I found this note and gift on my porch the other day~
Such an unexpected blessing
from someone who has walked this road already
and has not
(Here is my dad holding me with our childhood dog, Miss Royal.)
I opened another letter, almost a year ago now, and read what I believed to be just another kind sympathy note, when the words,
"Welcome to the Orphan's club"
caught my breath and my attention.
It was just a year ago when my father unexpectedly traveled on ahead to his "forever home." It has been a year of process for me as I walk every day as a daughter no more.
(Yes, that is me -sporting my fish with my hand on my hip- not at all camera shy! My sister is the cute little one with the groovy plaid pants and boy hair. Okay, my hair also qualifies as boy hair so I can't say too much. There is my beautiful mom and my dad in the background. The other two are friends of the family. )
The sender conveyed exactly what my heart knew but my lips refused to verbalize. With the loss of my mom, 28 years ago now, and in the wake of my father's death, I found myself not only grieving the loss of my dad, but also mourning my existence as a daughter.
As an honorary club member, I was joined by two other dear ladies who felt the sting of loss and death of not only a parent but of daughterhood. As painful as it was to read my new club membership title, it was helpful to know others understood the grieving that my soul felt. However, this is one club I wish I did not belong to.
As my mom faced her own death, she told my dad that she knew the Lord would be a mother to her daughters. I can honestly say, on the other side of the loss, that my mom's faith was well placed. God provided for her lack in ways that were real and soul sustaining, that softened the edges of our loss and simply held us.
That is the best description I can give - that in the middle of this young girl's loss of her mother, I felt "held" by my God.
Now, at the one year anniversary of my earthly father's passing, I know I am held, but I feel my loss more significantly. The sadness creeps in and covers me, threatening a freeze that whispers to destroy this tree, with its questionable root system. It is here in the deep freeze that a warm breeze blows in my mother's simple words of faith and I am reminded by the very One who carried me through so many valleys that I do belong, that I am still held, that I am not orphaned.
Sometimes I am appalled at how little progress I have made as a traveler. I expect to weather these storms better and believe I should experience sadness but it should be relegated to a two week period of grieving at which point I should be able to move on with words of wisdom and healing for all who are watching.
Instead I can only offer broken words, small steps, and invisible scars that still ache at the most unexpected times.
Today I finish this post on the first day of a new year.
I look to a new year full of certain lessons and I pray for grace to keep my roots from becoming brittle. And I am thankful for those who have been instruments of grace to me this past year and have kept me "held."
May you be "held" this new year and may you know his strength and comfort in the valleys.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
These are some of the most wonderful ladies I know. When we get together I am reminded again how much I love each one of them. We have many differences - the four of us - but when we come together for our "birthday club" the differences remind me how diversity in the body of Christ is beautiful and necessary for continued growth.
I am at a time and place in my life where I am surrounded by people who surround themselves with those who are just like them. I have watched our church go through a metamorphosis as of late and unfortunately diversity among the body is not one of our strong suits. I watch as my family and I find ourselves on the periphery of our body at large - we do not "fit" into an "acceptable" category- our children are not home schooled, we do not spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about or discussing the benefits of grass fed versus corn fed cows or whether the chicken we had for dinner was free range or not. We wear deodorant that contains aluminum and I do not lose sleep. I do not press my own wheat when I make bread - I actually do not make bread and I know I am suspect.
What I love about my ladies is that we are all at different places in our spiritual journey, at various stages of motherhood, and we do not all worship at the same place, but this is what makes our time together such a gift. We are a conglomeration of hilarity, tears, prayer, and forgiveness. We are an unlikely mixture of organic only- junk food eaters - naturopathic and immunization free - pass the Tylenol please -"Survivor" contestant -fragrance wearing -steel ground oats only -taco bell loving- hodgepodge of ladies.
The conversation I have with these dear women of faith is some of the richest, most thought provoking, and meaningful in my life. We are in no way perfect. We are the seekers of the One who is perfect - and this we do imperfectly. I am loved and accepted with these friends. I do not have to be something I am not - in fact, I am pretty sure they would call me out if I tried it. These are the ladies who make me better. I know it without a doubt. Our vast differences temper the extremes in our personalities and provide an appreciation and great affection for the "other than". And so, in this busy season I want to pause to recognize the gift of friendship. As I age I understand its rarity. I thank God for these women who grace my life with themselves and I thank the Giver for them.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Quiet presses in
the silence of winter's first snowfall,
light juxtaposed against the blackness of night.
Water reflecting multicolored lights
dressing homes across landscapes
as we drink in the symbols of the year.
Flames bent, dancing to keep up,
music reminding my soul
Small treasures in tissue unwrapped-familiar friends
welcomed home for their yearly visit
to grace our tree,
reminders of time passages
and lives built
My children can reach the tall branches now,
the ones I cannot.
The season of advent is
the living, the giving-thanks for, the hope reminder, and yes,
light juxtaposed against the blackness of night.