Friday, January 5, 2018

2018: Fortitude

I've never been afraid of rainstorms. The raging wind, the pouring rain, the flashes of lightning, and the earth-shaking crash of thunder have always excited me. I've seen little fires in the mountains, soon to be washed out by the rain, from lightning that had struck there just minutes before. I've heard the boom of thunder so loud that at first, I wondered if bombs were dropping nearby. These things invigorate me! Never the kind to hide under the bed or rush to safety, I love to be out in the wet wind, drenched and splattered and happy.

But life has so many different kinds of storms to offer. Not all of them are as thrilling as a good rainstorm. Weather can rip apart homes, destroy entire communities, bring landslides and fires and tornadoes and hurricanes that make "storm" into an entirely different word. 

Likewise, many of life's worst storms are equally destructive but have nothing to do with weather or natural disasters. Grief, loss, pain, illness, emotional distress, abuse, and so on, have the power to utterly uproot us and leave us as empty as though a tornado had ripped away our homes. 

Through whatever kind of storms 2018 brings, whether they're thrilling or horrifying, my goal for the year and for the future beyond is fortitude. Fortitude, as defined by my friend Siri, is "courage through pain or adversity." There are loftier and more detailed definitions than this, but I love how simply and clearly this sums it up. Having courage despite our challenges doesn't mean we aren't scared or hurt at the same time. It doesn't mean we cant be terrified, overwhelmed, devastated, or utterly confused. Fortitude means feeling any or all of those negative, immobilizing emotions and choosing to press forward anyway. It means standing as tall as we can manage to, shoving aside the pain, and dragging ourselves onward, searching for the light behind the darkness. 

That light will come.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Unpublished, from April 2014, when so much lay ahead, and grey indeed...

The ghost of change hovers just ahead
just beyond sight
where the path is grey and blurred and the shadows play.
As the winds blow
so cold
and I struggle to remain on my feet,
I gaze ahead
ever ahead
and strain to make out the indistinct patterns.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Light and Healing

 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
This sounds like a promise to me. Perhaps I'm doing all right after all...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Year of Light

As another year commences, the storm around my soul shrieks as though banshees are riding it and are either having a really great time of it, or are being tortured to death; I can't quite figure out which. Both situations probably sound the same. 

Last year's theme, Triumph at Daybreak, has been whipped and lashed by the storm, and I still struggle to make sense of it. I feel firmly that I was not in error in choosing that theme. Perhaps, however, I was in error for being so self-serving as to think it would be my own dawn. No, the day which broke was not mine. I brought it. Or, rather, I carried it on my wings, which I had thought too damaged to fly. The daybreak was not for me. It was for another, who is only beginning to see it for what it is. The triumph was shared. All nights must end! And those which seem most endless leave us unable to recall what light is or to recognize it when it appears.

Light? What light? There is darkness and hail and harsh wind that threatens to rip me into shreds, which laugh and taunt as they torture me. What is light? How can I carry it to another and yet not see it myself? How can I have no strength left and yet give it to those around me? And for that matter, how can such a tempest threaten my very being and yet barely be perceivable to everyone else? 

Last year, I confidently and faithfully anticipated a time of vindication, a return to the peace and calm which I have always felt should exist within me, a restoration of that immense joy which made my very existence seem justified and perhaps even wonderful. 

I was wrong.

The closest I got was a distraction, a new obsession with which to put freedom from my mind in order to learn of and hone new talents and abilities in the service of others. And I am grateful. It's been a wondrous experience, and I shudder to think what state I would be in now if I hadn't had such beautiful opportunities. I am stronger, wiser, tougher, braver, and more enduring.

And then my mother died.

Despite the love and support offered to me by so very many, I felt utterly alone. I always do. That's part of my quest. My own journey dictates that I must face my greatest demons alone. I will be loved and encouraged and given words of consolation, which will roll right off me as though I am immune to their tonic, but only I hold a sword. Perhaps that is as it should be; it's ever been in my nature to run to others for help. I always want someone else to save me. But only I hold the sword! And I have wings. Learning to use them has been painful and terrifying, and I am saddened that I cannot use them to soar due to the ferocity of the storm and the demons, but they have kept me aloft and saved those I serve.

Light. I know not upon whom the light will shine, but I know well whence it cometh. Whether I carry it to others or bask in it myself, whether it shines as broadly as the sun or as fleetingly as a dim candle, it will be a gift and a blessing. My wings are weary and ragged, my sword is blood-stained, and my load is heavy as I continue to weather the storm and battle the demons alone.

But the light will come. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Tell Me to Get Over It

A Guardian on the Death Watch
The Watch is Over

That wasn't easy to endure. Well, duh, right? But it left me far emptier than even I would have suspected, and I did expect it to shatter me. However, it's now been 3 months and I still feel just as raw, just as empty, just as shattered, just as fragile. As though a part of me is in that box, in the cold ground, rotting.  And it is. Oh, it is. Who can explain to the uninitiated the bond between a nurturing, empathic mother and her nurturing, empathic daughter after years of battling the harsh world together? In a relationship where much is communicated through tone of voice, facial expression, and deep understanding of one another, words themselves are mere embellishment.

But now those words are silenced by a divide that cannot be traversed by the living, and the dead are restricted from free communication with those they left behind.

Oh, I'll be fine. I'm a warrior. A survivor. This will not conquer me. But perhaps it's not unreasonable, given these circumstances, that it's taking me a bit longer than one might anticipate. Be patient. I always come out fighting.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Glittering Haven

I'm one of the most casual people I know. I hate formality. But I've also always had quite a bit of anxiety. Even when there's nothing pressing going on, I often feel rushed to get things done so I can go on to the next thing. Sometimes I miss out on truly enjoying myself because I can't relax my nerves. 

But today, I am abandoning such ways. Today is mine. 

Okay, not really. I drove a van-load of girls way up into the Sierras to Young Women Camp for church. But once I finished helping them get all their stuff to their cabins, I was free. 

There's a picnic area just a few miles down the road from there. I'm by myself now. I don't do much by myself. When I was younger, I was too codependent. Now I just don't have many opportunities and it feels awkward. But I wanted a place to stop and eat my lunch. 

There's a small river running through this spot. It's deliciously cold and soothingly bubbly. A small beach alongside it is covered with butterflies of various sizes and colors. My favorites are the tiny periwinkle-colored ones. The outside of their wings are moonlight-silver with little black specks, so when they land, they close their wings and are instantly camouflaged on the glittering sand. 

The water in front of me flows around some large boulders and a few fallen logs. These obstructions cause the murmur and bubbles and trickles that make the river so musical. 

The sun is high and the scent of the forest is thick in the warm air. If it's this hot way up here, it must be sweltering down in the dusty, smoggy valley. But here the sky is a deeper blue than the valley ever sees, and my lungs are grateful for the respite. It feels clean. 

I've sat along the bank long enough for my feet to dry and for the butterflies to forget that I'm here. There are people down in that valley who await my return, and I probably ought to get going. But this is my moment, and I will not miss out on it out of anxiousness. I will drink in the gentle sun and sweet forest breeze and song of the little river until I'm ready to leave here.  I will not miss this moment by worrying about the next one. Right now, I am here. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

If Religion Doesn't Uplift You, It Isn't Religion.

As my son humbly and worthily blessed the Sacrament bread in church, I gratefully felt the Spirit ensconce me. My heart wanted reach out and bring everyone I love into the room, so that they might sit and feel be washed over with peace.

It makes me ache to realise how so many people have been turned away from Christ and from religion itself by the inappropriate attitudes and actions of those who do wrong, claiming to do so in the Name of the  Saviour.

Christ has never condoned such atrocities. Cruelty, lack of compassion, unrighteous judgement, abuse, and other such sins and misdeeds could never represent God in any way.

I glanced up at my teenage daughter  as the Sacrament bread, blessed by her teenage brother, was passed. Her eyes were closed in reverence, and I was enveloped in the sweetness of the Spirit that dwelt there.

I would that all might partake, not in a spirit of religious conquer or to save their souls from hell, but to uplift them in their quest for happiness and to battle the evils of the cold world. We're all fighting. We're all struggling to get by in one way or maybe in several. We're all in this together. Let us come together, then, and be strengthened in the peace, love, and goodness that will work miracles in our lives and change the world.