via Super-glued Soul
I felt like I should write about the pandemic although I don’t really want to because I just feel so tired and I worry that I won’t have enough energy to use proper punctuation perhaps this will be one long run-on sentence and my english teachers will haunt me saying, “period. exclamation point. comma. comma. comma, amel-i-a.” you know like the song. i did it. i used a period but i will no longer use capital letters because i can’t. what day is it? i just want to go to target. or somewhere. anywhere.
me and my littlest breathing treatment buddy…a fave pic from years ago
but i am vulnerable. and i don’t choose to be. i have a lung disease and an auto-immune disease and so i have been staying home for weeks. almost 4 weeks. but who is really counting? oh, me. i am a busy body. i like to go. ever since i quit working weekends in the hospital years ago, i dreaded the medical paperwork. the “occupation” box highlighted my insecurity because i hated filling in “stay-at-home mother.” because i don’t. i am a “go wherever i’m needed mother.” like most of my mama friends.
oh, man. my heart just keeps aching for my fellow hospital working sisters and brothers. i wish i could sneak into the equipment rooms and give them all a big hug. a long one. or an iced water. or something substantial. i cry for them. those with grieving exhausted eyes. those who hold their pee all shift long. those who have the tenacious capacity to hyper focus on the patient: the daughter, the sister, the mother in front of them and care for her in the most extraordinarily compassionate and self-sacrificing ways.
when you have been the patient far too many times to count, like me, its all too easy to imagine the pain. the terror. the sufferering. and yet, the tangible love and beauty winding its steady way through every hospital room, hallway, stairway, waiting room. the helpers have carried me through my darkest moments. they have showed up in the wee hours of the moon morning when i needed to get out of bed but i couldn’t do it all by myself. the helpers have brought me my medicine. my iced water. an extra gown to cover up my ass. they have taught me it’s ok to be the weak kind of strong, the scared kind of brave and that healing is a journey not a moment. they have listened to me moan, laugh, cry, and they have recognized my silence.
i read about them. i know them. i worry about them. we pray for them. i squeeze my eyes shut to hold my tears inside when my precious eleven year old boy pleads for God to care for those working in the hospitals. please, God, please, hear his heartfelt prayer. please make this all end soon. please help us all to do our part. give us the courage, the strength, the love and place your hands on top of ours as we grow weary yet still hold onto hope.
We have these crazy fast growing, never-stopping, always-multiplying vines in our yard. They spring up in the front and back and everystinkingwhere. They taunt the pseudo-gardener in me. They seem to snicker and stick their leafy little tongues out at me as I walk out the front door past the bushes.
Some of them are so easy to pull out of the dirt. I reach down quickly in the middle of taking the recycling out. I feel strong. Proud. Accomplished. Other vines are a bit more established and sneaky too. They strategically tangle themselves up in flowers or bushes in difficult to reach places. I want to grab them at their roots so I’m not repeating this process every week or so. But this can be an awkward task and falling-into-the-bushes hard.
Lately, I have had the most challenging time pulling these vines out of our rosebushes. It’s a tedious and painful process, especially for a woman who never wears gloves. Every time I have tried to help the rose bushes, I end up bleeding. Poke. Ouch. Stab. Stab. Ouch. Cuss. Those thorns don’t mess around. They hurt. I suppose they are fulfilling their purpose. They are the aggressive protectors of some of the most brightly colored and fragrant flowers. I investigate and interrogate the thorns but they don’t care that I’m trying to help the beautiful flowers too. Our rose bushes are getting all choked up, literally, by the sneaky vines that wrap up and around their delicate branches and stems.
I sow some of my deepest thoughts outside. While I am bleeding from the thorn attacks, it occurs to me that we, beautiful and complex humans, have our own thorns. We often overprotect ourselves from things that may hinder our growth. We want to keep moving in the direction of light but sometimes our thorns injure those who want to help. Those trying to clean up our vines or prune our branches. Thankfully, if we are lucky, we have those relentless green thumb kind of people who won’t let a little flesh wound stop the weeding.
Those loyal and faithful friend, sister, and mother gardeners don’t give up. They keep after us even while we poke them, sometimes purposely, sometimes unknowingly with our ever-present thorns. Oftentimes, these vine gardeners are the people who know us the very best and still love us the most. They possess the instinctual power to feel the vines choking us. They show up at the times when we are trying our hardest to stop growing through the pain. Or stop growing altogether. Or perhaps we momentarily surrendered to letting our prickly thorns do all the talking.
It’s not so bad to have the thorns. After all, we are each such beautiful complex creatures. But, we have to recognize the potential of our thorns. To hurt. Isolate. And create physical and emotional distance from those who wear gloves and come ready to gently untangle the vines that surround us.
Letting others help us is one of love’s most humbling and delicate tasks. The practice takes root with a wheel barrow full of patience and our willingness to surrender control. I recently read one of Brennan Manning’s books, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat. I nearly copied the entire book since I borrowed it from the library. I highly recommend it. Among so many others, I love this excerpt,
“The child spontaneously expresses emotions; the Pharisee carefully represses them. To open yourself to another person…is a sign of the Holy Spirit. To ignore, repress, or dismiss our feelings is to fail to listen to the stirrings of the Spirit within our emotional life. Jesus listened, cried, got frustrated, righteously angry, and felt sorrow for people in pain.”
When I untangled the vines creeping up their fragile branches, the roses didn’t say “thank you.” They didn’t need to. Their beauty, their fragrance, and their mere existence is enough. Just as giving and surrendering our entire selves for each other is enough. More than enough.
Don’t worry about me when I’m writing. I’m processing. I’m sharing what I’m feeling. Or what I’ve already felt. I’m reliving or retelling a moment in time. Not a perpetual state of mind. Perhaps, worry about me when I stop. When I’m silent. Apathetic. Hopeless. Without you knowing. When I’m numb. Worry about me when my feelings have gotten all clogged up in the drain of my heart or my head. When they’re packed in over time, too hard. I can’t get them out. They’re stuck. Trapped. Going nowhere.
Writing helps me. It frees me from my overthinking. Super size feeling. It breaks my pursed lips and opens my tightly crossed arms. It grabs the door handle to a closet filled with all kinds of thoughts. Life-giving kite flying thoughts and life-robbing, weighted thoughts. Pesky untrue thoughts that have the power to alienate, isolate and suffocate me. If I let them.
But I won’t.
I did for a long time. I closed my eyes. I would not peek. It was my choice to see that there was no light. I could dim or brighten my room the way that I wanted. Pretend. Escape. I built a lonely hiding spot. Nobody knew to find me.
I was afraid to open my eyes to see things the way they were. Maybe it was the kind of pitch blackness that confused me. Is it that dark or was it me, were my eyes shut so tightly? Where’s my hand? There was a thunderous sigh, a release, when I recognized that I possessed the power to open my eyes. Immediately, my perspective changed. I noticed the small crack of light from underneath the door. Then, I realized if I grabbed the handle, I could slowly open up the door and let myself out.
When another person says with their words or with their eyes that they’ve been there or felt something similar too, the light floods in. Opening up the dark hidden linen closet of his heart or her mind. It’s freeing. Like finally breathing without someone’s hands covering your mouth. Like a kite bobbing up and down on a fluffy big clouded day.
Feelings, thoughts, and worries escape. They’re not so consuming or heavy in the light. They’re less powerful, less heavy. More healing. It’s like holding your breath.
Holding your breath.
Holding your breath.
The pressure releases.
Freedom begins. The tiny yet enormous healing power to live in the way that you choose. You do have control. It’s not an illusion. You’re no magician but you fight, you learn how to escape. Those are the unpurchased gifts waiting in the cart of your mind: perseverance, hope, God’s constant presence, time and experience. After experience.
There are many hidden exits to get you out of your mind. When you discover them, remember to tromp, tromp, tromp your heavy, weary feet on your way out.
You will leave easy-to-trace tracks for yourself the next time.
You will find the door handle more quickly. You will remember to tell others you’re hiding. You will take your pen and moleskin notebook and you will write your way out.
I’ve spooned many dark nights with sadness. I’ve arm-wrestled with anger. I’ve sobbed on the bathroom floor with disappointment. I’ve had one too many drinks with resentment. I’ve hand-cuffed myself to shame. Apathy and I have stared outside my kitchen window. I’ve shared a tarnished best friend’s necklace with inadequacy. Fear has driven me home many nights.
Uncomfortable. Miserable. Trudging. Falling. Bargaining. Despising. All-consuming. Short-lived. Neverending.
I will allow you a brief cameo in my life. On my stage. In my thoughts. Then, I will close the curtain on you.
I recognize you. I’ve met you. I know exactly who you are. And what you are. You’re necessary. Yet, you’re one dimensional.
But I am not.
Goodbye for now. The unknown. My temporary struggles. I have made long term plans with peace. Joy is on my speed dial. My soul patiently holds her hand out for me. Grace knows the code to my garage door. Self-compassion opens her arms wide to hold my truths. Because I have love and mercy overflowing, I will not run dry in the midst of pain, uncertainty and my struggles. My discomfort and questions and lack of answers will not consume me. My faith will steady me.
I will be watching the setting sun before me admiring the gorgeous colors of the sky as they change every day. I will hear the giggling boy beside me. I will push on his left-sided dimple and I will point to mine. I always will be healing. I will never stop growing. As long as I am living. I will stumble. I will fall. And I will get back up again.
Struggles and strengths. They will lead me through this complicated world filled with hope.
God has never left me. He hears my sighs, my laughter and my tears. Jesus feels my pain. And He willingly fills my love tank. The Holy Spirit revives me, recharges me, inspires me. Time after time again.
I am overcoming.
I’m trying, God.
But you’re going to need to help me out tonight. Right now.
This is a really long shift.
How am I doing?
I feel like I’m flailing. Tumbling. Or failing. Maybe all three.
Where do I need to improve? It seems like everywhere.
I prayed as I loaded the dirty dishes. Tears dripped down my face. Below freezing temps give me the never ending chills. The winter funk. I thought about stepping outside to see if my tears would freeze. They’re probably too salty. Maybe the bitter air would numb my overfeeling heart. And solidify my tears. A cool crying experiment of sorts. My dog would probably come lick my face repeatedly and ruin my weird backyard science lab.
Why do the smallest things ignite the fastest growing fires?
I need a winter hummingbird, God. Please. Send one.
Spilled hot chocolate. Rejection. Dishes everywhere. Insecurities fall onto the floor. I sop them up with a small stained dishcloth. Back and forth I walk to the sink to wring out the mess.
I hear the dragging sound of a nine year old boy’s house shoes behind me. He doesn’t pick up his feet, much like his mother.
“Mom? Sorry your day was stressful.”
Oh, he noticed. Perhaps he sees my smeared eye makeup. Or did I remove my heavy daytime armor revealing my worn-out nighttime emotions and feelings underneath?
My sensitive-souled boy hugs me. I rest my head on his. A few tears slowly sneak out. I don’t let go. Not yet.
“I love you the morst, Mom.”
I know in my thirty eight year old heart. It’s not possible.
“I love you the morst, buddy.”
My winter hummingbird stares me in the eyes. Hanging in my kitchen window. Sheltered from the snow. A reminder of my Grandma’s love. Given to me by a dear friend who sees, hears and listens with her heart.
I am trying. And some days my trying is better than others. You know this, God.
Thank you for moving me. Past my fears, insecurities, failures and doubts for tonight. Thank you for helping me notice the fluttering boy that entered the room.
I trust that God sees me. He grabs the paddles and resuscitates me with endless love and ever-present hope. Fills me with a warm peace. He surrounds me with tiny moments that reveal the love tucked away, sometimes under the snow. He hears my cries, the silent and the loud ones, in between the running water and the dishes clanging. He holds a place for my busy thoughts, slithering worries, constant questions and my hopes that get trapped, forgotten or lost in my heart-mind translation. He gently transforms my defeated thoughts.
Please send me a winter hummingbird.
I asked for one. And I had the honor of saying “goodnight” to three.
Oh, my beating heart. Thank you for those hummingbird boys of mine. They love with an energy and passion and joy that leaves me humbled. Inspired.
I’m trying, God.
I will keep trying.