Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Day in the Life . . .

As I made the important decision this morning between Frosted Mini-wheats and egg with toast, you sobbed quietly in your hospital bed.  Your tiny wisp of a child had died in the night--born early.  Your arms were empty.
While I perused the early morning aisles, comparing prices, checking off my list, mentally mapping out the week's menu, you hid in the rocks and bushes from rebel troops.  Desperate mother hands tried to shush little mouths as men with guns threw your meager treasure about.
At lunch, I fixed my special fresh vegetable salad and diet Pepsi, intent on being faithful to my weight-loss plan.  You sifted through the dumpster in the alley for that one morsel that might relieve the silent gnawing—even for a moment.
I filled up with regular unleaded at 2:00, complaining all the while at the ridiculously high price of gasoline.  I thought about writing a letter to the editor, while you shifted sore and cracked feet along hot dirty paths.  You were on your way to a refugee camp with so many other victims of the bloody civil war.
At 4:00, I berated myself for not having thawed meat for supper.  What was I thinking!  I decided to blow both the diet and the budget and go get burgers and fries.  As I hopped in the car and popped in a blues CD, you made funeral arrangements for your young wife—mother of your three children, another breast cancer victim.
We slipped a comedy into the DVD player at 7:00 and laughed till we cried.  We air-popped popcorn and refilled our sodas while you frantically performed CPR on your toddler.  Minutes before, you had found him in the pool face-down, still wearing his Big Bird pajamas.
I gave myself a facial and dressed for bed.  When I picked up my Bible for a few minutes of devotions, my eyes fell on the young lawyer’s question in Luke 10:29: “And who is my neighbor?”  Mmm.  Lord, I am to love You with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind.  That seems a difficult enough task.  But to love my neighbor, too, just like I love myself?  Well . . . I’m not sure how to do that.  Who is my neighbor, Lord . . . really?
I highlighted the passage, then placed my Bible back on the nightstand.  As I switched off the light, you paced your prison cell—back and forth, back and forth.  Fingering the seeping bandage, you wondered if you’d live through another day like this one, long enough to make parole.

. . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.
 (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daddy Always Loved Me Best

Daddy always loved me best.  He thought I was the best looking, the brightest, and the most talented of all seven kids.

Okay, well maybe I wanted him to love me best.  Actually, I think he loved Gwen the best.  She was soft-spoken and calm.  She went about her mischief in quiet, smiley ways.  She was also one of those irritating people who has always known what she wanted to be.  When she was young, she wanted to be a nurse, even though she couldn’t stand the sight of blood; and today, she is a nurse.  I still don't know what I want to be.

Or maybe Gayle; maybe he loved her the best.  She was first with long, beautiful, auburn braids.  The rest of us got the bowl cut.  She was strong, intelligent, and a terrific little homemaker.  I was always a little less than terrific, but even though I didn’t do my chores as thoroughly, they were done with a flourish and a song.  It was the right-brain approach.

Then again, he probably liked Kathy best.  She was a self-sacrificing missionary type who went to the wilds of Africa with her husband, oldest daughter, and red-haired baby twin girls.  She was bold and courageous and fully in charge.  I only went to California.

Leah could have won his heart.  Actually, I know for a fact she did.  She was born early and the tiniest wee bit of nothing you ever saw.  I’ve seen a picture of her dangling from daddy’s big farmer hands—all spindly legs and arms.  She became a nurse, a musician, a singer, and a pastor’s wife.  She’s still tall and disgustingly lean.  I’m not really jealous; afterall, when you have more fat, the wrinkles don’t show as much, and it’s important to lay in an extra layer of fat for those brutal California winters.

Caroline was the baby—special, with a cute little overbite.  He loved her best.  She’s six feet tall and graceful—an artist and a musician.  She married a gentleman farmer of all things.  To top it off, she works extremely hard, which is a work ethic my dad admires.  Personally, I think she’s a bit compulsive.  I’ve never felt the need to work quite that hard; I’m saving myself for retirement.

Actually, I’m almost certain he loved my brother the best—a thorn among roses.  He’s tall, handsome, musical, and intelligent.  He’s one of those brilliant engineers who can put things in space but can’t match his socks.  He married well though, and she keeps him organized.   He didn’t take over the farm, so that’s a mark against him.  But he’s the only one of us who had his own room, so Daddy must have loved him best.  It may have been a walk-in closet, but it was a special space for someone who had a special place.  I’ve always resented him for that. 

Now that I think of it, I don’t think Daddy was in the least bit partial.  He always said he was proud of us and loved us all the same.  I guess I just wanted him to love me more.  Probably a suppressed desire to be a spoiled only-child.

He loved us all the best.  He often said he wouldn’t take a million dollars for any one of us; but, of course, he wouldn’t take a plug nickel for another one either.

Now he’s enjoying his role as a grandfather of twenty grandchildren.  His grandchildren are the best looking, the most talented, and the brightest; but do you know what?  He loves my kids the best.

(written a while back)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Missing my father . . .

Graduation Day

Rasping struggles for breath,
chest heaving—tubes in and out—
nurses in and out,
teeth out.
Munch’s gaping jaw and sunken cheeks,
knobby joints in Auschwitz limbs,
long legs once sinewy strong, and
farmer-tan arms that cradled my whole world.
I don’t think I can sing, Daddy; my throat’s tight.
I hum.  The best I can do. 
You smile.
I smooth your soft, white hair,
stroke your flaccid arms.  Was that an
“I love you”?  “I love you, too.”

Hour by hour, day after day,
night after night vigils in institutional chairs,
strong coffee, tasteless muffins,
shame for laughing round the bed.
I sing.  I kiss.  Giving and
giving when for once you can’t give back.
And you smile.  I hold your big hands,
not rugged-rough, no purple-black nails,
but soft, papery thin skin, one size too big.
“I love you, Daddy.”  You squeeze.

Gasping breaths, light
fading in your pale blue eyes,
slits behind flitting lids.
I sing tear-streaked hymns.
“I love you, Daddy.”  I squeeze.

Gone.       Still
in a breathless moment.
Under tentative fingertips, warm turns cold.
I never thought I could touch
a corpse,
but how could I not touch you, Daddy. 
It’s a last goodbye.

(For my exceptional father, who graduated from this life January 15, 2008)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why do we love nature so much--wonderful creatures and growing things . . .

because . . .

                    because they . . .

because they don't  . . .

Because they don't talk back!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More life not less . . .

For the last year and a half I have been seeing an upper cervical chiropractor.  The upper cervical variety does not adjust the patient with the well-known air popping manipulations and contortions that make you feel like you really got your money's worth.   The gentle, almost imperceptible push aligns the head so that blood and nerve flow are not impeded by the pinching off due to misalignment, the product of aging, abuse, and neglect.  The theory is that having been freed up to "fire" correctly from brain to body, the body will start to heal itself of the distortions that were the body's means of coping with the misalignment and pressured nerves.  It is said that the body will retrace its injuries so that healing can happen, and there are enough testimonials to make it appear that this is so.  I'm still waiting to be someone's success story.

I got to thinking that there is a spiritual application here.  When the life of the Spirit flows through us unhindered, we often expect that all should be well.  But the resulting pain and tweaking we experience is a retracing of old wounds--a retracing necesary so that they may be healed.  The free flow of energy to previously closed off places exposes to the healing power of God those heart hurts and dark hidden compensations that have kept us sick.   And sometimes, there is more pain in the healing process than in the ignorance and denial.  But in the untwisting, the poor functioning places receive life--life that will breed more life.  Of course, I would prefer "instant" rather than "process," but the goal is more life not less.  So, Lord, may I be Your success testimonial.