the wagon

As long as I can remember she’d been towing that same old, dirty rock around–’round and ’round in a rusty wagon. The rims of the tires had worn unevenly, splitting like a horse’s hooves, poorly tended. The wagon-bed, covered with a powdery layer of dirt and little chips of who-knows-what, vibrated as she wandered the streets of our little town. The sound of it hummed out her imminent arrival and rattled on, long after she passed out of sight.

She was a fascination to all of us who watched her from a distance.  Continue reading

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out of the basement

sweetmarimaribasementstairs

We have “Big Garbage Day” once a year in our town. Last Spring it provided the perfect opportunity to clean out our old, unfinished basement. After hauling several loads of unwanted junk up and out to the curb, I was finishing up by sweeping the basement floor. It was rather dark and dingy down there…actually, it was downright creepy! Standing at the foot of the stairs, alone with my vivid imagination, I thought, “What if I was trapped down here? Forever.”

Forever to exist in a damp, musty, crumbling basement…knowing that the sun was shining outside. That its golden light was filtering through the trees onto a lovely flower garden, alive with birds–hopping and teetering from feeder to feeder. Never to lean back on an elbow in the lush green grass again, to close my eyes and drink in the sweet vanilla fragrance of the Korean Spice blossoms: lacy, blush-pink, and lovely. I would know only darkness. Trapped. Completely alone.

What if I really was cast into this deep, dark basement? Forever.

That’s exactly what happened to a dear friend of mine. Emlyn was a senior citizen who took a big risk…he left a small business that he had operated for many years to enter college and earn his Bachelors Degree. During that time, something was ignited within him. He absolutely loved learning and so, at age 65, he set out to earn his Masters Degree.

Just as he was hitting his stride in this adventure-of-a-lifetime, he was blind-sided by a massive stroke. Suddenly bound and helpless, he was thrown down the basement stairs, bludgeoned by each and every step, landing in a heap on the floor. Crumpled, captive and alone. What followed were many dark days: a long hospitalization, culminating in a somber visit from his physician. “I’m sorry…but due to the extent of your paralysis, your lack of progress over the course of an intensive therapy program and your complete inability to speak–you require an extremely high level of care which is only available in a nursing home. “Boom” went the basement door!

While Emlyn lay in that hospital bed, weak and unable to lift himself out…somehow he managed to get a toe in the door before it had a chance to latch shut. He was determined, ”I will not live out my days in this basement…I do not face only one choice…the nursing home. Although I cannot bear my weight, some day I will walk in the sun…and dance in the rain. Somehow, this mouth of stone will laugh and sing and take an important message to the world. I WILL NOT FADE AWAY IN A BASEMENT! Even if, my lips remain silent, and my mind, crippled by this terrible assault.” Continue reading

holes or heights?

Rows of blue misty ridges hovering over Death Valley

It’s easy to fail.

In putting myself out there in life…inevitably I trip up and I fall flat on my face.   Sometimes I don’t even realize what I have said or done…or not said or not done, until later.

Then regret churns within me. I let my focus return again…and again to that place of failure. This leads me down the path to the door of Discouragement.  Opening the door, I trudge dutifully down, down, down the steps into the company of  Shame, Self-Doubt and Fear.

Fear is the biggie. Fear of ascending those steps…of putting myself back out there again. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, to be insensitive, to appear a fool, to try…only to fail.  It’s all too tempting to just “retreat” into the safety of not risking as much or even…not risking at all.

I can relate to that servant in Matthew 25 who received 1 talent.  How many times have people looked at him  and figured his laziness was merely just doing nothing.  That he just couldn’t figure out the math?  They scoff, cluck their tongues and move on, asserting that they could never play the part of such a fool.

But what if we all truly are vulnerable to his fate?

Continue reading