A view from above the pain

A woman broken in the darkness of night, a married woman alone in her bed. The room is warm from a furnace left running to 71 degrees. Her mouth tastes of metal, is she bleeding? She turns over in the dark to discover that in her sleep she has been weeping. Her husband is a good man with a big broken space, from abuse and war and a marriage that did not heal anything. Her dreams too were shattered within weeks of saying “I do.” Vows were broken, angry words spoken many times in the 22 years since. She wonders if she ever knew peace within his arms. The bed-clothes are heavy and hot and she rises dizzily from her bed. Turns on the bathroom lights and cringes at her reflection. Her husband is moaning softly in the guest room where he sleeps now. Post traumatic wrangling with his demons in the night. It has been many years of not sharing a bed. There were good times, laughter in a canoe on the lake by their home, puppies lighting up their faces, friends & family once gathering at their table, trips taken to the sea to share the mutual love of salt air and waves crashing on the shore. Mostly, it has been a marriage of service and hard work. Building homes that are temporarily shelter, driving hours into the city to find work that has eluded them. Fighting off the sting of rejections from a family by blood, while dreams and friendships are thrown to the ground in betrayals. She can’t look at any of this anymore. She has prayed many nights for some blessed release and the years have proven to mock her prayers with the continual pain of sickness and grief. What is it that sustains her? She knows that in the broken darkness of fear and loss is faith. A faith that has sustained her, even when the outcomes have not been what she has prayed for. When sickness is her daily cloak for over 40 years. When a bedroom made the ready for a child who never came is dismantled. When cancer came to her and she was without support. When 911 took her breath and her friend away.  Car accidents that broke her neck and a lightning strike that changed her internal landscape, a brown recluse spider bite that threatened dialysis. She still wonders by what miracle is she here, this night weeping. By what purpose is the pain? Certainly she has more wisdom and more gratitude when moments of beautiful have come. The blue skies, the tiny winged creature nesting in the summers meadow grass. She see’s the world with eyes of compassion and moves mountains to change suffering if she is granted the power to do so. Touches of fortunes and glimpses of fame. A few loves that stayed, of which her husband is one. She thinks back to the Christmas mornings and the Easter sunrise services with strangers who felt closer than family and she hears her pup snoring dreams of redemption from a tyrant who nearly killed her before she found her home. She knows that without this marriage many of her works would not have happened and those works changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people without hope. She knows that if that child who lived in her heart had become their own, thousands of children would not have been given a cup of fresh cool life-giving water. That after rising from her profound grief, she turned her eyes to Africa and the dying of children without clean water. She found her life’s purpose in her pain and as one reporter put it “she was a hero to so many.” She knows that books written and music birthed and awards came, in large part because of this marriage. The revelation stuns her. She remembers a story of the astronaut seeing the earth from space. She recognizes that when she steps out of her pain to look at her purpose the picture is one of grace & God in large measure.

The woman rises from the words on this page as she catches a glimpse of herself again, waiting for the sun to rise and for her faith to form her day.

*Dr Lynn founded Damascus ministries which to date has funded 18 water wells in Africa. For more information or to help her fund more projects  http://www.drlynnandtheorphans.com

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Notes from the second story(Daisy)

On my chest bone lay the daisy. There was something so promising in the dead of winter, laying across my heart, her face lifted and her petals soft. “My daughter” said my mom, “Is no rose.” she looks at me as I begin to react “You, are a daisy.” My mom never told me she loved me, she never held me tenderly, she just called me a few things that stayed with me. “A whore.” was one thing “A daisy.” the other. The longer I live, the more I see my Universe expanding. I can see myself seated in a little white church with a cracked bell, I can see myself flying above the village on wings that sing. I am a mystery of words that hang in the air and turn cartwheels in my mind.  I can still see her standing as straight as an arrow, with red nails on long fingers. I can still feel my heart beating in my chest, hoping for her touch.

In the end I bathed her. I felt her fly away with a flock of geese, that February day. I heard my father cry out. “No, oh no!” I wanted to wrap him in a cocoon, shelter him from his fractured soul. I feared he would leave with her. I feared I would be the only one left. I didn’t know what to do, I just watched my band of family  gather around him and weep. I stood as I always do, a little to the right of where I should be. I had leaned in and asked her to fly away, right before she did. I said this to her after a lifetime of indifference and raised voices of critical expressions, an occasional head banging on a wall, a slap, a grab and a tight squeeze while being dragged.  “If you ever loved me, you will not die on my birthday.” Her gift to me that day, the day before I was born, 59 years later, she flew.  The geese came over her hospice bed and she was gone. I felt her leave. I didn’t cry that day…nor for years after, not until today, when the daisy lay on my chest and I heard her say “you are a daisy.” I will take that to mean I loved you. In the language of flowers I loved you. In the creation of designer dresses and a touch to your eyebrow, I loved you. In the way of a sack lunch, or a freshly ironed shirt, I loved you.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe all these years of never thinking she loved me at all, she did and now it’s too late. I am breathing deeply, pushing back the pain. My lungs are breathing in disappointment. I am not supposed to dwell on the negative. I am not supposed to entertain thoughts of pain. Not any more. It needs to be the language of colors and flowers and balloons that float on wicker seats in the forest. Anything but the pain. Don’t stroke the well-worn path of loss. Remember this new day dawning is a gift. Ignore the pain in muscles and in marrow and in memory. Turn your eyes upward and take a breath and breathe in goodness and breathe out the darkness of history. Blood and skin and bone history. “Nothing to see here folks!” moving on.

I awaken in the dawn, sweating and throwing off blankets. My dreams were about a man I know in spirit, but have never met in flesh. He writes, I write. We stand in solidarity against something unspeakable coming. We fight with words. He actually speaks volumes by saying very little. I have read enough about him to sense a kindred. We are serendipitous. I kiss my husband good morning and wonder why the dreams are about someone far, far away. I wonder what that might mean. I roll over and see the daisy’s my sister gave me for no particular reason. I pluck one out and lay it across my heart. The scent is summer and the memory takes me down the rabbit hole and back up. Use the neuro training you are learning to stop the falling. Take back the ground and smell the daisy’s . Focus right here, right now on your flesh and blood husband who smells like salt and can make me laugh. Focus right here, right now on the new day. Count the blessings. Electricity on the wires above.

 Let it be. 

 

 

 

Earth Day 2020

From the time I was a little girl I loved Nature. I hung out with ants and watched them work and cried when they suffered. I listened to birds and I laid in the grass and watched the skies above. I was a tree hugger and an outdoors woman. I camped and fished and hiked and went on Outward Bound types of exploring (In our lives it was called Senior seminar.) I hiked 19 miles with a backpack and blisters on my feet. I brushed my teeth in the ocean, went body surfing with a sea otter, stepped out into the waters edge and was taken a ways on the back of a man-o-ray that I stepped onto resting in the sand. I was bit by a baby Octopus that wrapped itself around my finger (big mistake allowing that) and watched my arm turn colors and spiked a fever. I climbed canyon walls and repelled down (I was not a natural at the climb but loved going down, free falling and singing after eating my PB&J sandwich at the top overlooking the ocean and the canyon.) Spectacular. A full moon, scorpions at the fire and a pack of hungry flea ridden dogs laying with me as I gave them every last morsel of food I had with me. Cans of tuna fish devoured and bread and beans. They then would not leave me until I was forced to climb the school bus for home. I cried leaving them and spent the next month sicker than I had ever been from my time in Mexico but it changed me in a profound and good way and I am very thankful for my time.

Camping

I also went on a 5 day river trip down the Green and the Yampa in Utah and Colorado. The days were challenging and beyond breath taking. One of those days we went into the tongue of some rapids called “The Maytag” and this giant swirling abyss swallowed our raft. I remember holding the rope for dear life. I remember the power of this whirlpool, the striking of rocks and people against my body and the cold of the river. I remember gasping for air as the river shot our raft out of the swirling madness. So many kids gasping for air. The river tried to help us get out (I believe that) and one by one we were rescued. It humbled us all and we never forgot it.

I have also long been a hiker. I love to walk and climb and move and well into my 60’s I walk daily up and down country roads and along mountain streams and across open meadow. The worst two years of my life were recovering from tearing everything in my foot. I couldn’t walk for years and I was drowning in my suffering and in the inability to walk in natures healing balm. During that time I would drag myself outside and sit in the elements and listen to the birds and watch the bee’s and feel thankful for their companionship. It humbled me and I never forgot the gift. I am most thankful that season shifted and now..I hike and am thankful for every step.

Dr Lynn in a field

I share these adventures because today is Earth Day 2020. We are in the middle of a world wide pandemic. It can feel pretty overwhelming and yet from the sheltering of people from the invisible killer (Covid-19) there has been a shift in our beautiful earth. It is beginning to heal. The air is fresher, the oceans cleaner, the peace….well…it can be deafening. We are understanding the sound of silence like never before. It’s a beautiful thing.

Truth suffers, but never dies

 “Truth suffers, but never dies.”

“God is still walking the long, lonely trail of tears with us”

“No matter the feelings, God never leaves us”

“Faith, by its very definition is hope for the unseen, something hoped for”

“Jesus is real”

“Jesus is real” (let us repeat that)

I am one of those people who had a death experience. I went into the light and traveled as my spirit self (saw my spirit hands that looked exactly in spirit as they had in the flesh.) In this amazing light I traveled lightly, without pain, my body so tortured down below was no longer my chains up there. I had no fear once I left that body, just this feeling of light and bewilderment and joy and astonishment. It was something never before experienced in this life I had known. I was always in some knot about fear or rejection, or lack or pain. Twisting in the wind, despite (In spite) of all the prayers and bible study and doing the right things with my church going and giving to others and eating well and exercising. The whole of my life up to that point had been survival with a few moments of peace or sleep or laughter or love thrown into the mix. The world would view me as an anxious, pretty, strong, defiant, religious and smart person. I had small success’s with my careers. Television, singing, writing, teaching, athletics and doctoring the sick. Some great trips to Mexico and sailing in the ocean (sea sick) to Europe where I sang for crowds, did interviews with newspapers and put on a pretty good front that all was well. Behind the scenes there was prescription addictions and nightly tears and never feeling safe anywhere I was. I returned to the states and posed for the camera (bathing suits, Club Med and aspirations of movies which resulted in some really bad movies that shall remain nameless.) I had a short run as a talk show host. The beauty I can see now that I had then was lost on me, as I had zero self esteem. I always felt grateful for any morsel or crumb of affection or “love.” There are many reasons for my bottoming out which I will leave for another time. I pressed on and sought out Jesus. There was some beautiful times with Jesus and I was often used to lead worship or record a christian album or give an interview or view a dangling carrot of something greater that Jesus “had” for me if I just had enough faith. The death experience happened after three long years of running from Jesus into the arms of a selfish man who lied and cheated and used me up (all in the name of love.) I returned from my time with Jesus a changed woman. Yet I have never been without physical or emotional pain of one sort of another. So, truth be told I am no closer to understanding this Christian walk except to say that Jesus is the truth. In suffering, pain, lack, loss, fear, dread, sickness, divorce, rejection, heartbreak, death of loved ones, fighting, running, hiding, scrapping, missing the mark and being chronically ill, he doesn’t change. He is the truth. If you don’t see him in me, I don’t have the answer to that. Because people saw him in me when I was a HOT mess and sinning every day but Sunday and that had nothing to do with me either. I watched him come through me and save babies and heal the sick and heal souls and broken hearts and deliver families. I walked into Maximum security prisons and went out in the dark on streets and ally ways that held death and addiction and set men and women free from complete hell and I was NOT the reason just the vessel. He was the reason. I have been in seasons of seeking God, serving God, longing for God and nothing happened. I was in a spiritual desert. There was no movement from God one year and then the next he would come and breathe ecstasy on me in a living room where I stood alone calling out his name. I was transported right into his presence and all I wanted to do was weep and repent. This God who will not be controlled by the likes of me, loves me just the same. Yet I suffer, endlessly, daily and often unto what appears to be the edge of the end. I continue to live in my suffering while so many “healthy and functioning people” die. Without warning they slip out of their skin and into what I chose to believe is that tunnel of light that leads them on. I am left here in this uncomfortable and yet beautiful earth and I don’t see why anymore. I haven’t done much of anything, haven’t felt God in prompting me with his nudges and his glory for a very long time. This Easter 2020 I am sitting in my bed, snow flying outside my window and I saw a photograph of myself when I was unaware of the taking. I looked to be hideously old and beat up and I grieved so hard that I couldn’t breathe. I felt anger that God who formed me to be beautiful in my mothers womb would allow a life that destroyed my beauty and yet left me here. I ponder how I have yet another cross to bear. One of being ill and skinny and no longer useful and old and painfully unattractive. In a world of beauty I have lost mine. It’s crushing actually.

I will leave you with this…in spite of all that I have shared I still believe that God has his reasons. In the scripture it says that Jesus “Grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53

Who really killed Jesus? God did and we did. Our sins, our transgressions. The people then, the Pharisees and Governor Pilate were just players in Gods will. Jesus knew he came to die. To be crucified that we might have eternal life. Jesus came and picked 12 men. He came to bring his kingdom to earth. It’s been roughly 2000 years and here today, now in the year 2020 God has over a billion believers.* That’s the whole of China, Europe and America together. Believers for this man who wasn’t beautiful to look at with earthly eyes. Believers who have found the profound mystery of faith in their hearts. Believers who won’t let go of Gods only son who came and died for us. It’s in our DNA, somehow we know it is truth. No matter what. I am one in spite of my lack of beauty and my mood swings and my hot mess days and 40 years of suffering. I cling and I pray and I believe. So that’s my Easter message and my testimony. It has brought some to his feet and others have run away because of my life. It’s a mystery and it’s profoundly humbling to know in many ways God has saw fit for me to know Christs journey so intimately. I recognize that I resemble in bits and pieces the life of Christ. It’s not about me, but I pray somehow he will be glorified.

*Rick Warren

I will be the one to share my story and the pics that tell it.

Morning in Pandemic

If you were traveling too fast down our two lane dirt road, clicked back with Mag chloride that is intended to tamper down the dust, you would slide past the steep driveway to our ranch house, perched above and overlooking Owl canyon and the entire valley. It’s the true meaning of blessed to live above the world in the middle of a pandemic. The mornings are fairly similar in all manner before and after the word pandemic entered in (meaning of a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world) with our two well meaning and pretty amicable dogs who wait politely for breakfast. They are fed in the manner by which they have trained us. One is waiting with eager anticipation of whatever is placed in her large bowl. She is grateful and hungry and she is known to jump with excitement if we keep her waiting too long. The other is the mistress of the home, the tiny 10 pound, adorable and finicky Queen who waits on the sidelines with one eye on us and the other looking indifferent. Often the only way to get her to eat is to warm it, and cut it into tiny bits and add a touch of last nights chicken and hand feed her. Even as I write this I have to smile as the Vet who met her at 6 weeks of age said “This one will train you” and she was right. After they have been fed and loved on and put out to do their business we will begin to cook our morning oats or eggs or whatever the Pandemic lined shelves will allow. We are in a separate space in the kitchen (6 feet apart) and we jokingly will do the high kicks and Kung fu chops if one draws too close. It’s a form of extra caution, our pandemic “fever reducing medicine” for the worried soul. There isn’t any playbook for this sort of thing. You see I am in that high risk category that is screaming from every headline “Older (thank you very much) chronic underlying conditions (only 40 years of fighting the good fight) and without a Dr at this time. My Dr (alternative medicine) was shut down as not a necessity (are you kidding me?) but liquor stores are a necessity. It’s another very cool thing that I am a Dr and though retired, I have some tricks left up my sleeve to maintain some sort of healing and health during this amazing time. So there it is a brief recap of our morning in Pandemic times. This mystery that is waiting to be read (or written) in all it’s uncertainty. Running from air and germs and people for whom you once embraced on a daily basis.I can’t truly kick the tires to understand this one if you know what I mean. Let’s not forget the spiritual side of living in a pandemic and bow our heads or raise our eyes to the hills where our help comes. That scripture “God is the same, yesterday, today and forever more” holds some nuggets of security. This time, this place, these feelings are no surprise to the God of heaven and earth. I will land there and let that soothe a fever pitch of emotions and pray you and I have a beautiful day.

I miss you

I am wearing a mask and gloves this morning and I am cleaning out my studio and my bedroom and there is this flashing of your face and the touch of your hand, so hot with fever. It catches my breath and my heart begins to beat a bit harder and I feel the familiar ache and the sudden bowing of my head. I miss you Dad. I can’t describe life without you. In four short months the world has gone completely crazy. I wrestled with God after you died, because I couldn’t bear the pain at first and honestly there were moments when I didn’t want to be here without you. Then I would see something really beautiful, like a sunrise (I didn’t sleep much at first) and I would see Lily running full on in the snow and Joe looking sad and I would think, I need to be here because I still have work to do. I would then get through another day, one heavy laden day after another and sometimes I would think I am getting Dementia (Glasses on my head, bills not paid, hair not combed) but the hospice grief therapist assured me that was perfectly normal to feel completely fractured. Christmas came and went and I don’t remember much about it except I cried every day and felt like I was having an out of body experience. We were in a KOA camp, in an RV with no running water and we had a Christmas eve bonfire with a couple of young kids who managed the camp. I gave her a snow globe which made her cry and I held her (she seemed so lost and clung to me like a small child, when in fact she was in her 20’s and I thought this is so surreal, me comforting her when I don’t seem to have an ounce of energy left in my body) But I managed to sit with her for about an hour before I excused myself and went to bed and cried myself to sleep. Then the new year came and I don’t remember that either. I had strange dreams and no appetite and my clothes started to hang off my bones and I thought “Who is that?” when I looked into the tiny mirror in the RV. Old and oh so tired. Then the day came when we had to officially say goodbye and it had been a month since you died and so I said yes to the church you adored and gave your life to and I sat in the balcony with my close friends who came to say goodbye to you and support me. They clustered around me and held me and I felt loved for the first time since you left. I was surrounded by hearts that were there for me and worried I might not be okay. That day I came into my body a little bit. The following day we drove to the Military cemetary where Joe and I sat in the front row and a gun salute was shot from the men in uniform and though I was warned it would be loud I jumped so high and my heart slammed in my chest anyway. I got up and spoke about you and cried a bit and watched the faces of the family and friends gathered and then I was in an eatery with cousins and your sister and we had some smiles and some tears and then it was time to go back to your apartment and face plant on the same bed you passed away in and cry until I thought I might die. Joey was a gift to me as he just sort of stayed behind me and if I looked too clutchy and pale, he would hold me for just long enough for me to stop crying. I was thankful. We started very soon after you passed to dismantle your life. You had shown me how to do the loss of your most beloved when Mom passed and you got rid of her stuff right away. I understand now why that works. For life to go on, you have to move it out. At least I did. I put your watch on my wrist and felt once again like a kid playing grown-up. The day we laid you to rest a very dear friend Marilou,( you loved her too) actually loaned me the money to buy a house. We moved your stuff out and put your home on the market and then moved into our new house and we had just moved in when the water main broke and then the scorpions came and stray animals and no propane delivery for 3 weeks and we (I) felt like a straight jacket might be in order and no sleep came and just when we got all of that settled, the pandemic came. Yes, Dad, a pandemic. One that closed the whole world in large measure. (Much like the heart pandemic I have had since you’ve been gone) You would have been amazed at how quickly our whole world turned upside down. I know I would have brought you up to Quarantine with us and we would be watching the views together and laughing and crying and talking about the unspeakable together. I know I would have worried about you and you would have worried about me. I just miss you so much. I can’t believe the changes. That said Bernie Saunders just dropped out of the race, and your favorite Elizabeth Warren did too. We would be praying together and pondering everything that has transpired and talking about death (which was our way after everyone died in our family but you and I) Now it’s just me. I remember you saying about a year ago how crowded heaven must be. That billions of people had passed over and how huge it must be. I think about that and today I thought about you..in heaven 4 months now with Jesus. Wow, fishing I hope…this summer I will go to the river and spread your ashes. If the pandemic hasn’t wiped out everything. I don’t think it will, I do think there is work for me to do. That something beautiful is coming, with the ashes and the river. I just miss you.

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Climbing rocks

Photo by Lynn Schriner

I was at the Garden. The Garden of the Gods. God’s plural, as if there is more than one God. (I think not.) I am alone with my camera, my protein shake that I stirred into existence to sustain me on my trek. I am walking and thankful and breathing and thankful and the skies are blue and the day is young and I am no longer young, but that’s okay because now I have wisdom. I look up and I see them on the rock and I know I am that girl in the yellow dress ,climbing a rock and suddenly completely unafraid. I loved her tennis shoes and her determination and I asked her Mother who is just off to the side if I might take their picture. The mother looked hard at me, as if to gauge whether I am safe and then she nods. I look into the lens and I shoot the picture and I move on. There is something about being alone, orphaned actually at some kind of ripe older age that makes me nostalgic. For yellow dresses and friends together, climbing rocks and giggling. I will drink the shake and smile at the children on my way back to the car and I will thank God for days like this, captured on camera, to bring forward now, when we can’t just walk out in the sunshine (not without a mask and 6 feet apart) and I can smile at the tenacity of this yellow dress and the rocks and the promise of better days ahead, climbing, climbing, ever up.

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Easter Hat

So much of what’s wrong with me could be cured by a long walk through the forest that shelters me, if only I would look up and see the opening and closing of my thoughts and the voice of God that whispers to my heart to be kind. No matter the context, he just whispers and in the quiet of this time, the world holding a long pause, I am listening, harder, deeper, clinging like a child to her Daddy’s hand. It’s coming on Easter and church is on the mountain and the congregants will be all feathers and fur and I will be the only one in a hat. I will listen, while the birds sing and soar and the animals yawn in the sunshine and all is created to listen to God as he whispers. There is peace in the valley and light in the forest and all is well this Easter day.

Living a Life of Yes

I am sitting in my place of safe refuge, our home on the bluff overlooking the valley below. I am munching on homemade mud pies, much like I made as a kid. I take a handful of this and a sprig of that and I mashed it all together and I baked it. When I was a kid I had a pretend oven and in the mud pie went. I paced around the garage where my pretend library/kitchen/ anything that I needed to be happy lived (a large pink bunny named Judy and a large real bunny named “Bun”) and I waited for the magic buzzer to ring so that I could take out the mud pie and invite my Bun Judy to tea. I was a creative kid, a child who was most often alone and tucked away in the skin of her imagination, a coat of Armour of sorts. It carried me away from a life with a very sick, pale and wheezing sibling and a very cold indifferent and sometimes abusive mother. It also took me away from a series of events that defiled not only my skin, but also my soul. A series of beatings and bruises and very young penis’s being forced into an unwilling vagina. A broken Hymen, a bleeding memory of terror and boys that thought I was something to be controlled and terrorized one afternoon in the church grounds a few blocks from home. I separated from myself that day, separated somewhere, fractured and rejected. I was broken and I remember the shame and terror of that moment. That something was very wrong with me that all these things could be happening to me. The bottom fell out and I was Alice in Wonderland sliding into the rabbit hole. I was an Olympic athlete, I was a fairy Princess. I was anything but myself for a very long time. I am now anything but young. I see completely silver and white hair upon my head (though I am being a wee bit defiant and growing it long) I am fascinated by the road map of lines on my face, heading this way and that, over curves and under eyes, flattening cheeks and making dips where I used to plump and flow. Sloshing the memory of pliable, wide eyed beauty onto anyone who was nice to me. Being nice to me seemed to take a lot of effort at home. (except for my Dad who was nice but most often gone to work) Being nice to me suddenly became boys with an agenda of one kind or another. This is my reflection of youth. I am now what is known as in the last quarter of ones life. I hedged my bets and I took risks and I made choices that landed me in places that hurt so badly I never caught my breath. I spent the better part of 60 years surviving. So many twists and turns and burns. Back stroking and crawling and running and dodging. Along the way I somehow managed to change some worlds, either through words or song or wisdom of medicine or prayer. I used my hands to bring forth life (his name is Jeffrey) to pump a chest and break some ribs and place my lips on the blue, cold lips of a stranger who left this life. I ran from danger and I ran into danger to save another. I was in the middle of storms and roofs flying off and winds that made life impassable. I was not the bravest in that scenario. I lived in isolation deep in the bowels of a hospital for almost a year. I was 82 pounds of weak fear when my Dad took me to a park one night and I asked to be let out. I wanted to do something normal. Something I could do before. So I began to run, this skeleton running in the headlights of my Dads car. I wobbled and weaved and finally stopped and sat on the curb and listened to the sounds of the night falling around me and I said “Yes, to living” I have had many days in my days, where I had to really chose to live. Living really is a choice when your days are so bloodied with pain. My dear Dad left me alone until I looked up into his headlights. I was too weak to get up on my own. He came and he lifted me into the car and he drove me back to the hospital. I was 24 years old and I was 82 pounds and I just said “Yes to life.”

I am skipping a whole lot of chapters and verses and many more stories to tell you one day. I tell this one on day 31 of a world wide pandemic. I tell it to remind us all, that life is precious. It is something worth fighting for. It is something to say Yes to. Every day we have to make that choice. Yes, to staying home, yes to reaching out, yes to eating well, yes to praying for others, yes to the endless needs of a family member when your stricken with fear. Yes, Yes, Yes. Yes to giving money, yes to trusting God when all seems lost. Yes to love, yes to kindness. Yes to starting over every day and walking the long road of life (if your lucky.) Say it, shout it, live it… YES.

A Billion Reasons

When the night’s sounds and darkness presses in

to lay me down in sorrow and fear

I rise to the window and look out under a billion reasons and reminders

Twinkling in their places of near and far

memories of graces and times of a child

safe in a Fathers arms by the river side.

I grow comfort in remembering

that God dapples in stars

in the dark of night (his idea, night)

like jewels suspended in the heavens

and comfort comes

and a child’s earthly fears

goes to bed.

The Runaway Ranch

My husband and I had a hell of a year in 2019 and found ourselves, thankfully and gratefully at our new digs in the wet mountains of Colorado in a completely concrete home that won a bunch of “green awards” according to the Realtor. It sits up on the bluff overlooking Owl Canyon, that changes light and depths about every hour of the day and the valley below that shimmers and beckons and on a clear day causes me to have a sharp intake of breath. The driveway is steep and immediately needed our attention as it sucked my husbands old handyman van into the mud and slid it right down the drive into the ditch. That happened not once, but twice and Triple A (thank God for AAA) came with their chains and monster trucks and promptly got sucked in the muck and the mire as well. Such is the ways of the west I guess. (It had a happy ending as the tow truck driver and a dog that showed up on day 2 of our moving in became family.) The ranch had it’s share of problems (water main broke day 2, spiders in every corner for months, scorpions of all shapes and sizes as well as propane running out in the dead of winter and the learning curve of” propane rules” which basically means they don’t give a shit that you might freeze to death and have no hot water just wait your turn and it most probably will take weeks to get to you) My best friend forever came for a visit and left with a few more grey hairs and then the pandemic hit. Suddenly every door nob has a double meaning. Suddenly the husband I love to snuggle with and dance in the kitchen with is possibly a carrier of the plague. Suddenly the death of my beloved Dad just three months ago has to take a back seat to surviving the air we breathe and the surfaces we touch. There isn’t any time to grieve the loss of my own version of Mr Rodgers, the man who was my biggest fan and safest place in my whole life who has forever left me to go be with God. I now have to plan every step of the day from hunting and gathering food (well ordering it anyway and hoping we can still buy it) to following my beloved husband around with my hand sanitizer and asking him if he has washed his hands…again….for the 10th time. It’s been a surreal time. A Salvador Dali, twisty headed, head down, mind numbing, fox hole praying time. I feel like I am having many out of body moments while I watch the news. I transfer all my energy to those victims who are dying and suffering and at the end of every day it can just feel like too much. I scrunch down in my studio and breathe in peace and breathe out fear and I awaken at 2am and can’t forget my Dads last days on earth and his suffering and mine and the worlds come crashing in and I will open my shade and look up. If I am lucky the sky will be clear and black. If I wait a few moments for these tired eyes to adjust I will see the billions of reasons why I still have hope. The Milky way and the Little Dipper and the constellations of God still holding up everything he created and suddenly nothing has changed because God is still the same. I watched the stars on my back with my Dad when I was 6. I remember how safe I felt laying in his arms and looking into the depths of the stars twinkling and shooting sparks across the night sky. I remember the texture of his flannel shirt and the sleeping bag under my hip. I can still hear the river running along the bank, the same river we fished in together for over 50 years. I can smell the wood smoke and hear the night sounds. I can still hear my Dads voice pointing out the stars. Calling them by name and suddenly I know I am going to be alright.

The Runaway Ranch was the name given to me the first night we moved in. It was weeks before the uncertainty of our lives shifted in such a way that I began to understand why God opened this place perched high above the valley to be our home. There is shelter here, a safety net that few people will be able to know. I have searched long and hard, a lifetime actually, for safety in a home. I will leave that for another story. My words have returned to my speechless mouth.