Monday, April 28, 2014

Flying High

He laughed at me, this young man full of life and energy, ever spilling over with amusement. "Wow, Mom, did you ever do acid?"

A fair enough question, it was. I'd been talking about my recent airplane trip, the first time I'd flown with no one to watch over and no one to watch over me. To an acute, intentional observer like me, it was an ordinary experience full of surprise and wonder. I'd been describing the sensations of weightlessness and heaviness, giddiness and weariness. I'd admitted that I'd spent the first hour of the flight with my hand pressed to the glass, gazing out the window at the landscape and skyscape below and beyond me. I'd confessed that even the whiteness of the clouds was beautiful, the textures fascinating.

He laughed, yes, this one who craves and creates color and challenge and complexity.

"Who needs acid with a mind like mine?" I countered. He thinks I'm a little strange, I know. I wonder if I'm strange because I see, or simply strange because I slow down to look. I wonder if it's in all of us, the ability to see the color in whiteness, the challenge in stillness, the complexity in simplicity. I wonder if this young man will admit that he, too, sees what I see, but he paints his visions on canvas instead of speaking them in words.

I wish somehow we all could notice, pay attention, re-focus, that we could see, even just occasionally, the intricate beauty of life. I wish we all could celebrate, even on behalf of others, the victories of finishing a course, solving an equation, losing a pound, tying a knot, overcoming a failure. I wish we all could be amazed by ants, wowed by weather, nurtured by nature, tickled by technology, moved by music.

I wish - I think - I think I wish we all could fly sometime, all alone, with no one to interrupt the noticing, the focusing, the real life becoming dreamlike, the color and challenge and complexity of being, doing, living. Maybe not in a plane. Hopefully not with acid. But definitely high - as heaven is above earth, above the ordinary, out of the trenches, maybe over the rainbow?

Ha! He'll love that, the one who so enjoys teasing and taunting me. I'll reply, "If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can't I?"*

I hope you'll fly.

* I know you know those aren't my original words there, the ones about the bluebirds. Of course they're from "Over the Rainbow" by E.Y. Harburg.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friend - Five Minute Friday

I took the Five Minute Friday instructions pretty literally this time. I read the prompt and just wrote for five minutes, letting the words line themselves up on the page. I decided to leave it as is, stream of consciousness, train of thought - even though I'm not sure the train's on the track at all. Sometimes I write to clear the rails, I guess. All aboard! Here we go.


so we were talking about, you know, marriage and life and relationships and loneliness and stuff, and I thought, well, I guess some people don't want to be married because they're like, I dunno, ok alone. but I'm not, I thought, except maybe I am? because sometimes i guess everybody wants things their own way, but do we like other people because they tell us our way is right, or because we like their way? or maybe, I dunno, it doesn't have anything to do with right or wrong? i guess the whole friend/lover thing is different for everyone because we're all different. i mean, how am I supposed to encourage a friend, I mean I think we're friends, but how can I say, yeah, it's cool if you don't want relationships. I mean, if you don't want to be with other people, do you want to be with yourself, though? do you want to be at all? i mean, human - doesn't that mean being with other humans? i can't figure it out, like, whether we're supposed to want to be together or if we just want someone else to want to be with us or if we really just want to be left alone unless somehow being together makes us better at being who we were in the first place.

What's a friend, anyway?

This is my contribution to Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker's site. She posts a one-word prompt every Friday morning, with the challenge to write for five minutes. She hosts anyone who wants to come along. Wanna play?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Glue - Five Minute Friday

Glue?  I’m chuckling, ever since I read the writing prompt.

Glue, as in the stuff that keeps siblings encouraging one another instead of tearing each other down?

Glue, as in the stuff that holds together the confidence of aging parents, supporting and ministering and accommodating so that they have space to be and keep becoming as time grows short?

Glue, as in the stuff that patches together shattered ideals and somehow makes a mosaic that’s still beautiful, still worth living in?

Glue, as in the stuff that secures the bandages, repairs the tears, tightens the bonds?

Glue. I guess I am. I’m not sticky on my own, though, because there’s obviously some pretty strong glue holding me together. Yesterday I was caught by surprise when I listed my duties for the next hour and a half: finish drama dress rehearsal, go home and change from rehearsal clothes to show-night garb, prepare and serve dinner for mother-in-law recovering at our house following surgery, get a bite of dinner for myself, bring a sandwich to the actor son, return to school as assistant director and welcome guests to the presentation. The surprise was in my friend’s voice when she heard this and replied, “Why do you look so calm? How are you holding all this together?” Ha! I didn’t know!

Glue. It’s pretty strong stuff. Thanks, God, for keeping me stuck together and sticky.


This is my contribution to Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker's site. She posts a one-word prompt every Friday morning, with the challenge to write for five minutes. She hosts anyone who wants to play along. Wanna play?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Leaves a Mark

Recently I needed to take off my wedding band and I was reminded again that whether I wear the ring or not, the promise is on my hand. The finger has grown into the commitment, taken the shape of the vow. It's narrower there at the base where a ring has rested for going on thirty years.  There's a little callous on the palm below that place. The eternal circle, with no end or beginning, is part of me, as I am part of the marriage.

It set me to thinking, of course. (Doesn't everything?) I didn't know, seeing the world through a bridal veil, how I would change. I didn't know that I'd go through childbirths and miscarriage, illnesses and surgeries, losses and victories, except that the old wives told me so. I knew I was committing to a partner who would go with me through whatever came, and he has. As he slipped the ring on my finger, though, I didn't expect it would leave a mark.

It has. So have the experiences. I've become simultaneously harder and softer, more flexible and more determined, kinder and angrier. My shape has changed. My body testifies that life has been full and complex. My heart knows that there's no going back to that tender, hopeful, eager, smooth form. And I'm okay with that.

I did all this to myself. I chose to love. I chose to commit. I chose to stay. As a result, I have a re-shaped ring finger, but also stretch marks and smile lines. It seems to me that love marks the lover.

 I walked outside and found a spring surprise: my presumed dead dogwood had burst back to life with huge white blooms. Do you know the story of the dogwood? Mother told  it to me. She knew lots of good stories.

Mother said we could remember Jesus on the cross when we looked at the dogwood blossoms. They open around Easter, so that's good timing. Probably not a coincidence. They're unusual flowers, with four petals (technically bracts) in the shape of a cross. Not many flowers take that form. The petal-bracts are creamy white, and that can remind us of Jesus' sinless life and that His sacrifice makes us clean, Mother said. Though our sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. At the end of each petal is a scar, though - a red-brown, semicircular imperfection that can remind us that nails pierced Jesus' hands and feet. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. In the center of a dogwood bloom, there are several tiny flowers that cluster together like a crown, and that can remind us of Jesus' crown of thorns. Mother said that some people say the cross was made from a dogwood tree, and that Jesus changed the shape of the tree so that no dogwood would ever make a cross again. She said she didn't know if our kind of dogwood tree grows in Israel, but it is true that dogwoods never grow straight or large or tall.

It's those bruised bracts that always hold my attention. My heart contracts when I see the marks, and in my mind I hear heavy hammers striking blows on great metal spikes. Even when I see a dogwood from a distance, I know the scars are there. I see the beauty, but I remember the pain of my Lord.

And by His stripes we are healed. Because He loved us so much, He chose to take those nails, that crown, that cross. Unlike the unknowing bride, our Christ knew exactly what he was doing. He knew He was facing not only scars, but death, when he set his face like a flint and turned toward Jerusalem. He loved, and he certainly was marked because of it. The dogwood blooms remind me of that, and the fingers of my right hand unconsciously stroke my left ring finger.

Love leaves a mark.