I closed my prayer with the silent request, “Speak to me, Father.”
As I waited in stillness, as my selected music video from my favorite YouTube pianist played, I was distracted by an intermittent chirp. I listened closely; was it the smoke detector calling my attention to a dying battery? The chirp was not that distinct so, no, not the smoke detector.
The chirp continued and I could not ignore it. I got up from my chair and followed its call. I walked over to the front window to stand and listen.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp.” Is it a cricket in the house and if so, how did it get in? I’m in California where crickets in this neck of the woods are rare. I shuddered at the thought of having to chase down a cricket.
I pulled back the curtains to look out the window and there it was, a small bird on the walkway that leads to the front steps of the house. It pecked away at kernels of something and in between pecks it chirped. I stood there, watched it and mused that a bird which could fly chose to walk on the ground to forage for food.
My bird thoughts were interrupted by part of a scripture I had not thought of in years, “…if I take care of a two cent bird…” I could not remember all of the scripture but in that moment God reminded me of His care for me. He used a small bird that has no means other than to trust that when it looks for food, food will be found, even if it means taking a walk on concrete rather than soaring in the air.
The bird eventually walked away from the front of the house to cross the street. As I watched it, I realized that once I walked to the window to discover God’s feathered messenger, the chirps stopped though the bird remained in place for a few minutes. God got me to where He wanted me to be, to “hear” his message in the form of that tiny bird.
I returned back to my chair. As I sat, I glanced at the computer and the bible text from Mark 11:24 was on the screen. I had paid no attention to the screen during my prayer time so I was not expecting a scripture. I laughed as I read the text and thanked God for the period on His word to me through a little bird.
Mark 11:24 — “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.“
Luke 12:6, 7 — “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.“
Today is “National Widows Day”
I cried today
I did not cry because I am a widow
Even though I am a widow
I did not cry today
Because he is no longer present
I cried today
Because some people took the time to say,
“You are not forgotten”
I did not know that tender place existed
“You are not forgotten”
It is so easy for widows to be lost in the fog of grief
I do not mean a widow loses her way because of her grief
Though this is possible
The journey on the path of the new normal can be quite circuitous
Fraught with fear of the unknown
Strengths to be discovered
Obstacles to overcome
Courage to be cultivated
But this is not what I mean
When I say a widow is often shrouded in the fog of grief
I mean too often others lose sight of her because of her grief
Unable to relate to the loss
Or her struggle in the loss
They lose sight of her because of her grief
Familiar voices no longer call out to her
Familiar faces fade away
Memories are sometimes her only recourse
But they too are painful reminders
Of forced isolation
That which is too often a part of mourning
Others try to construct a timeline
For her grief
As though they know what that timeline should be
For her grief
Challenged by her singleness
Begin to exclude rather than include
They do not realize
That “single” only means to the widow
A double bed that now only makes room for one
The spouse’s name is no longer spoken
Unless she speaks it
The stories she so treasures
No longer told
Unless she tells them to herself
It’s the widow’s walk without the wail
Or a mournful claque
To encourage the grief over loss
The supportive recognition of her sorrow
After “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
She is alone
Shrouded in her grief
As though she was buried
With her husband
“Donna, you are not forgotten”
Yeah, I cried today
For additional information about “Widow Wednesday:” http://widowwednesday.com/national-widows-day/
Once upon a time there was an internal refugee ban in America. Well, I guess you can’t really call them refugees since they were brought to the New World unwillingly. Let’s just say there was an internal ban in place in America, a quota filled by immigrants. Well, I guess you really can’t call them immigrants because they were chained and dragged to the New World. When they were brought over, before the Mayflower, they were labeled chattel and were viewed as such because their humanity was blithely denied. Eventually, 200+ years later, after much destroying of families and taking of lives enforced by the internal American ban, the war between countrymen broke out and then victory and then freedom (so they hoped and prayed) for the once stolen, a period of reconstruction, a renewal and rebuilding (so they hoped and prayed), a discovery of self and voice (always in place) but then the Feds left and the old attitudes, the old guard, seized power again and though they could no longer shackle the bodies, they built a wall of hate between them and those people. The wall, the internal wall of hate, the created in America internal ban, was even more rigorously enforced and the Feds left the local yokels to their own devices. Black codes morphed into Jim Crow and Jim Crow policed the ban with self-righteous polity.
“You can wash our dishes but you can’t sit at our lunch counters. You can raise our children but you can’t marry our daughters. You can sing those good old spirituals for us but you can’t sit in the pew next to us. You can cook our food but you can’t dine in our restaurants. You can wash our clothes but you can’t share the same water fountain. You can clean our houses but you can’t sit down and eat your lunch in our family dining rooms. You can be a teacher but not in our schools. You can be a preacher but not in our pulpits. You can be a student but not with current textbooks. You can buy our gas for your car at our stations but you can’t leave your gas in our restrooms at our stations. You can buy clothes in our stores but you can’t try on clothes in our stores. We demand your respect but don’t you dare try to look us in the eye. Bow and scrape and stay in your place until we need you to do what we deem beneath us to do.”
Yeah, there’s always been an internal American ban in place, a wall of red, white and blue hate embellished with a white cross. It went underground for a while, or so we thought. It was silent but it was still rooted in the hearts of those who never got over 1964, 20 years before Orwell’s 1984, but Big Brother (in his mind) was watching, waiting for the moment to seize power again.
2017 and everything is still everything.
They learned from their history.
I watch them run into the cafeteria, all wide eyed and just a little wild.
For five weeks each summer they become that diverse group on a campus that is not nearly as diverse during the school year.
They do not understand the privilege afforded to them of learning on a campus that costs a pretty penny to attend during the school year, a campus largely comprised of the homogeneous and the privileged.
The teachers who work with this diverse summer group may not be used to working with such diversity, either.
My wish for both groups is that they would come to understand one another in such a way that the experience will remain with them long after the memory of the summer sessions fades.
The line of difference drawn hard in society’s sand will only be erased when the diverse dare to embrace inclusion and dare to sit down to talk through skewed perceptions and unwarranted stereotypes.
While it is too true that I often view the world through a lens forged in the fires of Jim Crow, I believe that change is possible It will take time. It will require patience. It will have to be fueled by determination.
I choose to believe!
We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike. ~Maya Angelou
It has been almost fourteen years since an oh-so-familiar door was slammed shut in my face!
I had in and out privileges for almost 27 years through that door marked “Relationship,” two years companion, twenty-five years, wife.
Twenty-seven years, learning and knowing and growing, laughter and anger, abundance and need.
Then, abruptly and without grace, Death slammed the door shut in my face and I was denied access for the rest of my life
Unsure and and a little afraid, I stood alone in front of a new door, a door slightly ajar, a door marked “New Normal.”
Surrounded by questions for whom the answers would come painfully slow, I tentatively pushed open the door a little more, just to peer past it to see what I could see.
I saw nothing.
I quickly discovered I had to step inside before I would see anything at all.
It has been an unexpected journey, often watered with tears and plowed with frustration.
Mostly an uphill journey on a path marked “Single,” I’ve learned to endure the detours as well the unexpected pot holes and speed bumps.
Sometimes the days are sweltering, other days cool and refreshing.
These days the door marked “Relationship” is no longer in view, but the memories stayed with me and they often swathe me in the warmth of their comfort, especially when yesterday really is so far away.
“…could tell you my adventures–beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Sometimes posts of people I knew back in the day pop up on my Facebook page
Sometimes I scroll through Facebook pages of people I knew back in the day
Recognize faces in captured photographic moments
People I no longer see, have not spoken to in ages
This is not intentional
It is just the nature of the beast
Out of sight, out of mind
It occurs to me that I have become one of those people
Like those former celebrities who no longer occupy the limelight
And people wonder
“Whatever happened to?”
Yeah, I have become one of the misplaced
People who I saw on a regular basis
People with whom I laughed and cried
People with whom I dined and traveled
I no longer see or talk to
It is the nature of the beast
To be forgotten as memory fades
And connections dissolve
It’s just as well
Especially since I am no longer that Donna
They probably wouldn’t recognize me anyway
Which is just as well
Because if they had really known me back then
They would not have let me get away
I have been in the blue room the last few days
Nothing like the green room into which celebrities are ushered
Lavishly furnished room filled with expensive goodies and drink
For their pleasure and comfort
In which they relax
Before they stride into the limelight
Of some venue
My blue room is nothing like that
Sparsely lit and furnished
A table in the corner in the back in the dark
Yeah, that’s my spot
Head in hand
I sit and muse over the vicissitudes of life
The vagaries of life
Ala King Solomon
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity
Senior sighs swathed in melancholy
Time to regroup
Shake off the ennui
Think on goodness
The grace of yesterday
Forge through today
Tomorrow is always brighter
When it’s not wrapped in blue
She walked into the church on Easter Sunday morning dressed in a light blue “church” suit and a silver ornate hat on her head. I watched her from across the room and as she walked to her seat, I noted how she stood out against a backdrop of Sunday casual.
I grew up in the era when clothes had a category. There were work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, church clothes. On special occasions there were party clothes, Easter clothes, Christmas clothes.
Church clothes were aka Sunday Best and everyone, kids to adults, wore their Sunday Best every Sunday. Often, Sunday Best was the same outfit every Sunday, but it was always pristine, freshly cleaned and ironed.
I think about those days in light of the casual ambience of today. “Come as you are,” almost looks like “ready-roll.” For those of you not familiar with this term, it means an individual rolls out of bed and rolls out into the world just as they are, “ready-roll.”
Church wear is pretty much casual wear these days and I get it. Following Christ has nothing to do with the clothes one wears into the sanctuary. Fellowship with the saints is more about the blood of Christ than the red sole of a shoe.
But, my Sunday observation got me to thinking. Here are my thoughts, my “Afterwords:”
Back in those days when there were church clothes and work clothes, my grandparents and parents needed that distinction. The work week for them was tedious and back bending. More often than not, they had no authority, no power. They were subject to the whims of the system that defined how they could be, where they could be and who they should be. Those work clothes reminded them of just how powerless they were in a world that demanded so much of them as it did its best to drain them of value and self respect.
But, Oh, those church clothes! Those church clothes, that Sunday Best ensemble, welcomed them with open arms. Those clothes reminded them of sanctuary, that place where they could celebrate one another and rejoice in the presence of a God who loved them beyond their reality. Those church clothes strode proudly into a place that was 100% their own.
Those church clothes, plain and simple, were worn with a regal posture as the saints greeted one another before walking into a house whose doors were always open to them. Hats were crowns worn on heads held high in the presence of the King of Kings.
I never saw my grandfather in anything other than a blue suit jacket, a khaki shirt and khaki pants on Sundays. But, dressed in his Sunday best, he was the superintendent of the church, and in that place he was that intelligent, self-taught, learned man he always was.
His work clothes were farm laborer clothes, but his Sunday clothes spoke to who he really was from the inside out. His Sunday clothes kept him sane and insulated from the wretched demands of those work clothes. His Sunday Best was his best and in them he was always at his best!
No, clothes don’t seem to have categories anymore. But, for some of us, those yesterday clothes categories remind us of just how far we have come by faith!
I must remember this the next time I see someone dressed in their Sunday Best!
Rejection, any kind of criticism, gives me heart palpitations and I immediately turn into that toddler who is being scolded for spilling grape juice on the white carpet.
The perfectionist in me hates the idea that I am not perfect. Which, of course, I am not, but I would like to be perfect. Still, isn’t a perfectionist simply a procrastinator in disguise (another thought for another day)?
Criticism in all its benevolent/malevolent forms, brings me to my knees. I immediately want to disappear while tears threaten to gang up on the corners of my eyes.
I hate the impotence of imperfection and I have never learned how to gracefully embrace criticism, even when its intent is really for my good.
A few weeks ago, I unexpectedly had to present a new concept/curriculum to a group of professionals who work with children and youth. I knew the material, had even assisted in a previous workshop, but I had never presented the subject matter on my own.
I was not nervous about the presenting part. I am a good teacher/trainer, even if I do say so myself. I was worried about my familiarity with the presentation materials, especially the “Prezi,” which I did not put together (I am more a “PowerPoint” person). My mission, from my perspective, was simply to present the information provided, doing my best to inform and to equip the attendees.
My presentation was well received in spite of my trepidations about how well prepared I was to stand and deliver as the expert in the room. The group, for the most part, was open and responsive. I left the conference feeling fairly confident about all that had transpired.
But, I did not receive the evaluations that day
Sighhhh. . .
The evaluations arrived today (a big GULP goes here and I don’t mean that 7-11 drink).
Why is it that we automatically look for the naysayers rather than embrace the positive (reminds me of that old song, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”). Except I know, especially in this forum, if I want the information I share to be even better, I will seriously have to consider and reflect on the negative feedback.
I DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT THE STUFF THOSE MEANIES WROTE.
I ONLY WANT TO READ THE GOOD STUFF!!!
But I must blink back my tears and lift up my head to ruminate over the constructive criticism (see, no longer negative feedback) in order to incorporate those “suggestions” into my next presentation.
I am learning, even at this late stage of the game, that failure really is the foundation upon which success is constructed (see what I did there from constructive criticism to construction).
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, or in my case, a mature woman new concepts.