The Year Randy Died

The day I meet our son at the back door and see his face in his face, I shudder.  I mean for years my brother lingers quietly in my night-visions.  But I don’t like seeing him in my son’s face in broad day-light.  Much rather he stay closed away in deep memory’s burning embers—where he’s been since we closed his grave some 30 years before.

One life-loss can infect the whole of a life”, writes Ann Voskamp.  Those burning life-loss memories we carefully tend.  Who wants to relive them…yet, who cannot relive them?

Maybe the memories must be fully re-lived in order for them to fully re-die.  Ashes fully buried and fully resurrected into the beauty (dare we say it) of acceptance.

I look into my son-brother’s face and I know.  The burning embers are being stoked into flame once more.  Okay, let’s have at it and get this over with once and for all.

The year Randy died.  The year he turned 16.  I would live on to turn 14.  Says a lot right there.  He died.  I lived.  Guilt.  Who gets to decide that?  Guilt.  Sucks to be you.  Guilt.  I’m sorry.

How much guilt can one girl serve up?  I can’t force down another bite.  The lump in my throat sickens.  Regurgitated guilt burns hot and deep.

Walking by the bathroom, he calls my name.  Cradled in his palm are the treasured strands of golden-wheat that fell victim to the chemical warfare in his body.

“Why is my hair falling out?” 

So much pain, so much fear in those six screwed-up words that no 15 year old boy should ever have to say.  And I got nothing, but…Denial.  It’s not that bad.  Denial.  Just comb it over.  Denial.  Looks great.

“How’s your brother doing?” 

I lean over the water fountain and drink and drink and drink attempting to drown the sadness—or myself.  Not sure I can tell the difference any more.  Depressed.  Life totally sucks.  Depressed.  I am one sorry mess.  Depressed.  I swallow it down.    

“He’s doing okay,” I lie to the teacher.

That’s always what I say, because I don’t really know what to say.  Because nobody really tells me anything.  Except maybe my older brother who tells me on the way to school, when I finally get the nerve to ask,

“He’s not good, Lois”. 

But nobody says he will die.  Nobody spells it out for me—those three dagger letters… D-I-E.   Anger.  Who gets to decide that?  Anger.  Sucks to be me.  Anger.  Not sorry.

Moans from the Lazy-Boy, the sick chair, an old man’s chair that no 15 year old boy should ever have to sit in day after day.   Dad’s face falls in shattered reply.  Mom breathes deep with clenched eyes.

“What do you need, Randy?”

If only I could make the pain go away, things can be normal again.  “God, if you will make him better…”  Bargaining.  “I’m really sorry I didn’t believe him at first.”  Bargaining.  “I know I’ve been bad but I promise to be perfect…”  Bargaining.  “If you really exist God …”

Two weeks after his 16th birthday, Randy leaves for the hospital for the very last time.  As we stand at the back door, I think I knew.  And I’m pretty sure he knew, too.  Acceptance.  A quick one-word goodbye spoken from our lips; eyes embrace, silently speaking heart’s farewell.  Acceptance.  He turns to meet death without me.  I turn to meet life without him.  Acceptance.  He leaves my childhood forever.

This back-door memory is the memory that still burns hot.  A witch’s cauldron brew bubbling in my gut.  Eyes still burn from it.  The memory, that is.  Standing at the back door.  Our last brother-sister exchange on earth.  The final goodbye.

I know not how the light is shed,

Nor understand this lens.

I only know that there are eyes

In pencils and in pens.

∞John Piper

And then eyes open…the back door.  The final goodbye took place at the back door.   I recall the opening-grave words in my journal:  “The day I meet our son at the back door and see his face in his face, I shudder.”

It’s at the back door where I see my 16-year-old brother’s face in my 16-year-old son’s face.  I see his eyes in his eyes.  I see the same boyhood-scar on forehead—his from a boomerang gone wild; his from a hot-water radiator collision.

At the back door—the final goodbye place between brother-sister; mother-son.  Don’t leave me, brother.  Don’t leave me, son.  Don’t want to let you go, brother.  Don’t want to let you go, son.  I don’t want to live life without you, too.  Nobody should get to decide that but me.

To be continued …

 

Ascending the Heights

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Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.*

Rugged hill challenges of life—they call me.  Mostly because I yearn for a change of scenery—a view from higher heights.  A spiritual lens upgrade.

No longer a slave to what I witness in the outward.  Breaking free from reality’s cruel grasp.  My thoughts take flight—into the high places of the sky.  Where tidal surges of hope rush upward and eternal.

Arise, my darling!
Come quickly, my beloved.
Come and be the graceful gazelle with me.
Come be like a dancing deer with me.
We will dance in the high place of the sky,
yes, on the mountains of fragrant spice.
Forever we shall be united as one!*

God’s thoughts are high.  His ways are high.  Residing far above my rugged-hill ways.  His thoughts are hidden among mountains of fragrant grace.  He beckons me to come & draws me with climbing cords of love.  (Really, it’s quite scandalous, this grace.)

And in the rarefied air of heavenly heights, my thoughts become fastened on all that is lovely; all that is honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind.

Writer-Poet Carl Sandburg’s words entice me:  “Here or there you may witness a startling harmony…where you say, “This will be haunting me a long time with a loveliness I hope to understand better.” 

When the day breaks and the shadows flee, I encounter a startling harmony within.  My beloved is altogether lovely.  A loveliness that has haunted me a very long time.  A loveliness that I hope to understand better.  A loveliness that renews and transforms.

*Author’s Note:  Writing for me becomes a dialogue with the Spirit of God.  My heart’s response to scriptures whispering through my spirit.  This dialogue flows from Song of Songs 2:17 (NIV) and  8:14 (TPT) and Philippians 4:8.  May the dialogue continue within you.  Love and Peace.

Nature’s Garment

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Nature is the living, visible garment of God.”  Johann von Goethe

Eye-gate opened to The High and Lifted Up

I reach for His garment in the dawn’s early light

The train of His robe fills this temple of mine

At the threshold of an Alaskan fjord.

 

*Writing for me becomes a dialogue with the Spirit of God.  My heart’s response to scriptures whispering through my spirit.  This dialogue flows from Isaiah 6:1: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”  May the dialogue continue in you… Love & Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer’s Inkhorn

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Six men came from the way

of the higher gate

One among them clothed in linen.

A writer’s inkhorn by his side

A slaughter-weapon placed in his hand.*

My faith affects my writing.  And my writing affects my faith.  Writing brings me joy & strength.  It breaks & restores.

Most times the ink falls in pleasant places.  But occasionally, it falls into the not-so-pleasant.  Into the shadowy self, wherein hides the insecurities & failures of life.

Yet if it were not for the shadow experiences of life, there would be no beauty.  For in the shadows, the Beauty of Holiness wields the pen.

In the shadows, the pen becomes a slaughtering weapon.  Wielded not with anger and wrath but with God’s Holy Passion. 

In the shadows, Passion takes up the pen.  Flesh piercing.  Soul & spirit dividing.  Purging  whatever stands in the way between me and Perfect Love.

Six men came from the way

of the higher gate

One among them clothed in linen.

A writer’s inkhorn by his side

A weapon-pen placed in his hand.

 

He draws from the inkhorn

His Spirit-Ink

And marks me with Mercy & Grace.

Fears & failures utterly destroyed

I am delivered by Love’s Mighty Pen.

 

*Inspired by Ezekiel Chapter 9 of The Holy Bible, King James Version.

Daily Prompt:  Mercy

 

Black And White With A Pop of Color

 

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I look back down at the page.  Black and white with a pop of color.

          Red letters pop … ”If you can believe, all things are possible …”

          A black-letter comeback … “I do believe—help my unbelief!”

I got trust issues with God.  I believe.  Then again sometimes I don’t.  It’s just that He can be so … unpredictable.  

“Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”  Walt Whitman says it.   Reminds me of God.

A Contradiction.

I whisper to myself the words of the Psalmist, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand…”

An unearthing in the dew-drenched garden of my heart.  New understanding emerges.

Could it be that when God seemingly contradicts Himself, … my heart, mind and spirit are being s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to receive the multitude of His thoughts towards me?

That in the place of contradiction, the Spirit of God desires to reveal Himself to me in a new way?  An unveiling of sorts … an encounter with His thoughts that enlarges me?  That causes me to know Him more?  That causes me to love more?

Dressed in black and white with a pop of color, I walk my best-dressed self out of my office and onto the sidewalk.

Businessmen and women on every corner; in the restaurants and cafes, outside of Starbucks discussing local politics and drinking Macchiatos.

And then I see him.  A homeless man sprawled out in the middle of the alley.

A contradiction.

Delivery truck about to make a blind turn into the alley.  I run, arms waving  like a madwoman.  The driver makes a quick maneuver around us and keeps on going.

The man is not moving.  Not sure whether he’s dead or just had too much to drink.  I lean in close.  No question–too much to drink.  And hasn’t had a bath in a while either.

A passer-by calls 9-1-1 and keeps on walking.  I kneel next to the man and wait.  He’s agitated.  Wants to be left alone.  Don’t care.  I’m not leaving.

I place my persimmon red, over-priced designer purse under his black and white bedraggled head.  Black and white with a pop of color.

A contradiction.

“Why are you here?”

“Because I’m your friend”.

“You’re not my friend.”

In the contradiction, I remember the words, “How precious are your thoughts towards ME-HIM, O God.”

In the contradiction, I recall the words of Terence, “I am human.  Therefore, nothing is alien to me”.  

In the contradiction, I encounter the love of God for one of His own and I am enlarged.

“Yes, I am.”

Quiet tears escape and run down his bristly face.

In the moment, a decision made.  It’s really okay if God seems contradictory.  His  thoughts towards me are vast.  He is large.  I am small.  And it’s in the unpredictables of life, that I am enlarged.  It’s in the contradictions of life that I learn to love.

 

Girls With Messy Hair

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All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.  ~Cecil Frances Alexander

To my daughter, and to her daughter,

And to all girls with messy hair and

Brave & adventurous hearts…

Your messy, wild and strong spirit

Is a BIG gift from God

That you get to unwrap each day

So don’t you dare compromise your

Original Beautiful Design

To fit some man-made religious & legalistic mold.

Stay far from those who try to mold you

Close to those who can help unfold you

And live your messy-hair life

With style and a smile

Knowing you were created in the Heart of God

And He does all things well.