A few weeks back I was leaning on the rail of a cruise ship sailing the inside straits of Alaska. Miles away were large, looming mountains on the Alaska coast.
It wasn’t the land that was intriguing though, it was the hundreds of birds on both sides of the ship. They were a species of seagull and they were everywhere! Some sat on the water riding out the waves.
Most, however, flew about a foot above the water and didn’t miss a flap of the wing. Occasionally, one would scoop down to pick up some tasty morsel of food flying at break neck speed.
There were so many over the water, yet it seemed they flew with organization, almost marching band style. They were like a symphony of different instruments playing different notes that make no sense alone, but all together play beautiful music. The birds darted and dodged, skillfully avoiding mid-air collisions, moving in groups in their beautiful, living maze of feathered music. Continue reading To Who Knows Where
When the heart’s tap root hits pain, angels cry. Do you feel it? Do you feel them, something, somewhere, swirling, moving, circling the soul as the root draws up pain watering the heart making it swarthy and bruised?
Some people, some personalities cannot get away from the pain. It’s not that they don’t deal with their own. They do. It’s that some can’t get away from other’s pain.
Sometimes out of the blue it can hit you, in the store, watching TV, hearing a story, understanding what has happened. The person’s pain, both shown, and even more intense, the hidden pain, grabs hold with a dry ice-cold grip burning the very beats of one’s own heart.
It can’t be explained with words, for words don’t express it. Letters can’t convey it, and the alphabet becomes nothing more than scissors on the tongue. You can’t get out what has gone in. Continue reading No More Angel Tears
I told four of the grandsons, ages 3 to 5, a story before bed time.
I learned a long time ago, the hard way, you don’t tell a scary story to small boys, UNLESS you’re camping and you have to sleep in the same tent with them. Then, any old ghost, alien or crazy wild flesh-eating bear story will scare the living bejeebers out of them. Afterwards, you can go soundly to sleep in the tent while in silent terror they stare wide-eyed listening intently for any ghostly rattles, spaceships or bears creeping through the woods.
This wasn’t such a time, so story time was about four boys with names that rhymed with their own. They were just amazed how the names seemed so much like their own. 😉
The story was about a submarine adventure in the Gulf of Mexico. The four boys were looking for sunken pirate treasure.
Instead, they found a sunken K-Mart cargo ship full of copper forks, tambourines and a miniature cannon. Continue reading Where Your Story Starts
We saw the toddler boy with his parents waiting to board a tour of Mayan ruins in Mexico. That’s not normally where you’d take a toddler on vacation, but he was too little to care. Besides, it was his parent’s vacation.
The toddler was clinging to his parents, no one else. The mother even told a well-meaning worker trying to help them off the bus that he never, ever went to strangers.
Two hours later, standing a distance from the Chichen Izu ruins, the toddler pitter patted away from his parents right up to my wife, Janet. He looked up at her and held up his arms to be picked up.
She simply said, “Awe”, reached down and scooped him up in her arms. The little boy looked at her closely, then laid his head on her shoulder in peaceful contentment. Continue reading A Child’s Wisdom
A cool front came in and all the windows in the house are open. Ahh! Fresh air from a cool, refreshing breeze! On days like today, forget Montana, Italy and every other place on the bucket list to visit. Sitting in the backyard with a hot cup of coffee and the tree leaves rustling is as good as it gets!
Even the puppy dogs are energized with more bounce in their pounce and bite in their bark. Maybe it’s just the wind’s relief after a frigid cold winter. Maybe it’s just a change to something new. Maybe it’s just enjoying the moment. I don’t know, but sitting here watching invisible air rustle visible leaves makes me envious of the wind.
Somewhere right now the wind is blowing through an early spring potato field and elsewhere, over the top of a sky scraper, an anemometer is turning in circles to measure the wind’s speed. Continue reading What Wind Sees
In church I was probably the least prepared person there, and most likely, the one who needed to be there the most. The preacher started talking about togetherness, belonging, unity, community.
Somehow, someway, sometimes something will hit you right between the eyes and just smack across the brow. Today it smacked me. Community.
I looked around. A few rows over sat a young couple who are privately grieving a miscarriage and wondering when, if ever, will they have a child. They hurt. Only those who’ve been there know how hard it is to say goodbye before you say hello. Community.
Continue reading Heart of Community
Reading a magazine in the dentist waiting room, I saw someone in my peripheral vision pushing a wheelchair. I didn’t look up until I heard the familiar voice of a man facing the receptionist window.
I looked to the wheelchair and locked eyes with a woman staring at me. Even though I haven’t seen her in a couple of years, I instantly recognized her. I smiled and waved, but she flatly stared into my eyes without blinking or a hint of emotion.
She was diagnosed four years ago with early onset dementia. We worked together for over 15 years and she was an extremely responsible, competent individual who rose to every task and challenge ever thrown her way.
But now, she didn’t know me. She was looking right at me, but didn’t see. She was there, but not here; alive, but not living.
Continue reading True Love Through
It’s odd, but when the mood for pancakes strikes, Whataburger, the hamburger place of Texas, is where I go. On Christmas Eve morning, the mood struck.
When I walked through the Whataburger doors, the woman behind the counter immediately greeted me. She was probably 45 years old, fairly small, and a little rough around the edges. She was the only one there wearing a Santa hat which covered all but the ends of her short corn rows on the side of her head. She spoke with a semi-deep smoker’s voice and was missing four, maybe five, of her top front teeth. She whole heartedly welcomed me, took my order and started pouring coffee. Continue reading We All Is
Stillborn — that’s what the doctor said, but to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended family, you very much lived! Thank you so much for entering our lives, even if ever so briefly. It is sweet, yet bitter, to miss and love you so much at the same time. Goodbye seems impossible before hello.
Your mother knows you better than anyone. She loved…no, she loves you dearly, Emmitt! You made her really sick those first few months. She was miserable in the mornings, and certain smells, like baking brownies, made her really nauseous. By the third trimester though, she was talking about how much you moved and how hard you kicked. We knew you were there because sometimes your mommy would let us put a hand on her tummy and feel you move. You would roll and stretch big, then give a hard kick just for good measure! I think you got all that energy from your daddy.
Continue reading Dear Emmitt
Problems knock on everyone’s door. If not today, tomorrow. Troubles come. Troubles go. Some work out. Some don’t. Some people crater in the storm, some thrive, others just survive. Eventually the valleys, tunnels, the dark roads all reach an end, and in the end, there’s relief.
Still, it may seem impossible to get through. The mountains look too high. The valleys are too dark and deep. The water is over your head and you’re quickly losing strength. Energy fades. Determination wanes. Encouragement leaves. Continue reading It’ll Be Alright