Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mary Had a Baby Boy

I had a baby boy, too.

He wasn't the Savior, but he saved me in many ways.

He helped me be better, smarter, kinder, bigger.

He made me laugh at myself, and feel and love more.

He was tall and gracious; he hugged people and cared.

He had my hair and my eyes and my curiosity, but he was better than me.

He sang his own unique song. His own voice.

I miss that sound now...long for it. Miss his face at Christmas.

Miss him always everywhere.

Time is measured differently now--before death---after death.

He is alive but I can't see him. Can't hold him. I dream him.

Like Mary, delighted at his birth and crushed at his death.

My beautiful boy.

Awaiting a new birth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Handel's Messiah

One of my lifelong dreams came true last night. I have always wanted to attend a concert of Handel's Messiah, and last night I got my wish. One of my kind neighbors gave me her extra tickets. Wow.

This was our vantage point in the concert hall at Regent University. This place is really gorgeous with the deep olive color on the walls and the rich wood railings.

The VSO--aka Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorale arrived all dressed in their finery. The warm glow of the string instruments against all the black clothing made a lovely picture. The concert opened with the words, "Comfort, comfort ye, my people". Just what I needed to hear. Music for a broken heart.

The female conductor ( the first I've seen) did an incredible job. Look at all those intently focussed faces. Kind of different from the childrens' holiday programs we've been attending-- but each delightful in their own way.

There is a long tradition, dating from Handel's first performance in 1741, that when the Hallelujah Chorus is played, the audience stands up in honor of the King of Kings. That was the final movement in last night's concert, and true to tradition, the audience stood up. It was really very moving. It made you want to sing along, but it wasn't that kind of concert, so we listened in rapture.

When the concert ended, we exited to this gorgeous foyer. One of the most beautiful interiors I have ever seen. I could have stared at it all night long. I wish I had taken a closeup of the wallpaper. It was amazing. It looked handpainted and went so beautifully with that marble checkerboard floor. The chandeliers sparkled and shined as if nary a spot of dust was ever allowed to gather. The inlaid crest on center of the floor lent such dignity to the whole affair. I felt like I was in a very grand world for a couple of hours.

Inspiring music in an equally inspiring environment. How Heavenly.

These are the texts for the words to the Hallelujah Chorus. Maybe this will help bring up that familiar music in your head.

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Chris Tomlin Concert

When I am in the middle of a crowd of people worshipping God, I feel like I am connected with Heaven and communing with my son, who is doing the same thing there. I feel reassured that my son is alive and well, that God is who he says He is, and that this sorrow-filled world will one day become a glorious and joy-filled eternal reunion.

Last night Chris sang this song:
"My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior, has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, amazing grace..."

As he sang, for the first time I realized that my son's chains are gone and he's been set free. He is free to never again worry about the tragedies of this world--about brokenness in all its forms. Things like war, and politics, and injustice, and taxes and crime and poverty, and hunger, and disease and death. He never has to worry again about a broken relationship, a flat tire, or a toothache. This world hurts and disappoints and we all wait for the day when it's redeemed. And I realized, again for the first time, that for my son, the pain and misery are over. For the first time, I could step out of my personal loss, and imagine instead what he has found.

It was just a blessed moment of clarity.

Romans 8:22-24
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Our Last Christmas Together

The view from our cabin window looking out at the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

We spent our cabin time trying to get a peek at this between the passing clouds. These beautiful peaks were the focus of so much of our conversation and seeing them became a quest.

Their raw beauty filled us with awe.

Joey and I doing some Christmas shopping between ski days.

He didn't like to shop, so he unknowingly gave me a gift that day-- just to hang out with me. It's a tender memory now.

Oh, to have those precious moments again.

Drinking beer and hot toddies at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole, WY. This was much more to his liking. I bought him a t-shirt there which he loved.

His easy grin as he opened presents on Christmas morning. He basked in the pleasure of the moment. He was always good about being in the moment and exuded joy and contentment as he soaked life in.
How I miss his smile and his style

What a gift he was.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Riding the Waves

Joe and Joey riding those gorgeous Maui waves.

When I still lived in Maui, I could sit in my living room and look out my picture window to the beautiful ocean beyond. It was a veritable parade of sights--with whales spouting, and swimmers, snorkelers, and canoe teams paddling by. In the past couple years, we began to see a new sight. People standing on surfboards--paddleboarders--would glide by, rhythmically stroking their way through the water with a long oar. It looked easy enough, so I finally tried it with a couple of my sportier girlfriends. I fell on my first attempt to stand up on the board and a couple of other times thereafter, with one particularly nasty spill over the front of my board that left me with a 4" wide black bruise on my hip. But eventually, after several attempts, I was able to balance myself on the board in the water and relax just enough to enjoy the new experience. My more knowledgeable friends told me the waters were actually a bit too rough that day with little white caps all around us, and that people usually only paddle board on glassy waters.

I finally managed to keep my balance by keeping my knees bent and rolling with the waves. If a wave came in off the left, then I bent my left knee and then my right as the wave tipped my board and rolled on underneath me. If the wave came from the front of my board, I bent both knees to absorb the impact, and kept a wide sideways stance, steadying myself by going with the rise and fall of the board. I quickly learned that I couldn't lean on the paddle at all. It was only good for propelling me forward, and sometimes it was a distraction or the actual cause of my downfall, if it got hooked in the water at the wrong angle.

My life now, after terrible loss, feels very much like trying to keep my balance on a board in the midst of a rough sea. I am constantly attempting to roll with the waves that strike from various sides of the board, and to prevent myself from taking a fall in the deep seas of despair, doubt and lethargy. The board I ride now is my hope of Heaven, reunion with our beloved son, and that Shining Day when God wipes away every tear. I am in a constant balancing act, trying to stay on the board, absorb the waves that come my way, and using the promises of God to propel me forward.

I admit I get knocked off my board regularly, and do a lot of swimming and work to get back up on it. Last week was such a week. We had another water leak in our house, damaging walls, carpets, ceilings and floors. We had to endure another slew of gigantic high-decibel fans upstairs and down and prepare ourselves for yet another wave of dusty, noisy repairs throughout the house. At the same time, I am spending many hours at our new church facility, priming and painting, designing and problem-solving, motivating volunteers, trying to help create an inviting environment there for our opening in January. On top of that, I have been asked to join the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia, which at any other time would have been an honor, but in grief I wonder if I have any strength to give to this worthy cause when I drain out so easily and frequently. And crowning it all, the once glad, but now sad, Christmas holiday season is upon us, and I am wanting to be present for my grandchildren and my daughters and yet I am missing my son and my previous life, when he was still here, so terribly.

Really, just one of those things all by itself would be a full load right now. All together, they have knocked me off my board, and left me treading water in the rough seas, trying not to panic, but hyper-ventilating, nonetheless. I am trying to wriggle myself back up on to my board, trying to regain my balance, trying to roll with the waves, trying not to lean on anything that won't support me, trying to get back to a place where I can gingerly paddle my way around again.

Today I am not sure how to do that. Every option, in every direction, lacks promise for relief. I can't seem to find the solution that will fix my life for this moment. So I'm bobbing in an overwhelming sea of confusion, crying out to God for help.

Today I have nothing more than a prayer for wisdom, strength, and hope. We shall see.

"And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, "Save, Lord; we are perishing." And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?"
Matthew 8:24-27 RSV