upside down

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carrol

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(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

Some told lies while others told truth…
And sorting out the difference was pretty cut and dry

Yet that was long ago…and all of that was then…

Everything now has been turned wrong-side up and upside down…

With right becoming wrong and wrong becoming right
All that once mattered has turned woefully out of step.

“It’s ok” they say and “its now all alright”
“Everything goes” so there’s no turning back.

For God was sovereign, this much we knew
But the lies began raging, replacing Him with you

While buying-in has now become the thing to do….

If you’ve lost your voice and your tongue seems stuck,
hurry quick and speak on up…to this world turned upside down…

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:18

Then and now

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
Guillaume Apollinaire

“Wishes are memories coming from our future!”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

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(dandelion / Julie Cook / 2015)

With eyes tightly closed,
and lips readily posed,
we blew hard for what might be. . .

There were dreams and wishes,
along with a few stolen kisses–
That’s what I longed for back then. . .

But today is much different,
With all that now distant,
As my wishes are no longer my own. . .

For health and for happiness,
along for a world without madness,
As we now find ourselves praying for what should be. . .

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Memory

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(an old home-place in the middle of nowhere western Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

The old metal spring frame screeches obnoxiously with the slightest turn and twist.
Eyes blink in the inky blackness haplessly trying to focus.
No street lights, no city glow, just the twinkling of a million stars filling an endless sky.

The mattress thin and lumpy, ancient army surplus, offers little in the way of comfort.
The unzipped sleeping bag certainly not refreshing in the stifling humid summer’s night air.
There’s no breeze, no movement, no relief. . .only the shrill symphony of sound produced by the profusion of an endless sea of tree frogs.

Lying in the darkness, with arms folded under head, staring upward at the nothingness in the tiny musty room, pleasant thoughts race across the expanse of time.
Old wooden planks pop and groan recalling the countless steps which once trod over the roughly hewn surface.
Fading laughter mixes with the steady hum of cicada.

The once binding tie of whispered secrets now mingle together with the rising smoke from the countless crackling fires.
Age old stones, stacked artfully together generations earlier, blackened by years of thick heavy soot, offer a warm, smokey, familiar welcome.

The intimate faces, which form a memorable past, collide in the middle of this darkened night, with the new faces of a current life.
The difference between now and then spans across an endless abyss of time and space.
The experiences of “then”, which make the current moments of “now”, merge mindlessly together resulting in the singleness of one

Lying in the darkness on a hot humid night, with all that was and with all that is, tenderly forming the basis of the dreams yet dreamt, heavy eyes now close as muscles give in to the weariness of time, while a magical dance of a thousand fireflies sparkles, beyond an old broken window, as the singleness of now is made whole by the union of then.

“Once you are REAL, you can’t be ugly” or The life of the little stuffed bear

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

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He didn’t always look this way.
At some point, very long ago, the stitching was still attached forming the mouth. There was a small bell in the right ear, the one that now has the hole, which tinkled each time he was moved. The neck was not so floppy as there was not the gapping tear. And of course there was the fuzzy fur.

I don’t know when he came into my life, or who had given him to me.
I don’t remember life before him because he was always present.
He just always was.
His name was / is Cubby. I suppose the name was intended officially as Cubby bear, but I simply recall “Cubby”

When do these sorts of things disappear from one’s life?
How is it that one day they are there, ever present, acting as the sentinel guard to one’s very being, then oddly, years of a lifetime pass-by without their ever vigilant presence–the keeper of one’s small soul, only being suddenly rediscovered, packed away in some musty old box buried amongst the debris of Life?
How is that?

And so it goes— my life with Dad which now slowly morphs into something else. Something other than. Something that was not what it is today. Something now odd, now strange, now challenging, now different.
The boxes which are now slowly being unearthed, as I work to clean out the house of what was–those boxes which have been entombed in the depths of a seemingly ancient basement and attic, all which contain the pieces of my life from back then.
“Back when?” you ask.
Back then, as in. . .my life before.
“Before what?” you ask.
Before I was who I am today.
Before I grew up to be 54.
Before I retired from the classroom.
Before I was a mom.
Before I was a wife.
Before my brother’s suicide.
Before Mother died from the cancer.
Before Dad had Alzheimer’s.
Before.

Before all of that, he was whole.
He had fur.
He was not torn, nor broken.
He was out living and not buried in a box.
He was ever present.
He was a constant in a life full of the flux of growth.

Each night as I readied for bed, Dad and I had a ritual. I’d climb in the bed and dad would be across the room over at the little baby doll’s bed which acted as the “day bed” for my menagerie of stuffed animals. I would call out a name and Dad would gingerly toss over the lucky recipient, of my heart’s desire, to my small waiting arms. The arms that would eagerly catch “a loved one” for the journey to dreams.
Cubby was always first.

I wonder if Dad remembers that?

There was the good night hug and kiss, the lights turned out as I nestled myself down into the covers and pillow with stuffed animals on either side acting as insulating protectorates as Cubby was held tight. Tiny girl prayers were said. “God bless, Mommy. God bless Daddy. God bless Humpty Dumpty (the other ever-present sentinel), God Bless Cubby. . .”

And so it went, or so it seemed, until one day, it all obviously changed and that person ceased being.

Life is funny that way. One day you’re a young person engulfed in the world of care and love—then poof, you’re now the one offering the care and love.

All of the “before” being long forgotten, that is until the box is found and opened.
Until the life that “was” is unearthed, resurfacing from the packed away Past.
Then, and only then, do the memories suddenly become the Present.
Time stands still.
It is no longer “now” but rather it is “then.”

The secrets told to the fuzzy little bear are magically recalled as instinctively you pull him close in your arms, holding tight to what was. The smell, his smell, it seems to linger. Is it real, or merely imagined?
He contains the countless tears of a little girl. They are all still there. He’s held them all, all these many years. He seems so small.
You bury your face against his face–just as you did so long ago.
He made things better.
He loved you when you were sent to your room for some slight indiscretion of youth.
He loved you when you had the fever, the chicken pox, the skinned knees, the black eye.
He loved you when it thundered.
He loved you when the lights were turned off.
He loved you when your grandfather, your “Pops”, died.
He loved you when you started school.
He loved you when you had your first crush
He loved you when you had your first heartache.
He loved you when you left for college.
He loved you while he waited.
He loved you.

Then one day, he went in a box.
He went away.
I went away.
Life grew big—almost too big. Overwhelmingly big.
Grown up life is not always cracked up to what children imagine—just ask any adult. Childhood has imagination and magic. Adulthood, not so much.
And just when things seemed big, too big— there he was, again.
Out of the blue.
Out of the box.
He looks sadly tired.
I look sadly tired.
But it is him and he is the same.
I am the one who has become different.
I changed.
He did not.
Thankfully, he did not change.

To anyone else, he is but a sad little stuffed old bear. He is torn, broken, ragged, ripped and furless—not even GoodWill material.
But. . .to me, he is beautiful.
He is REAL.
He is hope.
He is happiness.
He is safety.
He is who I was.

And today, I need to be reminded of that very thing—who I was.
And for that, I am once again thankful to the little brown, once fuzzy, bear who long ago held my hopes and dreams in his little imagined heart.
I would like to think that he still has a bit of room in that heart of his to hold a few more of those tears, those hopes, those dreams of mine. . .and because he has withstood the test of time and of a life well worn, and he doesn’t seem to mind the rips, the tears, the holes, the worn away fur–for in all of this is the hurt of becoming REAL. . .

God bless Cubby. . .