Can’t you see? Not exactly.

Can’t you see (I’m gonna take a freight train) can’t you see
(I’m down at the station lord) what that woman (ain’t never gonna go back) been doin’ to me
Can’t you see oh can’t you see (gonna ride me the southbound)
(All the way to Georgia) what that woman (till the train run out of track) been doin’ to me

Marshal Tucker Band 1973


(from N-lightenment.com)

Ok, I’m diverging today entirely from any topic we’ve been riding lately.
Driving basically off the cliff and jumping the tracks of all subject matter.
No politics.
No debate observations.
No current civil unrest rants.
No religious tit for tat…
Something entirely off track.

That Marshal Tucker Band song up above, that I’ve allowed to open this post,
is from my youthful days of high school and it came racing to my mind
yesterday morning.
It came after I’d woken from the longest and oddest dream I think I can ever
remember having.

Now, remember I’ve been fighting the withdrawals from my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
for almost 3 months.
There has been NO, I repeat, NO sleep worth mentioning in all that time—
only insomnia and rolling hot flashes on and on all night long.

I begged my doctor to do something.
Yes begged and pleaded actually…that’s how bad me not sleeping becomes.
Reluctantly she put me back on the HRT but it is a dose fit for a mere ant.
And an ant’s dose isn’t doing me any good.

So yes, me without any real consequential sleep is not pretty.
Just ask my long-suffering husband.
He now gets very little sleep as well because all I do is toss and turn and
kick off covers all night long.

So the night before last, I doubled the CBD oil dose (yes the doctor said she
hears it helps with hot flashes but I take it for IBS and no it is not
helping with the hot flashes) plus doubled my IBS meds.

And so I actually slept without fighting my hormonal self.
Maybe I had drugged myself…but I digress.

But in that sleep came that bizarre dream.

They say that dreams are actually quite brief but I swear this particular dream went
on all night.
Even when I’d groggily come to some sort of consciousness,
I’d quickly tell the dream part of my brain to let it keep playing out because
I wanted to see how it all ended.

I believe that dreams are a mixed bag.

I believe God can speak to us in our dreams.
I believe that the devil can speak to us in our dreams…which are more like nightmares
but again, I digress.
And I believe we can speak to ourselves in our dreams.

So this dream had a younger me and an old childhood friend galivanting about.
I’ve not seen this friend of mine in years so that was the first odd thing.
Plus we were more like our younger teenage selves.

Next, we ran into a former President and first lady.
Now that is really odd because I’ve not thought much of this presidential duo
in several years. A bit of a past president but not too long ago.
Think W and Laura…
And I usually don’t think that much about presidents, let alone first ladies.

There was a woman who I think was actually that first lady.
She was kind and soft-spoken.
In the dream, something bad had happened to her,
a terrible betrayal and I had known about it.
And I felt terrible for her.
Yet there was nothing I could have done to stop it as I realized the trauma when she had–
that being after the fact.
Yet I ached for her anyway.

I can remember looking at her and she looking at me—so I impulsively took her in my arms to
hug her and offer comfort.
Not that I’m a big hugger in real life, but I do hug those who I feel are in need.
People who hurt do need hugs, but overall I’m not touchy-feely.

However, it was the look on her face, the love in her eyes towards me,
and her embrace of me that was what got to me.
Now granted her face is not the face of the real first lady in question.
Dreams work that way…you think it’s a real person but the faces are
never quite what we actually know them to be.

I woke almost with tears in my eyes.
And then started ruminating.
And then the Marshal Tucker Band song just revved up, playing in my head.
And no, the CBD oil does not contain any THC!
This craziness is all me and me alone.

Now we all know that I’m adopted.
We all know how that crazy story played out as I’ve written at length about
being adopted and having learned the identity (sort of) of my birth parents
all these many years later— written just last year.

I know who my biological father was—and from everything I’ve heard, he was a
good and kind man.

My birth mother on the other hand, who is, yes, still living, has not been as kind.
She let her lawyer inform a social worker that I was in the past and that
was where I was to stay.

And I was like, ‘Ok, you’re what…84? and I’m almost 61??…so yeah,
I’ll just stay in that past.’
Paaaallleeeezzzze.

Anyway, I did come to a peace about all of that a while back…something I’d also written
about…so it’s good to have all this material to write about I suppose.

But what I knew from this dream was that something deep inside of me yearns for that
sort of love that I saw in that woman’s eye for me and felt in her embrace.
Something I’ve never seen or felt before.
Nope never.
A deep abiding, unconditional love of a mother to her child.
And all I know is that I wanted it…or shall we say, want it.

Yep, you read it— a 61-year-old sleep-deprived woman is pining for a mother’s love.
Go figure!?!

And yes, I’ve written about this before as well…my adopted mom and I,
before her premature death to cancer at 53, had had a fractious relationship while
I was growing up—especially when I was a teenager.
But I don’t know too many moms and daughters who delight in one another
during said teenage years…
We were much closer when she suddenly got sick and died prematurely.

As that angst-driven teen, I was headstrong, stubborn, and detached from both my mom and my family.
Our family was a dysfunctional hot mess and I resented every minute of it.

I’ve written about that too…
all about my brother’s mental illness and his inability to cope
with his having been adopted…and thankfully we were not biologically related.
So you would think I’d quit having these random, out of the blue, type dreams…
but nooooooo.

And no I don’t need therapy.
I have been prayed over long ago for healing and healing came.

But to still want that sort of love is not to simply be dismissed
or even purged.
There’s something there and it keeps knocking
at a deep door in my being.

It’s a good thing to want love and to be loved.
I don’t think there’s a whole lot of that running around this country of ours these days.

So maybe that’s it.
God is bringing the idea of unconditional love to the forefront of my thoughts
because we are all living knee-deep in divisive hate.
And no, that is NOT the fault of the sitting president…it is
the fault of every human being who is ranting and raving these days.

So yes, I still yearn for that embrace.
Just as I still yearn to see that look of love in some unknown mother’s eye.

And I suspect, one day…I will both see and feel that look and that embrace…

So here’s to love.
Ture abiding love…

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

from one adopted kid to another…it’s all about unity and not division


(former NFL player Colin Kaepernick)

As the unofficial family historian of this clan of mine, I have certainly enjoyed the
stories I’ve uncovered over the years—especially the lineage of my dad’s family.

My grandmother had done her fair share of work and what was uncovered is
quite the storyline—Mayflower fame and all.

Yet despite having taken over the helm, following my grandmother’s death, of
being the unofficial family history loving sleuth,
I must confess that there has always been a nagging concern buried deep in
the back of my thoughts.

As an adopted member of this clan, I have always known that this clan is truly not my own.
Their story is not my story.
Or so I kept telling myself.

And yes, I know I’ve written extensively about all of this not long ago, but a part of my
own story came to the forefront of thought today while I was braving the heat picking
blueberries.

When things like this pop into my head out of the blue, I know the Holy Spirit is stirring.

Those of you who know me, know how much I love college football.
I don’t care whose playing, I’ll watch.

So I actually remember quite a few years back watching a game featuring UNLV
along with some other team.
I remember it was UNLV because of one of the stories, that the sports announcers shared
during the game, touched my heart.

It seems there was a young quarterback leading the UNLV team by the name of Colin Kaepernick.

During the game, the sports announcers offered a little background regarding this
seemingly phenom QB.

It seems that Colin’s mom had shared the story that Colin,
while being an outstanding high school quarterback, had not been offered any scholarships
to play at the next level…except for an offer by UNLV.

Not one of the “big schools” by any means…but it was an opportunity.
And obviously wanting to play at the next level, the Kaepernick family agreed that this
was his chance.

They also shared that Colin had been an adopted kid.
He is obviously a mixed-race kid while his adopted parents are white.

Adopted kids have a soft place in my heart.
And so I have something I’d like to say to Colin…my fellow adoptee.

Adoption, my young friend, is about unity and not division.

Colin, however, seems to be a rather unhappy young man…
some might argue that my observation is unfair…but I’ve never met a happy person who
is hell-bent on creating divisiveness.

He has made no bones about detesting our flag, our national anthem, our national monuments,
Betsy Ross and now he seems to detest our celebration of independence.

In fact, Colin seems to prefer being all about division these days.

His is a Black world or a White world.
Either or, but not both.
His is a world of one divided by race.
His is a progressive left world battling a presumptive non-inclusive, racist world.

I’ve always known I was adopted.
And for better or worse, I physically favored my adopted family.
I realize that Colin did not physically favor his adopted family—
what with his being mixed and his parents being white.
But one thing I do know about both of us, our adopted parents loved us
unconditionally as their own.

You just need to read some of what his mom has had to say about him over the years
to understand the love they have for this son of theirs.

Yet I never had to have that battle within myself over not being the same race
as my family.
I imagine that might have kept the matter of adoption more at the forefront of
Colin’s thoughts more so than perhaps my own.
I don’t know that for certain but knowing that I would look into a mirror always
wondering who it is I truly looked like… I suspect that mirror looking might
have been more frequent in Colin’s life.

I don’t know his full story of adoption…the background etc.
Heck, I barely know my own.

Those of you who know me and read this blog already know my story’s journey so
I won’t belabor that story but I do want to make a point…
a point for our friend Colin.

I do believe that adopted kids are born with some prewired emotional baggage.
I know this without doubt.
I truly understand the whole emotional transference during pregnancy.
It is real.

I also know what’s it’s like wanting to know one’s own story and not what someone
else’s story is all about…
We simply want to know our own story…plain and simple.

I went on that quest.

After hemming and hawing…after being full of trepidation and anguish…after
waiting and waiting…some answers and even more questions arrived.

On my biological father’s side, there has been discovery, connections to a cousin, and a peace.
On my biological mother’s side, there has been a painful dose of double rejection…
a disaster in a nutshell…or so I thought at the time.

I learned that my biological father died several years ago…
but there are living relatives…some of whom have opened their hearts.

My mother, on the other hand, is in her 80’s and despite my now being 60, vehemently
denied any sort of acknowledgment or contact.

I will say that that whole situation not only stung my heart, it also left me
emotionally reeling.
The child still deep within this adult body rebroke.

Yet over the past several months, since my discovery, peace has filled my wounds.
And that peace came from one place and one place only…the healing and soothing balm
of Jesus Christ.

I couldn’t have experienced that on my own.
On my own, there was anger and resentment…but God had other plans.
That of His peace.

God already knew my story but He also knew that I was hard-headed.
God will allow us to pursue what we think we want even when
He knows better.
He loves us that much that He will allow us to shoot ourselves
in the foot from time to time—always turning that self-inflicted wound
back around for His good purpose.

So certainly questions will always remain but the anger and the resentment are both gone.

I have come to see, feel, and claim that this adopted clan of mine is indeed mine.
I sit on a branch of their tree, adoption, or not.

So what I say to my fellow adoptee Mr. Kaepernick— is that the peace of heart,
the peace of spirit is of God and of God alone.

It is one of unity and not division.

It is not of anger or resentment.

It is neither black nor white.
Male nor female.

Black power, black lives, militancy…those are separators, not unifiers.

We are all children of God…despite how we come into this world.
We are all equally valued by God…despite physical differences from others.
There is not one single life that is greater than nor matters more than another’s.
The humility found in being created and not Creator is both freeing and soothing.

I would behoove Colin to seek a Savior and not a civil war of culture.

We are all of one America.
Black men and women, white men and women, Asian men and women, Native American men and women,
Hispanic men and women have each shed blood for the freedoms our now angry Nation enjoys.

No division is found in our freedom but rather unity.
No division is found in the children of God, but rather unity.

Unity and not division will bring one’s soul peace.
Until then…there will be only anguish and wasted energies at the expense of everyone.

But then again, one has to ask oneself: do you want peace in your being or do you
desire hate, resentment, and anger.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

unconditional…

Intense love does not measure,
it just gives.

Mother Teresa


Photo by Olegkalina

So the idea of unconditional love came creeping into the forefront of my thoughts recently.

I’d say for various reasons…but no matter the reason, it got me thinking.

Unconditional love, is it not, a noble idea, or is that ideal?

As a Christian, I would think that we of all people, should grasp the concept a bit more so
than unbelievers, in part, because that is a fundamental building block to our faith.

You know that whole “For God so loved the world…”
and that He would “give” his son over for us…that He would love us so
unconditionally, given our often wretched, sinful and selfish responses,..
well it is quite the gift for a foundation.

So I got to pondering whether or not this noblest of attributes is
actually truly attainable to mankind…or is it simply unattainable?

I opted for a bit of research…and found an article from Psychology Today
regarding the notion of unconditional love and the real possibility that
humans could actually achieve such…or not.

The ideal of unconditional love is a noble one.
We want to be loved as we are, and perhaps we’d like to see ourselves as capable of selfless love.

Unfortunately, loving unconditionally may set us up for disappointment and shame
when our ideal doesn’t match the reality of how difficult —
or perhaps impossible — it is to love unconditionally.

Children need to be loved without conditions.
As they struggle through life, we need to be unendingly patient —
taking many deep breaths, and offering guidance repeatedly.
Embodying a consistently loving, accepting presence,
we create a climate for safe attachment. As adults,
we also desire and need safe relationships.
Opening our hearts, we want to trust that a beloved partner or
loyal friend will be there when we need them.

However, if we look too fervently and exclusively to one person to fill all our needs
(for acceptance, belonging, meaning),
we may be expecting something that one person cannot provide.
Taken to an extreme, we may echo the silent plea of the narcissistic child:
Love me and supply what I need …
despite how I treat you.

Clinging to a sense of entitlement,
we may fly into blame or rage when our partner’s needs clash with our own.
For better or worse, mature love can only thrive under certain conditions.
Just as a rose needs ample sun, water, and nutrients to survive and flourish,
we cannot expect love to thrive under sterile or hostile conditions.
There needs to be (enough) mutuality.

So the word egocentric came running to my mind.

Having been the chief caregiver of two, who are 2 and under, these past three months
has afforded me my fair share of egocentric encounters.

Me, mine and definitely not yours—even if it is yours.

Innate qualities that must be, like a wild pony, tamed.

We adults all know that, as children, we must learn to share.
And yet we, as children, want to be showered and caressed by our caregivers
regardless of our own actions.
And at 2 years of age or younger, who in the heck is rationalizing their actions??

Rather it appears that it is the reactions of those around us, reactions to our own actions,
that begin to shape us.
Be it stern words.
A rebuff.
A spanking.
Time-out.
Loss of something we want, etc…

All early teaching tools to the taming of self.

Because as adults, we know that in order to “get along” with others, we’ve got to learn to
let go of self and share.
.
As an educator, I certainly had my fair share of educational psychology courses and child development
courses…and as a parent and now grandparent, I have had my fair share of hands-on training.

Sometimes it goes well, sometimes not so much…

We have been told, by those who are in the know, that there are 7 definable types of love.

Now whether or not these are all innate or learned is debatable.

1.Eros–Love of the body
2.Philia– Affectionate love
3.Storge–Love of the Child
4.Agape–Selfless Love
5.Ludus–Playful Love
6.Pragma– Long-lasting Love
7.Philautia– Love of the Self

In his book from 1960, The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis examines this notion of “types” of love.
but rather focuses on just 4 types of love—Storge, Philia, Eros, and finally Agape.

Growing up, as a teenager attending various Bible studies, it was Agape that spoke to me
as to that which is the epitome of unconditional love.

And it seems that some of these “loves” are much nobler than others.

And is that not what we humans should strive for…the nobler of loves?

Which brings us back around to unconditional love.

A higher and nobler love.

Loving without condition.

Loving the sinner and not the sin.

And yet, in the end, there does seem to be limits.

As in we may accept God’s unconditional gift, or we may choose not to.
Plus we must remember that we do not always offer unconditional love back to God–
nor do we offer it to one another.

He loves unconditional, but we do not.

A conundrum.

So I suppose I will continue to muse about this type of love…the
matter of unconditionality and Agape.

pandemics tend to do that…prompting us to ruminate over deep and often hidden thoughts.

So…unconditional love.
Something I want and something I would hope I could one day in turn offer to others.

Yet I fear this is to be a lifelong endeavor…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:35

the bitter

“I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me.”
Carol Burnett’s reflection over having to put her daughter in rehab
for a third time)


(blooming spring /Julie Cook / 2018)

I recently caught a snippet of a transcript based on an interview with Carol Burnett—
an interview she had given regarding her life and relationship with her late daughter.

Carol Burnett, now age 85, was always known for her hilarious comedic performances and
her signature pulling of her ear at the end of each performance.
She lived, however, away from the laughter and the hijinks, a tenuous and even painful life
as a mother.

Her daughter Carrie died from cancer in 2002.
She was only 38 years old.

But before the cancer, before there was a reconciliation between mother and daughter,
as a teen, Carrie suffered from a variety of addictions.

Carol paid for rehab after rehab yet it was the third time Carrie was sent to rehab that
Carol came to the hardest realization for any parent…
“I put her in a third rehab place, and oh my God, she hated me.
I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a20135840/carol-burnett-daughter-death/

That one sentence speaks volumes.

To love enough, to be hated.

Loving someone enough only to realize that that love will not be met immediately in like kind—
but rather offering an open and abiding love which is to be met with vehemence,
resentment and even hate…
a love that is the epitome of the bitter reality of unconditional love…
is the most wrenching pain, for any parent, grandparent or guardian imaginable.

Painful and heartbreaking love offered freely, yet scornfully rejected.

We, as parents and grandparents, and even guardians, learn early on that we often have to love
our children and our grandchildren enough to watch them leave us for whatever reason…
be it simply due to moving away, growing up and away, illness or to the tough love as
they must be sent away to seek healing and help…

Watching them go, for whatever reason, knowing the pain and sorrow it wrecks upon our
own hearts, yet knowing that the going is the best solution or need for them is one of
the hardest acts a parent/grandparent must ever experience.

Imagine…a loving Father surrendering His only son to a known negative fate.

If you knew the outcome would be horrific, could you do it?

If you knew he would be hated, hounded, rejected, tortured and eventually murdered—
all for the sake of “other children” who had long severed all ties with
this loving Father….could you do it?

A consciously painful action that is truly quite unimaginable to grasp…

I know that my own heart has hurt.
Deeply and devastatingly so.
And so if my heart has nearly been broken, what of God’s…
What of God’s breaking heart?

What of Mary who knew that same pain of loving yet having to let go unto a fate
much greater than most could ever imagine or conceive?

And yet we will always choose love…
Love that is not met in like kind.

Because it is what love does.

Love, as the bitter taste of saline silently rolls down
our cheeks.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that
is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

the direction of bricks and mortar

Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good,
and melt at other’s woe.

Homer

DSC00070
(Julie Cook / 2015)

Currently feeling most grieved over the latest madness sweeping across this
great nation of ours…
what with the divisiveness and hateful discourse bombarding our daily lives…
Of the recent marches and demonstrations…
with now high school kids adding to the mix…

My thoughts shift to relationships…
meaningful and significant relationships…
To those components of mortar and to the building blocks…
to all that builds and creates a base
a community…

to those footings…
to the foundations…
and to the resulting communions we build…

Thoughts shift to those who have crossed my own life…
to those who imprinted and imparted upon me…
a betterment,
a lastingness,
an endurance..

where would I be without such…

Today I ran across a post I’d written 2 years ago…
oddly it was just sitting out there on the internet…
under a particular search word…

It seemed rather timely so I decided to borrow a portion it for today’s post…
because it recounts the importance of a life that helped to form my own life.

For I now see that our youth currently need individuals in their lives who are strong…
those who don’t mind taking time…
those who aren’t afraid of taking a risk …
Those who want to help…
to mould,
to shape,
and to guide.

For our kids need to hear the words “don’t” and “no”…
as well as “good” and “job well done”
they need to be loved and nurtured…
not ignored or simply turned out…
they need to be disciplined and held accountable
not left unbridled or excused…
they need to be given directions…
but not carried…

Because they will seek out those individuals…
that communion and community..

the concern will be to whom and to what….

excerpt–original date Jan 12, 2015…

Being able to express myself was always important.
I most often found that freedom in the process of simply writing.
First, as a young girl, in the form of a journal / diary,
then as I grew older,
it came through the writing of letters.

It was in the writing of letters where I allowed myself to fully express my thoughts.
It was the one place my often frustrated brain could and would be allowed to soar.

In the days before computers, emails and word documents…
I loved buying and sending cards.
I would spend hours writing letters–
especially the letters I’d write that bordered more along the lines of epistles,
those lengthy and meaty tome like lettes to my godfather–a long retired Episcopal priest.
He passed away late December at the age 94.
I have often referenced him and his influence in my life in many a previous post.

The letters were often written with a myriad of misspelled words,
despite the large dictionary by my side.
There were gaping gaps in the written thought… as I would think much faster than I wrote.
The letters were laced with outrageous sentence structure,
which in turn would make any english teacher cringe,…
yet they were letters written with passion, honesty and humility.
And despite the holes, the poor sentence structure or the youthful angst,
my godfather would receive each letter expectantly, happily, and lovingly…
all without a judgement of content or the editing of grammatical structure–
this from a man who made a living writing and speaking.

Our correspondence began when I was around the age of 15.
My early letters were laced with the pangs of innocence and adolescence.
Yet as I aged and matured those letters became more complex,
even troubling, as I fought my way, often with fraught emotion,
through the often tangled jungle of life.
I wrestled with my faith and beliefs.
Life was not always easy nor kind.
There were obstacles, illnesses, deaths, disappointments, poor choices, grave mistakes,
coupled with a few triumphs, glimpses of joy and moments of contentment.

Always with love and often, no doubt, with great frustration,
he would offer words of either encouragement or warning,
lessons or simply the “if I were you”…
yet his words were always laced with love.
It was here, within the correspondence of a young girl, now grown woman,
where I learned about unconditional love.

I never filtered my words or emotions yet perhaps today, looking back,
I see that it would have behooved me to have used a bit more restraint—
yet he never faltered or expressed disappointment.
My Godpoppa, the busy world at large Anglican leader,
would never specifically tell me what to do,
despite my often desperate queries.

He would never say “yes” or “no” but rather he’d offer wisdom woven with advice all of
which he hoped would allow me to eventually find my own way.
He was a signpost of guidance,
of the miles thus traveled and of miles yet to be traveled.

And so as I currently find myself surveying a sea of rising national angst..
My thoughts now wander to those meaningful and significant relationships that we form…
those unique and timely bonds offered by the mentors and the role models amongst us…

To what direction are they now pointing…
To what sort of guidance do they long to impart…
To what sort of mortar and foundation do they wish to use…
and does anybody really still care…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

(The Very Reverend David Browning Collins 1922-2016)

Parenting

“St. Joseph was chosen among all men, to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster-father of the Infant-God, and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

It is enough for you to know that Mary is the Mother of Jesus…She loves us so much that she offered to God the Father His only natural Son to save His adopted sons…She is a great and inestimable treasure who encloses in herself an infinite treasure, the Son of God.”
St Padre Pio

DSCN0707
Bas Relief of the marriage of Mary and Joseph / St Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

During these mystical days of Christmas, as we recall and remember the birth of the Savior of all mankind, may we also pause, taking care to reflect upon the dutiful two who were charged with the care of the very Son of God.

Examples of obedience, faithfulness, dutifulness, devotion, sacrifice and unconditional love…

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:20

Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15