One Plus One

I realize I haven’t posted anything since Mother’s Day.  I’ve been a little preoccupied.  See, I’m preaching this Sunday!  And doing a baptism, too!  All pretty incredible stuff, since I haven’t led worship anywhere since last August! (If you are the praying sort, please shoot one up for me). Anyway, I thought I’d share my sermon with ya’ll.  Insofar as I haven’t written one of those since last August either, I’m kinda tickled with it.  Please do not feel obliged to read on, though.  Once the pressure’s off, I’ll be back to post some other stuff.  Blessed weekend!

John 17:6-19 Easter 7 – 2015
Baptism of K—

One Plus One

One through a fence

Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as you and I are one (John 17:11b).

Even folks who claim to know nothing about Jesus or who haven’t been to church since they were kids, know something about Jesus praying for his disciples to be as one.  And most people, both inside and out of the church, pretty much think that idea is a pie-in-the-sky kind of notion.  Mainline Protestant denominations may have made tremendous ecumenical strides over the past couple of decades, but when it comes to our own back yards, any idea of true unity seems unlikely.  Let’s face it, everybody knows at least one Christian who is, well, a total pain in the tuckus.  When it comes to loving one another, we are more than happy to love some of Christians most of the time, but all of them all of the time?  Jesus had to be kidding, right?  There is just no way.  Ever.  It’s not possible.

Well, first of all, while I want to believe Jesus had a sense of humor, I don’t think for a minute he was kidding.  Think back.  Before Easter.  To the night we remember Jesus was betrayed.  He took a basin and a towel and washed his disciples’ feet.  And what did he say to them after that?  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).  The second thing is, Jesus goes on to pray, prays this very prayer that same night.  He prays for his disciples then and now, prays for his Father to protect us in his name, prays that we might be one.  It is still Thursday.  No one’s left the table yet.  No one except the one destined to be lost. Yes, Judas has gone off to betray Jesus and collect his silver, but the others are still there.

I think it is important to note that Jesus commands us to love one another, then spends what takes up 3 chapters of John’s gospel explaining what that sort of love looks like and promising the Holy Spirit will help us.  And only then, does he go on to pray for another 25 verses, or what amounts to the entirety of Chapter 17.  No matter how impossible it may seem, Jesus was not kidding.  He commanded us to love and then prayed like crazy for God to help us.  It seems the least we can do is to give this love thing a shot.  If you are anything like me, you’ve failed miserably.  More than once.  That’s okay.  We’re forgiven.  We start again.

I have a new neighbor.  I only met her once.  Introduced myself one sunny afternoon when we were both outside on our respective back decks.  Now, in order to get a sense of our initial meeting, you have to imagine where I live.  My back deck is attached to the deck next door, but divided by a tall privacy wall of spaced boards that make it possible to see, but not really.  Anyway, my new neighbor and I exchanged greetings and chatted pleasantly.  I since noticed, through those same slatted spaces, that she had put out a patio table and chairs.  And noticed again, when a potted rose bush and a large hanging basket of red petunias appeared.  Then nothing.  I got nosy.  I peered through the cracks intently.  Her blinds were all closed, the furniture was thick with pollen.  She obviously wasn’t home and hadn’t been for days.

Now, this is the sum total of what I know:  her name; that she is renting; and a rose bush and petunia plant are sitting on her back deck neglected and dry as a bone.  So there I am this past Thursday morning.  Using a plastic cup.  Reaching through the opposing boards intended for privacy, watering my neighbor’s pots.  It took some time.  And once I got my arm through, I couldn’t see what I was doing.  I just reached until I felt the cup against a pot, tilted it, and poured.  It took quite a few pours before I was satisfied. Her plants were okay.  Whatever was going on in that woman’s life that was keeping her away from home—and I have no way of knowing and it’s none of my business—but, I hope and pray she is okay and, whenever she does return, one thing’s for certain: her plants will still be there, healthy and full of flowers.  I’ll see to it.  Personally.

I have come to believe this whole loving thing is really that simple.  We don’t have to have warm fuzzy feelings about everybody.  Not in the world.  Not in our neighborhoods.  And not even at church.  We all know somebody—or most probably quite a few somebodies—who stick in our craw.  What are we to do with them?  Well, I think the right answer is we should pray for them.  But let’s not get too carried away.  Let’s just try to start small.  Near strangers are the easiest.  We don’t know them well enough to be annoyed with them yet.  Or, if we think we do, we can just move on to a different near stranger. Then just commit some wee little act of kindness:  Tell the cashier at ShopRite to have a good day.  Pick up a neighbor’s newspaper and toss it on his porch—even, no especially if it’s raining.  Hold open a door.  Smile at a kid.  Water somebody’s neglected plants.

And then, then if we can just go one step further, say a quick prayer for that person.  Nothing complicated.  Just “bless him, God,”  or “be with her, oh God,”  or “God have mercy.” Can you imagine?  Can any of us begin to imagine what might happen if everybody started praying for somebody else all at the same time?  The odds are even pretty good that somebody’d be praying for you, too!  It’s almost unimaginable, and yet the thought of it is such a crazy wonderful incredible thing.  The whole heavenly switchboard lighting up with bless this one and help that one and keep another one safe.  All the while, Jesus is still praying timeless words of truth that reach through the ages pleading for you and for me and for this one and that one and even the ones who stick in our craw and are a pain in our tuckus:  Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

On this day, little K— has been baptized into this diverse and sometimes wacky group of folk otherwise known as the Body of Christ.  Like each of you, she too is now sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.  She now bears the name Child of God and is numbered among the members who make up Christ’s Body here in [Your Town] and throughout the world.  Such is both blessing and responsibility.  As Teresa of Avila once summed up so well:  “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ looks out on a hurting world, yours are the feet with which he goes about doing good; yours are the hands with which he is to bless now.”  Yours, K—.  And, beloved children of God, each one of yours, too.

One plus one and one and one and one and one equaling one.  The fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer is happening all around us all the time.  We just don’t see it.  Our human tendency is to focus on everything that’s wrong in the world and wrong in our lives and wrong with each other.  We think that in order to make any sort of difference, we have to do something big.  Volunteer in a food pantry or serve on the church council or—God forbid—run for public office.  Those are good and necessary things and thank God for the people who feel called to do them.  But not everybody does and that’s okay.  Each one of us lives out our discipleship one newspaper, one door held open, one fading rosebush at a time.  And the Holy Spirit keeps helping.  And Jesus keeps praying.  And we all inch closer and closer to the glory of the coming of the kingdom of God.

May God bless each of you.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy (Mother’s) Day

Bing images - I love mummyFor every mother, there’s another.  Another woman who, for one reason or another, is not or has not.  Mother’s Day is not flowers and pretty cards and adorable handmade gifts for everyone.  Some of us are still grieving the loss of our mother or the loss of a pregnancy or having lost custody of our children.  Some of us are still coming to terms with our life choices, whether they be career, lifestyle, or perhaps even addiction having brought us through circumstances where motherhood was never a viable option.  And some of us have been abused or have never had children and harbor a certain amount of resentment that society and Hallmark persist in holding up motherhood as the ideal and norm for all women.

Every Mother’s Day, my father (who was every bit a scoundrel the other 364 days of the year) would plant geraniums for my mom.  Red ones.  Buckets of them.  I don’t have any recollection of there ever being any tenderness between them.  This annual gift of flowers and planting was a ritual carried out as obligation and received with near indifference.  But still, all these years later, after both my parents have long since passed, geraniums continue to represent Mother’s Day to me.  So, when I was at Home Depot last week picking out flowers for the pots on and around my deck, I had to purchase one red geranium to include among the impatiens, petunias, marigolds, and other pretty plants I do not know the names of.  That single geranium is a hardy little bugger and even has a few new red buds.  A sign of some sorts, perhaps.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I never had children.  Never married, either.  I once thought about having a kid anyway, but it was only a fleeting notion.  My biological clock was winding down and I remember thinking it was going to have to be then or never.  I opted for never.  I wouldn’t have made a good mother.  Just wasn’t cut out for it.  I wouldn’t have made a particularly good wife, either.  Years of alcoholism aside, I’ve always been too self-willed, perhaps too selfish, to bend and accommodate the needs and expectations of another.  Not that I was the sort of woman who was turning down proposals left and right.  No one ever asked.  But then, I never settled into a relationship long enough for the question to come up.  Those choices don’t make me any less of a woman, though.  I’m still whole and complete and (now in sobriety) pretty darn happy.  But they are still choices that, for better or worse, are underscored by all the Mother’s Day hoopla.

It seems I am in good company.  A woman by the name of Anne Jarvis is acknowledged as the official founder of Mother’s Day.  Although mother’s had been getting together to mourn fallen soldiers and support various efforts since Civil War times, Ms. Jarvis organized  what has since been recognized as the first Mother’s Day at her church.  It was her way of honoring the memory of her own mother who had passed some years earlier.  She went on to campaign to have Mother’s Day recognized nationally, only to later become vehemently opposed to the resulting commercialization and actively fight to have the day stricken from the U.S. calendar.  Jarvis, herself, never married nor had children.  For her, Mother’s Day was the setting aside of a day of remembrance, a day to honor the memory of mothers lost.  Had Anne Jarvis’ intent been preserved, I would be on board with Mother’s Day 100%.  As it is, though, I am left with mixed emotions.

I know, before this day is over, some well-intentioned stranger or two or three will wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.  They will look at me, certain I am most probably a mother and a grandmother, and be sincere in their well wishes.  Such greetings neither annoy nor disturb me, but they do make my heart ache for the women whose hearts will break in two if they even hear those words a single time.  For the mothers out there, I wish you a happy Mother’s Day crammed full of love and hugs and blessings.  But if you are another, one of the other nearly 45% of the female population in the U.S., I reach out my arms and my prayers in solidarity and affection.   Our lives matter, too.  As for me, I’m going to spend some time out on my deck watching a red geranium grow and remembering my mom.  I’m hoping for a day of blessings, too; a day of blessings for all women everywhere.  It is Spring, the sun is going to shine, and life is oh, so good!  Happy Day!  Happy Day!Bing images - geranium

Reflection

073 (3)Time stands still.
Only for a moment, mind you,
but still nonetheless.
A fleeting
endless pause
pregnant with possibility.
Nothing moves
save eyes beholding beauty.
Surrounded by sky.
Smooth wonder sliding into my soul.
Quieting chaos.
Coaxing me into its calm.

 

Summer Colors

001 (3)Colors behind glass in a small corner cabinet.  Orange, and yellow and green and salmon and two shades of blue, one as soft as a cloudless sky, another as electric as an approaching storm.   My favorite has always been the orange, though.  It is red by definition, but orange to my eyes, round and smooth; such a happy color.  I have been collecting these dishes since before Fiesta’s comeback.  Flea markets, yard sales, my mother’s cupboards.  When facsimiles started showing up in magazines and at Target, my heart sank.  The colors weren’t right.  Too pastel.   Not as real.  Forever to be popping up and mixing in and polluting collections of authentic Fiesta.

More than twenty years ago, I paid fifty dollars for a bright orange tea pot a friend had found at a flea market.  I will never forget his excitement when he ran to tell me of the treasure he had found just two tables over.  It was perfect.  Continues to be the centerpiece of my collection.  I’ve seen similar teapots in collectables and antique shops.  Still priced at or about fifty dollars.  Everything has increased in value except Fiesta ware.  It’s too common now.  Too hard to tell the originals from the copies.  And copies are everywhere.  I think you can still buy full place settings on line.

Not that I would ever part with a single piece.  Those plates and cups and bowls mean too much to me.  They are prizes from treasure hunts long ago, when a cobalt blue saucer or bright orange teapot still made my eyes wide with wonder.  I carried those pieces home as precious heirlooms.  Wrapped and packaged them with great care through every move and transition of my life.  Discoveries have since become fewer and so much farther between.  I don’t think I’ve come across an authentic piece for years, at least not since arranging my colors in their current cabinet.

Fiesta ware was, I’ve been told, dinnerware manufactured for and sold to working class folk.  I have tried to imagine unknown sisters long ago bringing home full sets piece by piece.  Purchasing a plate out of this paycheck, a cup out of the next.  I close my eyes, concentrate, see families gathered around tables of color, children changed out of their school clothes, casseroles steaming atop trivets. I over hear conversations about factories and upcoming Fire House dinners and meetings of the PTA.  The sun is always still shining; it is summer.  It is always summer in my imagination, always summer behind the glass in my corner cabinet.

– – – – – –
Today’s free-write will be my final response to the prompts for Writing 101.  I’ve enjoyed them, but it’s time for me to get back to the journey …

Madness

They said she should go, so she went.  Every move she made had become someone else’s decision.  She tried hard to remember.  How long had it been?  When was the last time she was free to come and go and get angry or sad all by herself?

An unfamiliar landscape whipped past her.  Daunting shadows of memories and dread.  Her thoughts raced as terror seized her.  Escape became more necessary than air.  The car stopped.  Time stood still.  Opportunity pushed opened a door and she hurled herself and into the night.  Running.  Scared.

Briars tore at her clothes as she cleared the woods and stumbled into an open field. Every muscle ached, but she dared not stop for fear of she knew not what.  Freshly plowed furrows led her down to a narrow road where she forced her legs to carry her the full length of its winding.

The smooth sand of a deserted shoreline eventually opened up to welcome her.  She collapsed into its time-worn softness, sucked in the damp salt air.  Sobs broke their silence.  Tears spilled into the sea.  And then, without warning, laughter.  She rolled back on her heels and howled at the absurdity of it all.
turbulent sea

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The above is a fictional response to the Writing 101 prompt:
“What are you scared of?  Address one of your worst fears.”  

Clearing

gray skyThe cursor keeps time on the blank screen.  How many blinks before my next thought?  My next phrase?  This incessant blink blink blink taunts me.  Over these past few days, I have tried to respond to the prompts for Writing 101.  Words simply haven’t come.  I have sat poised and ready.  For long hours. Nothing happened.  Oh, I wrote a sentence fragment here and there.  Ended up deleting each one.  Some writer I am.  No.  I take that back.  I am a writer.  I breathe and think and laugh and cry and wonder and despair and write.  These experiences make up the whole of who I have come to recognize as me.  But I’ve always had difficulty writing on purpose and had hoped the daily challenges might coax me into greater consistency.  I was doing pretty good for the first two weeks.  I guess my enthusiasm waned.  That and I had a lot going on.

I was up and out early two mornings this week.  Off to doctors’ appointments.  One was a simple follow-up with my rheumatologist.  The other was a first time visit with a psychiatrist.  Don’t panic.  I am not crazy.  I did not end up in restraints that morning.  Nor was I carted off by the proverbial men in white coats.  Psychiatry carries a crippling stigma.  I’m not sure which makes my throat seize up more:  having to admit I am an alcoholic, or sharing that I am now seeing a psychiatrist.  My reasons for making the appointment are far from dramatic.  I simply felt an increase in my antidepressant medication would prove helpful and my primary doctor recommended I see a psychiatrist.  So, you see, I was simply acting under my doctor’s advice.  That and I figured one more attending doctor’s statement in support of my disability appeal surely couldn’t hurt.

It was really just a formality.  I’m actually doing quite well.  I celebrated eight months sober on the 21st, was asked to preside at a wedding of friends of a friend, and picked up a handful of preacher supply gigs over the next few months.  The opportunity to again step into the role of ordained minister has probably done more for my sagging spirit than any amount of medication or talk-therapy could ever accomplish.  It now feels like I’ve been having a bizarre out of body experience these past eight months and have finally landed back in my shoes.  Oh yeah, I remember now.  This is who I am.  The wedding was yesterday; a small gathering of family and friends on a lake shore.  It was cold, but sunny and the short ceremony went off without a hitch.  I could barely contain my happiness on my way home.  I was happy for the couple, sure, but I was absolutely ecstatic about my having officiated at a wedding.

And I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to sit down with Scripture and prayerfully discern a relevant message and then put on my alb and stole and step into a pulpit, let alone having the privilege to preside at communion again.  It has been a long time.  My joy is well off the charts and into the stratosphere.  It’s hard for me to explain, and, I suspect harder still for someone to understand.  But being called upon for these small favors has reignited the pilot light that fires up my passion for living.  All sorts of things seem possible again.  I am well aware caution is called for here.  It is dangerous to define one’s personhood by his or her professional standing.  I know I should be able to feel complete and whole independent of whether or not I’m “working,” but I’m indulging myself the luxury of lingering in this feeling of uncontainable glee for just a while longer.

So, anyway, back that infernal taunting of the cursor on the blank page.  Now that I’m typing full throttle, I may as well catch up my responses to the daily prompts.  I believe I can do that in a single sentence.  Here goes.   “Oh, my beloveds, I have searched the horizon beyond the darkening clouds of storm and night and found there a word for you, a word too enormous to behold and yet so easily captured with five swift strikes of the keys: faith.”  Granted, it is a rather long sentence, but I’m pretty sure it meets the criteria of Days 12, 13, 14, and 15 and, more importantly, is true.  Just beyond a seeming sea of despair, I stumbled again into the presence and love of God.  This pickled pastor might always be a pickle, but she’s always going to be a pastor too, and that realization is making a huge and holy difference.  All of time and space is sacred again.  Blank or otherwise.

I Wish I Knew Everything I Thought I Knew When I Was Twelve

1969The year was 1969 and my corner of the world was a small front bedroom on the second floor of a white-shingled frame farmhouse.  I couldn’t get away with much in those days.  My parents’ slept in the room next to mine.  But I did sometimes open the window and smoke cigarettes over the sloped tin roof of our porch.  That and listen to records on my portable stereo.  Its having a handle on top was about the only thing that made it portable.  I remember the contraption being quite big and boxy.  But it played records.  33s and 45s.  Despite the dire conditions of my isolation, I fancied myself connected to the world beyond the fields.  Music was my conduit.  I may have been too young to hitchhike to Woodstock or protest the war in Vietnam, but I played my music.  Loud.

Our house was anything but soundproof.  Even voices carried.  There were four rooms on the second floor built over four rooms on the first, with a staircase coming up in the middle.  In order to make the house livable, my parents opened up the four downstairs rooms into two and turned one of the upstairs bedrooms into a bath.  The kitchen was on the first floor, off to the side, in an addition built long before we ever moved in.  Most all of my time was spent in my bedroom, though; a bedroom I had originally picked out because of it had the prettiest floral wallpaper.  At least it did when I picked it.  All my pretty flowers got torn down when the walls were scraped clean in my mother’s zealous effort to restore the place to some sort of early American masterpiece.

The walls throughout the house ended up chalk white.  In all fairness, the paint color was “antique white,” but, antique or not, those walls were white.  The dark ink-stained-to-look-like-wood woodwork created a stark contrast.  The ceilings matched the walls, with a light fixture smack dab in their centers.  Each identical:  a tin plate-like thing with two flame-shaped lightbulbs sticking out.  Cotton draw-back curtains hung at the windows and kept out about zero light.  And the floors were the original boards.  Sanded and stained.  Partially covered downstairs with braided rugs and upstairs with rag.  There was hollowness about the place.  Underscored by my dad’s angry outbursts and the fighting that often kept me awake at night.  Although my childhood was, in most all aspects, quite ordinary, I understood, even then, that my mother had thrown herself into the remodel to keep her mind of the sorry state of her marriage.

For my part, I tacked up posters of Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy.  My mother had a fit about my putting sticky tape on her precious white walls, but I did it anyway.  The pictures added some much needed color to what was otherwise an all-white nearly sterile room.   An old three-drawer dresser with a white marble top.  A twin bed adorned with a you-guessed-it white George Washington bedspread.  And an antique upright fold-down desk completed my mother’s assigned furnishings.  I kept my stereo on a comparably modern end table I salvaged from the stored remnants left over from our first house.  A heavy beveled mirror hung over the dresser and, thanks be to God, a full-length one was screwed into the back of my closet door.

I studied myself in that mirror every morning.  And, every morning, I saw the same face reflected back at me:  that of an awkward young girl who was desperately uncomfortable in her own skin.  I hated living on a farm.  More than anything, I wished we lived in a house in a neighborhood within walking distance of my school.  I wanted to be like other kids.  Instead, for whatever reason, I was exiled to a farm in the middle of nowhere, along a country road with two lonely yellow lines that stretched in either direction for as far as the eye could see.  I rode the bus.  Every day.  Same thing.   I woke up in the same room and checked myself a dozen times in the same mirror, the full length mirror on the inside of my closet door.  The one where I had, at some point, put bright little sticker in the top left corner.  A sticker that would come to symbolize my teenage rebellion against almost everything.  It read, simply, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”

Many years have passed since then.  I don’t so much mind getting old.  Getting old is necessary.  It is the price to be paid for my having been blessed to be alive in 1969.  ‘69 was, indeed, the year that changed America.  Or at least the year that changed me.  1969 was the year of the moon landing.  The Stonewall riots.  The summer of love.  Anti-war protests.   And Woodstock.    The 5th Dimension  promised it was the Age of Aquarius.  Iconic peace signs were everywhere.  And Monty Python’s Flying Circus first aired on BBC.  My father wanted to annihilate North Vietnam.  My mother tried to keep peace at the dinner table.  And I decided once and for all and forever:  I was not going to be like them.  1969 was the year I came into myself.  The year I claimed a future far and away from the farm where I grew up.

Everything made sense to me back then.  The “establishment” had nearly destroyed all that was good about America.  My generation was about to inherit a corrupt and broken society, but we would do so with determination and grit.  Everything was going to get better.  We would undo what was and create a world of love and peace, with a rock and roll soundtrack and Peter Max scenery in every background.  The stars were all lined up.  My generation was going to make a difference.  And I was part of it  Part of change.  Part of a psychedelic wave of wonder that would carry me to freedom.   I knew everything.  Could become anything.  Was poised for adulthood with an energy and eagerness I never experienced before or since.

None of that happened, of course.  I may have escaped the farm, but the world did not get better.  Something went very very wrong.  My generation ended up creating its own establishment.  Tie-die was abandoned in favor of neck ties.  A new cast of characters emerged.  Characters the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  The same boys who had once been too shy to ask a girl to dance in a school gymnasium, grew into men who sent their own sons and daughters to war.  Not to a jungle, mind you, but right into the eye of a desert storm.  We had our own disaster on our hands.  Terror reigned.  Buildings crumbled.  And public policy was being bought for a price.  Hope somehow got lost along the way and no one ever spoke of peace anymore.  The music may not have died, but something did.

I often think back to that little sticker on the top left corner of the full length mirror on my closet door:  “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”  It’s true.  You can’t.  Don’t do it.  By the time a woman gets to be my age, she’s seen more than one generation surrender the idealism of its youth.   I’m afraid that’s just the way it’s always been.  The Christians of the first century looked to a different future, too.  Christians are still waiting.  We all are.  As much as I wanted out of my twelve-year old world, with its too white walls and warring parents, I so wish I knew as much as I thought I did when I was twelve.  I may have been young and naive and ignorant about many things, but the world made sense to me in a way it never has since.  Back then, all things were still possible.

Happy Birthday To Me!

from Bing.com
I was an odd kid.  My favorite birthday cake was walnut.  With my mom’s incredible vanilla icing slathered all over it and coconut dusted on top.  I loved coconut.  Still do.  I maybe baked one cake in my entire adult life.  And that was from a box.  I am amazed how my mom used to bake.  Really bake.  Stirring up clouds of flour in the kitchen and making cut-out circles of wax paper that fit perfectly into cake pans that were anything but new.  My mom baked often.  And always for my birthday.

I can’t remember the last time I had a birthday cake.  Oh, I’ve had cupcakes and brownies, with a candle stuck in or maybe even a sparkler, most often in restaurants with friends.  But never a whole cake baked from scratch just for me.  Birthdays became decidedly fluid occasions.  Always with the alcohol flowing.  Fancy cocktails with shots mixed in.  Or, in later years, glass after glass of wine, poured from bottles brought as gifts but always emptied by evening’s end.

For about as long as I can remember, birthdays were just another excuse to celebrate.  Any excuse would do: because it was my birthday, your birthday, a holiday, the weekend, vacation, sunny, or pouring rain.  There was always something to celebrate, always a reason to drink.  Until reasons were no longer necessary, of course.  I drank at every meal and after and then alone.  Drank myself to sleep.  Drank myself awake.  Finally realized I was drinking away my life.

Today will be my first sober birthday.  Ever.  At least since I was a kid blowing out the candles and making a wish.  I have no idea what I might have wished for back then.  But I’m sure I didn’t wish to become an alcoholic.  Anyway, I lit a candle this morning.  Just to make a wish and blow it out.  Sorry, I can’t tell you what I wished for.  Then my wish wouldn’t come true.  But I can assure you I didn’t wish for a drink.  Not to celebrate my birthday.  Not ever.

Life is too good.  Today I am a one-year-older sober woman.  With a clear head and coconut dusted dreams.  Thanks be to God!  And happy, happy birthday … to me!

Three Perspectives (and a lot of flowers)

She enjoyed coming to the park.  On quiet days, when no one was around, when she could concentrate.  Just her and her knitting.  Alone.  Gratitude welled up within her.  It was spring.  The afternoon was still and warm.  She saw the couple coming down the path.  Approaching her.  Crowding out her aloneness.  She focused hard on the needles in her lap.  On looping the bright red yarn, as if, by sheer will, she could make any and every interruption evaporate.

The young woman had chosen her favorite khaki jacket to wear to the park that day.  He had complimented her the last time she wore it.  She so wanted things to be as they were.  Something was very wrong, though.  She could sense it.  Even as she stepped out onto the stoop and folded her hand in his, she could feel the distance between them.  They walked together like strangers.  He appeared oblivious to the beauty of this April afternoon, to the brilliant new colors of spring.

He was running late.  Again.  What else could possibly go wrong?  By the time he reached her doorstep, anger and grief were already catching in his throat.  There was so much he had to tell her.  When he was ready.   Certainly not on this otherwise perfect spring day.  He breathed in the air.  He tried to clear his head.  It was the sight of a stranger that tore him wide open.  Just an old woman on a bench blissfully knitting love into a sweater.  But he could not help himself.  He started to cry.


Today’s Writing 101 assignment was an exercise in perspective.  I was less than enthusiastic, but tapped out three short paragraphs, each portraying the assigned scene.  To compensate, I thought I would also share some recent photographs.  For better or worse, since taking Photography 101, I find myself a little picture crazy.  My most recent obsession has been with flowers. Enjoy.