Thursday, January 5, 2012

For Margot

It was two years ago today I lost you.

When I woke that morning, I had no idea that in just a few short hours my whole world would be turned upside down.  That morning, I woke with you curled in between my legs; belly up - the way you always slept once you crossed over from light to deep sleep.  It was my day off so we layed in bed for some time before I got up to get your food ready.  Your warm body still buried under the covers, I sang you the  stupid made-up song I sang to you every morning before I made you get out of bed.  I kissed your belly and took you outside for your morning bathroom trip.

I left to meet friends for lunch and coffee.  You followed me to the door and I tossed out a nonchalant, "See you later, baby girl," before I locked the door behind me.  I went about my day, laughing with my friends and chain smoking cigarettes without a care in the world until I came back to our apartment a few hours later.  I still can't bring myself to write out the details of how the back end of the day unravelled.  I know this because I choked back a sob at the thought of it just now.

It took me months to stop crying throughout the day.  I dreaded the mornings because I would wake up and remember, and I hated the nights because the hole you left in my heart hurt so badly at times I thought I, too, would die.  I thought about you and what happened all the time, wondering if I could have done something differently to change things; to have you with me again.  I obsessed about what you went through or what you felt in between the time I left you at the apartment and the time I came home.  I was angry at the unfairness of it all, and hated the people I saw on the streets with their dogs.  I never thought I would get used to a life without you.  I never thought my broken heart would heal.

Losing you changed me.  I am a different person. The death of someone close changes a person - the books I read around this subject and the words of people close to me who have experienced loss told me this would be the case.  I will never be the same person I was back then.  Little by little, though, I was able to acknowledge beauty around me again.  Many beautiful things transpired both inside and around me that probably never would have happened had I not lost you.  It took me almost a year to say that out loud; I thought that by saying it I was somehow saying that it was OK you were no longer with me or that it was better without you.  But admitting this is simply acknowledging that what He promised us is true - He brings about good through every hard situation.  He really does.

I still miss you desperately sometimes.  On a given day, something I see or hear will hit me just right and I cry.  I still cry.  You and I were best friends.  We were always together.  I loved you more than anything else on earth.  But I hid behind you - I hid behind you often.  Because I did not trust people, I poured all that love into you, believing you were the one thing I could love and be loved back without fear.  Once that was gone; once YOU were gone,  I fell apart.

I whispered a prayer out loud that Jesus would give you special attention today.  I asked that He give you a big hug and kiss and tell you that your mom misses you and loves you...that she will never forget you...that no other dog will ever have the place in my heart that you did...and you know what?  I felt like you were just happy I was OK.  And you know what, baby girl?  I am.  I really am.

I will love you always.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cultivation Of The Heart

In your presence, I felt at home.
I felt awake, alive - whole?
You gave me back something I had thought lost, forgotten - impossible?

You spoke to me in a way no one else did, no one else could,
And I listened to you, storing your words away in my heart with a dangerous hope - 
A hope that was lost, destroyed - misplaced?

Your place in my heart was solely yours.
I trusted you completely without an idea, thought - fear?
That you would hurt me.

But hurt me you did.
I bleed from my heart, from my soul, waiting for this pain to cease - 
The sharpest of pains that leaves me breathless, sick - hopeless?

Trust in no one, I tell myself.  Never again.
The hole you left in my heart is much like your presence in my life once was,
Solely, completely - yours?

I will grieve as long as is necessary, I will not rush to forget,
For my heart is broken and needs tending to,
And I desire it to be healed, free - whole?

Whole it will be again, He says to me in the dark.
I have not forgotten you, He whispers in my hair.
You will love again someday, sometime - soon?

For as surely as the morning comes, so just as surely know,
I am cultivating beautiful things in your heart from this loss.
Things you needed to discover, understand - believe?

Before you could become the woman I created you to be,
A woman I have always been proud to call mine,
A woman with great significance, purpose - heart?

Breathe, my love.
You are understood, accepted - beloved.

Friday, August 26, 2011

For Kate

My dear friend, Kate, lost her older sister very unexpectedly just two weeks ago.  Kate lives in New Orleans and it has been hard to be away from her in this time.  As we cried together tonight over the phone, I couldn't help but think about how short life, in an instant, your life is radically different from what it used to be.  And will never be the same.

Those close to me know that I have always been borderline obsessed with making sure that the people I love know exactly how I feel about them all the time, every day - how much their life and their presence in mine means to me.  It is the possibility of the unexpected that drives me to this.  I am terrified of that phone call that Kate experienced - it takes your breath away.  It makes you crazy.  She said that she screamed a scream that she had never screamed before and wanted to run out into the street with arms flailing because she didn't know what to do with herself.  Now, she just feels alone.  No one understands.  No one knows what to do.  And unfortunately, this usually means that no one does anything at all.

I have no idea what it would feel like to lose a sister.  None at all.  But I have lost.  I have felt and experienced great loss, both through death and circumstance.  And I definitely know what it feels like to be feel so much all the time and to hold that so very close to myself because the truth would be too much to say out loud.  So alone I stand.  Oh, Kate.  My heart aches for you...I love you so much.

In the presence of darkness, stand tall.  Allow yourself to simply be.  Try to let people in a little bit at a time, but be careful about who you choose.  For the treasure of an open heart can be easily abused and mistreated...misunderstood.  Know that you are loved.  So loved - and at the end of the day, if you stand in your own meadow of hope and awareness of who you truly are - it won't matter so much that people don't understand.  For you will know by this who desires to love you for where you are at.  And though this awareness will never replace the one you have lost, it most certainly will plant a seed that will - in time - create a deep peace within your soul that whispers to you in those dark moments - "You are not alone."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Watch Me Soar

When I was just a baby bird, I fell out of the nest.  It was a long and painful fall that should, should, should have killed me.  I wished, wished, wished that it would have; instead, my fall only left me crippled and alone.  I chirped, chirped, chirped "come save me!" "come see me!" "come take me home!" where I would be safe.  No one heard me.

I jumped, jumped, jumped on my one good leg from tree to tree to find someone who would take me in; give me a home; help me feel safe.  I stared, stared, stared up at the beautiful trees.  There were many, many, many that I saw that looked to be perfect for a baby bird like me.  I sang, sang, sang my sad song to the trees with my neck stretched upwards towards their branches.  The trees whispered among themselves in debate.  It was a risk, risk, risk to take me in.  But the song I sang; oh, it was mesmerizing.  They could not, not, not say no.  I made my home in their midst and flitted from one tree to another to make sure, sure, sure I had found the best one.  I rested, rested, rested at long last.

One night a great windstorm came and I was not, not, not strong enough to stay.  I fell, fell, fell again; this fall more painful, even, than the first.  I could not fly.  I could not flit.  I could not sing.  I was dead, dead dead inside and gave up all hope.  I spent many, many, many days and nights alone without a single chirp.  I waited, waited, waited for the animals to come and carry me away.  I willed, willed, willed them to come.  They did not.

A little boy came one day and found, found, found me.  He took me home to his house and nursed me back to health. He loved, loved, loved me despite the fact that I could not fly and could not walk.  He sang, sang, sang to me in hopes that I would sing back to him.  He did not know that I had decided long ago to never, never, never sing again.  I watched, watched, watched this boy skeptically and waited for him to give up on me.  He never, never, never did.  He cried, cried, cried at night for me and prayed with all his might that I would sing and fly again.  I watched on in sorrow.  For I wanted, wanted, wanted to be what this boy thought I was.

In the afternoons, he would cart me around in a hand-made bird bed made just for me to show, show, show me a world that felt strange.  He took, took, took me one day to a doctor who knew everything about me.  The doctor said not a word.  But his eyes; they held something I wanted for myself.  We spoke, spoke, spoke to each other without words for a very long time.  I felt, felt, felt something I had forgotten.  I timidly let out a small chirp, full of fear.  He smiled, smiled, smiled at me and encouraged me to sing.  I was silent, silent, silent for a long time.  He waited patiently.  I began to sing my sad song very softly for him and he stopped, stopped, stopped me with a look.  I quieted and was confused, confused, confused.  It was the only song I knew.  I wanted, wanted, wanted to please him but did not know how.  He waited.  I waited.  Slowly I began again, again, again my familiar song.  He stopped me once more with his eyes.  They were sad, sad, sad eyes full of love and compassion.

I realized, realized, realized in an instant what he wanted from me.  I inhaled and took, took, took the deepest breath I had ever mustered.  I blindly, blindly, blindly began a new song; beautiful and true married strange and unfamiliar in the minutes that followed as I sang my little heart out; a new song.  He nodded, nodded, nodded with pride and approval.  I beamed, beamed, beamed at him and basked in his love.  He reached, reached, reached down and scooped me up.  He took me to his window and set me down, down, down gingerly.  I cringed, cringed, cringed away from the sunlight.  I tried to tell him with my eyes that I could not fly; that my wings, wings, wings had been permanently damaged beyond repair.  Once, once, once more he waited.  Once more his eyes, eyes, eyes implored me to try.  I hopped, hopped, hopped to the edge and looked out at the world I had convinced myself only brought hurt.  I sang, sang, sang my sad song once more and looked to him for permission to back away.  He did not give me what I wanted.

I sat, sat, sat on this window ledge for days that turned into weeks that turned into months that turned into years.  The doctor came to be with me every, every, every day and watched me look out his window hopefully; fearfully.  I could not, not, not let him down.  I needed, needed, needed to show him that he was wrong about me; that I was not capable of this feat.  Without, without, without thinking one afternoon I reached out my broken wing towards the world and put all my weight into my final fall.  I was ready, ready, ready to die.    I fell, fell, fell.  Suddenly, a breeze caught my good wing and flung me upwards.  I grappled, grappled, grappled with my bad wing, willing it to catch up to the other with all the strength my frail body was capable of.  I was scared, scared, scared and waited to hit the ground.

A miracle, miracle, miracle happened as I felt my wing respond to my efforts.  I teetered, teetered, teetered from left to right as I tried to gain momentum and stay aflight.  And just like that - I was soaring, soaring, soaring in the air.  A joy, joy, joy filled my small heart as I turned to look at the doctors' window; for there he was.  Smiling, smiling, smiling and jumping up and down screaming out with all his might, "I knew you could!  I knew you would!  Oh, how I have been waiting for this day!"  I sang my new song and soared around him while he clapped, clapped, clapped.  I felt free for the first, first, first time in my life and absolutely beautiful.  Watch me soar, soar, soar dear friend.  Watch me soar.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Paradox Prayer...And Jill

My spiritual mentor introduced me to the concept of the paradox prayer early in our sessions together.  This prayer is something designed to bring us back to the Truth vs. our own human inclinations towards self-destructive behavioral patterns, thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  It's something I have struggled with from the beginning - this admittance of your deepest fears spoken out loud; your worst thoughts/feelings about yourself in conjunction with how God sees these fears and how He sees you.  The end result can bring hope and clarity, but the process is painful.

Jill meets with the same spiritual mentor I do and I have always found it liberating and helpful beyond words that we can speak the same language in this way and help point each other towards Truth in our struggles.  Jill loves the paradox prayer and has an easier time wrapping her head around the premise of it than I do.  But it wasn't always this way for her.  I was sitting across the table from her yesterday morning and asked her how she would explain the paradox prayer to someone who knew nothing about it.  She said something like this...

The paradox prayer is just that - a paradox.  It's bringing into the Light things we fear we are or fear we will become.  Directly after stating out loud said fear, we make a statement - a true statement...that God loves and accepts us in spite of this fear and that because of this, we love and accept ourselves as well.  She used an example of one of my fears - "Even though I am unlovable, God loves and accepts me.  Even though I am unlovable, I love and accept myself."

I countered - "But deep down I don't think that I am unlovable.  It seems like you are promoting negative self-talk in the paradox prayer and it makes you feel bad.  Can't you say, even if I am unlovable...?"

She explained that the words someone chooses for their paradox prayer are deep fears, and that even if deep down we don't believe that theses words we choose are true about ourselves, the fact that we think them on some logical level means that it is something we believe or fear to be true.  Therefore, it is important that we speak them in a "worst case scenario" context in order for the paradox prayer to bring true freedom.  The prayer brings you out of human emotion and fear and forces you to focus on the only thing that really matters - how God sees you.  Nothing else matters.  We should all see ourselves and each other in this way.  It brings security, freedom and hope and enables us to view ourselves and those around us in a healthy way.

Thanks, Jill.  So, this one is for God, myself and Jill...

Even though I am unlovable, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am unlovable, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am insecure, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am insecure, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am abandoned, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am abandoned, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am worthless, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am worthless, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am discarded, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am discarded, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am brokenhearted, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am brokenhearted, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am weak and needy, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am weak and needy, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am pathetic, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am pathetic, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am broken, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am broken, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am insignificant, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am insignificant, I love and accept myself.

Even though my self-worth is centered in all the wrong places and people, God loves and accepts me.
Even though my self-worth is centered in all the wrong places and people, I love and accept myself.

Even though I am alone, God loves and accepts me.
Even though I am alone, I love and accept myself.

And then from the emptiness of my broken soul and spirit He said to me,

Nothing else matters but My love for you and how I view you.  People have a choice.  How they view you will not always be accurate.  Their choices to love you or reject you are their own and about them; not you.  I love you endlessly.  You are perfect and blameless.  I want your whole heart.  I want you to trust Me and put your hope in Me and Me alone.  I will heal you.  I am enough.  It doesn't matter to Me that you are not unlike one of My calves learning to walk for the millionth time on wobbly, unstable legs.  I am so very proud of you.  I will show you My heart if you chase after Me as I continue to chase after you.  I am not afraid of baby steps.  We will get there together if you let Me in.  Trust Me, Jamie.  Trust Me.  I will not fail you and desire to show you unspeakably beautiful things about My heart and your own.  I know you are terrified but I promise I will always love you and will never leave you.  Move forward with confidence.  You are mine.

And I whispered "thank you" through my tears.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Beloved

Believe me when I tell you that My heart broke each time I watched you experience pain...I didn't want that for you.  You thought for so long that I left you out on a cliff by yourself to scream and yell and cry - arms beating the air with clenched fists balled so tight no human could pry them apart.  You went to that cliff because you wanted to be where no one could reach you...the strong, stubborn heart I gave you listened to lies, giving you a false sense of control and comfort in the pain you feel at home in.  I stood just behind you there on the edge every time, waiting for you to grab My hand so I could pull you to a less precarious place.  You wanted to do it yourself and I gave you the freedom to try.

I remember the last day you went there alone with great pride.  It was a particularly stormy night with winds that threatened to knock you over the edge and a rain that stung your upturned face.  You acknowledged Me in that moment.  You were honest.  And as you screamed and cried I sent My ocean - waves large and beautiful to crash at the bottom of your cliff; so loud they drowned out your voice.  You stopped, turned around and looked at Me with broken, beautiful eyes.  We stared at each other wordlessly for hours as the wind whipped around us mercilessly and the ocean roared below.  With tears streaming down your face you reached our your hand towards Me.  I took it and pulled you in close.  You only let Me hold you for a second, but I am not afraid of baby steps.

You still go to the cliff, but it's different now.  It is no longer your cliff, but our cliff and you allow Me to hold you for longer and longer moments each time.  I love you completely.  And though you can never comprehend the depths of My love, you have finally understood that in Me, every ending is a new beginning.  I have always had a bright future planned for you, my darling, and I'm excited to unveil it.  Watch and see.  I cannot be anything but good.

All My Love For All Eternity,

Your Father


What does being in the desert look like for you?  How does your heart feel when you wake in the morning?  When you pray, do you hear Him?  Do you feel loved for who you are deep down inside or who you pretend to be?  Are you scared?  Do you cry tears of brokenness?  And who do you let in?  Who can you trust and how do you know you are safe?  Who do you speak to about these things if anyone at all...

Early morning sun wakes me and I roll over and murmer "no."  First tears of the day bring sadness instead of relief.  I lay in bed for several minutes speaking to You aloud in phrases; phrases that only You can understand.  I do not hear You.  The silence is palpable.  I am struck by a deep fear that this desert I am in will be forever...that I will never leave; that You want me to learn something I am incapable of retaining.  This brokenness; this brokenness - this is not Your plan for me.  It cannot be.  Yet my fear of letting go of my heart holds me in chains to this state of being.  I am strong and stubborn; fiery and passionate; strong-willed and prideful.  These attributes in me beckon me to the dark place...I want to embrace them and hate You.  I want to blame You.  I want to run from You.  But I cannot do any of these things because the Truth is more powerful.  You tell me that I am wonderfully made, but I cannot see it.  I refuse to see it because my assuredness in who I believe myself to be tells me otherwise.  I am begging You to take me from here; take me to a safe place where I can be with You and curl up in a ball on your lap and cry in safety.  I cannot learn here - in my desert.  I am frozen in pain and cannot address what I need to within myself because of it.  You say that You love me and I foolishly believe You.  Please...take me away.