Ponderings.

I take great joy in observing life. I spend a lot of time pondering my observations. So, one day I thought I would write them down. These are my ponderings. -dana

Monday, November 3, 2014

Eating Crow.



Not long ago I was in a little shop and saw the cutest kitchen hand towel that said this:


"Forgive me for the things I said when I was hungry".

Well…today I was hungry and…

Actually, it wasn't just that I was hungry.  I was hungry and I had to deal with a cell phone situation.  Trust me when I say that's a particularly nasty combination.

I've made a short list of the top two things I despise having to deal with most in the whole wide world.  Having to upgrade my cell phone is number two.  I can't think of anything right now to take the number one slot, but surely there must be something.  So, just in case, dealing with a cell phone will slide on in at number two.

For months now, I've been getting that annoying little message just when I want to take the coolest picture that ever has been taken.  

"Cannot Take Photo.  There is not enough available storage to take a photo.  You can manage your storage in Settings".

No.   I can't.  That's an untruth.  Because in Settings they tell you to add more storage in iCloud. I don't really get Icloud--or is it iCloud?  But for only ninety-nine cents a month, I can roll, ya know?   And so I buy additional storage there because I'm at my wits end and I really want to take a picture. But still, I CANNOT TAKE A PHOTO! 

It is right about here I want to throw the stinkin' phone right out the window.

But instead, I listen to the words of my wise husband.  

"Maybe it's time for a new phone", he says.  He informs me that I've been due an upgrade for some time now.  

Okay, okay.  I guess if I must, I must.

And so it began.

Two days ago.

I drove to the phone store 45 minutes away.  I was feeling very grownup about handling this detail, because typically I get my husband to do it for me.  I'd appreciate it if you don't judge me for that. 

 I arrive. 

 There is a sort of nervous/stressed/buzzing energy in the room as I look around at all the waiting people.  My name is taken and added to some list.  I find a seat on a little pleather stool and wait exactly 1.5 hours to speak with someone who knows about phones and upgrades and stuff. I waited patiently.  In fact, the sales associate kept thanking me for being so nice--so patient.  I said, "Oh please! Not a problem".  And I meant it.  When I'm nervous/uncomfortable sometimes I'm overly nice, almost to the point where I might actually make people nauseous from the sweetness.

Yada, yada, yada.   You probably know the drill because you've probably been handling your phone like the grown-up that you are for some time now.  Not me, though.  I'm a newbie at this,  having just straightened myself from the fetal position.  

So I ordered a phone. 

The details of the transaction don't really matter so much as the fact that after some research when I got home, I realized one aspect of the transaction seemed a little shady to me.  It smelled of scam. My imagination?  Maybe.  But I smelled a scam.

I called to cancel the phone I ordered.  No person could be reached.  Only machines.  I tried several times.  I left a voicemail and a text message with my sales associate.  Why don't we call him Bob?  Bob the cell phone sales associate.  I came up empty-handed with all my attempts.  I got nothing.  No one will talk to me. Not even Bob, who told me I was nice to do business with.   I tried to pull up the website they gave me to register my old phone for trade-in. And here is what is said.

THIS PAGE NO LONGER EXISTS.  See?  It has "scam" written all over it.

Two days later--today-- I make the 45 minute drive again to cancel in person.  I'm hungry, fueled only by caffeine.  My husband and I find a parking spot between the phone store and Walmart.  He goes after some headache remedy while I head the opposite way to tend to my business--the cell phone scam.   I walk into the store with my receipt to simply say "Cancel my order please".  See how polite I planned to be?

Really.  That's what I meant to say.  I did.

But then what happened next was right out of Romans chapter 7.

I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

They ask me to put my name on a list--that the wait would be 45 minutes.  That's when I told them I had already waited 1.5 hours only a few days ago, and I didn't want to wait again.

"I just need to cancel my order," I say in my inside voice--calling forth my best passive-aggressive self.

The sales associate says I'll have to wait anyway.  The entire room of people go quiet and seem to be waiting in anticipation for my response.  And I didn't disappoint.  

No.  I won't wait.  Here is my receipt, I say.  Just cancel my order.  The girl behind the counter stops with her current customer and says she'll take my number and handle it.  The guy behind the counter says she can do what she wants but HE would make me take a number and wait.  The customer to my right looks at me with such disdain and I think I even hear her make a sound something like "phhuhh".  At me!  The nice patient one…you know…from a few days ago.  No one has ever "phhuhh-ed" me to my face.  Ever.  My face feels hot.  And I'm hungry.

I give the sales associate my number to cancel my order.  Then I say thank you.  I distinctly remember saying thank you, ya know, because I'm polite that way.  Then I duck my head as I turn to go.

It is the walk of shame, as every eye is on me as I leave, or so it seems.  On me!  The one who is busier than all of them--too busy to take a number and wait.

You want to know what is worse than the walk of shame?  The walk of shame in slow motion. That's what it feels like.  

Come on, girl!  Only two more miles to go to make it out the door.  You can do it!

Outside it was a cool, crisp day.  I headed across the parking lot to Walmart to meet up with my husband, trying to turn the page on the great cell phone store debacle that had just transpired.  Maybe just focusing for a bit on some "rollback prices" would help me shake it off.  

Nope.

And I am still hungry.

We get in the car and begin to drive to lunch as I spill the whole sordid affair to my husband.   I told him about the "Phhuhh" lady and how she directed her disgust at me. Me!  "Can you believe it?" I say.  I just keep talking, and he just keeps listening.   I am the queen of justification as I keep trying to make myself be in the right.  No matter how hard I try, though, my arguments only sound weaker in my own ears.  Pitiful, really.  

Poor, pitiful me. I should have stayed in my cell phone fetal position.  

Finally I admit how bad I feel about it all.  "I'm not that girl," I say.

"Today you were," he said.

Ouch. No really.  OUCH!

"I'm going to have to go back in there, aren't I?".

He just raised his eyebrows as if to say, "It's up to you".

I know our lunch must have been delicious, but to me it tasted a lot like crow, and let me tell you that's some pretty nasty stuff.

Third trip to the cell phone store.

I'm hoping all the customers that had been there a few hours ago are gone, but the store is still full of people. People waiting their turns.  They're nice.  As opposed to me--the not-nice one.  As I walk in, the same female sales associate looks up at me with an alarming look on her face. 

I quickly mouth the words, "I'm sorry".

She motions for me to approach the counter.  She's with a customer and she starts to say something and  I just reach out and lay my hand on hers and tell her how sorry I am for being so impatient earlier.  I told her I should have taken a number.  The guy behind the counter didn't give me the time of day, but it's okay.  I deserve that.  But the girl.  She shows such a lovely grace and gives me her card and says I could call her personal number if I have any other questions.

Here's the crazy thing.  Just a few hours earlier, at my Sunday-morning Bible Study I had vowed I was going to try to go an entire day without saying one negative thing.  Things sure can go south quickly.  Oftentimes they do.  

You know, it would seem that eating crow would leave a really foul taste in your mouth, and it does. Just for a bit.  But the aftertaste is sweet…like I just brushed with Crest Triple-Action Toothpaste, guaranteed to keep  my breath minty fresh for up to 12 hours.


Or until the next time I have to eat crow.


My anti-picture-taking phone in her last days.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Maddie Girl

When she was two-years-old, Maddie came to live with us on the river.

Today she enjoyed her Sunday ice cream cone (even though is was only Tuesday), and after receiving a good scratch behind her ears, we said goodbye.  At age 15, she was ancient for a lab. 

'Ole Maddie-Girl.

Goodbyes suck.  Especially these kind.

I wish I believed that all dogs go to heaven.  But I don't.  I believe animals have hearts, but I don't believe they have  souls.  I do, however, believe they touch souls.

That's what Maddie did.  

I'm thinking about that more now that she's gone.



Twenty years ago, as city transplants, we'd soon learn that however wonderful life in the country was for animals it also could drastically limit their lifespan.  In our first few years as country folk we lost three dogs…a German Shepherd, a Lab, and a Schnauzer.


But Maddie came anyway, despite our track record.  She was a Black Lab mix--with her love for water our place on the river must have seemed like the best possible place on earth.

In all those years on the river, there was never a time when we were in the river without her.  She was the guardian of all who entered the water.  Even when we would pile into tubes and float down-river a bit to find the deeper swimming hole, she swam beside us.  This never stopped, even when she got older--even when we feared she didn't have the energy to follow…she did.

Maddie was always an outside dog.  A few times when we were gone, she managed to push open the front door that hadn't been closed properly.  She'd head straight for the trash and make the biggest mess.  But other than that, she was an outside dog.  When the sun was hot, she dug down to cool dirt in every flower bed we ever planted.  When bad storms came up or when a blast of cold came our way, she wouldn't come inside no matter how hard we tried. In the winter, she slept outside our bedroom door on the porch under a heat lamp on a pile of blankets.  

I think maybe she felt like she was guarding the place.

She came to us right in the middle of a busy life.  Three kids.  Lots of sporting events every week.  Early mornings.  Late nights. There were many days when all she got from us were a few bowls of food and a quick "Hey Maddie-Girl" as we came in late at night.

But she didn't seem to mind.  We were her people. She didn't beg for more attention during those days.  She seemed perfectly content with the occasional scratch behind the ears, the table food she sometimes scored during weekend cookouts and the freedom to go for a swim anytime the mood struck her.

Our yard was fenced with pickets that were three feet high.  She easily cleared those pickets to go roaming.  Sometimes she'd bring back deer carcasses from her adventures.  Sometimes she'd come back with a face full of porcupine quills. She continued the fence-jumping until she was 14 years old.  Fourteen.  As she got older, she preferred to squeeze past us and run out the gate.  But when she came home from roaming, she would rock back and forth until she gained enough mental and physical momentum to propel her back over the fence into the yard.

But years change things.  Kids grow up.  They leave home.  'Ole Maddie-Girl had hung on to see it all.  In a way, she helped raise the kids.

She was a constant in their lives, and ours.  A fixture.  The most loyal friend.  She didn't beg to be noticed, but if she hadn't been there we would've noticed right away.

There was the day we sold our house and moved into town.  Due to construction, it would be a few months before we had a yard for her.  So we helped her settle into a big yard at a place called Agape Haus--the place where I teach piano.

She didn't have the river, but she did have a bunch of new chicken friends and a gardener named Maurice. And a bunch of adoring music students who fed her treats and petted her.  She was almost completely deaf, so they'd have to step over her to come inside as she slept in her favorite spot--right in front of the front door.   

And the strangest thing.  All of the sudden, at this new place, she decided coming inside was kind of nice.  She would sometimes lay on the rug in my room as the students had their lessons.  Sometimes she preferred the room where my friend Keenan taught violin.

Always on Sunday nights my husband and I would get ice cream--two cones for us and one for Maddie.  We'd sit on the porch at Agape Haus, hang out with the old girl and just be happy that she loved her ice cream.

Today the years finally caught up with her.  It's  only Tuesday, but it called for one last ice-cream cone.  She licked every last drop of it. 

And then she went to sleep.

And here's what I think.

Sometimes the best examples of loyalty and love and devotion and consistency don't come from humans at all.

Thanks Maddie-girl.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dimension.

There is something about seeing a movie in 3-D.  

I remember specifically seeing a movie at the Museum of Natural History in New York.  If I'm not mistaken, Harrison Ford narrated the short film about creation.  And while much of it was not in line with my beliefs on creation, I remember the beauty of seeing a film in 3-D.  I was 40-ish and it was my first 3-D film.


I remember feeling silly putting on those goofy glasses, but then I looked around and the entire audience looked equally goofy so what the heck!    Then the show began.   I was immediately drawn into it.  I was floating around in the wide expanse…the oblivion that was before creation.  I wasn't just watching a story.  I was part of the story. Kinda cool.


I WAS PART OF THE STORY!


That was 13 years ago.  So why am I thinking about it now?


That's what I want to tell you.


Last weekend I attended a reunion with a specific group of friends with whom I shared a wonderful--though short by comparison--time in life.


We made music together.


About ten years ago, our small-town church started a second service--a contemporary service.  We weren't the first to do it, but we were the first to do it in our little town.  There was a handful of us who volunteered to lead out in the music part of the service.  


A couple of guitars.  No drums at first, but they did come later.    Stevo played them.  Two, sometimes three, vocalists.  A keyboard.  Even a steel guitar from time to time.  Sometimes a violin.  She was the only real professional among us.


 Most of the musicians were self-taught.  The vocalists had decent voices--some had learned to sing harmony back in high school.  Man.  We were rough in the beginning.  We rehearsed weekly and worked hard.  And we laughed even harder!  We became friends.  Friends who loved God.  We shared lives.  We shared hard times.  We loved each others' children. We prayed for each other.  And we loved making music together.  


In those days we saw each other several times a week.  Our lives were intertwined.


I wouldn't say it ever reached the point of being superb.  The music, that is.


Not by a long-stretch.


We had our moments, though.


But they only lasted a short while.  Sometimes when I think back on it seems like a mere "blip" on the radar.


One by one, most of us moved away or began to serve in other ministries.  Soon we found ourselves as the busy parents of teenagers and college kids.  One of us is now a grandmother.  In fact, as I write, perhaps only one of us still serves at that original church.


With only a few exceptions, we mostly still live in fairly close proximity to each other--not more than a couple of hours away.  But it might as well be a continent away.


We are all, however, Facebook friends.  I can see the kiddos I knew as babies growing into teenagers.  I see first-day-of-school pictures.  I see baptism pictures and wedding pictures and sports pictures.  Sometimes we exchange private messages about how we miss each other and how we want to get together.  We "like" each others' posts frequently, along with hundreds of other friends.  We wish each other happy birthdays pretty much every year!  I have even found myself wishing friends a slice of the most delicious chocolate cake.  I've actually written that.  I know.  But I'm digressing.  


Back to the reunion.


It was really happening!


My husband and I drove 45 minutes to our friends' beautiful home on a hill.  I couldn't believe after all the years that it was my first time there.  We were one of the first couples to arrive.


Jay opened the door and welcomed us.  That's when it started for me.  It was like the beginning of the most wonderful 3-D movie minus the goofy glasses.  I wasn't just watching or reading about it.  I was part of it!  Pictures began to come to life.  


There was Julie with her sweet smile and laugh.  And then there were their kids, including that sweet kid that used to give me a "boy" hug every morning at church because my boys were all grown and gone and I needed one.  He hugged me again, a little more embarrassed perhaps than he'd been before.  But it was real!  Then Kris and Jennifer and their kids---two in middle school and the baby-- who happens to be starting Kindergarten and is currently sporting one handsome snaggle-toothed smile.  I got to hear his precious little lisp.


It was all so wonderful to be wrapped up in each others hugs again.


And that was only the beginning.  More friends came.  More hugs.  We had supper together. 


Not dinner.  


SUPPER.


To me there is a distinct difference.


We caught up on each others' lives. I actually heard their voices describe to me the jobs that I knew they had.   I didn't just read words about their kids.  I saw them.  I hugged them--all sticky from the summer heat!   I heard their "big kid" voices.  I watched them run and play and swim.  Justyn's beautiful teenage smile that I had seen in photographs came to life when I heard her laugh--so like her momma.   So many children and the wonderful chaos that comes with them.  You can't feel that in a picture.  You have to physically sit in the big old middle of it to experience the beauty of it!


And then, of course, the music began.


We were set up on the porch overlooking the beautiful Texas hills.  


As the sun began to sink,  those of us who had one time led together gathered on the porch.  We began to sing familiar words and harmonies.   Words about grace like rain and stormy banks and how great our God is.  Chords that the musicians thought they'd forgotten started to melt together just like in the old days.  Was it rusty at all?   Oh I assure you it was.  But it just didn't seem to matter one bit.


It had length and breadth and depth.


It was three-dimensional and beautiful.


It was life the way it was meant to be lived.  


I fear that our lives are being flattened out--into a single dimension.  With almost no effort at all I can stay in touch by today's standards.   I can tell these dear ones how sad I am for a tragedy by simply clicking on a stupid little blue "thumbs-up" icon.  If I want to tell them I'm happy for them, I do the same. 


Social media would have us believe that we can reach out and touch someone without ever reaching out and actually touching them.


That is a lie.  Don't buy it.  It isn't the same thing.  But over time, without realizing it, we start to think it is.  But it isn't even close.


It hit me like a brick the minute I walked into my friend's house and she wrapped me up in a real, warm embrace and held me there for a bit!


Life is 3-D.  It is flesh and bone.  It is voices with actual inflections.  It has a smell and a taste.  It engages all of our senses.  


Pictures and words on a screen are just that.  Pictures and words.  It isn't bad.  It just can't be all there is.


I was reminded after spending the grandest evening with such incredible human beings that I don't want to reduce my relationships with them to only one dimension.  They are way too fantastic to be flattened like that.  I don't want to just WISH them a slice of chocolate cake on their birthday!  When I can,  I want to eat it with them!


I want to experience them full on.  I want to not only write about when we used to make music together, or to see the pictures of us making music.   I actually want to get together and make it--less than perfect though it may be--but sung loudly all the same.  


I want real life.  I want to touch it.  I want to hear.  And I want to be part of the story.


music on the porch in 3-d.




Friday, June 20, 2014

If Walls Could Talk

So I'm sitting on the floor.

In this old house.

It's empty now.

So many times I've spoken harshly about it.  It's ironic that the very "oldness" that drew me to it has over the years at times been the very thing that drives me nuts.  (My husband would say that it's a VERY short drive!)

Faced with the reality that I will be walking out the front door for the last time in the morning, I'm clinging like crazy.  I'm again looking at this old gal like I did the first time I saw her.  And I love her still.  If I'm honest, it's killing me to leave, even when what's waiting is so good.  But it's time.

Some might find this a bit dramatic--might say "Oh my goodness...what's the big deal?  It's just a house for Pete's sake!" Actually, it isn't.  Just a house.  And I have so much more to say about it.

This is a tribute to the house where we grew our family.   I intend to do it up right.

Twenty years ago, I picked her off a list of homes available in the little town where we hoped to move.  It's safe to say that she was the absolute saddest thing I'd ever seen.  She was on her way to seeing better days, but someone had given up on her.  They just left her there--with her boards rotting, sitting perched above the Llano River. 

 Just a bunch of falling-down sticks really.

When I first saw her, it was springtime.  There were wildflowers all around, which softened her exterior greatly.  But she was a mess.  It would be two years before we could actually live there.

For two years, our family--my husband and I and our three children then ten, seven and five--worked every single weekend rain or shine, heat or cold, to restore the old girl.

We look back on it now and wonder how we did it.  We think we would never want to do it again.  But there has never been a moment when we aren't glad we did.

This house fit our family like a glove.   I believe God led us to her.   She knows us better than anyone.  She knows all of our flaws and imperfections and loves us still.   She's seen us at our best and at our worst.

She knows our inside jokes--jokes that anyone outside our family would find idiotic and half-witted.  She gets them and I think they crack her up!  She knows the cheesiness we're capable of and she smiles at it.  She knows our habits and routines.  Our rising times and our lights-out times.  She knows what we eat for breakfast.  She knows the way we love each other--the way we forgive each other.  She's heard a million "I love yous".   She knows our Christmas-Eve anticipation, our getting-ready for-prom butterflies, our college-acceptance excitement.  She knows our joy when one of us comes home after being gone for a long time.  She's heard our prayers of thanks.

She wrapped her walls tight around us when difficulties and sadness and fear came our way.  She sheltered us always.  She didn't try to fix things, she just listened and let us be.  She was peace and quiet from the storm.  She heard cries of a little girl who was afraid of "bad guys" and couldn't go to sleep at night.  She listened as teenage boys poured all their angst and confusion into a couple of guitars.  She saw pillows become wet with tears.  She heard angry words we wished we could take back. She heard gut-wrenching prayers and pleas to God.  She felt it when hearts broke.  She shook as doors slammed.  She knows intimately our most raw heartaches and pain.  She has carried them on her strong and competent frame and would willingly bear more for us if we would stay.

But back to the joy, because that is the overriding emotion of our days lived within and around her walls.  

Joy.

Most times, there was so much joy and laughter that she couldn't contain it, so the windows and doors would open and it would spill out of them.  The more people who came, the more love that spilled out.  And people did come.  Families and friends and strangers.  Young ones and really old ones.   In fact, some travelled across the world never planning to find shelter within her walls or food on her tables.  She was a wonderful unexpected surprise for them.  There were Germans and Russians and Ukrainians.  Norwegians and New Zealanders.  Koreans and Chinese.  Ecuadorians and French.  She became an international house and never minded being kept up into the wee hours of the morning by lively porch conversations.

Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays and Mother's Days and Father's Days.  And plain 'ole days.  People and so much good food.  And games.   She was the facilitator of all of it.  She never cared about being the center of attention, she was just happy to be in the background as it all happened in and around her.

I've heard it said that music is what feelings sound like.   If that's the case, then our years in this house have been ones of ongoing, never-ending expressions of feelings!

Most nights, when we were all safely tucked away inside her walls, she enjoyed her own private concert-- late-night serenades from our boys and our girl--songs finding their way under and around closed bedroom doors.  

At times her back porch became a stage...with an old upright rolled right out the door and white lights strung from her rafters.  Her yard sometimes filled with as many as a few hundred new and old friends who came to listen to some songs, to sit under the stars that she surely knows by name and to listen to the river run down below.

During the day, when everyone was away at school and work,  I would play her my own music on the piano and sing for her--just the two of us.  I trusted her like that.  I even played my old violin for her, as bad as it was!

So much music.

I, of course, feel that I know her better than anyone else.  It makes sense since I've spent more one-on-one time with her.  I've dragged furniture across her floors, I've pounded nails into her walls, and I've filled her kitchen with smoke more than once.  I've kept her clean.  We're really best friends.  I know every creak in her floorboards and where those troublesome little nails are that like to work themselves loose.   I know the way the evening sunlight pours in through her windows on the west side of the house--filtering through the trees to create the most wonderful shadow dances on the walls.  I know how she allows the morning light to come in slowly through my bedroom windows so as to let me take my time waking--to ease me into the day.  She has been with me through ever-changing hairstyles and I have been with her through quite a few paint jobs.  I've seen her with peeling paint and she's seen me with 20 extra pounds.

So the goodbye is hard.

Saying goodbye to a house is not like saying goodbye to a human friend.  With humans there's always a possibility, however slight, that we'll spend time together again someday.  When you say goodbye to a house, it's likely for good.  For always.  I mean you can drive by and look, but you can't sit within and feel it again.

We've all said our goodbyes--all five of us--a last meal on the porch shared some weeks ago when we knew leaving was imminent.

As we sat out by the river, we remembered how our daughter and her elementary school friends would spend hours cleaning and setting up house in the treehouse that looked out over the river.  The plan, of course, was to sleep there.  I remember the giggles as they hauled sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, radios and snacks up the ladder and through the hatch door with so much enthusiasm!  It was a great adventure until dark set in, at which time they would abandon it all for safety inside the real house. 

The boys told of taking their paintball guns out to the sandbar in the middle of the river.  They said they would lie on their backs and shoot the guns up into the sky and at the last minute, just before the paint exploded back down on them, they would roll out of the way.  

Funny.  Our coming together that last time was kind of like that.  We gathered under her shadow and under the sky she and all of us knew so well.  We told stories and remembered until the last possible minute  And just before the sadness of the moment could explode down us,  we rolled out of the way.

From up the hill, I believe she was listening.  It was the best possible way to tell her goodbye--by remembering how fully and well we've lived under her watch.

If I've learned anything in recent years, it's that we should hold things loosely.  And when it's time to let go, we should make every attempt to do so with grace.  

So this is my attempt.

As I find myself saying the last of the last goodbyes, I walk down the river bank and wade out into the water.  I reach my hand down to the bottom and find a rock--so refined and smooth after years of being tumbled about in these waters--which have at times been turbulent.  The rock is a lot like me.  I keep collecting rocks until my shirt, that I'm using as basket, is full of them.  A parting gift.  I know it's time to go.

I look up the hill and there she sits... 

If walls could talk, I don't think she would have words right now.

And all of the sudden, I seem to have run out of them.


a beautiful mess of sticks.

in the beginning.

three hard workers.

the story of shooting paintballs in the sky.


the last supper.

one last look at the old gal.
river-bottom rock.  a lopsided heart.  fitting.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Perspective.

"I've looked at clouds from both sides now".

Man I wish that was my line, but it belongs to Joni Mitchell.

But I have.  Looked at clouds from both sides now, that is.

The pilot on American Flight #1484 from Indianapolis to Austin has just told me that we will be paralleling the Ohio River for some miles.

After sitting in the middle seat for several prior flights in the last couple of weeks, I am amazed that on this particular flight--the one that will follow the Ohio River--I have landed in a window seat.

Of course I know why.  First, God knows I love rivers.  They're just about my favorite thing.  But mostly, God needs to have a word with me.   He's always having to do that--remind me for the umpteenth jillion time about something I've forgotten.  For this word he has me 30,000 feet in the air.  He has my attention.

And the subject is perspective.


Rivers are my favorite kind of body of water.  I have, in fact, lived on one for almost twenty years—not quite one-third of my life.  The thing I love most about rivers is when there is this perfect meeting of temperature and moisture and the atmosphere becomes ripe for fog to settle and rest just above the water.  It is the most beautiful thing to me.   As I write I'm witnessing this from the air—the coolest clouds laying low hiding the river and following it as it twists and turns across land.  I had never considered how it would look from above.  From a different perspective.

As I boarded the plane this morning, I was ready to get home.  The leaving is bittersweet, as leaving sometimes is.

My husband and I spent the weekend with our dear Oksana--who at 17 years of age came to Texas to live with us as an exchange student from Ukraine.  Twenty-four now, she just received a degree in Economics from a small liberal arts school in Indiana.

Part of our celebration weekend included the wonderful blessing of meeting her closest friends--all international students themselves.  All brave girls.  From Bangladesh.  Burma.  China.  Japan.  

In short car rides and during receptions and over coffee,  we chatted about writing.  About the future.  About the situation in Ukraine.  About the loss of a friend.  About family.  About continuing education plans.  About government.

We shared a meal.  With all of these and one of the girl's parents.  Even with minor language barriers, our dinner was filled with humor and so much laughter.  And the most delicious Strawberry and Cream dessert pizza.

We were gifted with chopsticks that have our names inscribed in them in Japanese.  

We said goodbye with hugs and photographs and promises to stay in touch via Facebook.  The men exchanged business cards because that is their way.

And we all walked away as friends.  We all walked away.

So this is the part where I need God to give me some perspective.  He knew I needed it before I did.  

You see, I'm an attacher.

It doesn't take that much time for me to do it either.  It seems that sharing a meal is sort of the thing that propels me to attach.  If you have ever shared a meal with me--at my home or elsewhere--you can bet I attached to you.  You probably don't even know it.  You're probably walking around out there--maybe all the way across the world from me or in a city nearby--and  you don't even realize that a piece of you is attached to my heart.

When I meet someone, I'm all in quickly.  Real fast.

In many instances--like this one-- it is particularly sad to me because of the likelihood that I will never sit across from these sweet faces again.  It weighs on me. What might have come from a longer interaction? I begin to miss it and I don't even really know it. But I know the  POSSIBILITY of it.

This coming and going of people in and out of my life is hard for me.  It is these short, but beautiful brushes with people that have caused this mysterious "blue fog" to settle in me this morning.  

I am looking for some perspective.  And God is giving it as I find myself in a window seat with the river draped in fog down below. 

For an instant, I really do feel that I am "in the world, but not of it".  I feel like I am so faraway from conforming to it in that minute.  The scripture comes.

It seems I'm hovering, rather than careening through the sky. And in that space there is clarity.  And perspective.  And God.

There are so many people down there, I think.  So many.  Moving just like that river.  Hidden from me just as the fog is hiding the river.   And one day all of the sudden I might see a few of  them.  And they will see me.  We are on each other's radar. That God intentionally orchestrates such lovely collisions of me with them, however brief, is nothing short of a gift from him.

How grateful I should be.

Every single appointment has a purpose.  Every one.  And a time.   Some appointments last years, some last months, some last weeks, some last a few days,  some last a few hours and some only a breath.  But there is significance and purpose in every one of them.  Sometimes we will know the purpose because it is glaringly obvious.  We can see it.  Sometimes we won't have a clue what the purpose is, and when the appointment has come and gone we will wonder.  Especially if you are an attacher like me.  You will wonder and be a little sad in the wondering.

But then, at a most unexpected time,  even 30,000 miles up in the air, little Prima's sweet smile and giggle, a sound that I heard only for a few hours,  will recall itself to me and I will thank God for the joy that comes in the remembering.  I don't know, but maybe that is the only purpose.  That these brief, completely unique encounters that can never be exactly duplicated again in the history of all time--that they leave us better than we were before. 

New perspective.

It is what God has brought to me, not what has gone away.