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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

For Kevin

Today would have been my friend Kevin’s 32nd birthday and I wish so badly that I could call him and tell him I’m thinking of him and reminisce about old times together.

I don’t know all the details about why he chose to take his own life this past fall, but I think there must have been despair and there must have been isolation and the very deepest pain.

Kevin was a loyal friend.  He was intelligent and sensitive and thoughtful.  He was compassionate and empathetic.  He was fun and interested in lots of things for their own sake.

I’m tempted to spend the day sitting in my chair and crying and asking why.  I’m tempted to blame myself and every other person in his life for failing him.  I’m tempted to force the things I don’t understand to make sense.

I struggle against these thoughts to remind myself that God’s tender-loving-kindness is greater than anything else.  So instead I’m making chicken stock and crying, and doing dishes and crying, and feeding my cat and crying.

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A Stark Place

 

 

Last week I saw a man shot and killed.

 

I wish that was a metaphor, or that I was being poetic or something, but I’m not.

 

A woman ran into the store where I was shopping, shouting to call 911, that someone had been shot.  From the self-checkout area, we looked up and there he was just outside the doors.  I stood there dumbly, refusing to believe it was real.  He’d probably just tripped, or fainted.  I hadn’t even heard the gunshots.  This wasn’t happening.

 

I’m a person who looks for meaning in every little thing, but my mind has been unable to latch onto anything meaningful.  And I don’t have the stomach for a trite moral to the story.  He deserves so much more than that.

 

My questions in the wake of this experience, and in the face of mass-scale tragedies like the recent earthquake in Japan and ensuing tsunami in the Pacific, have changed.  Rather than asking what it means, I’m asking where God is, and I’m looking for God ferociously.

 

And looking for God has been painful.  It means that I have to go back and remember where I was and what I saw.  It means I have to sit with those memories, and ask God to sit with me.  God, who felt so absent.  God, who let this happen.

 

Though I’m still shaky when I think about it, and my voice cracks when I try to speak of it, this is what I’m beginning to see:

 

 

God was the two young men who ran to the back of the store to get ice.

 

God was hysterical woman who couldn’t peel herself away from the doorway.

 

God was the man on the cell phone with one hand on the man who’d been shot.

 

God was standing at the self-checkout area, too horror-struck to move.

 

God was the employee who stayed at the customer service counter to help customers.

 

 

And God is still grieving with the family and friends of the dead man, whose name I wish I knew.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve mentioned this hibiscus plant before.  One full week into Lent, it’s become my official mascot.

 

“Several months ago, I found a hibiscus plant in a dumpster. Half of it was dead, but the other half was perfectly healthy. It had been raining, and as I carried it home, the dripping five-gallon planter was so heavy I thought my arms might fall off.

It thrived out on the balcony until I brought it inside the night of the first freeze in late fall. Though it took up residence in the sunroom for several months, it limped through the winter. I did, too.

When spring came in the South with an explosion of warm weather in early February, I moved it back outside. Now I watch in awe as new life emerges from it daily. I observe the sprouting of each leaf and the development of each bud with joyful anticipation. It makes me wonder about God’s own experience of watching all of creation — including each person — grow and come into fullness of being.”

 

(Click here to read the full article in the March issue of PeaceSigns.)

 

 

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I don’t want to be

slothfully

slumbering,

slipping and

slouching or

sinking.

 

I want to be

Alert!

Alive!

Active!

Attentive!

Aware!

 

I want to get up — to feel, to see, to hear, to touch, to taste.

 

To love, to heal, to comfort, to play.

 

To laugh and not languish.

 

I don’t want to sleep anymore – I want to wake!

 

 

 

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He and my husband are not on speaking terms; they only hiss at each other.  He is convinced that Cyrus is going to pounce on him at any moment.  Okay, maybe he did one time, but that’s not the point.

 

My sister Andi likes to ask him (Cyrus, not my husband) why he always wears white pants and a black jacket.

 

He bats at the spikey balls that have fallen on the balcony, and then runs away.  He does the same thing with bugs.

 

I first met Cyrus at the animal shelter in Martinez, California, in January of 2002.  Most of the other animals had signs on their cages that said things like “destroys furniture” or “attacks children”.  His said “found in field” and his “expiration date” was six days away.  When I picked him up he clung to me with no intention of letting go.  So I asked him if he wanted to come home with me.

 

I named him after Cyrus the Great of Persia, and because I like names like that.  He has moved with me six times, and lived in three states across the country.  He’s an indoor cat that likes to go outside sometimes as long as the door is left open so he can dash back inside if he sees his own shadow.  My husband says he’s a scaredy cat.  Most of our friends have never seen him.

 

He doesn’t have a real meow, but makes a sound more along the lines of a bird chirp.

 

He mostly behaves and is not allowed on counters or tables.  Before we moved into our current abode I used to cover the furniture with sheets at night so he wouldn’t get cat hair all over everything.  Now we have a sunroom and that’s where his litter box, cat carrier/grotto, and the playhouse and kitty couch that I made out of cardboard boxes are.  At night, and when we’re not home, I just close the door.

 

For several days after I brought him home from the shelter I thought something was wrong with his back legs.  He didn’t walk upright, but rather slinked.  When he finally did walk upright it was as though a miracle had happened.

 

When he wasn’t slinking around he was on my lap, which seemed to be normal, cat-like behavior.  But that hasn’t happened since that first week.  Mostly he likes to sit somewhere near me, but not be touched.

 

Did I mention he had worms and kennel cough?

 

Cyrus loves to lie in the sun like a lizard and will follow its rays as they move across the room.  If he catches me watching him he sits up straight and tall, waits for a moment, and then comes running to me, whether I’ve called him or not.

 

When I leave the apartment and ask him to go in the sunroom he usually gives me a chirp or two, then gets up lazily and walks into the sunroom.  Don’t tell me he doesn’t understand me.

 

I’ve left him by himself for up to ten days at a time with massive bowls of food and water.  I’m never worried about him when I leave.  But the whole way home I can’t stop thinking, “I hope he’s not dead”.

 

Cyrus may be more than a little skittish, but I love to watch him observe the world around him.  His ears finely tuned to every rustle of leaves, every flap of a wing, with his eyes wide, catching every flash of movement.  Not that he’d actually pounce on anything other than a dried leaf (and my husband that one time).

 

But he’s my gato and I love him.

 

 

 

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Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.

 

 

 

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Newness

Hahn Woods, Atlanta

 

 

It is coming.

 

 

 

 

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