The stars in my eyes

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     Recently my 12-year-old daughter came home with a book she had borrowed from a friend.  It was called The Fault In Our Stars.  I skimmed through it and told her to return it to her friend, that she wasn’t quite ready to take on the themes in the book, it was just too mature for her (which, of course, she took the wrong way!).  The language is a little too dicey, the relationship themes are more appropriate for an older teenager, etc.  That’s pretty much my job, right?  To keep life from knocking my kids down before they are ready to handle what comes next.  To keep her innocent just a little bit longer.

     Everyone has hardships in life that can leave them questioning their next move, their faith, their purpose, even their eternal identity.  If you experience something devastating, what does that say about God?  That He doesn’t care about you, that the deck is stacked against you, that life is just some cosmic joke or biological accident and that we are the punchline? 

     I believe that hardships say more about the HUMAN condition than about GOD’S condition.  These “clay vessels” we reside in are complicated, delicate, breakable.  This world we live in caters to the flaws and foibles of the clay vessels, and all of our bodily cravings and desires can be satisfied on a whim.  The steel cages we zoom around in at 65 miles per hour can’t stop on a dime.  Something we eat, drink or inhale can react to our chemistry in ways that can cause us sickness.  Some of us believe that we are temporary beings, that our purpose is served on this plane, in this existence, alone.  That we live and die and become fertilizer, and that’s all she wrote. 

     I believe that we are Eternal Beings, created through the mercy of a real God.  That our souls are contained in these clay vessels for a very short time and then we are released, to live eternally in whatever condition we have gained by our compassion and mercy – or lack of it.  So my personal philosophy is – when life kicks you in the pants, put on shorts.  When life knocks you down, roll over and look at the stars…just LOOK at them!  There are no faults in those stars.  They represent light, and depth, and unmet goals, and dreams in the ether.  They represent the perfect bodies we will attain at the end of our journey.  They represent hope!

 

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The beginning of labor

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She stood at the edge of a cliff, dirt shifting, rocks sliding and bouncing, echoing to the bottom. 

Perched between life and death, riding an immortal fence, her body and brain fought a war against each other. 

It was a battle she had never before imagined was possible or probable, but seemed familiar, as if she had been born for this moment. 

She could imagine girding herself for war, protective armor sheathing her breast, her stomach, her thighs, her legs. 

Hard cold metal, protective but intimidating, the only means by which she could survive for this day, and the next. 

A light exploded in her head, a thread of humanity that connected her to millions of other women who had come before her, and would come after. 

It was a thread that connected her consciousness to her very marrow, each cell working in her body towards this moment.

Describing my mother

ImageMother                                                                                                                                                     5/8/05

 

My mother, the beauty –

She is small hands

Spotted with history,

Bouncy red hair that used to flash,

Now shot through with gray.

She is distinctive,

Judges a person by character,

Not color or size or flaw,

Compassions herself constant

And sometimes runs out of

Steam or caring –

Oh! The energy it takes to

Worry for ten children

And scores more of their offspring;

And then the trees!  Who will speak for them

Or for the orphans of the world –

Now that Mother Teresa is gone

My mother prays twice as fast

And twice as often and

Oh! Soon we will worry for her, instead…..

Why read?

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     I was doing laundry today and thinking, why do I have books as a major accessory in every room of the house?  What do I get out of reading?  And I thought: COMPASSION.  Every book I read grows compassion in me for people who are nothing like me; makes me tender, more vulnerable, more prone to mercy. It’s also why I encourage my children to read, because something I say may not get through to them, but something they read may do that very thing. I encourage my children to read positive, creative and developmentally-appropriate material.
Of course, there is the secondary benefit of being entertained by something someone else worked super-hard to create. I like supporting the arts, both theoretically and literally, and Brad and I often go to art galleries or the movies or to see bands. I like to “buy local” as well, and so eagerly anticipate locally writers when they have books that are published. I have two friends and two relatives who have written their own books, I think that’s so amazing!
A tertiary benefit is education about a topic or theme. Sometimes a certain topic, author, or moment in time will grab my attention, and I will read everything I can find about it. I will walk away feeling that I learned something that I didn’t know, and will anticipate being able to share that with Brad on one of our date nights.
Last but not least is the aspect of self-care. Besides eating right and not being a couch potato all winter, reading a good book that challenges me and takes me out of my comfort zone is a way to “treat” myself, to exercise my brain, and to refuse to limit myself to a standard set of ideas or notions. There have been a few books that didn’t match up with my value system and made me flat-out uncomfortable, and it’s okay to take those books back to the library, I don’t feel guilty about that. I always ask myself the “what” of the discomfort and make the decision based on that answer. If it’s something that would dishonor my self by continuing the read, it goes out to the door.
Support your local library today! And every once in awhile, purposefully pick a book by an author you have never heard of, or a title that doesn’t ring a bell. You may be pleasantly surprised!