...... skating between the two as I navigate life's twisting, winding road...

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Be The Change You Want To See In The World"

*I wish that I could take credit for the title of this entry.  Those words, however, came from Gandhi.*

Words that are casually and carelessly thrown around can hurt.  They can tear away at the flesh of another human until the cut becomes a scar.  They never healed.  There is always a reminder sitting upon the skin that we look at every day of our lives.  Scars are with us for the rest of our lives.   

So, why do people use words in such a careless manner?  Why do human beings feel the need and the desire to hurt others with words?  The wounds of words hurt worse than the wounds of the fist.  So, why? 

I'm realizing that I've grown tired of silly, immature games that people play.  I've grown tired of watching people belittle and hurt another person's soul with no care of the lasting impression that they have made.   They do this with a smile upon their face.

I am unsure of their ability to see beyond the self-serving act of hurting another person.  Can they honestly see the pain in another's eyes?  Can they hear the wounded tone in their voice?  I hardly doubt it.

The way groups of people form a circle of hate and spew venomous words to maim and hurt another person.  People who are weak and unable to think for themselves jump on these bandwagons and think so little of the human race.  These people disappoint me most of all.  These are people who are weak and cannot think for themselves.  They would much rather be accepted by others than to stop and realize the hurt they are giving to another human being.

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

This is one of the most important things that should be practiced.   Do I love every single human being that I come in contact with?  No, I do not.  It is extremely difficult to do.  But I do not and will not stand in front of another human being with a heart and soul and spew words filled with hate.  

I cannot. 

I know how it feels to be standing there with someone tossing words around like autumn leaves blowing in the wind.  It hurts.  Deeply. 

If John or Susan were to stand in front of me and tell me that words do not affect them, I would not believe them.  I honestly believe that no one is impervious to hurting words.  

Words penetrate a person's soul.  Words create wounds.   Wounds produce scars.  Scars are a part of one for all eternity.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Change The World

A portion of this morning's activities was sponsored by the letter "M".  The rest of the day was sponsored by the letter "L"

"M" stands for mission.  The morning was a mission morning.  I had arranged for the church's mission committee, along with some Sunday School kids, to do a road clean up.  The neat thing was that we not only made the world a bit cleaner, but we earned money for the missions that we support.  It was also a part of participating in the United Methodist Church's program called "Change The World".  So we, essentially, did two things at once!

I had a blast.  I truly enjoy being in the company of members of our congregation, especially when we are involved in an activity such as this.  Like minded people working together toward a common goal is a wonderful thing! 

There were 15 of us that volunteered and showed up.  I was so thrilled to see this amount of people this morning.  It makes me feel good to see something that I had set up be set into action.  It feels even better to see that people are having a good time, and enjoying themselves and each other.

We had one of our volunteers drive behind our group to make sure that a maniac didn't plow us down.  Bob is a fantastic person.  His heart is so big, and his sense of humor is pretty wild.  He never fails in making me laugh.  He is one of the few people on the face of the earth that calls me "Missy".  I haven't been called that regularly since I was a kid.  He's a sweetheart. 

I also adore his wife.  My church girlfriends and I drag her out for dinner once a month for a "Girl's Night Out".  She is funny as heck!  She reminds me so much of her husband.  They were, truly, made for one another. 

I hopped into his car during a small portion of the clean-up to shoot the breeze.  I'm glad that I did because it gave me a chance to get to know him a bit better.  I hopped out of his car liking him even more.  Good stuff!

 The kids seemed to have a really good time.  I hope they walked away from it understanding what exactly we were doing, and how wonderful the world looks when there aren't beer cans, liquor bottles and garbage littering the road ways.  But boy were they pooped!  I have to say that this can be classified as "good stuff", as well. 

Around the time that I climbed out of Bob's car, another member of our church, Donny, came rolling up in his truck.  He said that he knew where we would be.  He hadn't been in church the past couple of weeks -- not because he didn't want to be there, but that is his personal story and it's not my place to tell it -- so I'm not sure how he knew we'd be there.   

He is another member that I truly like a lot.  We are supposed to go raid our parsonage for historical material that is supposed to be stored in the basement.  Right now, we have another pastor from another church temporarily staying there, so I have to make an appointment to go into the house.  She's been so hard to get a hold of.  

But our pastor has threatened to seat Donny and I far away from each other during services (jokingly) because we aren't exactly quiet. 

"It's Donny's fault -- I swear!"

But I had a wonderful time this morning. 

It feels good to do something for the community.  I suppose that my actions aren't unselfish, because if I were to pick them apart and analyze them, I would see (and wholeheartedly admit) that my actions could be seen as selfish.  I DO get something out of it.  I get a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. 

The letter "L" stands for lazy, which about sums up the rest of my day and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I'm not sure where the Mission Committee will go from here.  I haven't figured that out yet.  I do have an idea tho!  I would very much like to raise money to fund the education of Congolese children.  I will presenting this idea to everyone else tomorrow.   I hope that it flies.

I've been doing a lot of reading about the Congo of late.  The violence that exists over there is heartbreaking.  The countless rapes of children, women and the elderly literally makes me weep.  I pull away from my reading with tears streaming down my face.  I tried to explain to my husband what I was reading, but the words were caught in my throat and I couldn't. 

I wish there were a way to stop the violence.   I wish there were a way to change things there.  To make the fighting stop.  To make it known, believed and felt that it is wrong to do these things to these women.  To make them love one another instead of living with such rage.

I pray for a solution.  I pray for an answer.  I pray for a lot.   

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Mighty Maple

There it stands.  Proud and tall.  It speaks of promises of the future.  Promises that fill me with great expectations and with excitement.  It was, by far, the greatest material gift I've received.  It is my newly-acquired maple tree and, boy, am I ever in love with it! 

Yesterday was a simply marvelous day.  It started out 'heavenly' and ended with an indescribable level of peace.   It was an almost perfect day. 

After teaching Sunday school yesterday, we packed up the family for a picnic lunch at the park that I grew up playing in.  Of course things have changed in the past 30 years, but the memories lurked in every place that I looked.  

... standing on the top of the bleachers, my brother and I would look at one another and grin before jumping off the top into the mountain of snow the town plows had piled beneath...

...there used to be an open building/shelter over there... arts and crafts every day during the summer months.. sand art... smelly bathrooms...

... used to curl up and sit inside of the fountain.. gossiping as well as a couple of 8 year olds could..

...running over to "the stand" with a fistful of change to buy penny candy and pixie sticks... ohh the rush of sugar...

...racing down the path at top speed to be the first one to get into the town's swimming pool.. ooohhh I stepped on a copperhead snake...

... lying on top of the hill and imagining what the clouds really looked like... a horse! ... a dog!..  a dragon!... and then barrel rolling down the hill as fast as we could.. the race was on!

The area that I grew up in was the most wonderful, fun-filled place to spend my childhood.   The town swimming pool was almost in my backyard.  All we had to do was take a short walk down a path and it was there. 

The swimming pool wasn't the only thing there.  The tree that my brother used to climb and hide in was there.  He would climb up that tree and sit there giggling as my mother stood beneath him looking for him, calling him to dinner.  The hill full of three-leaf clovers was there.  As hard as we tried, finding four leaf clovers was a near impossible feat to accomplish.  The football and baseball fields were there.  The town playgound was there.

I sat on the top of the hill remembering yesterday.  I remembered so many memories and  basked in the remembrance.  Every once in awhile, I would nudge one of the kids and relive a memory.  I wanted them to understand.  I wanted them to close their eyes and remember with me.  Of course, they couldn't but they tried.

They took turns barrel rolling down the hill as I did many, many years ago.  They raced through the fields and stared longingly at the town pool.  It was heaven to watch them.  I swear I could almost hear the giggles of my brother and I. 


As we were getting ready to go, I made my youngest lie in the middle of the field with me.  There we laid, upon our back, staring up at the fluffy white clouds and the bluest of blue sky. 

...look it's a turtle...

To be honest, I didn't want to leave.  I didn't want to stop looking at those fluffy white clouds.  I didn't want to leave the feeling of being eight years old again.  But I left there with such a sense of peace, and I also left there with my 8 and 12 year old sons loving the area.  They left there knowing why I was so happy there.   I like to believe that they left there feeling at least a bit of what I used to feel and what I feel now being there.. 

I was allowed to choose anything I wanted for Mother's Day -- within reason, of course.  I chose a maple tree for the front yard.  I didn't realize how significant this tree was going to be for me.  

I sat on the front porch and watched as my husband and my 8 year old son dug the hole, carefully planted and watered it.  After my husband mulched around it, Tyler asked if he would put rocks around the edges of the mulch.  I sat there a bit overwhelmed while watching all of this going on.  They were planting this for me.  They, without realizing it, created a memory for me that will be just as sweet as those of my childhood.

As I watch this tree grow over the years, I will fondly look back and, hopefully, experience the incredible level of peace that I felt yesterday.  I will remember yesterday for as long as I live.

The gift of peace is a wonderful gift to receive.  They wrapped it up in a pretty package yesterday with a bright shiny bow.  

Just for me..

Friday, May 6, 2011

Silence of the Night

The buds are nestled tightly in my ears.  The sounds of life do not exist for me right now.  All I can hear is strains of Barry Manilow filling my ears.  I can feel my body slowly rocking forward and backwards as Could It Be Magic fills my head. 

The only light is the flickering light of lightly scented candles.  The soft smell of lavender is very calming to my soul.   I can feel myself being lulled to a space where nothing but Barry and lavender exist.  It isn't such a bad place, you know. 

I've been feeling quite calm and at peace for most of the afternoon.  I found myself scurrying around my yard with blades of bright green grass tickling my ankles.  A camera was swinging from my wrist and a puppy was tugging my free hand.  He would turn every now and again and stare at me, as if to say, "Hurry up, Mom".   It was one of those rare moments in time where everything was and seemed right.  I still feel that way now.

Nothing can penetrate this bubble that I have surrounding me now.  There are no children fighting or arguing.  In fact, they aren't even home.  The animals are all fast asleep dreaming of fuzzy little mice and thick juicy bones.  Their world is, right now, just as perfect as my own. 

..let me know the wonder of all of you.. 

Barry is still singing in my ears.

When I was a little girl, I thought the moon and sun rose upon Barry Manilow.  Oh how I was in love!   I would skip around singing his songs, but needless to say, I didn't quite understand what he was truly singing about.  All that I know is that I wished my name was Mandy, and I would often dream that he would be singing to me.  Imagine that! 

It's funny the songs that I used to so enjoy when I was a kid and I never knew their meaning.  Afternoon Delight was a song that I didn't have a clue about.  I would sing it at the top of my lungs and I thought that it was the world's greatest song.  Little did I know that it was about having an afternoon quickie! 

Seasons in the Sun was another favorite.  Heck, I didn't know that the son was about someone dying.  But here I was all of six years old or so thinking this was one of the greatest songs that was ever recorded.

Ahhhh the innocence of youth..

The innocence that we will never reacquire.  It's a shame, isn't it?  I long for that innocence and naivety again.  Even if I could experience just for a single, solitary day. 

I wonder if life would be simpler or if it would be just as confusing as it is today. 

I won't ponder that tonight.  The peace that I feel prevents that from happening.  I'm going to keep on feeling this..

.. at least until the children come home and create havoc...

The Journey Alone

..I know that I am going to die in my chair alone.. 

These were the words uttered to me the other day.  These weren't words given by the first hand.  These were uttered with a heavy sadness by the second hand.  It, quite literally, broke my heart.   I stood there, with my face buried in my hands, quietly sobbing.  It was painful to hear. 

I did not know this person, yet I felt pain over her prediction.   I could not imagine knowing that I would end this part of existence and embark on the next leg of my journey without being surrounded by familiar voices and familiar faces.  As I re-read that last statement, I realize just how selfish that sounds.  But isn't selfishness forgiven at a time of one's demise?

She was a member of our congregation.  She lived for over 90 years.  God bless her.  I did not know her.  I have never seen her nor have I greeted her with a "hello".  She was gone from the congregation before I arrived.  I wish I would have met her.   In some ways, I will before she begins the next leg of her journey.  Before she meets Him.

I will be attending her graveside memorial tomorrow morning before jetting off with my Scouts to plant trees.  I had asked permission from my pastor to go.  I want to be there although I have never seen the life behind her eyes or placed my hand upon her shoulder.  Some things just need to happen ..  at least for me.

She was a member of our congregation.  She, in her own way, helped our church sustain and survive.  She is a part of the reason why I attend that little ole country church, for if it weren't for her, the church may not still be standing.  It may not have the little bit of life that it does have.  Her contribution to its future may have been tiny or it may have been large.  Regardless of the amount, she was there.   She was a member of the "church family".

"Church family" is a very important phrase that I wish could be further implemented within our church walls.  I wish we could band together and be a force to be reckoned with.  I wish we were all closer than what we are.   Oh don't mistake me!  Some of us are a tight bunch, but I wish we could all forget about status, money and personality clashes and just come together.  We are all there for the same reason.  Aren't we? 

But I digress...

Because of her contribution and attendance, she automatically gains my respect.  She deserves to be shown respect, particularly as she waves goodbye to the world as we know it and is embraced by God.  She deserves that, doesn't she? 

I was told that there would probably be only six people in attendance.  Six people??  Someone who has lived for such a long time should be sent off to this miraculous place by more people.   Surely there are people that have loved her.  Surely there are people whose lives have been touched by her and wish to send her off with their thanks and gratitude.

So, I will stand there.   I will pray for her.  I will send her off with a sadness in my heart and, most likely, tears in my eyes.  No one deserves to go alone.. 

I wouldn't want to pass from this Earth without being surrounded by the ones that I have loved during my lifetime.  I don't want to go alone.  I don't want to know that I am going to go alone.  It would shatter my spirit into a million and one pieces. 

My attendance at her memorial isn't merely to show her the respect that she deserves.  My attendance has to do with me, as well.  My action is not purely unselfish.  I admit it.  It is also because it's not the way that I would want to pass from this world and, hopefully, pass onto the next. 

..I know that I am going to die in my chair alone.. 

I don't want to know this, and my heart breaks at anyone knowing this. 

May Florence rest in peace....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Standing at the Crossroads

When I was a young girl, I knew what I had wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I had my entire life recorded on a vinyl 33 1/3 rpm record.  All I needed to do was place it on the turntable, lay the needle on the edge so that it would fit neatly into the tiny grooves.  My life was going to play smoothly.  

It didn't turn out that way.  I had lessons that I needed to learn, disappointment to feel and love to experience.  I realize that now.  It only took me 43 years to figure that out.   But now I am at a crossroad.  I am unsure of which way to turn and down which road to travel.

The past three years have been life changing.  These past three years have seen me facing that childhood plan for my future.  I'm staring at it head on.  I can see the dreams again.  Faded and a crumpled around the corners, but it's there.  Staring at me.

I can't fulfill that exact dream.  It isn't possible anymore.  I am not sure if it ever was possible. 

I wanted to become a nun. 

Religion has become such a large part of my world.  It's constant.  It doesn't merely come to life on Sunday morning as I walk into church.  It is here all the time.  In my thoughts.  In my heart. 

It has taken me 30 years to get to this point, but here I am.  Standing here surrounded by God and doing things which make me feel closer to Him.   I'm doing what I had dreamt of doing, but not in the same capacity as my dreams.  I do not wear a habit nor do I wear a ring which announces my marriage to God. 

This bothers me to an extent.  I want to do more.  I want to devote myself to learning, experiencing and fulfilling my childhood dream as best as I can.  I can do that, can't I?  I'm not sure, because here I stand at that pesky crossroad.  Which direction do I take now?

I want to absorb the Word.  I want to learn it.  I want to know it backwards and forwards.  I want to wear it like a blanket and allow it to warm my very soul.   The problem is I want to learn it now.  I want to take years of learning and know it now.   It doesn't work that way.  

Patience, my child..

So I'm taking it a bit at a time.  Reading, studying, understanding.

But yet, I feel there is more.  There is something that else I can do.  There is something out there waiting for me.  In due time, I suppose, He will gently nudge me down the path that I need to take. 

I firmly believe that there is a path out there marked with a battered road sign that displays my name.  It's out there and it's waiting for me.  He placed it there for me.  I know He did.  

I just wish that I could take a peek ahead and see what lies on that road. 

Patience..  there is that pesky word again...