I’ll cry if I want to…

In two days time I am driving across the country to begin a new job. One of the reasons I started my WordPress account is that I was laid off from my job about 4 years ago, and I needed some way to channel my thoughts and occupy my time. This new adventure is such a huge change for me, not only because I have not had “regular” employment for 4 years, but also because I have never lived away from home. I don’t mean that figuratively – I have literally lived in the same house for my entire life. I didn’t go away for college and the longest I’ve ever been away from home is for 3 weeks.

I had big plans for today. I was going to run some last-minute errands, finish packing, and have a marathon of Summer Heights High playing in the background. At about 2 pm today I heard a thump in front of my house followed by the worst siren I’ve ever heard. I live in an area where sirens, car accidents and even fights are not all that unusual, but something was different about this siren. I opened the front door to see a dog laying in the middle of the street, who had just been clipped by a car. The husky was trying to move out of the middle of the street but his back legs had been badly injured. The “siren” had been his cries of pain. I ran out to the middle of the street and held the dog in my lap for about half an hour while waiting for animal control to come and assess his condition.

My neighborhood has had it shares of ups and downs. Over the decades, there has been a lot of transition, changes in the community and even violence. But today…today I was so proud of my neighborhood. Everyone responded so quickly. Seconds after I got to Balto, neighbors were directing traffic around us, calling 911, contacting animal support, and getting in touch with the dog’s owners. As I held Balto cradling his head in my lap, his 11-year-old owner came running up, tears streaming down her face. She held my arm and kissed Balto’s head, saying “But he has to be okay. He’s a dad…and he has a dog wife.” It took everything in me to keep from bawling in front of this child, the whole time my brain saying “Dammit kid, I am barely holding it together right now.” I hastily wiped off the dog blood from my arms and hands so she wouldn’t see.

At one point I looked up at a woman who was helping me to keep Balto calm and said, “Today is my birthday…” (I told you I had other plans for the day). She looked at me with tear-brightened eyes and said, “Oh shit.” Animal control came and transported Balto to the emergency vet. I don’t know what’s happened to Balto. I don’t know his humans, only that they live somewhere a few streets down. I don’t even know their names.

I fell in love with that dog in all of five minutes. And such is life. We love. And we say goodbye. It only takes a moment to love, and we are changed by that love just as quickly. And then, we have to pack up our boxes, fill up the car, and take our leave. And it sucks. We bleed out our love and cry out our loss. Loving and saying goodbye is messy, bloody, and hard; then we wake up and do it all again the next day, because we have to. And we speak in metaphors because sometimes the truth requires words that we don’t have.

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Hold Out

Hold out for hope when none is there.
I will not give in to despair
Or wet my hair with tears each night
And stay awake til mornings light.

I’ll walk in greener pastures soon
Beneath warm sun at midday noon.
And underneath the stars we’ll play
And share the secrets of our day.

I’ll eat again til I am full,
And rest beside you in that lull
That comes with twilight’s steely light.
You’ll read to me into the night.

I will dream of pleasant times;
And file away some lovely rhymes.
Sing me tunes I long to hear,
And hold me close til morning’s here.

*originally written on Dec. 16, 2011 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

My husband is not my soul mate.

As a single gal, I can honestly say I LOVE this post:

The Art in Life

It might seem odd that on this, our one-year anniversary, I am beginning a post with the declaration that my husband is not my soul mate. But he isn’t.WegmannWedding161

I wouldn’t want to imagine life without James. I enjoy being with him more than anyone else in this world. I love him more than I ever thought you could love someone, and I miss him whenever I am not with him. I wouldn’t want to married to anyone else other than James, which is good, because I plan on being married to him forever, and he has to let me die first.

But I reject the entire premise of soul mates.

WegmannWedding294Do you remember those awesome Evangelical 90’s/ early 2000’s where Jesus was kind of like our boyfriend and we all kissed dating good-bye because we just knew that God was going to bring us THE ONE and then life…

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Freedom in Friendship

love

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet number 116 has long been a favorite of mine. But more recently I came across the above quote by Adam Clarke. At first I found it difficult to hold both of these statements to be true. On first look they seem to be mutually exclusive, such opposing ideas that I feel my brain being tied into a knot. For my purposes I don’t speak of romantic love but of friendship (but I love my friends, so forgive me my broad interpretation). Here is my quandary: when does faithfulness in a friendship cross the line into lack of self-respect, by staying when things are terribly dysfunctional? On deeper inspection, I find these quotes to be quite complimentary.

Shakespeare is indeed right when he says “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Love is faithful and kind and patient and covers a multitude of sins.

Clarke is also right that “love requires love as its recompense,” for true friendship must be reciprocal in nature. Genuine friendship is not an exchange of goods, services, and presents; a “this for that” mentality does not make for a lasting friendship. The only thing required is the exchange of goodwill, kindness and truth spoken in love. A friendship without mutual respect and the permission to allow each other to grow and change creates shackles rather than freedom.

Maybe I should be reading these quotes the other way around. There can only be loyalty, love, and faithfulness in a friendship (love which does not alter) when friendship has been given freely (love begetting love) first. Love does not flee at the first sign of trouble; adversely, love does not require oneself to be bullied, manipulated and disrespected for the sake of loyalty.

As a Christian these quotes will only get me so far. Scripture is really my only compass to navigate the choppy waters of evaluating my relationships. I have found the following verses particularly helpful:

“friendships” to avoid

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 16:28
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 22:24–25
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

friendships to cherish and cultivate

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

Proverbs 18:24
A man [or woman] who has friends must show himself [or herself] friendly. And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother [or sister].

Ecclesiastes 4:-12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Silent Dreams

I had a dream last night.
I dreamed of my grandfather.
He was young and yet old,
looked like his portrait from when he was 30,
but he had kept his 94-year-old soul.
We watched TV together and ate lunch.
He told me about grandma,
who passed away when I was only six,
about when he first knew he loved her
and their early life together.
He gave me advice,
but I couldn’t hear the words.
And in my dream, I wept.
I wept because he is gone,
been gone for four years now.
I wept because we talked,
and because the words he spoke were silent.

grampa

Longer

You told me once you were not ready,
Your heart unsure, your hands unsteady.
But I’ll wait, I’ll wait for you,
Until the sky’s no longer blue.

I will wait here at the shore
For perhaps a little more.
I’ll wait for you, until you’re stronger,
And even then a little longer.

I am impatient for the day,
When you may chose to walk away
And take another path. Down a road I cannot follow.
But I’ll wade here in the shallows

Of a heart that could delve deeper.
But the cost is so much steeper.
So as the light will fade away,
I might start out on my own way

To take a road that you won’t follow.
We might cross paths among the willows.
Will you remember who I was?
The promises I made were rushed.

But now that I  have gotten stronger
I will wait for you no longer.
You told me once you were not ready,
Your heart unsure, your hands unsteady.
I waited.  The sky’s longer blue,
And now I cannot wait for you.

originally written on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 12:13am

Blue Dreams

I dream about you frequently,
Of the things I didn’t say,
How I never came to visit you
Once you went away,
About the life we used to live
Before it all went wrong.
I’ve known you almost my whole life.
I’ve loved you all along.
Now you’re coming home real soon,
In only few short weeks.
The dreams have since been turned to fear,
That you’ll want nothing more from me.
I dream about you constantly,
Of the things I never knew.
I’ve failed you terribly my friend.
These dreams are ringed in blue.

blue

Sing Me a Song

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Strum your guitar and sing me a tune
That mirrors the constancy of the moon.

Inspiration’s running low.
I think I have tapped out the well.
I have no words of hope to speak
And feel there is no joy to seek.

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Play your flute and sing me a song,
That calls back friendships held so long.

I feel weary of my life.
Vicissitudes give birth to strife.
Change is what I’m anxious for
But fear to open up the door
Of new and shining things ahead
When I could just stay in my bed;
Slowly to become recluse,
But I am without excuse.

Sing to me, sing to me, sing to me a song.
Bang your drums to my own heartbeat.
Remind me of truth that burns like heat.

Encourage me to summon strength.  Whisper words for me to hear,
“Carry on and do not fear. Change is already here.”

originally written on 9/11/11

Letter to My Mom

My mom is amazing. I don’t often tell her this but it’s true. She’s kind of awesome. My mom has been a first grade teacher for more than 27 years. She was actually my own first grade teacher at the private school I attended for grade school and junior high. Tonight we celebrated her as she retires from her teaching career. I was asked to write a tribute, to be shared at the party, not only as her daughter, but as one of her former students. Here’s why I love you mama:

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I have had many teachers throughout my life. The older I get, the more I am convinced that I owe several of them an apology letter, Mom included. Of all the teachers that I have had, my mom, Mrs. Cutler, has been the most influential. Mom was the first person to teach me to read and write. She didn’t just teach me to read; she taught me to love reading. Sitting down after dinner together, we discovered the magic of the Secret Garden, the mysteries of the Little Princess and the bravery of Corduroy the little brown bear. I learned the history and promises of the Old Testament and the hope, life, and freedom of the Gospel. Mom taught me to value, cherish and respect good stories and those who have the courage to tell them.

When I was five, Mom showed me how to keep my first journal. It was filled with a short paragraph chronicling the events of each day; each entry was accompanied by a picture rendered in mixed media (usually Popsicle-sticks, cotton balls, glue, and crayon). It was many years later, when I felt I had no voice of my own and no words to speak, that I remembered our first writing projects and was encouraged to try again. I credit mom, more than anyone else, for teaching me so early that words are powerful and when used wisely can heal and encourage the writer, as much as the reader. Mom still has my first journal.

When I was in the 5th grade, in a fit of regrettable enthusiasm, I signed up for the speech contest. In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loathe public speaking, which is why I guilted someone else into reading this aloud for me. I still remember the title of my poem was Peanut Butter Sandwich, and I’m sure Mom does as well, since she practiced with me tirelessly. We practiced the piece so much, that I developed an aversion to peanut butter for several years. Mom was not my teacher at this point but was one of the chaperones at the dreaded speech contest. I was sitting in my little metal folding chair, shaking uncontrollably, and watching the other contestants perform. I knew that Mom would most likely not make it to my performance. I walked on shaky legs up to the front and looked out at the sour faced judges. I’m not sure what I thought would happen if I did badly, but I was pretty sure it involved being pushed over a cliff with a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets chained around my neck. I took a deep breath to calm myself when I saw Mom standing in the back corner, giving me a covert thumbs-up. Her encouraging smile and presence in that room gave me the courage to get through that poem and take home a blue ribbon (I’m still not sure how that part was accomplished).

I have thought of a hundred different ways to close this tribute, so that it would be touching, or clever, or funny…or make people cry. And then I realized none of that matters, when all I really want to say is, I love you mom. We all love you. I know I speak for not just myself, but so many, when I say how very thankful I am to have been taught by you.

Everyone else got to have you as Teacher, but I got to have you as Mom.

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I truly love you mom, and I’m looking forward to us driving each other a little more crazy by more time spent together 🙂