Running to Truth

I have been running a lot more these days. 

Running from the news. 

Running from fear.

Running from sobriety. 

Running from emotions.

Running from growth. 

Running from faith. 

But of course everywhere I run, there I am: a ball of rigid resistance. I did finally cry on the yoga mat the other day for what logically seemed like no good reason. I wasn’t even doing a difficult pose. But I felt better after so I decided not to over analyze it.

Later that day I took Bella out on our usual route which is about five blocks down to Wyakin Park where we do about a mile of trail walking before heading back up the hill home. 

Recently, I noticed that I sort of sing/chant in my head to my breath when I walk. Usually just a weird repeat over and over of whatever song I most recently listened to, implanted into my mind and in rhythm with my steps.  I thought on this day to replace it with prayer instead of mumble rap which is what I’m hearing a lot lately with my three youngest boys all home, quarantining with me. I inserted Hail Mary’s into my breathing. It’s been forever since I prayed like this: meditative, prayer chanting. I arrived faster than usual at the trail park. 

I let Bella off her leash and she jumped into her routine of darting ahead, whipping back and forth across the trail and then falling way behind so she could then run fast to catch up to me, all the while sniffing and snorting and dog smiling. 

Bella’s not worried one single bit about anything except maybe the robins, who have recently come out in full force and on this day were friskily taunting her into chase before flying up, untouchable. The robins aren’t worried either. They are unwavering in their praise of the day, singing it loud for all to hear. They do not question that there will be water to flicker-splash their wings into and dip their faces in deep satiating drink. They have no doubt that the worms and bugs will be there for them and their babies to eat.

I stopped in my tracks in stunned recognition and remembrance of this basic fundamental truth: the joy of being cared for so deeply and lovingly that one need not have a worry in the world.

“Oh!” I whispered. “I forgot for a minute.”

Just as I whispered this a huge woodpecker with a stunning head of red feathers flew across our path and landed on a tree about six feet from us. Bella and I both just paused in awe while he stared at us for the longest time. When I reached for my phone to try and capture him in a photo, he flew away. I swear he whispered “You’re welcome my love.”

Objects of Desire

Since I was a little girl I have been a keeper of objects that were either given to me in love or inspire me with their color, texture and shape. I’m still this way. My home office shelves are filled with pretty rocks and eclectic trinkets of all shapes and sizes that carry history and meaning. Here are a couple examples of my pack rat shelves:

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I still have the tiny plastic squirrel that my Auntie Esther gave me when we were visiting her in Pasco. I can remember the mystery of her living room as I looked at all her pretty things on display. She was a collector too I think, though I didn’t know her well. But the squirrel takes me back to her, which is powerful magic. I have kept it for over forty years along with the porcelain raccoon I stole from my mother when I was six. It had come in a box of Red Rose tea as a promotion the company ran for a few years. That raccoon was the object of my desire for days and when she told me I couldn’t take it to school for show and tell, I took it anyway and kept it in my pocket, never showing a soul my stolen pet. I got in a bunch of trouble when my thievery was discovered but my mother later gave it to me. I’m pretty sure she knew I would always feel a little guilty whenever I looked at it. It was totally worth it. I still love that stupid shiny raccoon. It turns out I could probably get a couple of bucks for it on eBay if I were ever inclined to hock it. Which I am not.

I have been exploring my attachment to objects over the last week. It started with the soapstone clock I made for Casa Partners “Make Time for Kids” auction. I named it “Peace of Time”. I am embarrassed to admit that it was really hard for me to give it away. It had become an object of my desire over the course of a few months, bringing me great creative energy and inspiration.

And now, clock done and auctioned off, I am at a total standstill on any kind of creative thinking or doing. I have no messy bad-art project going on and to make matters worse there is no real writing going on. The book I am (mostly not) writing about my mother is turning into a total bust because it keeps turning in to “all about H”, which is typical of a peace questing narcissist.

My clock made some decent money. Which is cool. This was the whole point. The abused and neglected kids that were represented at this event are often torn from their homes without a chance for goodbyes. And while they are taken to a safer place I can’t help but wonder if it might often feel more scary than where they were taken from. After all, they have been taken from their people and no matter how bad the circumstances, your people are your people.

I later told a friend who was at the auction “I want to scoop up all these kids and just love them. I need a mansion.”

This coming from the same woman who publicly declares her children to be assholes to anyone who will listen. (In my defense, I am still in shock from the 3-on-3 wiffle ball game I played with them two weekends ago where I witnessed five of my ridiculously competitive creations at their asshole best.) So I am certainly not going to judge any parent. I can’t. I understand how easy it can be to lose yourself to various addictions that present themselves as luring demons to help you escape from yourself and forget your responsibilities as a parent.

And clearly I can’t take them all in, these sad, harmed children, just like I can’t take in all the abandoned puppies or homeless people. Quite honestly, I am mediocre at best when it comes to caring for my own people and pets. Though my love is NEVER lacking and my intentions are generally good. Most days. But I CAN love these sad children from a distance by giving some cash (though there is never enough of that) and by sending mental blessings to the children and good mojo to their parents in hope that they will get their shit together and do their own loving again.

But here’s the thing: as I have paced around my office the last two weekends, restless, scattered, unproductive, a little lost without a cause, trying to force out something that just isn’t ready to show itself yet…

 “What are you doing mom?”

 “I’m writing.”

 “Hmm. It looks more like you are playing with your stuff.”

 “Yeah well. It’s a process.”

…I realize how important personal objects can be when you are lost. They can ground you, these concrete things: soothe you, inspire possibilities, make you remember your history and tell your story.

These children who are pulled from their people are also often pulled from their stuff. Sometimes something as simple as a stuffed animal left behind can render them completely lost and hopeless with no one and nothing to hold on to.

The money gained from all the beautiful clocks created and given away will help provide these children with backpacks filled with objects that will perhaps soothe and ground them enough to make them feel just a little less lost and help them begin a new story filled with possibilities and hope.  

Because of my own history that may cause me to hang on to things with a grip that is perhaps tighter than it should be, I will probably always be a keeper of stuff. And that’s okay.

But I am also coming to understand as I grow older and a little more at peace with my place in the world that there is some serious “getting” in giving away objects of desire.

So don’t be freaked out if one of you someday receives a really awesome squishy green frog with a candle jar top for a crown.

It’s a process, yes?

Connected to Kayleigh Keeble

Written words have always been my method of choice for communicating. I use them to defend, soothe, convince, agitate, explain, define, beautify, announce or (as is most often my way) find the funny angle in whatever person, place, event, action or thought that happens to have my attention, my hope being to help others (and me) to see deeper, think differently and perhaps feel better.

But sometimes words don’t work and they don’t make me or anyone else feel better. And sometimes things just aren’t funny.

On Thursday, a beautiful thirteen year old girl, whom I did not know of ten days ago, died from an aggressive, fast moving form of cancer. I’d have never known about her (her name is Kayleigh Maria Keeble) were it not for an email from a dear friend asking me and others to consider helping the family of this little girl, who was in the hospital fighting for her life while doctors tried to get her stable enough to deal with a large tumor between her heart and lungs. He asked for our prayers and if possible, financial contribution to an online website fund set up to help the family. All of us who were sent that email became right then and there, part of this family, connected to their nightmare, to their hopes, to their desperate plea to God “Please not our baby.”

I and an exponential number of others through the beautiful side of the not always beautiful social media united all our good mojo with conviction and rich optimism. No matter that many of us didn’t know Kayleigh. Someone WE loved knew and loved her so therefore we loved Kayleigh too and so then did the people who love us, and so on. And these beautiful, golden threads connecting us all were woven into an intricate quilt of love and wrapped protectively around Kayleigh and her family and there was no way God wasn’t gonna notice.

But within days of her diagnosis, she was taken from her family and from the world.

And it feels like God didn’t listen.

Because while we whisper knowingly in our hearts (and beg our brains to catch up) that Kayleigh is for sure in a better place where she no longer has to “fight like a girl”, the family she left behind is NOT in a better place right now.

There are some strong souls who are unwavering in their hearts and actions despite the dark, lonely space that death creates. These people are soothing saints who keep that quilt of woven love in place while the rest of us rage, curse, wail and shake our fists and try and see one tiny glimpse of understanding as to why a beautiful girl would be ripped from her family so ruthlessly.

Rage is not comfortable. Selfish, blasphemous questions are certainly circling in my own head. From the perspective of someone floating helplessly far outside the circle of Kayleigh’s family and friends, I ask: “Why did I have to know about this? It hurts so badly! It brings me fear and worry and uncertainty! Why God, did you involve so many people in this if you had no intentions of listening? With so many people wrapped up in this, wouldn’t it have been a great time to show us what you can do? How do I explain to my kids why you didn’t help Kayleigh the way we all asked you to? How do I explain to them why prayers don’t always fix things or make us feel better? What the HELL God?”

But pause for a moment (as I am) and think on this: rage is a form of love. The ever eternal words of poet Dylan Thomas sing a bitter sweet song. He raged in prayer for his father to fight to the end: “Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

That we (all of us here, feeling robbed and abandoned by God and by death) would hold desperately to the light of another human being, that we would rage and wail and curse at the idea of Kayleigh’s light being extinguished puts value on what is most important in the world: love. And this fuels and stokes Kayleigh’s flame, helping it to burn more brightly so that she not only shines forever “into that good night” but also continues to burn with infinite and comforting love upon her family.

So let us rage and stoke the light, and be glad to be a small part of one family’s journey (you as a reader of this are now on the journey with them too) knowing that it somehow, through some kind of cosmic, interconnected, angry beauty does indeed give us a glimpse of a plan that has been mapped out with such passionate love that while we don’t know much, we know we have been brought together, regardless of our degree of separation, to lessen this family’s pain by embracing the sorrowful rage that keeps the flame burning.