Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taken for Granite

A Place of Peace--Blissfield, Michigan
     It’s been a long time since my last visit. There’s not much here for me, except a cold black marker reminding me of all that I have lost.  When I come to this place, I don’t hear her voice, speaking words of wisdom or sound advice.  When I step softly in front of her stone, I don’t have powerful memories break the surface of my mind.  And when I crouch to trail my fingers across her name carved in granite, I don’t feel her presence sweep up and settle in beside me.  Actually I don’t hear, see, or feel anything when I come to this place.  Yet, here I am, once again.  Is it out of duty that I stand before this sacred stone? Guilt? Or requirement? 
     No.  I’m here only because of a small, slowly dying, sliver of hope.  A hope that someday this place will have something more to offer me.   I hope to find answers to long-ago asked questions. I hope for messages that will soothe my broken heart.  And I hope for clues that will finally put an end to my endless cycle of pain. 
     Today the sky is overcast, adding nothing but further dullness to both my world and senses.  The only color I see is the painted plastic flowers flanking the hard reality that sits before me.  Why is it these store-bought floral stems always seem a tad too vibrant, a shade too bold?  Why can they never match the true color of their living, breathing counterparts?  Are their qualities overstated in a vain attempt to parallel the joy and beauty of a real bouquet?  The wind stirs, ruffling the uniform-shaped petals, and upon its breeze I am startled by the warm, whispering sound of a voice I had almost forgotten.  I catch my breath and strain to listen, leaning myself forward into the heavy air.  Her words sweep gently past my ears, and I find myself suspended if only for a moment.  “Be careful,” she says.  “Do not become like them.  Be not cold, plastic, rigid, or less than.  Your life has purpose—live it.  You have gifts—use them.  Your dreams are credible—don't deny them.  There is a world anxiously waiting for you.” 
     Her voice fades, and my eyes drift from the plastic flowers to her name etched in stone.  Dark, embedded letters identifying the woman who still pulls at my heart, yet whose passing has left it cold and empty.  My mind suddenly opens the vault of once-happy pictures, pictures of long-ago and put away.  I thought by locking them up, the pain of losing her would lessen.  I thought my world needed living pictures, walls filled with today’s snapshots, for me to heal.  I was wrong.  Closing the door to her memories, closed off a palate of hues my heart so desperately needed.  With her images now slipping back in, color begins to seep back into the grey-shadowed landscapes of my life.  Her memories bring beauty, give beauty, to all that I see.  They are gifts. Her pictures splash against the stark white canvass of my heart; I can see her eyes, her smile, her tender face.  She is here with me—in all her beauty—once again. 
     As my heart refills, the soil of my soul begins to stir.  The roots she planted there so long ago push downward, as tiny shoots of inner strength stretch upward.  I take a deep breath and tilt my head towards the heavens, praying for healing water to come.  The grey clouds above me, concede, break open and a soft rain begins to fall.  My face rejoices in the cool wet drops.  I have cried a thousand tears for my yesterdays, and today I find there are no more to give.  The rain, however, is willing to do the weeping for me.  I stand there open, exposed, the dryness of my soul soaking up the restoring graces of life-giving water.  My body shivers with the chill now dominating the air, but I feel a warm blanket wrap around my shoulders.  I feel the soft touch of the hand placing it there.  Her presence is strong, undeniable.  She is everywhere, enveloping me in a layering of her love.  She is doing what all mothers do best—she is comforting her hurting child. 
     Today I heard her voice.  I saw her face.  I felt her presence.  This place—which had been cold and lacking—finally released the one gift it knew I truly needed.  It wasn't an answer to a small human-size question, nor a clue to some long-standing mystery.  Instead, I was granted peace. True peace. Peace which will surpass all understanding—given in a place never to be taken for granite again.  

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran