like water

sweetmarimari-creek1

I have a friend named Jenny who is a continual source of inspiration.  She’s someone you would have to meet to truly understand what she’s really like.  I don’t think that there’s a writer on earth who could capture her incredible personality and her indomitable spirit.  She’s funny, mischievous, optimistic, determined, and loving–yes, most of all loving.  I adore her and I love to see her smile: it’s a million dollar smile that lights up her face and spells out “laughter and joy” across a big, blue sky!

Jenny was born with a whole bagful of challenges; she was placed into her parents’ arms, carrying disabilities with mysterious-sounding names.  I could go on to explain them, but what is there to gain.  While Jenny’s disabilities are with her still: they do not define her.  Jenny has written a life story that focuses more on the “I can’s”,  than the “I cannot’s”.

Someday I want to write an article about Jenny.  I want somehow to create a beautiful expression that conveys her spirit for living.  For now let me just tell you some special things about my very lovely, much cherished friend.

Jenny has this incredible quality of yielding.  She is like gentle, sparkling water…clear and pure; the kind in which, sunlight dances!  While you see the stones and sticks that the water runs over and through, they fade away as you’re captivated by the sheer loveliness of the free-flowing, bright, clear water.  Jenny’s life flows freely. Sometimes it dances. Sometimes it tumbles–over and through and around all the rocks and rubble she has known in her life.

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I was out for a walk the other day and decided to wander down a street that I haven’t been down in quite some time.  Along the way I heard the refreshing sound of a little brook.  That lovely splashing–intertwined with the occasional soft gallunking that happens when water gets all excited and leaps in a “cannon ball” off a particularly big rock.  I had forgotten about this little creek that runs through our town.  It is spring, and what is normally a lazy, trickling ribbon of water, is now enjoying its glory days.

As I walked over the bridge, I had to stop and let my mind rest in the sss-ss-sssss-sss.  If a sound could sparkle, this certainly was it—swishing and swirling down through my mind.  It seemed like its cool tingling fingertips were running through me in circles and loops and great sweeping arcs, making everything right and calm and clean.  How refreshing to have that dull layer of ashes—the bits of tension that had been chipped-off and discarded, sliding down through me day-after-day, that had been falling and settling in my heels and my toes—lifted up and carried away.

I closed my eyes and smiled.  I had no care for who might pass by, who might draw back a curtain and wonder about this peculiar sight—someone standing over this obscure little stream—melting into the sidewalk with pure abandon—and lingering, lingering here.

sweetmarimari-litter-on-the-banks

For that juncture of Kiljordan creek is but a mere ditch;  littered with dozens of crumpled, muddy soda bottles—faded, tired, unnoticed—completely hidden from the everyday view on a well-traveled street.   The bottles were strewn about like lost, broken dreams.  They lay half buried and powerless: woefully unable to drown out the bright, trickling sounds rising up through the trees.  It was welcome refreshment—this clinkling, this tinkling of sweet water chimes.  I let my eyes trip down through the brambles over a steep, muddy bank where I surveyed a  strange creekbed—it was the most unlikely home for a heavenly song.

Big, jagged pieces of concrete and old hunks pavement ground their bones deep into the mud. While they held the creek bed from eroding away, painfully absent were the smooth stones that grace lovely mountain streams and clear running brooks in far-off places–the kind of streams that parks are built around and people hike to and strip off their socks for—to place weary feet on, to caress their soles against smooth, lovely stones—allowing the tensions of hard, heavy lives to be cooled and released—carried off by a swift-moving current to places far, far away.

No one would dare bare their soles to this creek.  I find it hard imagine that anyone comes here to find solace at all; one casual glance would dismiss such a thought. “Not here,” says litter, carelessly tossed—spilled across the scene where beauty has been chased away.  And there below the water, pieces of concrete lay lifeless and gray. Why would anyone, anyone at all, stop here and linger, on bright sunny day?

sweetmarimari-kiljordan-1

But there I lingered, captivated by the song of water running and tumbling bright and clear.  It paid no mind to the litter looking-on from the banks. No,  it slid right by, dancing and singing—poking fun at this place.  That water ran freely and seemed to sing a sweet song, “Don’t worry about me; I won’t be here long. Besides…I make all places beautiful…with my song.”

The water slips and jumps and tumbles along, over rough and jagged and ugly pieces of life.  Pieces of the world that have been cast off and thrown away.  The water does not have the pleasure and leisure of sliding over smoothed stones and swirling before and audience of adoring and reverent eyes. But still, it sends up a song, a refreshing and lively song that makes me feel peaceful and right.  I am held here and surely, this is the best moment of my day.

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And this picture–this, is my friend Jenny.  She did not go to her neighborhood school where she no doubt would have been crowned Homecoming Queen. She went to a school for kids with special needs and determined to make it a brighter place.  She did not get to take driver’s ed.—to be lifted up and perched high upon the moment of seeing her face displayed on a bright, shiny driver’s license on her sixteenth birthday.  Instead, she rides on her own three-wheeled bike, with the breeze blowing light and clean against her face .  She raises her eye brows flirtatiously and dishes up a bright, devilish smile, in fun,  toward a group of hunky firefighters hanging outside the firehouse. Come to think of it:  Jenny was green, before green was what everyone wanted to be.

She has been hurt many times by careless and cutting remarks, as well as the ugly realities of pain and disappointment in life.  While she is aware of her wounds, they make her all the more gentle with others.  She has faced her challenges not with bitterness, but with a yielding spirit.

Why do I call it a yielding spirit?  For she has not fought against the pain and the difficulties, but has chosen to flow with lovely determination through life.  When pulled under, sure, she feels the rough edges of each broken place.  But somehow, she determines to emerge with a song.  She is vulnerable, but tender.  She sees the best in others and is not distracted by the litter and ugliness that people carelessly toss along life’s way.  She sets her sights on something better, drawing on the love of family and friends.  Though she has shed tears and endured pain, she still takes the risk to loves others–to be vulnerable and transparent.  Jenny purposes herself to be fun-loving, thoughtful and kind.

If Jenny says that she is going to accomplish something, it is as good as done.  I envy her sweet perseverance—her belief that the reward is always worth the risk.  She brings to life a bright song for today and a boundless hope for every tomorrow. Without a doubt,  Jenny is one of the most beautiful women I know.  Others see that sparkle, too.  She captivates the attention of everyone around her, and not because of her disabilities, but rather, they are refreshed by her spirit for living: by a life that is lived as a song.

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