Saturday, May 27, 2006

Metaphorically Speaking

(Make of it what you will.)

Looks like a lovely path to take a walk on, doesn't it? It would be, save for one thing. This is the fartherest edge of my parents' backyard, the area the dogs use for doing their business.

I think there are all sorts of metaphorical applications that could be made here. I call the spot PooPoo Alley.

PooPoo Alley, don't go there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hanging On

I don’t know what to say next. Thank you all for your encouraging words. We are all doing about as well as can be expected.

I read a timely quote from Anne Lamott recently:
You want to protect your child from pain, and what you get instead is life, and grace; and though theologians insist that grace is freely given, the truth is that sometimes you pay for it through the nose. And you can't pay your child's way.

I think this is one of those times when grace has to be paid for through the nose… and I can’t pay my son’s way. I’ve been trying to plant that thought in my son’s heart, that yes, he has messed up, and yes it will cost him, but his life is not over. He can get up again and start a new day, clean and drug-free. I’ve talked to him about praying and about how sometimes we have to walk through some ordeals, that in the end, we are strengthened more than if we were rescued from the ordeal.

It sounds like the same kind of stuff I have heard from my heavenly Father as I have ranted and railed and asked for healing for my son (partially so that my own suffering will be eased). How will you grow if you are rescued from this? How will you learn to walk if you don’t first take a wobbly step and fall and then get up again?

That's how life is, outside the garden.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Thing I Have Feared Has Come to Pass

I can imagine baskets of Swedish Ivy hanging on the part of the fence that curves over the yard. The building is a new one, five or six stories tall. The angles of the lines at the windows make for interesting shadows in the noonday sun.

I am afraid to look at the windows, worried that I will be seen and it will upset him like it did when he was in preschool and I had to leave. It is a quiet scene, a painful scene. I have never been here before.

And then a familiar man’s voice rings out, a voice so deep that it still surprises me: “Mama.” Even as I glance at the windows, searching for a face to go with the voice, I know that I can’t see anything, and I don’t know, maybe it isn’t my kid, but it sounds like him. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe someone up there, behind the window, needs a mama. Maybe it’s just a cruel joke. I have decided it’s wise to bow my head and ignore the voice.

But he speaks again, this time with more urgency, “Mama” and after a brief pause: “I love you, Mama”. All my wisdom and propriety is abandoned as I call back, “I love you too son”. Without missing a step, I continue walking into the building. That’s how it was when he was in preschool, there came the time when I finally had to walk away, and not look back. But Lord God, he’s not in preschool.

He’s in jail.

And it hurts. . .

We got the call at 5:00 a.m. Mother's Day morning. I have talked to him on the phone. Bailing him out would be a stretch for us, but for now, we are choosing to leave him in.

There were other things I have feared-- an overdose, a car wreck, a violent death.

Now I fear a different list of things.

But I will also remember:

“Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

And I will be grateful for His faithfulness, even in the darkest of times.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

One Mother is Never Enough

-- Is there any other word that can conjure up so many different emotions when we hear it spoken in a group of people? Is there any other word that is so hard to live up to?

I have a good mother, I really do. But I have had so many more mothers than the one I was born to, some of them have even been men--all of them working to help birth the parts of me that make up the whole of me. I am so grateful for them. One mother is never enough.

The crepe paper flowers, the decorated pot, they were not made by a third grader in Sunday School. They were made by a seventeen-year-old who was locked up in juvenile detention at the time.

I know that for him, one mother has not been enough. And I pray that he will have the blessings that I have had, that he will have many mothers to guide him, to put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. I pray that he will open himself to being mothered.

I pray that each of us will realize that mothering does not always mean giving birth to our own flesh and bone, that we will be open to the many opportunities to be a mother in this broken and hurting world. One mother is never enough.

“You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.”
The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Outside the Taberacle

(It's another poem, folks, since Little David was foolish enough to ask and I am foolish enough to oblige!)

Jim got me to thinking today with this Thomas Merton quote from his post:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely
transparent and the Divine is shining through it all the time”.
I mentioned to him that sometimes we miss the Divine shining through until we are past the event and looking back. Such was the case outside the tabernacle with a little girl named Sinclair...

Sinclair came alone to camp that year, having just finished kindergarten. Technically she was not supposed to be there until she finished first grade, but we never were much on minding that technicality. She arrived with a lot of baggage for such a young child. Mom gave us our first clues-- make sure she drinks her water, make sure she goes to the bathroom, make sure you get her to the nurse's station to take her meds, and oh yeah, sometimes she sees things...well, she did not tell us that last part, but it would have been helpful if she had. When I took her down to the nurse's station, the nurse filled me in a bit (bipolar disorder) and reiterated that I did not want to miss any of her med times (sheesh, I have been coming to camp for ten years, don't they think I know that?) It would not have made any difference to me how many times we had to traipse down to the nurse's cabin, I was already hopelessly in love with this little brown-eyed girl who landed in our cabin alone and with baggage.

Sinclair made friends among the girls in spite of her sometimes strange ways. I made sure she drank her water and we had "tinkle races" to make sure she was tinkling. (We raced to the bathrooms and listened to see who was going to make the first "splash". Sometimes you have to get a little creative. That's all I'm saying.) I took her out to sit on the porch when the crowd in the cabin got to be too much for her, or when she "saw something".

Sometimes, in the tabernacle for worship service, the noise of 400 girls clapping and singing and squealing (that was all before the preacher began to speak) got too intense for her and she I would go out to a pavilion behind the tabernacle and sit quietly. It was during one of these times that she started counting the "lightening bugs" and then became fascinated when she heard a bird singing in the darkness.

Watching the Brown-eyed Girl Count Fireflies
(for Sinclair, sometimes she sees things)

She has seen spiders in her breakfast bowl
where mother saw only grits,
and terror in her daughter’s eyes.

Snakes slithered forward,
threatened to swallow her whole
as mother moved to offer comfort.

Moments later, the child
asks for red jelly.
To make a smiley face on my grits.

Tonight she counts fireflies, their stochastic blinks
dancing in unsteady rhythm
with the neurons in her brain.

Music breaks the quiet, and her attention shifts.
She searches to see what kind of bird
sings in darkness, why

her notes tremble and swell.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

There Will Come a Day

Regina Claire Jane had this quote on her blog today. Though it looks a lot like Big Foot, that is my shadow stretched across the water. I am fascinated with shadows and reflections in photography. How often we snap photos and do not realize what lurks unseen in the viewfinder.

How comforting this thought is to me. For I am first and foremost, a spiritual being. For now, I am limited by flesh and bone, but there will come a day when my spirit will soar beyond these human chains.

And that is the day I was created for.