Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sacred Journey of the Heart

Joy is found in the journey or, better still, by looking at the word journey, joy surrounds the journey. This, my 49th year journey, is a journey of discovery; a discovery of self. While I flit from ‘this thing to that’ in my daily adventures, the most important and over looked ‘thing’ is my own heart. There, in my heart, is the place which houses the past 48 years of journey and what a journey it has been. So, to really honor the 49th year journey and prepare for the joyful jubilee, which is my 50th birthday, I must embark on a sacred journey of the heart. It’s time to meet what’s in the heart and embrace each element discovered there with love. Everything, comes back to love.
This visual journal page is symbolic of this sacred journey. The heart is rust colored and over grown from neglect. Inside, are many things to be examined and embraced. Both of the herbs, angelica and bay, represent sacred protection and invoke the fairy folk and angels, who, I believe, will help guide me on the journey of the heart as well as this, my 49th year journey.
The journal entry reads, "below shards of brokenness tangled with over growness among memories strewn, life & beauty awaits to be discovered, it's time to meet what's in the heart"
Thanks to my daughter Heather.
Thank you Connie from Dirty Footprints Studio

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Memory

Oh those sweet little Valentines. We all remember the anticipation of going to the drug store to pick out the pack which seemed to suit us best. Returning home we’d sign our names and stuff them in those darling little envelopes to be passed out during the Valentine class party. They’ll be passed out again in grade school classrooms across the nation this Valentine’s Day just as they have been for decades.
It didn’t seem odd that among my thoughts today would be Valentine’s Day. What did seem odd was the memory which cast itself with regards to Valentine’s Day; a memory from about 40 years ago, back to my 4th grade Valentine’s Day class party.
I had finished passing out my little Valentine cards and went skipping back to my desk. While most of the kids were still passing theirs out, I fiddled with the little treasures sprawled out in front of me. There amongst the array of mini envelopes was a larger one. It seemed out of place, not just by size, but also because it surely did not come in a pack. It appeared to be a handpicked card. With pencil, my name was neatly written across the envelope in cursive. Even though the hand writing was tidy, I could tell it was a boy’s hand writing.
Looking around at the desks near mine I hoped to see everyone else had received such a large Valentine. No, there weren’t any others. A troubling feeling came over me. There must be some mistake. No one could possibly like me enough to pick a Valentine card out especially for me. Maybe like me enough to pick a special one out of the normal pack but not enough to go through the card aisle at the drug store and then actually purchase it. Other kids will question this; they’ll make fun of me; they’ll make fun of the boy who gave it to me. I’m chubby and frumpy and not deserving of such a special card. But Renée, “yes,” I said to myself looking over at her, “she’s really pretty and quite popular and she takes dance lessons; maybe this special Valentine is for her.”
From my desk I took out a pencil, grateful it had a good eraser, erased my name and wrote Renée’s name in its place. Then, nonchalantly, I slipped the large envelope on to her desk. Sliding back into my chair, I let out a huge sigh of relief and began fiddling again with the mini envelopes still laying there, satisfied they were the ones, the un-thought-out ones, the ones without any name written on them, which I was entitled too.
What must Renée have thought? It never occurred to me to open the envelope, to peek at the Valentine tucked inside. Maybe my name was written on the card too, along with a tender message. How did the boy feel? Could he have been watching, hoping to see me smile at his sweet gift? Instead, witness with a crushed heart, my inconsideration and impoliteness of giving it away. What did the little boy’s mom think? Surely, touched by her son’s kindness, she willingly assisted and encouraged him to bring this sweetness to fruition and then anxiously waited for the school day’s end to ask him, “So, how’d it go?” With intense regret, I’m seeking forgiveness in an offense which probably has long been forgotten by all parties, except me.
What a silly, silly little girl to give up a heartfelt treasure; and why, for what reason; because I wasn’t enough; I wasn’t brave enough, confident enough, kind enough, deserving enough? Now, some 40 years later, I want to rediscover that very treasured Valentine, to hold it in my hands, move my fingers across my name so neatly written on the envelope. With great anticipation, I want to carefully open, pull out the Valentine, and admire every detail of the illustration on the card’s front. I want to, read and re-read the message; a message which was always intended for me; a message which would reveal, I am enough. That message will make me smile, smile at him, my sweet admirer, a smile of joy and great gratitude. Then I’d tell him, “thank you.”
How often have we deprived ourselves of a simple treasured moment or passed up a heartfelt gift because we don’t feel we are deserving enough, brave enough, confident enough, accomplished enough, or just too busy attempting to be enough? Right now, this very moment and the next moment and the next, we, you are enough. And, from somewhere within each of us, regardless of what year journey we are on, there is a little admirer whispering this message to us, waiting to see our response, anticipating our smile. Sometime during our busy week, may we indulge in the message, receive and open our Valentine.
Part of me wishes I could have a 4th grade Valentine class party ‘do over.’ But, even more, whoever the little boy was, my sweet, innocent, admirer, I wish he could know today how very special his Valentine card is to me on this Valentine’s Day of my 49th year journey.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pennies From Heaven

Not only was it a chilly, drizzly, gray day outside but I was feeling the same way within myself. I can’t recall the exact day, but it was in the early 2000’s. And, although I remember the grayness and chill around me I can’t recall whether it was spring or autumn. I had been to the gym walking the treadmill on my prosthetics and was seriously missing a good run on a pair of real legs.
Before heading into the office I decided I needed a little time in the cemetery. As odd as it sounds, I would often stop at the cemetery where my grandmother was buried. I found it to be a great place of peace and solitude; a place to contemplate and pray.
By my grandmother’s tomb there was a backless bench where I would sit and have a one sided conversation. When the conversation began to drag, I would make my way to a kneeling position. Getting there took a few minutes as I sought a place of balance accompanied with minimal discomfort. Once accomplished, I would prop my elbows on the bench for additional support, interlock my fingers, and bow my head in prayer posture.
On this day the prayer was about the need to know there was more than this life; more than losing my legs. I needed to know my legs would be “restored to their perfect frame,” and they would take me on a great run again. I needed to know my grandma was alive and well, dwelling in a celestial realm; that she received definitive healing and was home. Even more, that she knew what was going on down here and had some influence, albeit rooting and cheering for her family from on high. It was a prayer that something, anything, everything continues on; a prayer of the validity of eternity versus the reality of time. It was a prayer we all have had in our hearts when hope becomes obscure and faith quivers; a need for reassurance as clouds of doubt roll through.
I don’t know if I was done praying or if I just couldn’t remain kneeling any longer. Clumsily, I pulled myself up and located center of gravity. I brushed the dirt off my mechanical knee and adjusted my clothes.  Feeling the chill in the air even more; I removed the sweatshirt from around my waist and pulled it on.
Glancing at my grandma’s physical resting place, I said out loud, “If you’re there Grandma, I need a sign, any sign.” Walking away; with a shrug of my shoulders and shake of my head, as if she was asking what kind of sign I wanted, I continued, “I don’t know, send pennies from heaven.”
Climbing into my vehicle I found smack dap, right in the middle of the driver’s seat, a penny. Smiling, I placed the small token in the cup holder. Pondering the little copper gift seemed to lift the gray. Walking into the office, there in the threshold were several more pennies. Somehow I managed to maintain balance as the door bounced off my bottom while bending over to pick each one up. My smile grew ever larger as I sat my things on my desk, for there again was a penny.
I didn’t need a great God to perform ‘writing on the wall’ or ‘parting the Red Sea’ kind of great miracles. What I needed was a great God to be small enough to hear the small plea of my heart. He simply needed to tell my grandma, “Go ahead, send her pennies from heaven.”
Pennies everywhere; I never pass one up without acknowledging ‘pennies from heaven’.  I only wish I would have started a ‘pennies from heaven’ jar way back then, instead of tossing those sweet little reminders in with other loose change. How many would I have collected over the years?
Being the great God He is; He knew how needful this ‘small miracle’ would become.  I have reflected on it many times since Jeff crossed over. The desire to know he has reached the definitive healing. To know, Jeff is home now and while he will always have a place in our homes, to also know, we have a place in his. A subtle little reminder of, ‘hey, I’m here, thinking of you, watching over you, rooting and cheering you on’.
As a way to venerate the fifth year of Jeff's passing, I thought we could each see how many ‘pennies from heaven’ we receive throughout the year. These sweet tokens don’t necessarily have to be in the form of a coppery penny, maybe a silvery nickel or dime. When you find them, or they find you, you will knowJeff is sending you ‘pennies from heaven’.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wheel of Life

With the sun shining and the air calm I ventured outside thinking I’d trim the flowers and shrubs in the planters. It wasn’t long after swinging out of my chair onto the ground that I realized how very wet and cold the earth remains. I sat there for a few moments feeling the cold dampness chill my bottom. Discouraged, I began to reason why this wasn’t a good idea. “The ground is still quite frozen and the cold will seep into your hip joints, your one and only fragile little knee, and your lower back making the next few days very achy, stiff, and miserable.”
Climbing back into my chair I gazed at the sad mix of plants. They looked so dead. There were no bees buzzing or butterflies fluttering around, no color. Only a few months ago this area was speckled with reds, yellows, pinks, purples, whites, and a lot of green. Now, it’s all lifeless and dark, a decay color of brown. “You’ll all come back again, full of color and promise, it takes winter to bring about spring,” I whispered. But was I whispering to the plants or to myself?
I gathered a lap full of dried leaves, “You won’t come back,” I said as I tossed them into the mulch pile. Something within me needed to know what became of these ‘dead’ leaves. I grabbed a shovel and started stabbing at the hard frosty heap. What has become of the leaves, plant trimmings, coffee grinds, egg shells, remnants of fruits and veggies piled in here months ago? Stabbing, breaking up, tossing, going deeper, until finally I saw it, new earth, fresh humus. Smiling, I began to tidy up the frenzied mess I made and thought of my legs; the parts amputated. I hoped and imaged they were tossed into a mulch pile similar to this one, to become anew, to become fresh humus.
Satisfied, I turned my face into the mid morning sun, closed my eyes and waited for its warm kiss. Basking in its glory, not only did it fill me with its warmth but also a new perspective of life mimicking nature. Our lives go through a similar wheel of the year. A reminder, not only given annually through the seasons, but monthly with the lunar cycles, weekly as we embrace each day awaiting the weekend, and even daily with the rising and setting of the sun. The promise of continuum; birth, life, ageing, death and yet we don’t really die, but end one cycle only to begin another.
 One of the things I have wondered about on this, my 49th year journey, was when I began to wane. When was my noonday, my mid-week, my full moon, my summer solstice? I would have liked to have celebrated it; you know, with cake and balloons or simply raise my glass to the day and offer a profound toast. Would I have lived my life any different if I knew my waning moment? Could this be the reason we don’t know? Hey, if I live to 100 then my joyful jubilee really will be the turning point.
I had to calculate my husband’s waning date. Through my own simple minded mathematical calculations and taking into consideration the extra 12 days for the 12 leap years there would have been; I figure his waning date would have been the day before his 23rd birthday. Wow! It’s almost inconceivable his passing at 45 but beginning to wane at 23 and the waning moment the day before his birthday. Wow!
When was your waning moment? If you knew, would you live each day differently? Maybe it’s enough to know that one of the blessed days we have during this lifetime will be or was our waning moment, our summer solstice, our full moon, our mid-week, our noonday. We don’t know where we are in our wheel of life, but we can celebrate the day, today, and fully begin to simply love life!