Driving past the family home as gloomy grayish blue clouds dim the brilliance of the autumn leaves, I noticed a piece of garbage in one of the flowerbeds. Making a mental note to stop on my way from work to pick up the unsightly litter, a whispering voice floated through my brain.
What are you doing about the messy state you allowed yourself to be in the last few months? What are you doing about the scattered indifference to the enjoyed interests that once reminded you of Me? I know you are grieving. However, you allow circumstances around you to dictate how you feel and respond. Wake up! Change your focus. I Am still here. Clear the debris and enjoy Me.
More thoughts written February 19th as our family sat at our Mother’s side while in hospital.
These days my thoughts often gravitate to the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls in 1961. This coming of age story first adapted to film in 1974 follows the adventures of a young boy and his two-coonhound pups who are inseparable and learn lessons of true friendship, loyalty, heroics, and integrity. In the book, we learn of an old Cherokee legend that tells of a sacred red fern that grows between their two graves that only an angel can plant. I can’t help but compare Mom and Dad to the two pups. After 66 years together, they follow the same journey to heaven in quick succession. Dad completed his journey last week, while Mom continues with hers today. Will a red fern grow between their two graves? Not sure if I believe the legend but the symbolism it holds is very powerful. We humans need something tangible when dealing with life’s tragedies. For the young boy grieving the loss of his beloved dogs, the red fern tells him he is not alone. We too are not alone as we face losing another pillar of our family. But, are we losing them or sending them forward to help prepare a better place for the rest of us? (John 14:1-3)
My thoughts written February 8th after saying goodbye to our Dad. We know he is in heaven sitting with his Lord and family who went before. His journey of life has only just begun.
There was a point in my younger years when I loved roller coasters. Anticipation swiftly changed to exhilaration after climbing the highest peak followed by a lightening speed journey through the disorienting twists and turns, ending with a shout, let’s do that again. Yet, this roller coaster our family is riding is not so amusing but exhausting, and will not end with the same exclamation. One minute we ride the high of laughter and giddiness, the next we circle the lows of approaching uncertainty. It is during those sharp low curves our petite mother shares her wisdom with quiet grace; our job is not to understand the whys of this ride but to sit back trusting God with the controls to know what is best for us all. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I heard it said, the times when plants grow the most is not necessarily during the warm gentle rains or beautiful summer days; in fact, when the fierce winds blow and the raging storms come is when plants grow the most. While pondering this statement, the patch of Black-eyed Susans in my front yard catches my eye. Just a few weeks ago, these perennial beauties of the Rudbeckia family suffered a deluge of six inches in two hours. Yet, they stand tall with their vibrant sunny faces and leafy green arms raised to the sky displaying their strength and perseverance. Hmmm… can we have growth in our lives without the disruptive moments? (Hebrews 12:10-13)
Today I am thinking of childhood vacations at Barnegat Light, NJ with Great-Uncle Everett and his family. Why, I do not know. Maybe it is the desire to feel giddy with anticipation while standing with our backs to the surf once again. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. What is so exciting about knowing you are about to be taken under water? There is nothing fun about seawater and sand rushing up your nose as the surf violently rolls you onto the beach. Yet, stand there we did as Great-Uncle Everett encouraged us “don’t look”. Don’t look to see the next wave coming, don’t look to see how big or forceful it is, don’t look. In the not looking, we just trusted, trusted that after each wipeout, he would be there smiling as he grasped our hand as we attempted to ready ourselves for the next breaker. In that grasp was the promise of surprising fun as the seaward pull of water away from the shore carried with it the fear of the next wipeout.
As we stand on the beach of 2013 with the surf of 2014 tickling our feet, do we catch the next wave with excited anticipation or fear the undertow of past failures and defeat?
That question is a norm in my life these days with its unusual stresses attacking from every side like hungry parasites. Yet, I find myself not thinking so much about the stress but about how to respond to it.
Am I giving 100% of my best with the resources I have at hand? Am I doing what is right or what makes others and me comfortable?
If I can answer “yes” to these questions each night, then I can expect the quality of my sleep to be peaceful which will influence my response to the next day’s pressures. On the other hand, if my answer is anything but positive, will my forty winks be any less rejuvenating? Will the frenzied feeding on my psyche increase in irritation? Not necessarily, as the next day holds a new opportunity to fight more effectively than the day before. (Psalm 3, Philippians 4:13)
So, in the words of a former client, “May you sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. And, if they do, bite their heads off!”