to return to the anchor of routine. Thus I shall go Tuesday.

Here in the deep South, every occasion signals certain food-related traditions. New Years is no different. On this first day of the year, we eat black-eyed peas for good luck, greens for wealth, and cornbread represents gold. Our next culinary tradition will involve King Cake, for Mardi Gras. More on this anon. The South is a nonstop parade of Very Important Occasions, none of which would be complete without food. Really fabulous food. Do not wonder why states in the South consistently rank highest for obesity. It is decidedly poor breeding and manners to refuse food offered. You simply must have some. And you are never sorry, it is always so, so good. I’ve figured out portion control is key, however.

And exercise. It’s okay to partake in all this good stuff and then park on the rocking chair on the front porch to wave at your neighbors going by. As long as you eventually get up and join them as soon as your food settles…because the neighbors going by are walking their dogs or biking or running or such – they are exercising in one form or another. Well, most of them. Okay, well probably not most of them, if the obesity stats are valid. Anywhoo, we still sit on the porch and wave at folks. And they wave back.

I am one of the post-meal-post-rocking chair movers, training for a half-marathon coming up very shortly (ten miles is Monday’s assignment). It is not my first, and the last one I did, I did 3 years after my first marathon. I did the marathon in honor of our child with Down syndrome, and he ran with me the last 2 blocks, crossed the finish line, and received my medal. I figured if he could run the kind of marathon he does every day battling his mental and physical health challenges, I could push myself to do some small token of what he accomplishes. Speed demon I am not:

Don't wait till life's finish line to get around to what you want out of life! Give it a shot - NOW!

The thing is, I have asthma. Shielded from all manner of athletics as a child out of my parents’ fear of asthmatic complications, I was never permitted to know exercise as a part of life. Then in 2003, while pregnant with child #3, our child’s occupational therapist prodded me one day, insisting I, too, could complete a marathon. I thought she was crazy. But she handed me a training book, cheered me on, and before I knew it, I had gone from running between our mailbox and the neighbor’s and pooping out the rest of the way, to running two mailboxes away, then three, then around the block, then around bigger circuits, until the goal was within reach.

Somewhere in the middle of that I popped out a 10# 7 oz baby, with much ease, thanks to the ongoing training (childbirth is an athletic event, I am convinced). Ironically, the more I ran, the more I found my lung capacity increased, and I relied less on my inhalers and had fewer asthma attacks. And I hatch my best ideas on my runs.

Oh, and I do not run the whole way, like those go-getters who actually run entire distances. No, I’m the tortoise plodding along at a slow jog as you pass me at a good clip. Yes, I even WALK parts of the way. Run 3 minutes, walk a minute, or whatever pace works at any particular moment. I’m also the one passing many runners at the 25 mile mark, when all their insistence on running the whole way gives way to inevitable fatigue and pain. I pace myself, and along with my trusty iPod, slow and steady wins the race. Well, um, finishes the race, anyway. Good enuf for me.

Such is the nature of achieving any goal. Believe + start small + allow yourself days to go backwards, as long as most of your days are forwards. I don’t know what your resolution might be, but whatever it is, don’t give up. And if you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for the sake of somebody else who believes in you.

Because Somebody does, whether you realize it or not.

Inhale deeply, get the most out of each life-giving instinct you have to do good, to go forward. Feel the oxygen…feel it energize and propel you forward into your destiny to make yourself and the world a better place.

Breathe with me, here at the seashore…

God, thank you for every breath, for every friend, for every opportunity – give us wisdom and motivation to do our very best…for You.

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In a land far away from our minds stands a lone angel tree today, seen by few, known by fewer. This tree is different from the rest.

You know of the others. Right now in stores across the United States stand hundreds of “angel trees,” decorated with carefully disguised identities of needy children in the community. These are children who through no fault of their own are in situations which render them financially less fortunate than other children on Christmas day. These children may live with their families or perhaps are foster children, but they still have the freedom to live with a family, attend school, and, although challenged, have a fairly typical daily routine in the daily world.

Allow me to introduce you to a similar, but rarely-seen angel tree.

This tree also has the names of carefully disguised identities of needy children, but these children are apart from the community. These children are the emotionally less fortunate who, through no fault of their own, have been subjected to and somehow survived unconscionable circumstances which have scarred their souls so badly, that they are unable to function in society as we know it. These children cannot live in a home, neither with family of origin nor foster home. These children cannot attend school due to their disintegrated hearts.

These children are locked away in an institution, both for their safety and for the safety of the community, or because they are the most emotionally fragile of children. They simply cannot handle life as we know it. They are there to mend their hearts and souls, and remain there until they are fit for society. This may take days or weeks for those in acute care; months, or even years in the long-term residential facilities…all of which are eternities, in a child’s eyes.

There they spend their days and nights, eating and sleeping, playing and fighting, wondering how they got there, and contemplating what they need to do to get out. There they try their hardest to get through each day with the shadows of their past following and haunting them, trying to do what schoolwork they can, trying to get along with others, with varying levels of success.

Some try their hardest because they have hope. Others do not try because they have given up hope, and need encouragement from one moment to the next. Still others try their hardest to show others their very worst, because if they can be disliked or violent enough, they can reject others before others have yet another chance to reject them…at least it is one thing in life they can control.

Their angel tree sits quietly in the corner of the small, empty lobby, the only unlocked room in the building. Other than the receptionist, it is only seen by the few still connected to these children who are able to visit: the state worker who must ask the child to choose between a voucher for clothing or a voucher for toys and who will be home with their family on Christmas; the ashamed, distant relative who is reluctant to be involved but wants to make a good show, the occasional lost driver who took the wrong turn down the end of the long road; the tireless staff and nurses doctors. Oh, and the UPS guy and mail carrier, neither of whom bring things addressed to specific children living there, except on rare occasions.

The requests for needs for these children seem somewhat unusual. The angels on this tree bear wishes for things like socks, because their roommate flushed their last good pair down the toilet during another one of his nightly rages, with enough bone-rattling shrieking to create a new nightmare for another child down the hall on the unit, unable to sleep…and not a shred of memory of the crisis, come sunup.

Like playing cards, since many of the games on the market, electronic or otherwise, further cause them to be unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, and may trigger violent flashbacks. Or reinforce their tendency to want to solve problems with disconnected sarcasm and indifferent violence.

Like soft, stuffed animals or dolls, since anything battery-operated requires batteries – and anyone who’s been behind those locked doors long enough knows that if you slam a battery in the door near the hinges just right, it will expose a very sharp object that can be found in the core of the battery, which can then be used as a weapon to hurt someone. Or, for the self-harmers, to cut on themselves and draw blood, and wind up wearing scrubs and on 24/7 observation for days as a result. It is unfathomable to think how a young child might learn such behavior, but there it is.

Hygiene products are also popular, since the hospital-issued products are not exactly kid-friendly, and it is much more fun by far to brush your teeth with sparkly bubble gum toothpaste, like most other children enjoy on a daily basis. A pretty ribbon for her hair. An emery board, since nail clippers are not allowed on the premises, and long nails can be used to gauge eyes in a sneak attack from behind. A SpongeBob blanket for a bed instead of the typical ho-hum hospital sheets. Warm Cinderella footie jammies. Or a visit from a volunteer big brother/big sister or mentor, an objective other who will play a game with them and listen to their story…a story most can’t bear to hear, a story which defies common sense and human rationality.

Food item requests are never found on this angel tree; some children are on strict diets due to side effects of medications. And besides, the child who roamed the streets for his next meal has been known to wheel deals with other children: “I’ll give you the coupon I earned for extra game room time, if you give me your snack.” Snacks are then discovered hoarded under mattresses, up in ceiling tiles or in the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom which the adults all assumed were locked and childproof.

Some children ask for earmuffs to block out the incessant noise, which may come from either side of their skull at any given moment.

How did they get there, anyway? It may be because their parents sold them for sex in exchange for drugs. Or left them for long periods of time to fend for themselves. Or perhaps they locked them in closets or entertainment cabinets for their convenience. Or molested them repeatedly over the course of years.

These are the children who don’t know where their parents are, and the parents are either dead from their misdeeds or are happily homeless, preferring drugs and alcohol over their child….or simply abandoned the child and left the state, never to be heard from again. Some children may know where their parents are, but their parents voluntarily turn them over to the state because they don’t want them anymore. These children may have been in 15 foster homes, with no stability or sense of permanency. These children may have been along for the ride and witnessed a drug deal gone bad, resulting in murder. Or witnessed murder in their very own living room. Or tried to murder their family during a psychotic episode.

The end result is a child who is unable to make sense out of the world, who relates to others as they have been related to, and who does not and may never know childhood, as it is supposed to be known.

These are the children we forget about because they are quietly locked away from the rest of us while they pick up the pieces of their bewildered, shattered lives. You will not see them in schools or on sports teams. You may spot them briefly at the store, at McDonald’s or on a playground closely monitored by staff, if they are deemed well enough to go out into public at the time and their medication and behavior are stable. If that is the case, you will likely not know it is them you are seeing, and it likely will not register in the moment you see them, just where it is they lay their head at night – a place where they must be to work out their raw feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis…their fear, their disappointment, their confusion, their rage

The angels on their tree represent a completely different type of need – a need that is real but often goes unknown and unheard by most.

Still needing and wanting to believe in something despite their inability to trust mankind, the younger ones hold fast to their belief in Santa. No, there is no chimney in this place, but they are assured that Santa has keys to the joint, nonetheless. Their lives may have taken an unthinkable course, but their anticipation and hope in being loved and cared for like any other human is entitled to, is no different from yours or mine.

I urge readers (and writers) to locate the nearest children’s psychiatric hospital in your area (and they are there, somewhere…I cannot point you in the direction of the children I know due to privacy and confidentiality issues). Please consider dropping off a small gift  for one of these children who will wake up Christmas morning behind locked doors…on the inside looking out, never sure when they will be ready, if ever, to be the one on the outside looking in.

This gift needn’t be material…write them an anonymous letter and tell them how brave they are, how proud you are of them for enduring all they have. Tell these children that they can do it, that they are loved, admired and respected. That they are believed, that their feelings are real and important. Tell them that they matter. Color them a rainbow with your words, that they might be assured that their world will hopefully not flood like that again.

Such a small gesture has incredibly meaningful ramifications.

For what is small to us, is huge to them, bigger than we might ever guess…whether or not we remember about their angel tree now and in years to come. Like a standout, cherished childhood memory, they will remember, and it may just be the one memory of hope and love that will help heal them on their horrific journey. It may be the one thing they have, hold, hang on to and refer back to as the biggest spark of light that brought them through their darkness.

God, help us all help the sequestered and forgotten children of the world, the ones least seen in our communities – the ones who most need miracles and a reason to believe again.

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Salute

…to all the people who served our country, that I could have the freedom to blog here and now, with a clear conscience and with no fear…

…to the talented man on the Kitty Hawk whose service is reflected on my mantle in the form of a properly folded flag…

…to those who’d hoped to serve but didn’t, or couldn’t…but are just as patriotic….

…to all the men like Buddy (10/22/11 post), who returned from the Delta alive, who were greeted with ignorant piss instead of with grateful reverence and respect…

…to those who stood by those who served…

…to the very young men under my roof who have unwaveringly expressed a desire to serve…sons of sons of sailors…

…to those who protested those who served, who now, in their older wisdom, realize their foolishness, and are ashamed to admit it…

…to those who proudly put themselves in the very face of danger on foreign soils to protect not only our country, but the essence of freedom…

…to those who still live who served and fought for righteousness for my father through WWI and my mother through WWII…

…to the men and women who believe in our country despite its shortcomings, and still enlist…

…to A.K., who is from another continent, but has proudly become a citizen and leaves me on schedule for drill in preparation to serve….

…to the brave men and women in uniform who will show our children around the C-5 Galaxy, Apache, C-130, Iroquois, F-18 et al. this afternoon at Homecoming and will – in word and deed – help us instill in them the character trait of patriotism…

…to the veterans with whom we will share a rolling tear today, hand over heart during the Star Spangled Banner,  as we salute our flag and their valued service…

…to the dear friend who brought out his Navy uniform, even though it no longer fits, to reflect and reminisce, that we could all be reminded of the threads of courage, pride, willingness, duty and belief in freedom – all tightly woven to hold our country together…

God, please bless our veterans with love, appreciation and peace…may they know how much the rest of us do not take their service and our freedom for granted, how much we love them, and how proud we are of them. Every single day of the year.

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~Playing Tooth Fairy for a child who will likely always remain in locked, secure facilities.

~Explaining to a child why and how their mother found Jesus in jail…for the twelfth time…after yet another round of trafficking.

~Trying to reason with a nine-year old that they can, and should, use their coping skills instead of demanding an injection every day.

~Helping a belligerent autistic child understand that an outing restriction for making racist remarks is less consequence and more protection, because folks in town might not take too well to such statements.

~Having to tell a seven-year old they can’t go out and play…for a month…because they are a flight risk for trying to run away from their last placement eighteen times.

~French braiding a child’s hair while gently explaining what hope looks like, feels like, and why one should never give up.

~Saying goodbye to a child after two years, knowing they’re at their best, and their best still isn’t good enough for the rest of the world.

~Welcoming a new child who inherited both parents’ severe mental illnesses, and is already on several medications not approved by the FDA for children under 18…and trying to figure out what might be done instead.

~Tucking in a child who is haunted by the voices that won’t leave him alone inside his head, all night long, the intermittent wailing depriving others of their sleep.

~Helping a tiny child who refuses to speak, to find other ways to express themselves besides self-harming, drawing blood to release the pain from the inside out.

~Discerning whether the sock tied around the neck was a reactive gesture of anger, or a genuine intent to end their young life.

~Allowing a child to repeatedly cheat at cards in endless rounds of War, so they can understand that they are a winner, no matter how the game goes, no matter how many risks of losing they face, and no matter how many aces and jokers one’s opponent may hold in their hand.

~Teaching a child not to be sexually inappropriate when the man waxing the floors goes by.

~Building a fort with chairs and blankets, then going inside and hearing stories that no child should ever know to tell.

~Asking a child to create at least five works of art to replace the bare spot on the wall where they tore off the entire six-foot bulletin board in a three-second rampage of rage.

~Trying to help a child figure out if the man they saw under the bridge might have been their homeless father, or not.

~Offering a warm hug five minutes after being called every vulgar name in the book.

~Helping a child write an angry letter to their molester, tearing up the letter into tiny pieces, and drowning the pieces in a lake, together.

~Teaching a child how their compulsive lying hurts others as much as they were hurt by their parents’ perpetual broken promises.

~Watching and waiting until a child is finished tipping over fourteen chairs which are not designed to be able to be tipped over, to help them verbalize their anger at the world, instead.

~Finding excuses for parents who make excuses as to why they never call or visit their child in the hospital.

~Wiping the searing tears and stroking the wild hair of a bewildered, rageful child who is being physically prevented from harming themselves or others.

~Promising a child a trip to McDonald’s after they were unable to go out for weeks due to dangerous behavior…and seeing their joy when the promise was fulfilled. Those Happy Meals are the happiest of all!

~Helping the state word a court report to properly reflect a parent’s chronic neglect.

~Seeing a child gain victory over their demons, and finally, after months or years, be able to be turned back out to society. And passing the tissue to the staff who helped raise the child and taught the child to function again, as they unlock the door and show the child their new freedom.

~Finding solutions for a teacher who is trying to teach a disruptive child who will never be allowed in a typical school setting.

~Lying on the grass with a child, watching the clouds change form, and teaching them to have the courage to dream and hope again.

~Vandalizing (when no one was looking) a spot of wall where an angry child peeled the paint, by using crayon to draw in the lines because the bare spot looked vaguely like a dinosaur, giving it a smile and bright eyes, with comment bubbles over his head encouraging the children to be nice.

~Reading a story about a flower that got stuck in a crack and couldn’t grow very well, until a gardener replanted it and fertilized it and watered it, allowing it to blossom and see the sun again.

~After a year, figuring out that the misbehavior at bedtime once served a legitimate function, since going to sleep represents the terror of knowing that the sexual abuse would start on the night shift after mom left for work.

~Talking a child out of crawling into the trash can, because that is where they feel like putting themselves, because that is the message they consistently got about their worth and value from those previously caring for them. Clarifying what belongs in the trash, and what is worthy of Saving.

~Explaining why smuggling in burned CDs of gangsta rap is not helpful toward reaching one’s treatment goals.

~Coaching a child to maintain self-control when another child is provoking them…don’t lose your points, stay focused on your goal to get out of here, think of your people, shoot for that special outing, walk away, it’s not worth it, one of y’all has to man up and stay in control, might as well be you. Etc. Etc.

~Trying to teach morals around shoot-in-the-foot laws, such as why a remorseful child can’t help patch the hole they punched in the wall (child labor), use their allowance when they offer to pay for their roommate’s toy they flushed down the toilet (child allowance regulations), or donate outgrown clothes to the child down the hall (unlawful transfer of state property).

~Seeing who can go higher on the playground swings.

~Explaining to a child why their grandparent is dying, and holding their hand after the death.

~Having to confiscate a child’s security blanket for a night because they tried to hang themselves with it.

~Having a child tape a piece of art to the office door that says, “Thank you for helping me…”

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How is it that some things that are right on schedule, still manage to take us by surprise?

It was a precursor, to be sure, the new teenager in the house asking a Very Good Question last night which required a Very Good Answer. The Answer came thoughtfully, passionately and chock full of wisdom he was supposed to absorb and carry into the next generation. He sat there at the table, pausing from eating his supper to feed on this Very Good Answer. He even appeared interested, smiled at appropriate times and exuded all the love of one of those shiny-faced children in the Children’s Bible where they sit and eagerly listen at Jesus’ feet while He gives Very Good Answers.

Then, when I reached the end of the Very Good Answer, his fork still paralyzed in mid-air with what I perceived as rapt attention, he quietly asked, “Mom, why does there have to be a lecture every night?” My bursting into laughter eased his sweet sensitive disposition into laughing, too, and I told him it was because he asks such great questions. Point taken, I assured him, awareness noted and filed away.

In one meek question he managed to inform me that he had reached the age of not really wanting or needing Very Good Answers, simultaneous with still needing to ask Very Good Questions. Hmmm. These years are going to be tricky. It was all well and fine working with Teenagers Who Know It All at the hospital – they let you know in no uncertain terms when they’re finished listening, even before you open your mouth. But my own son was so gentle about it, it took me off guard.

Kind of like how hot and humid yesterday was. I had grown so accustomed to it, my favorite season, lasting for so many months here. They had warned of the winds of change approaching, and so I milked the day for all it was worth, as though it was the last day of the world…holding therapy sessions outdoors, making that extra trip up the hill on a whim at the end of my run, windows down flying across the water with music full blast. No, I wasn’t going to let my favorite season go without a fight. I clung to it and all its memories, fiercely.

Quick as an email delivering hard truth into the inbox that you knew was coming but didn’t want to read (but your eyes draw you to reread and again), the wind picked up its punch during the night, rendering me sleepless. The things which awoke me were all expected when wind blows. But when you’re in that sleepy state of denial, it comes as a mix of startled surprise and anxiety, with no wherewithal to get up and address the problem. Easier just to close my eyes and let the wind blow as it may.

With each breath of the wind, my bedroom door sighed open and shut, the latch brushing against the door jamb gently. I never did decide in my half-sleep state if it was annoying or comforting, like the rhythm of a rocking cradle. Open, closed, open, closed. It was kind of like the tide at the beach, its rhythm dictated by the wind. Then came the dog barking at imagined threats, probably in the form of tree limb shadows lunging at him. There were the unexplained rattles and creaks imposed on various appendages of house parts. I noticed I went from way too hot to burrowed under the bedding. In my quasi-dream state, I remembered commenting to the children on the way home through the cotton fields yesterday, when we spotted a visitor’s license plate from up north, “Look, the Snowbirds have arrived already!”

The wind had gotten stronger, faster, colder, and I could not deny what it was bringing. And what it was taking.

Then, with great force, the bedroom door slammed, waking me early for the day, the wind announcing it was time to drag myself out of bed and face the now-cold, dark morning. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t like these changes. I don’t want to leave that Season behind, it was so much fun and so happy and so full of interesting things. I don’t want to bundle up. This to me is symbolic of being a prisoner, and I am now under arrest. No attorney can get me out of this pickle, having to march forth into a cool season with I-don’t-know-what’s-ahead-but-surely-it-can’t-match-what-was.

Resistant, stubborn girl.

So I will get up today and face that wind head on. I will pull out the necessary clothes and put on my October game face. I will learn to tame my lectures to my son and keep them brief but powerful. I will put my seasonal mourning away, and focus on what is in front of me. I will face this season with courage and productiveness. Besides, I heard the weather dude say we’d be back up into the 80s in a matter of days. Okay, I can deal with this.

God, help me to do just that. You know how I hate letting go of favorite things, but I know how You give us new tethers to hold and follow just in the nick of time. I can’t see it or feel it yet, but I know You will make it okay. Help me to have forward vision by hastening the mourning of my losing the vision of looking behind. Be with me, Lord, through the bluster and the cold and the grief of loss and the season of change, through the slamming of doors and the sun rising again anyway. God, bless my friends who are also feeling stuck, and bless those who are forging ahead too fast. Let us all have the necessary perspective from either position, to be able to see Your will…and to follow the tether You provide out of the cold, dark wind, back toward a season of warmth and good times.

Lord, hold me up and rock my cradle. Don’t let me fall.

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I suppose it wasn’t really there after all. I must have been daydreaming. When you’re hanging at the beach, some things just kind of blur together, like the pod of dolphins the other day at one point clearly being a pod of dolphins, gradually fooling the eyes into trying to decipher what was bottlenose and what was fin and what was tall wave. The playful animals somehow melded into being waves. Eventually when the excitement wanes and you start questioning your own senses and sensibility, you learn to quit looking, and refocus anew on what is, on what was, to begin with.

I thought I saw a ship, of great proportions, traversing the horizon. It had a bright color that caught my eye, contrasting from the sea, and maintained a steady path, as long as I dared to watch.

While it caught my gaze, I imagined where it came from, how long it had stayed in port, and where it now headed, what it carried. The Sunday newspaper keeps a public record of such data, but it’s been a month of Sundays since I read a Sunday paper.

But the ship was real as long as I looked at it.

I was driving, though, and could only afford intermittent glances. I was driving fast, windows down, music loud, hair flying.

I know it was there. But then, I glanced again, and it was not. Simply slipped out of my vision, out of my reality.

It reminded me of the man I used to see come home on what I calculated must be his lunch hour, as I ran the last hill on my runs. His house was one of my reality checks – I used it to remind myself of my goal, since it was at the peak of the knoll, the hardest and steepest hill of the three I conquer on my usual 2.5 run. Once upon a time in the season of jasmine, I marveled at the tall southern pines which graced his front yard, with something that looked like clematis climbing up the trunks of each tree. They were so fragrant, I came to look forward to springtime runs, just to get to that last, steep incline. Each labored inhalation was rewarded. His front porch was typically Southern, a wraparound with ample rocking chairs and detail in the woodwork, beckoning one to stop for a glass of sweet tea (slice of lemon) in the fragrance of the climbing flowers. The trees, and the clinging flowers, disappeared up into the sky-blue like some Jack-in-the-Beanstalk fairy tale.

How I would have loved to stop!

But my course would have been ruined had I done so – I was compelled to finish what I began, compulsively dedicated to completing my circuit, and his house was only one stop on my way to my destination. How sad…and it always seemed…no, seems (I still go by) so inviting.

Through the spring and part of the summer, I saw him come home. He would be parked in the side driveway, sometimes standing on the porch, sometimes inside, sometimes conversing with his landscapers. Sometimes just standing there, yakking on his phone, or pausing to watch me and wave.

And I always kept going.

Although we saw each other nearly daily, he was a stranger, and I to him. He was at the end of my run, at the top of the steepest hill, and I could not, would not stop, no, never. Never meant to be. He and his coveted possessions were well out of my league. I would not be interested in such.

I had to keep running, keep my pace, knowing the end was near and soon I would have rest. But in that rest I often thought of how nice it would have been to stop my run short and crash on that ample front porch and get acquainted with the wealthy neighbor. He didn’t know me, not really. And I didn’t know him. No, we were Worlds Apart, on two different courses, two different schedules, two different paths. He may have thought he knew me; he probably imagined he knew me, but he would have been wrong. Someone like that and those Things could not have understood or known joy from someone like me and my things.

And, like the ship that I’m not sure ever really existed, he also ceased to exist after my weeks of illness which prevented me from my daily runs. I have gingerly, carefully resumed and gone back, as I sit at the lapping water here, but he no longer comes home for lunch. And I have not seen a ship like it on the horizon since, either.

Both are gone; I am alone, and left wondering if they ever really existed, or if they were figments of my imagination, like so many other things.

I suppose I was a figment, too…not quite real, not quite tangible. Just sort of, out there. Interesting to imagine, but not really existent.

There is safety in not really being real, not able to be figured out, comprehended, perceived fully. Perhaps it is best if figments remain figments, visions as visions, dreams as dreams. That way, things of intrigue remain as we wish for them to be thought of, and we do not run the risk of disappointment, should the harshness of reality not live up to our dreams.

Our dreams…our delusions…our mirages serve us well, to provide the comfort of distracted vision, and of hope and curiosity, without the pain of what is, what must be, no matter how satisfying what must be, is.

Both the ship and the man were elusive and surreal as they passed before what I thought was my reality, bringing interest and reason to look while they lingered in the periphery of my reality, ever just so out of reach and causing me to question my sanity, yet serving a purpose by challenging myself to keep looking and to keep running all at the same time.

Oh, why O why, didn’t I stop long enough to verify the existence of the ship? and the man? Was I afraid they’d be real? Or that I would have to change to accommodate their reality? Was it better that they came and went from what I thought was my vision, that they remained a part of the Unsure?

How bittersweet, never to know for sure. I could never pursue either, and must stay on my circuit.

Damn, today’s run was totally to mentally detox. The news at high noon (delivered in the best room with the best catered food which I didn’t eat) was supposed to be good, which I couldn’t swallow, either. It was good to everyone but me. My crestfallenness did not go unnoticed, and I know they saw me tear out of the parking lot on my run after the meeting with more vigor than usual Upon my return, I was swamped with Higher Visitors and calls from all angles, feeling me out, no one daring to ask. The Secret is not theirs to uncover, they knew. And I was helpless, speechless, unable to explain. Only someone like me could be living such a dual life in so many dimensions.

But the run was hard and fast, and the man wasn’t there…again. I guess I missed too many days, so it was…just…a run. And I returned to face reality, my dreams and thoughts and feelings sequestered to the depths of my inner being, where they are better kept behind the game face.

But nothing can erase the ship on the horizon. I know it was there. I know it seemed like it wasn’t at one point, but I can still see it, I can still picture it crossing my path when I had time to pause my gaze. It was big and bright and happy, and added perspective to the horizon. The fact idea that it was there gave enough impetus to relish the rest of the surroundings, even after it disappeared.

Even if it wasn’t real, it was…just for a moment…it really was. And if I willed it to be so for the sake of my sanity, is there anything wrong with that?

The fumes of belief fuel faith.

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