Accompaniment

I am constantly amazed at how dis-attached I feel from myself, others, and the earth when I do not live in rhythm with the seasons. The seasons are good teachers for us. They show us that change does come, that beauty –and hardship– is to be found in change. The winter is beautiful, but in a dormant kind of way. The spring is full of life it seems, but still brings a lethal frost. The summer draws us into long, enduring warmth but can overheat us in our epidermal exchange. The fall brings us more vivid colors than we could ever dream up by ourselves, but with the color comes death. The seasons remind us that death is a part of life, for it is as natural a cycle as any; without death, we would not have life. The seasons are reminders of the good gifts that the earth gives: the harvest, the sunsets, the rain, the protective layer of Ozone.

It is good to live into the change of seasons, to tarry with them in their ebb and flow.

All of life is dynamic. It must be dynamic to stay in equilibrium. For if it becomes static, it is dead.

Though there is little about life that is immune to change, relationships of all kinds can ground us to weather the change.

That friend who is ceaselessly present especially when you do not quite know how to go on. That lover who fills you with more joy than you thought possible. That parent, whether kin or by choice, who believes that you can do anything. That sibling whose relationship with you has evolved from rivalry to friendship. That grandparent who tells you stories of your heritage, stories they have lived with courage, joy, pain, and even regret. That neighbor who works to live in community with you. Those colleagues who you spend more time with than some of your family members….slowly, they become family.

It takes courage and commitment to sustain a table conversation with someone that lasts a lifetime. The novelty of the person, however you know them, wears off and so does yours for them. What is left is a deep, sustaining aura that draws you in. Somehow, they sing a song that is similar to your own, if you listen closely enough. “I believe in you”, “I love spending time with you”, “you can trust me”, they sing. They forgive you when your flaws and insecurities fester like gaping, infected wounds and you respond out of the pain. You forgive the same way. You share tables with them on the holidays or at least send loving well wishes.

These folks do not make change any easier or harder; they just commit, whether implicitly or explicitly, to do the change with you. You and they become seasoned travelers together on the journey of life.

I think this is the way that the Creator God designed it to be.

Accompaniment.

May it ever be so.

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Pieces

In wintertime, amnesia arrives,

she makes it easy to forget,

to forget that spring will come,

that new life is awaiting in dormancy,

that sunshine will return and coat us,

that humans care about each other.

 

In winter, I start to forget faces,

the faces I’ve loved,

eyes that are no longer looking into mine,

hugs that I can’t feel anymore,

voices that I can no longer remember,

and I curse mother amnesia, as I pray,

for returned memories,

a smile,

a piece of advice,

an exhortation,

a song,

a day spent together.

 

And then I remember,

in a moment’s brevity,

that they live within me, in my spirit.

My passions, my battles, my joys, my sorrows,

swirl in me, cultivated by their love.

That song which inspires so,

came from her,

That resilience which sustains long days,

came from him.

 

Pieces of them in me,

I live to honor their memories,

I stand on their shoulders,

their mistakes,

their successes,

their endurance.

 

And as spring greets me, I remember,

the pieces of them in me.


Who are you remembering this winter?

James Taylor, Cranberry Sauce, & the Bengay

Many folks are slowing their lives down this week to remember a few things that they find beautiful and for which they are thankful. It seems like we all need a break. The dust has settled and we are exhausted from a hurricane and a long, emotional presidential election. We need a day where we recall some happiness even if it isn’t quite as vivid today as it might have been in the past.

I was sitting next to a classmate this week and we were discussing Thanksgiving food schedules and family endeavors. After going through a family situation that had left him estranged, he decided that Thanksgiving didn’t do much for him. Rather than bringing him joyful reunions, this time of year was a painful reminder of what he once had. Thankfully, he had plans to spend the holiday with friends who didn’t seem to get the memo that holidays must be spent with blood kin.

The conversation forced me to think about what Thanksgiving really means. It can’t solely mean time spent with relatives because lots of folks, like this friend, don’t have the opportunity to feast with family. It can’t solely mean eating great food because lots of folks don’t have that either and you know, some of us, may actually be allergic to turkey! It can’t solely mean celebrating traditions because new ones are made each year.

No, I suspect the meaning of Thanksgiving cannot be so easily defined. Perhaps at its most basic element, it means just what it says. Thanks giving. Gratitude. A time to reflect on the folks who make our lives beautiful. The ones who stir our souls and make us giddy inside. Many times these folks aren’t blood relatives, but they are, in every way, our family… because family are the folks that surround and love us at our best and at our worst. And celebrating those people today… well… that’s Thanksgiving to me.

As I was cooking a squash casserole yesterday, James Taylor’s classic, “You’ve Got a Friend” came on, the lyrics seemed pretty appropriate:

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am,
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call,
and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, you’ve got a friend.

So as I celebrate this Thanksgiving with some Bengay on my hip and cranberry sauce between my teeth, I’m a grateful girl for the folks that consistently show me what love and grace look like. Some are related by blood, but most have somehow worked their way past my walls and into my heart.

So a very happy day to you as you read this. May the day live up to everything you define Thanksgiving as. And most of all, may you have a friend today.

Something Unpredictable

Inevitably life comes in seasons. Much like the four seasons that greet us at the door each year, we journey through a sectioned life. Seasons in our lives change. Change perpetuates more change. It’s not all bad… because we need that change to grow. People enter and leave our lives for seasons. And sometimes that’s ok… and sometimes it hurts terribly.

So how do you endure… how do you persist?

First, knowing who you are is key. You have to understand your passions, your personality, your body and then sanction all of the above. Learning to be kind to yourself is a necessity. You have to know that when you are on your knees praying, your voice matters. You matter.

Next, it helps to understand the following helpful (rather painful) lesson. Some people who you have given your heart to and love deeply just can’t give that back to you. Maybe it’s because they don’t have it to give. Maybe they still don’t know who they are. Maybe they are just stretched too thin. Maybe they are fighting a bigger battle than you can compete with. Or maybe you just aren’t their person (Grey’s Anatomy reference). Here’s the thing: you can’t force that relationship… as much as you want it to happen, you have to let them go. As painful as it is, you have to release them.

You have to let them go so they can be. Let them be. And be kind to yourself, knowing you’ve just created more room for the right person for you. Or just room for you to breathe again and keep growing.

Often when you let something go, something that matters greatly, you get it back again. Maybe it’s time to let someone go.

And last, you focus on those people in your life who do not change with the seasons. The ones who will hold you in bed when you are exhausted and the ones who will sit down at the kitchen table after their busy day to hear about yours. The ones who let you double dip. The ones who plop down next to you while you cry or confess your deepest insecurities. The ones who you can call 24/7. The ones who look into your eyes, and without speaking, tell you they’ll love you forever.

The ones who would be crushed if you weren’t in their lives tomorrow.

So thank those people in your life today because it takes a lot of bravery to love you like that.

For an INFP like me, this lesson may be one of the hardest I ever have to learn. But the learning of it, is also the path to freedom and hopefully, on the other side of the cloud, the sun’s just waiting to shine.

Have you had to let people go? How do you show those who love you that you appreciate them?

What Does Fall Mean to You?

Let’s just be honest, out of the four seasons, fall is the most dramatic. She is the loudest and most vibrant. She takes up all the space in the room. You just have to pay attention to fall. She’s the one at the party who’s had a little too much punch and is graciously singing Celine Dion to everyone. Her fancy name is autumn equinox (Sept. 22) and in her honor, I’m blogging about what she means to me. And I’d really love to know what she means to you!

When I think of fall, I think of school deadlines, pumpkin- scented candles, mulled cider, camping, chilly nights, over-sized sweaters, long bike rides in state parks, eating waxy candy corn, chili with sour cream, long prayers during the sunset, little fellas dressed up in handmade or store-bought costumes. I remember each year that my grandmother showed up at my family’s front door with a scary Halloween mask on, magically changing her sweet voice to something wretched. I think about couch cuddling, scraping the frost off my car, smelling the wood burning in the fireplace, and jumping up and down in place for warmth. I think about cute scarves and hot, homemade casseroles. I think about the excitement of the upcoming holiday season and all the traditions accompanying it.

I think about fall funerals and fall birthdays. As I think about the changing of summer to fall, I think about how people come and go for certain seasons of life, making me even more grateful for those that persist, walking with me season after season. I think about how leaves are actually the organs of the tree and even though the trees lose such vital appendages, they still survive, even thrive come spring.

What does fall mean to you? What fall traditions are you looking forward to?

If you are reading this, know that I’m sending you love this fall. Hoping that you’ll be kind to yourself this season, hoping that you’ll do things to fill yourself up and make you remember that your story matters, hoping you have conversations with inspiring friends that help you believe in yourself again.

Be sure to let me know some of your fall traditions!

Thoughts on the Parkway…

As I was driving down the dark parkway this weekend, I was pondering life. I thought about all the people who have given of themselves to shape me into the woman I am at present. When I started thinking of all the names through the years, I couldn’t help but correlate those names with how blessed I am. How blessed I am to have been poured into so selflessly. When someone gives you a part of himself/herself to help you learn, grow, progress, love… it’s a beautiful occurrence… a piece of humanity that shouldn’t be neglected. I have so many of those “someones” who have shown me the way, who guided me on my journey, who patiently taught me, who protected me, who said “I love you, Kate(lin) and I believe in you.” I reflect on who I am today and I am so grateful, so thankful to those beautiful people. How can I say thank you? I can’t necessarily… but perhaps, emulation is the best form of gratitude… thanking those beautiful people by continuing to invest in others… others who may not realize it today, but will hopefully one day say, “I remember when he/she invested in me, and it made all the difference in my life.”

Into 2010…

Wow…its been a while since I’ve written… and I have 10 other things that I should be doing. When does life ever slow down? I’m resolved to say that it probably won’t anytime soon, but I am, at the same time, probably addicted to the busyness. I wonder if I would know what to do with myself if given a week of nothingness (I realize this isn’t a word, but that’s okay with me).

Enough complaining…I just thought I would pen what I was thinking tonight. Sometimes, at random times, I am lonely….I am surrounded by people all day, but sometimes don’t get the chance to really connect with anyone because of busyness. I love all people and often try to find an avenue to connect with anybody I meet, but there are just some people that you really connect with… its just like something clicks when you first meet. These people turn into your best friends or maybe more, in some cases. Or maybe you don’t get a chance to know each other, but you know that you’d be best friends if you were given the opportunity. Anyway… I may be crazy… but today I didn’t really get a chance to see any of those people and maybe that’s why I’m a bit lonely.

And my second thought and perhaps one of more significance…is really just me writing down that I want to fix my eyes on Christ. There is so much in my life that is unsteady, not constant, faltering… I often lack direction and have to beg Christ to be my Vision. I sometimes feel like I should have more things in order…I should have a wedding ring on my finger, I should have a better direction for my future career, I should have the courage to tell someone of my love for them, I should have my summer planned out, I should have, I should have, I should have. I think I begin feeling this way when I take my vision away from Christ.

It’s easy to start looking around and seeing all the things the world gives and wanting them.. security, a certain relationship, a doctoral degree, pride, prestige. I want to look up to Christ. There’s a verse that literally brings me to tears every time I read it or even think about it. It is Jesus speaking in the Gospel according to John. He said… “I have come that they may have LIFE and have it to the full.” The word life there is a Greek word, but the Hebrew equivalent is used in the book of Ezekiel, where the Ezekiel stands in a valley of dry bones. The LORD asks him: “Can this dry bones come alive?” The word for “life and alive” is congruent. YES. Christ IS the life. I will look at Christ to be my Vision.