Point of Reference

I grew up with a large extended family. My parents have been married for over fifty years. In my circle of family and friends, we have experienced life and death, cancer, anxiety and depression, and, of course, art, and music. I could discuss any of those things all day long.

There are other things I would rather not discuss. This week I was reminded more than once of life experiences for which I have no point of reference.

The first one involved a younger student. Before class, the teacher mentioned that the father of this child was going to prison. This friend was restless, struggling to engage and fit in. Quickly moving between over-excitement and complete stillness. I think it had been a rough day.

I had my young friend sitting right beside me during music class. When I sensed a little restlessness, I slowly patted on the back-a steady, gentle, sixty-beats-per-minute pat. It seemed to help.

After class, I found myself thinking, “How could my actions possibly help this situation for the long-term?” Yes, they might have helped at that moment. However, in the grand scheme, offered little.

The second involved an older student. This student was able to put their feelings and experiences clearly into words. Nothing could prepare me for hearing, “I was taken away from mom. I talk to her sometimes, but she really doesn’t want to see me.”

I managed a short response, “I’m sorry. You are special. I love you.”

I cannot possibly understand how this student feels. I could offer a listening ear, a kind word, and a smile. Was that enough? It certainly did not feel like it at the moment.

Thankfully, I am not the only one listening. I work in a school building, a district, and a profession with many other caring adults. Many of them listen to heart-breaking stories every day. And the collective listening and responding do have the power to make a positive impact.

No, I may not have a personal point of reference for these two students. And I know there are many other stories I have not heard. But there is strength in numbers. And tonight, I will rest in that point of reference.

Hummingbirds & Hope

We recently experienced some cooler summer temperatures, rare for Oklahoma in August. Beautiful mornings, perfect for sitting outside with a cup of coffee.  

One of those mornings, I did just that-reading, listening to the birds, enjoying a few relaxing moments. And then it happened-a sweet little hummingbird flew up to our empty feeder.

Our other bird feeders have attracted a lot of visitors. I hear them chirping and see them fluttering in the yard multiple times during the day. But our hummingbird feeder? There were no visitors all summer long. The sweet nectar served mostly as food for the ants and liquid for the sun to evaporate.

Since there had been no visitors, it had not been refilled. Sadly, I watched the hummingbird quickly flit away. Needless to say, I quickly refilled the feeder. Was it too late? I didn’t know, but I certainly hoped.

Several days later, I noticed several hummingbirds coming to the feeder! I was so excited! They perched in our trees, and one even landed on a string of outside lights.  

Not only were they fun to watch, but their strength also provided a reminder when the storms came a few days later. ❤

Holding On

Flashes of lightning
Crashing thunder
And howling winds
Disrupted any
Possibility for sleep
Morning remained dark
As the rain poured
Down from clouds-
Sunshine began to
Light the day
While silent
Remnants of
The evening’s
Storm hid
In the breeze –
Hummingbirds flitted
Stopping briefly for
Sips of nectar-
One perched in
A nearby tree
Its tiny feet gripping
A skinny branch
As the leaf-covered
Limbs swayed
Back and forth-
This little miracle
Held firm and steady
While my tired heart
Watched in wonder
Listening to its message-
When the winds
Are tossing you
Back and forth
Just remember-
Keep holding on



Destination

Denial is not
A particularly
Great state
To visit
And yet,
The plane
Has landed
Travel plans
Included a much
More desirable
Destination-
But here I am
Disembarking
Taking the ramp
Toward an unknown
Assistance required…
Needed…wanted…

Unsure which
Way to turn,
I keep looking
For the one
Holding a sign
With my name
Believing he will
Soon appear-
A guide thru
The unfamiliar-
Helping me reach
The intended destination

Sacred Space

Sacred space
Sunrise to sunset
Precious hours
Waiting to be filled

Pleading with us-
Accept the love
That wraps us up
In great affection

Powerful love
Eclipsing both
Light of day and
Dark of night

Pleading with us-
Avoid judgmental
Questions leading
To a critical spirit

Avoid bitterness
That bleeds into
Treasured time
Set aside for rest

Sacred space
Sunrise to sunset
Precious hours
To love and be loved

Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof

Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness,
And tears

Out of Reach

Some days the
Weight of worry
Presses me down
And I am left crawling
Among the shadows
Hands and knees
Scraping the ground
Head low, feeling
Afraid and alone
Standing up
On my own
Is impossible-Yet,
A flicker of hope
Reminds me that
I am not alone
Like a child reaching
For their parent
I glance up as
His hands reach down
Lifting me out
Of the shadows
Gently placing me
Among the light
Of the stars
A time to rest
Preparation for
The day when
I will once again
Be found crawling
Among the shadows-
This is the journey
To be traveled with
One lasting truth-
Wherever the road leads
I will never be
Out of reach

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

James 1:17 NIV

Two Poem Tuesday

Passing Storm

Once again
A storm is raging
Emotions swirling
Like a tornado
In my head
The beginning
Indistinguishable
From the ending
Questions flood
My thoughts-
Why this?
Why now?
Why me?
But I must push
Past the questions
And just be-
Waiting-holding on
Until a tiny
Break appears
In the clouds
A split second
Ray of sunshine
Piercing the dark
Clearing my thoughts
Lighting my path
Just enough to
Observe the dust
Beginning to settle
Assurance the storm is passing

Lost and Found

Where are you?
I sense you are close
But my eyes can’t see
 
I reach out my hands
Fumbling in the dark
Wishing the clouds away
 
Where are you?
I ask out loud this time
A little further-just listen
 
My feet move slowly
Toward the sound of your voice
It grows louder with each step
 
Suddenly, my hands touch yours
No longer lost, I stand with you
Under the light of the stars

Woven

Peace and love
Words that fit
Together seamlessly
But sorrow and happiness
Don’t belong in
The same line
Each word needs
Its own place
Fills its own space
Well, that’s how
It would be
In a perfect world
But the truth is
This world
Is not perfect
Honest reflection asks
If perfection should
Be my goal, anyway?
Without deep sorrow
Can there be
True happiness?
No simple answer
Only a mystery
One I must accept
Allowing its truth to
Sink way down deep
Into my soul
Where sorrow
And happiness
Are woven together
An unbreakable seam
Holding the fabric of
My heart in place


This Road

The road
Once clear
Now obstructed
By unexpected
Roadblocks
Detours
Up ahead
Which way to go?

A new road
Comes into view
Along with
A new role
Not the one
Expected
Or desired-yet,
Gracefully accepted

Potholes trigger
Full stops…
But, gentle truths
Faithfully
Push forward
Erasing any
Thought of
Turning back

Moving ahead
A quiet whisper
Provides assurance-
Trust and follow
Nothing can take you
Out of my hand
Don’t turn back
This road is best

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16

Take me Home, Country Roads by John Denver

Storms

I am currently re-reading an old favorite, “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. I love this allegory, especially the main character, Much-Afraid. This book was first introduced to me by my precious friend, Shannon.

Read her story here. ❤  Instant Friends

A specific passage caught my eye as I read this morning.

“…while the storm still furiously raged outside, there they were, sitting around a crackling fire, warming themselves and drying their sopping garments while they drank comforting hot cocoa and satisfied their hunger. Though the uproar of the tempest without was almost deafening and the hut shuddered and shook in every blast, yet inside was nothing but peace and thanksgiving and cheerful contentment.”

What a goal. To experience that kind of inner peace, no matter the storm outside.

I once heard someone say the following regarding life and storms. At any given time…

  • A storm is approaching
  • A storm is raging
  • A storm has passed

For me, it seems finding peace is most difficult when the storm is approaching. The clouds are far off in the distance, but it’s only a matter of time before it arrives. The “calm” can be thick with tension. Questions are constant. What if, what if, what if…

The time before the storm is when my anxiety builds. And then when the storm finally arrives, it fades. I just have to push through. That is when I realize I never really had any control anyway.

Although storms cause us to question, they seldom provide answers. They are sometimes accompanied by sorrow and suffering. But I must believe that the possibility of peace exists. Even when it is hard to find.

Each of us has to find our way through the storms. But we do not have to face them alone.

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” Psalm 57:1

When Words Won’t Come

Some days an attempt to write falls flat and the words just won’t come. Today started that way. Frustrated, I decided to play the piano instead.

Sitting down at the piano, I hoped a favorite hymn would put me in the right frame of mind to write. But my playing also fell flat. There were too many mistakes. The melody sounded choppy. Not very musical.

Though tempted to give up, I played the hymn one more time. When I began to play the second time, the words were suddenly present (in my head) along with the melody.

What a difference! Musically imperfect, but a clear message. And this time, playing brought a true sense of joy.

Hmmm…maybe when words won’t come, I need to hear words that are not my own.

So, today I say, “Happy Easter” with the help of English poet and clergyman, John Newton. My prayer is that Newton’s words and a familiar melody will bring you joy and hope on this Easter Sunday.

🎶Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
We have already come
Was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home
🎶