In The Maze

I read once that when obstacles present themselves, it means you are on the right path. I think it was Caroline Myss. Of course, I’m paraphrasing, and from memory at that.

What’s important is my takeaway. Life isn’t meant to be easy. It is meant to challenge and encourage growth, just as the gardener who digs deep into the soil, removes the debris that blocks, and then nourishes the seeds. There is always work to be done and obstacles along the way. Keep going.

Ric and I made some decisions about our life this week. For me, it marks the culmination of a dream, and therefore; I am very excited. And just as we set the wheels in motion, my computer crashes, with the threat of losing all my work. On top of that I have fallen back into a cycle of insomnia, and I shattered the lens on Ric’s camera.

It’s a bit like heading into the maze. I have no idea which route will get me out, and I don’t want to turn back, so I’ll just have to deal with the roadblocks.

Gaining some balance would be really good right now too. Keep sending your encouraging and inspirational posts – this really is my challenge this week.

(Every week I offer a challenge – for myself and readers who want to join in. This week is balance. I’m also linking this with Willow Poetry’s weekly challenge: What Do You See? for which the image is the prompt.)

I See Magic

History came to life the first time I set foot upon the walled city of Chester, UK. I was ten, and my father had brought the whole family to the place of his upbringing. I knew from my schooling all about walled cities, and quickly rambled off facts, my mind exploding as the revelations unfolded.

Years later, I would visit a cousin in Bristol. Walking the streets, I marvelled at the architecture, and the miracle that I should be in this place experiencing life from a new perspective. And then, we turned a corner and entered the area known as Clifton, and I felt as if I’d been transported into a fairytale – the quaintness of the buildings lending a surreal air.

“Why travel, when I have everything I need here?” a friend once said to me. “I’m content with life as it is.”

I understand the comfort of what is known – and the danger. Only by venturing into the unknown do we reach new depths, and touch the magical.

I have been fortunate to travel widely, experiencing many “pinch me” moments. I have been surprised by how much more I’ve discovered about myself in the process.

(Post inspired by Willow Poetry’s challenge: What Do You See? Photo supplied as prompt.)

He Who Talks To God

“What do you see?”

The child stood before his mother, eyes wide and staring as if through her. His small body trembled.  It was just past midnight, and he’d risen from his bed in a panic, disoriented by the darkness.

“God” he answered, breathlessly, the urgency in him rising.

“What does he look like?”

“I can’t see him.  His light is too bright.  But he’s holding up a giant orb.”

Chills ran down the mother’s spine.  An orb? Not the language of a nine-year-old boy.

“What does it mean?”

“He’s showing me weather, like storms and floods, and fire, and stuff.”

“Why do you think He’s showing you this?”  

“It’s a message,” the boy’s face, so angelic in this dim light, made his mother’s heart ache.  What was happening to her son?

“God wants us to know that hard times are coming, and that we will have to learn to live together differently.  He wants us to get along, take care of one another.”

“That is a good message.”

The boy relaxed then, his body surrendering to her arms.  She rocked him gently, wondering what to say.

“Are you afraid?” she asked after a pause.

“No, Mom,” he replied matter-of-factly.  “There are angels here too.”

“There are?”

“Yes.  They came first, to tell me God was coming.”

She guided his slender body back to bed, sitting on the edge and stroking his hair as he fell back into a deep sleep.

“Do other people see God?” he asked her the next morning.

“There have been others, yes,” she answered hesitantly.  They’d stopped going to church years before.  

“Really?  How do you know?”

“It’s written down.”

“In a book?”

“Yes.  It’s called the Bible.”

She kept him home from school that day, sensing his need to be close to her.  Later, they ventured to the mall where a man sold scrolls with the meaning of names.  

“Maybe he has my name!”  

“No, son.  I made your name up.  You won’t find it there.”

But the boy persisted, asking the man if he had any information about his name.

“I do!” came the reply.  “Your name has two meanings, depending on the Greek or Hebrew translation.  It means He who talks to God or He who listens to God.

The boy beamed, while the mother felt a deep sense of inadequacy settle around her.

(Written for Willow Poetry’s challenge:  What do you see?  Image provided by Hélène Valliant.)


Sloane's Fladers FieldMy granddaughter paints a row of red flowers with crosses in between.  “Flanders Field” she tells me.  She’s six.

“Your great-great grandfather, my grandfather, was shot in Flanders Field.”

She raises her eyes to meet mine.  “Did he die?”

“No, but he was injured.”

He was crawling across the field when the bullet entered and passed through his stomach exiting in an uncomfortable place, I’d been told.

“It’s why he drank so much,” one of my aunt’s told me.  “To cope with the pain.”

Likely to cope with the PTSD too, I think.  I know my father suffered from it, although no one called it that in those days.

I tell her that my Dad fought in a war too.  His job was to sneak into enemy territory and eke out their ammunition stash and then report back to his unit.

“Who won?”  she asks.

“The good guys,” I say.

She nods her head and listens intently and I think how far removed this sweet soul is from the horrors of wars, and I pray that she will never know it in her lifetime.

Peace.  How long will the sacrifice of our ancestors last?

Are we forgetting?

(Image supplied by Willow Poetry for her challenge:  What Do You See?  Also submitted for my weekly challenge:  sacrifice.  Painting courtesy of Sloane.)



What Do You See? Wings!

I used to think that the relentless ache between my shoulder blades
was from missing wings.

We are meant to be angels on earth, I believed.

And then, I forgot, so caught up in the details of life, consumed with ambition, and then facing the daily struggle of chronic illness.

Until  I saw this image.

Oh, I know it is just a leaf,
dried and disintegrating, barely holding it together.
But is it not also wings?  Look how it’s outline forms a heart;
how intricately its surface is woven, like lace.

My wings would look like this – delicately held together, damaged beyond flight, but not so frail that I cannot still don them, remember my essence, recommit
to a life of service.

Nature holds secrets –
reminders of our purpose –
calling us to serve.

(Willow Poetry offers a weekly challenge: What Do You See?  The featured image is this week’s prompt.  Photo credit:  Hélène Vaillant)

Removing the Blindfolds: Life’s Journey

Driving in a rally race with a blindfolded navigator is how I’ve often described my life – never really knowing where I’m going, pedal to the metal, and hoping for the best. Life, it is said, is a journey. Implicit in this metaphor is guidance, direction, and a destination.

quote-what-do-you-seeThe guidance I received in my formative years came from a father who spouted the words of Dale Carnegie, Vincent Norman Peale, and Kahlil Gibran – all good wisdom, but it was targeted towards us as criticism to point out our  failures, and mostly in direct contrast to how he lived.  Or, at least, that is how it felt.

It was only in later years that I began to question the validity of my upbringing, and look outside family for guidance, although the stain of abuse made it difficult to discern motivations, and, therefore, value.

Directions came from my same-sex parent, whose belief was that women should be beautiful, upbeat, and submissive.  She excelled at all three – an impossible standard for a geeky, temperamental, anything but submissive personality.  She reminded me frequently that not only did I not fit in, but that my oddness would likely leave me lonely and unloved.  Whatever direction I might have chosen for myself seemed hopeless.

Entering adulthood without a compass or a roadmap is not a plan for success – it is an itinerary destined to feature obstacles and dead ends.  Even when I did achieve, I never really knew if I was fulfilling my own dreams or just trying to win my mother’s approval.  Do we ever really  know?

Death, I knew from an early age, was the only given in terms of destinations.   Death visited our extended family far too frequently, picking off the young, and carving out an expectation of pain and suffering.

Who was I to complain about anything, given I was still alive?  I learned to hold my breath and wait.  Sometimes, I idealized death as a final solution to the interminable anguish.

With age, the sharp edges of youth’s blades soften.  Idealism, slain by cynicism, is replaced with practicality.  Rage either motivates or dissipates under wisdom’s tutelage.   Fear changes its focus.

I’m not driving in races these days, and the choices I am making involve eyes wide open.  That journey, I now appreciate, is inward, and I’m learning to seek guidance that enlightens, follow directions that lead to truths, and have faith that the stops along the way are only ever temporary destinations.

(V.J.’s challenge this week is questions.  The caption above came from Willow Poetry’s challenge: What do you see?, and Laura Bailey’s Manic Mondays 3 way prompt: journey.  Thank you to both for providing the fodder for continual pondering.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop asking questions.)