Archive for December, 2013

Legacy of Love

What do you do when your body betrays you and you can no longer command your limbs or your eyes or your tongue?  What do you do when your walk becomes a stumble and then you fall and there’s no way up except on another person’s arm?

I remember the first time I saw my mom fall.  She had stumbled before and I’d noticed that it was happening more frequently but one day she fell and couldn’t get up again.  Her tears frightened me and I ran to help her up but all I could do was get her to the edge of the room where she could lean up on the wall.

I remember asking her what I should do.  I was panicking.  She told me it was okay.  She would wait for my dad to come home from work.  Until then, she would crawl where she needed to go.  My voice rose and broke as I repeated, “Crawl?”  She smiled through her tears and nodded.  Then she told me that she was grateful that she could.

I learned about Multiple Sclerosis that day.  I learned about the diagnosis and why she’d been sick for so long.

Eventually, she was unable to voluntarily move at all.  She wore diapers and received nourishment through a gastronomy tube.  And she never lost her smile or her gratitude.

This morning, the last day of 2013, I’m thinking of the legacy of love and gratitude that she left me.  The legacy of faith and grace.  She wasn’t blessed with health and it’s hard for me to think about the struggles.  About the way she suffered silently, but think about it I must because it’s in the light of that suffering that she shined so beautifully right up until the day she died, body bent and broken and ruined.

I want to create that kind of legacy for my children and the people I love.  I want to create that kind of legacy, period.  In the end it’s all that survives, the love and kindness that we show.  Or the opposite.  That survives too.

Each and every day we are living our legacy.  We are teaching our children how to be.  We are touching the world.

In 2014 I want to grow ever more in the direction of love and kindness.  I want to be like my mom and create a legacy of love.


The Forever Dream


She dreams of standing in a field of dry knee high grass in a bright sundress, barefoot and brown and beautiful. Closing her eyes she smiles into the breeze and feels the soft brush of wishes against her shoulders and cheeks. Small dandelion dreams born on the wind, brush past her eyelids and catch for a moment on her bottom lip.


As the wind picks up and lifts the hem of her dress, she turns in slow circles, arms outstretched, bright sun raining down on the crown of her head, turning it bright and golden.


When she opens her eyes she sees a bright reflection in the near distance. Like a human divining rod, she smells water and heads in that direction, brushing open hands against heads of wheat grass that tickle her palms.


The river rises up to meet her and changes its course to lie down at her feet. Boarded by rocks, a crystal clear, still pool invites her to shed her clothes. She lifts her arms as the breeze plays against her knees and slides gently up her thighs while the flowered sun dress spills into the grass and takes root.


She bends to pluck a flower from the field of her recent sundress and steps into the water which is cold. She shivers as a chill travels ankle to chest, and she crosses her arms beneath her breasts, but heat follows the chill and leaves her burning.


Sinking into the water, she smiles back at her reflection and softly sighs as hands run up her inner thighs. She is liquid and light and solid and melting; born of earth and water.


Whose hands play against her skin? Whose lips are those? Who is it who pushes her back on the bank of grass, hips in water, sand against the small of her back?


She knows the feel of him but not his form. His voice is familiar but unknown, Rest your feet here against my shoulders, just like that.


Grabbing her hips, he pulls her down to meet him. His lips are a breath away from hers. Her knees are pressed back and open.

Please… she says, I want…


A pause


You want what? He asks.


She wants to say his name, but it’s forbidden. She wants to ask for things that are not hers.


Teasing, he circles his hips, brushes his lips against hers, You can’t ask?


She shakes her head no even as she says, please just…


She gasps when he moves inside her.


The earth softens and welcomes her as she sinks down, down, down.  Warm sunshine against her face, warm earth against her back, warm body pressing in.  She sinks down again.


She cries out, sinking her fingers into the earth as he fills her with the bright promise of new life and gently pulls away. Her eyes flutter shut as warm earth closes around her and the last thing she feels is a kiss.


Her soul is quiet as she lies fertilized and planted, ready to be born again; a child of earth and water.


Stand by me

A long time ago I had a pastor friend that stood by me during one of the hardest phases of my life. My father had died unexpectedly, my six-year old daughter had been raped and I’d voluntarily given up the job of my dreams overseas to return to the relative safety of the USA and extended family who I felt needed me.

I was exhausted, traumatized, worried and wounded by life circumstances and by a church that in effect abandoned my family in a time of need. But this one pastor, this dear friend, stood by me and let my pain and hurt wash over him without judgment and without internalizing any of it.

While I recognized his love and patience as being extraordinary, I was too wounded to reciprocate. I took him for granted, willingly accepted his practical help and moral support and limped along occasionally raging, often crying. I know I wasn’t much fun to be around.

His loving presence and acceptance of me without needing to correct me and without judgment seeped into my heart and began to change me. I felt the power of his love and commitment and I was softened and warmed by it, and my life was changed.

It’s that memory that keeps me faithful and whispers patience to me when I want to give up.

It takes discernment to know when to stay and when it’s time to pull the plug. There’s no one pat answer. I’m simply relating my personal experience to say, don’t give up too easily. Maybe, just maybe, your patience and love will make all the difference.