Heart-Piercing

I follow a local news photojournalist, Mike Simons, on various social media platforms. He has a way of capturing events in our city and surrounding areas that show humanity. Photographs that react and respond to current happenings without sensationalism.

One such photo recently caught my attention. The subject was a local minister known for his consistent peaceful protests for civil rights. On this particular day, the minister encountered a man asking for water. The man appeared to be homeless.

The minister’s response, captured in this photo, pierced my heart. I cannot get it out of my mind. The man requesting water, sitting on the ground, was met with unconditional love. The minister not only gave him water, but he also stooped down, washed the man’s feet, and provided him with clean socks and shoes. https://www.facebook.com/mikesimonsphoto/photos/a.487995598044480/1651200578390637/?type=3&theater

I have not had any interaction so dramatic as this one. Maybe that is why my heart cannot let it go. But I did recently have an interaction with a homeless man. Telling the whole story at this time does not seem appropriate. I did, however, write a poem to express my thoughts. Maybe I will write more later…

He Has a Name

Sad, empty face
Eyes distrusting
And suspicious
Tired-lonely
Beaten down
Shoulders slumped
No home-no
Place to rest
How? Why?
What series of
Events lead him
To this place?
Someone’s dad?
Maybe
Someone’s son?
An undeniable fact
He likes BBQ
Sandwiches from QT
And Monster drinks-
That is all I know
Except that
He is a person
And just like me
He has a soul
Inside that shell
And just like me
He has a name-
His name is Sam

Temporary Gray

The earth still spins
As the rain falls
On this new day

Looking only at me
Leads to apprehension
For today’s troubles
A clouded perspective
Heavy and gray
Veiled like the sun

It is difficult to
See the potential
For good…for love

But looking upward first
And then outward
Taking my eyes off of me
Allows powerful light
To brighten this
Gloomiest of days

Assurance of hope
Shining even in
The temporary gray

Oh it’s so hard to see

When my eyes are on me

-Keith Green “Make My Life a Prayer to You”

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

Layers

I love the combination of a blue sky layered with clouds. Saturday was one of those days.

My husband and I took a short drive to a nearby peach orchard and store. Fresh peaches (and peach ice cream from the store) sounded like a perfect treat on a hot summer day. Yet, on the short thirty-minute drive, the sky had my full attention.

I noticed clouds moving in front of and behind one another. One cloud providing shade for the earth, but also for other clouds. Casting shadows in surprising places.

Of course, the sun plays a role in this phenomenon. It may be hidden from direct view, but its presence is undeniable. Somehow, its rays cause some clouds to glow. Allowing the creation of shadows.

Another key player-the wind. Its speed and direction cause the clouds to move-usually incrementally to our eyes. But if we intentionally watch, we can see the shifts.

Maybe more powerful, we can feel the shifts. A drastic change in heat felt as they pass over us. The relief, welcomed, even if temporary.

Now picture those clouds as people. Some gleaming, others providing shelter, and others being tossed about. Yet, all still human beings. All moving. Weaving in and out of life’s storms.

Some days I’m the one in need of shelter. And once I have gracefully accepted that provision of love, then I’m able to offer that same love. And so it goes-infinite circles of need, acceptance, compassion, love. As we help each other navigate this crazy world through beautiful layers.

Left Out

Ever-present
All-around
Drifting in and
Out of sight
Head down
Hands in pockets

Woman standing
On the corner
Little boy sitting
On the playground
Lonely, forgotten
Left out of life
Simply existing
Outside of time

There’s a choice
To be made
Keep moving
And ignore? Or
Stop and stand
In one place

Long enough
To see them
Long enough
To be seen
Long enough
To remember-
Only existing is
Not really living-

The next step?
Offer a smile
Walk toward them
Seeing me in them
Until they are
No longer left out

Danger High Cliff

I snapped this picture on a recent weekend getaway with my husband, Gart. The lodge we visited was built on the edge of a cliff. Views of the valley below were breathtaking. Birds flew all around. It was a perfect spot for some quiet relaxation.

But that sign…I chuckled the first time I walked past. I even witnessed several people coming and going safely from the entrance to the trail. Still, I was hesitant.

After breakfast on our first morning, we ventured toward that sign. We walked the short distance down to the edge of the cliff. It was a narrow trail, but not scary, except for that “edge of the cliff” thing.

When we reached our stopping point, there were several big rocks-
perfect places to sit and rest. Some seats were closer to the edge than others. No surprise, I chose the first available seat. Gart, however, picked one just a few steps further.

The logical part of my brain knew he was in no real danger. But the anxiety, afraid of heights part of me-well, it struggled. We were both seated, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery. Both perfectly safe. Yet, my imagination had him slipping and falling off the edge.

Later in the day, I thought about that hike and the warning sign.
Life kind of feels that way right now. Like there is a danger sign around every corner. It is easy to become fearful and anxious.

At this moment, I am safe and healthy. My family is safe and healthy. But the news reports daily virus increases. There are increased warnings about travel, the importance of masks, and social distancing. Not to mention the impossible questions concerning a return to school.

Like the edge of that cliff, the potential for danger is real. And just like the warning sign at the trailhead, there are potentially life-saving signs offering help through the pandemic. But only if I read and follow the signs.

Grateful Visitor

Mount Magazine Signal Hill hiking trail leads to the highest point of elevation in the state of Arkansas.
This trail of dirt
And rocks, a
Guide calling me
Into the forest
Each step leading
Further into
The growing
Canopy of green
Shade hides the
Light of the sun
Lessens the effects
Of its heat
Cool breezes
Dance past
At the moment
Most needed
Cheerful leaves
Wave from branches
Fallen ones create
A colorful carpet
Birds sing songs
In the distance
As if calling me
Guiding, encouraging
Their lyrical invitation-
Please come in!
Meet some of the
Other residents-
Buzzing bees and
Butterflies flit past
As I sit and rest
A grateful visitor
Hiking with this guy. ❤

Gravity & Grace

We are currently in a state of constant, overwhelming information. And though I try to limit my intake, anxiety has a way of creeping in. It is easy to lose sight of what truly matters.

These two poems provide a glimpse into how quickly my state of mind changes. Some days are a constant battle between worry and trust-anxious and calm. Can you say rollercoaster? 😉

Maybe you can relate. ❤

Gravity

The pressure
Begins to build
In the center
Of the chest
Pushing past
The heart
Welling up
In the throat
Seeking an
Escape route-
Tears falling
From my eyes-
No consequence
Weight remains
Reason requires
Assistance
A temporary
Reprieve
Help from the
Unexpected
A song playing
On the radio
Laughing, I
Shake my head
Momentary release
From the gravity

Grace

Not considering
Personal gain
Instead, seeing
Another in the
Light of grace
The same grace
Through which
Each one of
Us desires
To be seen
Grace that places
Selfish interest
Out of sight
Out of mind
Where it belongs
Two people
Face to face
One saying
I see you
I hear you
And I want
To know you
Not a request
An offering
Of friendship

Trust

Morning birds
Sing their songs
Outside the window-
A quick look
Proves disappointing
Despite full feeders
No feathered
Friends in sight-
Singing continues
Hidden from view
Perhaps, it’s a
Matter of trust-
After too many
Days of visiting
Empty feeders
They stopped coming-
The consistency and
Routine required to
Maintain any sense
Of trust was broken
Nourishment once
Freely provided was
No longer available-
Only for a short time
Yet, with consequences
Hiding replaced sharing
Security turned to fear-
Forgiveness takes time
Faith renewed only as
Needs are met with
Feeders kept full
Under the shade
Of the trees
Day after day
Regaining trust-
A poignant truth
Regarding birds-
Yet, how much more
Important where
People are concerned

A Social Distance Duet

I love playing the piano. And playing the piano in collaboration with another musician is even better. It requires a whole new level of concentration. But it also provides a whole new level of enjoyment.

Not only am I reading and listening to my part, but I am also doing the same for the other instrument. One section on its own does not make sense. But when played at the same time, harmony in motion. Almost like two characters telling the same story from their own perspective.

Even though collaborative playing is one of my favorite ways to experience music, it has not been part of my life in more recent times. Right now, my professional life is more focused on teaching. Playing is mostly for my own enjoyment.

That is ok. I am not complaining, just setting the scene.

Here we are, many months of living during a worldwide pandemic. The school year ended strangely. So many plans put on hold. And just when it seemed things were improving, our numbers are on the rise again.

There are so many questions about the future. How long will this last? What will school look like? It is easy to feel anxious.

What better way to calm anxious thoughts than some musical collaboration?

My friend, Lisa, came over and brought her oboe. Lisa and I teach music in the same district. She is also a professional musician. We have talked many times about getting together and playing music.

What better time than during the middle of a pandemic?

My music room has glass doors that open up to the main entrance. So, we opened the doors and sat a chair and music stand in the entryway. That way, we could still maintain a social distance but also have a sightline.

We played music for almost two hours! The time flew by. My fingers got a workout, but my brain was at peace. The music was beautiful! And we had the perfect audience, my miniature dachshund, Poppy.

Poppy’s bed was placed between the piano and the oboe. She was perfectly still, relaxed in her bed the entire time. I think she approved.

Playing music did not erase our questions or concerns. But it did provide some moments of contentment. Music is powerful, therapeutic. And the therapy is even sweeter when it’s a social distance duet with a friend.


The Winter’s Passed by Wayne Barlow
Lisa Wagner, Oboe
Kelley Morris, Piano

It’s That Time Again

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Please fill out this paperwork.

Date of the last mammogram?
Ultrasound?
MRI?
Personal Cancer history? No
Mom breast cancer? Yes
Aunt breast cancer? Yes

Same questions-every year-sometimes every 6 months. And this time, in the middle of a pandemic.

Here I sit-blue hospital mask. Waiting to hear my name.

Kelley? Dressing room 4. Put on your cape. She’ll come to get you in a minute.

Here I sit-blue hospital mask and floral cape. Waiting again.

So glad I wore my blue earrings today. They’re my favorite!

Seems silly, but somehow, they make me feel a little less nervous.

I’ve done this a million times. And I know it can be lifesaving. There is no other option.

I can’t help but think about the brave women I know who have fought breast cancer. Many won their fight, some did not.

And yet, at some point on each of their journeys, they sat where I’m sitting. Being proactive, preventative. But also wondering, what if there’s something there this time. The thought can’t be helped.

That’s why I sit here, waiting. Wearing my blue hospital mask, floral cape, and favorite blue earrings.

My turn.

Don’t breathe. It is a 4-second test. Breathe. Repeat x 4.

Wait again. Possible ultrasound. Usually, what happens to me. This time, I mentally prepared for that one. Who am I kidding?

It is worth all the waiting and anxiety of this moment. Because it will either provide peace of mind or the need for a plan of action.

Kelley? Bring your things. Follow me.

Ultrasound. Press and click what seems like x 50…

Everything looks stable. See what your doctor says. Otherwise, see you next year.

Walking out into the fresh air, I want to shout to the skies.
Get your mammogram! Do not wait!