The Things I Do....

....to make my children laugh. While my big kids were still power-less in Florida, I went to a Halloween party as Hurricane Wilma in their honor. Today Kelly called in tears - alone in a 10 story condo building with her husband and brother at work, no power, everything starting to smell of mildew, and the elevator only running an hour today. I called my cousin Deborah - she has an apartment on the beach in Boca, (and one overlooking Central Park and three other houses). What a blessing - Kelly is now waiting for her husband and brother in a beach apartment with electricity! But I digress....my lovely Halloween costume. No shame in looking ridiculous for my children!


My Spiritual Atheist Friend

My friend Michael and I met at Flesher's Field Wednesday, when the air was crisp and cool, the sun warm on your skin, and the Autumn leaves swimming in brilliant color. We found a path carved into the woods. I was so excited to find it there right near my home. Michael was much more matter of fact about it as he lives in a dome house in the woods and walks in the woods every day.

Being the artist-type, I kept stopping and staring at the canopy of branches overhead, and watching the sunlight dancing over the leaves. Michael, being the woodsman, started identifying trees for me. Hickory. Hawthorne. Sassafras (which has a sap you can scrape off and chew like gum, and whose bark has a wonderful scent, I was told).

While we were looking at the trees Michael started talking about Geronimo, and how he would stare at the spaces between the branches of the trees and it would alter his reality. He said that Geronimo could make himself invisible practicing that, and had walked away unseen in the middle of skirmishes or capture. I told Michael that I remembered he and I practicing that once years ago, and how I suddenly felt a huge rush of energy surge up through my body. During our conversation Michael asked me if I thought there was spirit in the trees, and I said that I thought there was a divine spark in all living things on earth. He seemed a little surprised by my answer - maybe because he hasn't believed in God, and yet my belief is that the spirit he feels in the woods is God. I said I think even rocks might have that divine spark within them, and Michael said he knew they had an energy. Once, he said, he read how rocks could be stacked in a certain configuration to create some kind of energy field. Because he was good at balancing them, he built up a tower of rocks according to the instructions and said that you could feel the energy when you were within a few feet of the structure.

Funny how with this friend of mine who declares himself an atheist, I have the most interesting spiritual talks. I think he just hasn't been exposed much to the concept of God. I was feeling kind of guilty later for not even bringing Jesus into the conversation, but also realizing at the same time that I don't want to falsely create a conversation in order to push my beliefs at him. It suddenly came to me that I don't need to talk about Christianity, what I need to do is become more and more familiar with the words of Christ, because I think Michael would totally get into the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Michael thinks Christians are all right-wing, conservative, Republican evangelists, and he's always kind of loathed them. I think he's getting an inkling from me that not all of them are. I suspect there are a lot of anti-Christians who have been so turned-off to the media portrayal or their own experience that they've never really learned much of anything about Jesus.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going to stare at the spaces between the branches more often. It was interesting that just today I read this article about an encounter with expanded consciousness written by a Christian.


@ Threads

I was struggling before church this morning with feeling totally unloveable. Sometimes I think I get in my own way, and I need to keep the focus on God and not me.

But then in church our worship band leader was talking about this amazing, incredible God that doesn't just love us all collectively, but each of us individually as well. Ron said, "He loves Paula, and Anne and Carman..." and tears immediately sprang to my eyes. It seemed as though God used Ron to use my name and my son's to remind me that I am indeed loveable in his eyes.

Lee was discussing impulses during the spiritual talk and asked us to grab someone and talk about an impulse we've had in the last week. I saw a young man sitting alone across the aisle from me, so I went over and sat next to him. I told him kind of tongue-in-cheek that I'd had the impulse to make my son go out and mow the lawn one night. And then Ken told me that he'd had the impulse the other night to open his Bible and read it for three or four hours, and that he was going through a divorce. I felt like God sent me to Ken as another reminder to just keep my eyes on Him alone, get out of his way, and let him work. I told Ken that I had been through divorce myself and he asked me if I could give him some spiritual advice on how to get through it. My heart was touched that this man who'd only known me for less than five minutes would trust me with such deep and open questions. I told him I'd come talk to him after church, which I did. He left with my phone number, an invitation to lunch, an offer to find a man to talk with if he preferred, and my prayers for the coming week.

Then a large group of us meet after church for lunch, and a young teenage girl I'd just met told me that she's struggling with her faith. Another deep and soul touching conversation, and a promise from me to continue our talk in email.

I cannot dwell on feeling unloveable when God sends me out to love people. I just didn't expect that he would take a 2 by 4 and hit me over the head with it quite so dramatically in such a short time.


On a Fall Day

There was so much work to do, but while I sat outside with my son listening to him play guitar on a glorious fall day under an Autumn sun, I thought...this....this is what life is all about.


Another Chapter

I called my sister tonight and told her about Lori. My ex had spent the weekend with Sue and her husband, and she's spent a lot of time with Lori as well. In the telling of one story, another smaller story emerges. Sue has been worried about my ex's drinking. He doesn't eat all day. During the week he lives on cigarettes and coffee during the day, on the weekends I think it's cigarettes and beer. I think he smokes pot everyday as well. Sue now sees her husband trying to keep up and not being able to handle the quantities that G. can.

I feel like I am in the middle of a novel. I've always struggled about the guilt I felt about divorcing G. Both of us were children of alcoholics - where would we be now if we had stayed married? Would I have influenced him to drink less? Or, more likely, would I have been abusing substances the last quarter century? How much did he and Lori drink together? I know my daughter worried about her dad's drinking years ago when he was with Lori. She was never really sure about it, though. He didn't see our kids very often. And now when I tell my sister this awful story about Lori, Sue's concerns come spilling out. Perhaps truth emerges more easily in the midst of tragedy.

G. and I, both with alcoholic backgrounds. G. was a Christian when we married. I wasn't. Through the years since we've been apart I've turned to Christ, he's turned to beer and pot. And now my sister worries about his influence on her husband. And now his second ex-wife kills a man while drunk driving. And now I wonder what is waiting on the next page...

In a Heartbeat

Lori consumes my thoughts today. She was my first husband's second wife. They have been divorced a long time, but have remained quite good friends. My daughter called me this morning and said that maybe it was strange to ask me to pray for my ex-husband's second ex-wife, but she was asking anyway.

Lori was driving home Saturday night after spending time with her son and his father. I guess she wanted to spend the night, but her son's dad didn't think that was such a good idea. Lori was driving a quiet, Indiana road late at night, and leaned over to reach for a cigarette. And in the next instant, there was a crash, and a body on her windshield. Out of fear? shock? whatever happened to her mind in that split second, she kept driving. Several miles down the road she stopped and called 911. She was arrested and charged with several offenses (from what I read from an article online). Drunk driving, causing the death of a person while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident.

Lori killed a 19-year-old young man, who, for some reason, was out walking in the lane late at night. His older brother just came back from Iraq last Tuesday.

My ex-husband, and hers, bailed her out of jail yesterday afternoon. I heard they treated her pretty badly in jail. I don't imagine they're too kind to someone who was drunk and killed a person, and left the scene of an accident.

Even without Kelly asking me to, I would have been praying for Lori and for her family. I'm praying for the family of the young man who was killed as well. In one week a son returns safe from war and another one dies on a lonely stretch of highway.

Lori's life changed in a heartbeat. I have no idea how this will form the rest of her life, her mind, her heart, her faith, if any. Kelly said on the phone, "Dad told me he'd been praying. Can you believe it?? Dad? Praying?" Yes, I could believe it. Life stripped down in an instant to the one thing, one person, that we can hold on to in the midst of crushing pain. Lord, keep them all in the palm of your hand, give them comfort for their loss and strength for the trials ahead.