Poolside Thoughts

There is something lovely about lying out at a pool on a Saturday morning all alone. It’s quiet. Even the sun is not wanting to wake up and stays tucked behind a cloud blanket. I don’t begrudge its hiding. I didn’t come here to tan—I gave up on tanning years ago. I have embraced my paleness. I’m no longer frustrated that I don’t turn tan after a sunburn. I no longer cringe when I notice my legs are paler than the sidewalk when it’s cold. I no longer care if my skin rivals Edward Cullen’s in the sunlight. Pale is its own beautiful.

Lying out at the pool with no one else around gives you time to let your mind wander. You notice the many different bird calls that you hadn’t noticed when you were swimming in the pool. You feel the breeze brushing over your exposed skin and shiver as it runs over your wet hair. You watch the trees lining the pool—they never stop moving, leaves and limbs serenading me.

I think about people—people I love, people I miss. I think about my plans for the rest of the day. But mostly I just sit here and let my mind wander. I feel the same as when I floated on my back in the pool a few minutes ago and let the water carry me. I absorb this beautiful world God made. And I thank Him for it.

On Removing Life-Support

For some, death is fast—a split-second jump from temporal to eternal.
For some, death is slow—a journey few have returned from.

My grandfather has been on this journey.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

My grandfather has been walking through the valley, toward the river, for several days now. I think Jesus is walking beside him.

My grandfather was a quiet man. I imagine he is still quiet—strolling quietly with Jesus through the darkness with mountains closing up around them, with looming boulders and fallen trees, along an old path.

Where are we going? Home.

What about Charlene? I’ll take care of her.

What about my kids? They’ll be okay.

What about my granddaughter? Don’t worry, Ross. I’ve got her too. And she knows that you loved her, even if you didn’t always know how to show love to her in the ways she understood best.

A cry from a wolf, a screech from a hawk, a cold wind blowing past.

She loved you too, Ross.

The valley opens to a dark meadow. The evening flowers open and fill the air with their fragrance. Jesus walks with my grandfather through the meadow.

I am afraid. So was I. But the river is just up ahead. We’re almost home.

Will it hurt? Not while I’m with you.

Will you stay? I will never leave you nor forsake you, Ross. I’ll be with you the whole way.

The sound of water, the smell of damp earth.

On the bank of the River Jordan, Jesus turns to face my grandfather. My grandfather looks away, looks at the river, looks at the mist.

Is it time?

Jesus steps onto the water. It responds to the familiar step and buoys him up. He takes another step, then turns to face my grandfather.

Ross, did you believe that I loved you?

My grandfather’s eyes fill with tears. Jesus reaches out a scarred hand, and my grandfather takes it.

Walk with me, Ross.

My grandfather steps out and meets Jesus on the water. They walk quietly through the darkness and mist. As they walk, my grandfather’s weak body grows stronger. His frailness melts into the river, and he stands straight once again, shoulders back, head high. He looks at Jesus through clear eyes.

They emerge from the mist into warm sunlight. The fragrance of the morning flowers fills the air. As he steps onto dry ground, my grandfather looks at Jesus.

Jesus meets his gaze with ancient youthful eyes, with eyes that know all things, with eyes full of self-sacrificing love.

Welcome home, Ross.

Approaching Another Birthday

My birthday is on Saturday. I am proud to celebrate it. Reaching this birthday is a triumph for me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I battle depression. It is a constant part of my life, and I fight to not allow it to consume me. Some times are better than others—and this past year of life has been hard. So I want to share what has gotten me through the past year(s): God’s grace.

My favorite Christian song is “Amazing Grace.” Hearing it is like catching a breath while drowning. Hearing it is like being wrapped into the most secure hug, the hug that protects and that doesn’t let go. Hearing it is like time stopping to give a glimpse into what eternity might feel like.

I have come to tears so many times while singing or listening to “Amazing Grace.” No other song has ever resonated so strongly with me. On days when it feels like depression is winning, I listen to it in a desperate need to remember hope. On days when I’m feeling better, I listen to it in praise and thankfulness.

It is a simple song, yet so complex. It has lines of pain and of hard times, and it has lines of peace and of joy. But in each line is confidence.

May I share some of those lines with you?
(This is a rhetorical question. It’s my blog and my birthday. I can do what I want!)

Okay. Here you go.

Amazing Grace

’twas grace that taught my heart to fear: God gave me grace when He taught me that I needed Him. He showed me that I had sinned, that I couldn’t do anything to make up for my sin, and that my sin doomed me to separation from Him. He gave me grace by teaching me fear so that I would seek Him.

and grace my fears relieved: God gave me grace by showing me that He would do whatever it took to make sure that I didn’t have to be separated from Him. He gave me grace by dying for me and then coming alive again to make sure that I can live forever with Him. Physical death is not my end. Instead, my gracious God made it possible for me to live after I die. That promised life will never end and will be free from the pain I have right now. There will be no depression, no darkness, no tears. No pain.

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come: Life is hard because we live in broken bodies on a broken earth with broken people. Broken things hurt. It all broke a long time ago, in a perfect garden. We are the shards of the beautiful thing God created.

But not only are we the broken, we also do the breaking. Cruel words and actions from one broken being chip away at other broken beings, and we hurt each other.

The “dangers, toils and snares” that we have walked through have been different for each of us, but each of us has walked through them.

’tis grace hath brought me safe thus far: But God walks through the brokenness with us. He feels the pain with us. Safe here doesn’t mean untouched. Life will beat us up at times. But God keeps us through it all. Sometimes I wonder why it is worth staying here on earth when I know that my pain will end when I die. With the promise of Heaven . . . why should I wait? God isn’t afraid of that question, and He answers me when I ask. For some people, God allows their appointed time of death to come at their own hands. But so far, my time hasn’t come. God gives me grace to see that I still have a purpose on earth, to see the people who love me, and to trust His timing for my life and my death. His grace secures me.

and grace will lead me home: God will care for His children. He will never let go of our hands. And when we’re just too tired to keep going, He will carry us. He takes our brokenness and heals it. When our time here on earth is complete, He’ll take us to our forever home, a place where we will belong completely. A place where we will be completely whole, not broken anymore.

God promises good to us. He speaks hope to us. He promises peace.
He has amazing grace.

This birthday is a triumph. I am proud to celebrate it. Here’s to another year!—I don’t know what will happen in it, but I’m confident that God will walk with me through everything.

Rising

 

Grief is such a strange thing. You can feel it even before you lose something.

A college friend has been battling cancer, and I heard today that she has only weeks left.

I’m feeling a strange blend of sadness and peace. Heaven will be a little brighter, but Earth will lose a beautiful spark.

This friend and I didn’t keep up much after college, but I have nothing except fondness for her.

Sometimes people say that “So-and-So was always smiling.” But we all know that’s not actually true. So I want to say it differently. This friend reflects God’s nature. She and I survived some difficult classes together. Math 101, for example. (Math was not our strong point. Don’t judge.) Sometimes she and I were frustrated, trying desperately to understand the algebra concepts. We were sleep-deprived. We were hungry. We weren’t always smiling. But she kept a positive outlook and would catch herself when it turned negative. She would re-frame her situation and remind us both to see the good. She seemed to live in the knowledge that God loves her, and she seemed to draw confidence from that knowledge. I saw so much peace, joy, and love radiating from her that it felt like she was always smiling.

I’ve been listening to the song “I Will Rise” today. It is comforting to know that when God calls her name, she will go to Him and live forever without any more pain or sorrow. There is hope even in death, and that hope is Jesus.

Thank you for your example, Marissa. I love you, and I’m praying for you and your family.

It’s a Mad, Mad World

I’m just playing with sounds and rhythms and words in this post, seeing how they connect and affect each other. So don’t get hung up trying to understand every detail. 😉 But feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts and impressions!

It’s a Mad, Mad World
by Beth Turner

Enter THINKER

THINKER

Rhythmic. Almost chanting or singing.
Spoken as if spinning, twirling.
Like a wobbling toy top.

 It’s a mad, mad world.

A world of twisting, twirling,   sanity, striving,   mad, mad world.

It’s a would,   a word,
a world of tossing balls, of catching balls, of hunting balls,
a world of fuzzy lint, of hungry lint, of crying calling
It’s a mad, mad world.

It’s a crazy, hide-it, crazy, quiet, crazy buy-it world.
It’s a run around, don’t slow down, mad, mad world!
It’s a yell-at-Mom, pretend I’m gone, cry and scream and shout.
It’s a hello there and a goodbye fear. A push, a tare, a tear.
It’s a mad, mad world.

Help me, tear me, scream me, cut me, hold me, leave me, hunt me, eat me World.
It’s a mad, mad world.

THINKER sits cross-legged on the floor.
                                                                                                                                  Enter CURIOSITY.
The following discussion moves quickly.

CURIOSITY
What are you?

THINKER
What am I?

CURIOSITY
Yes, what are you?

THINKER
Good question.

CURIOSITY
20 questions?

THINKER
Sure

CURIOSITY
Are you a place?

THINKER
What is a place?

CURIOSITY
What is a place? Surely you know a place!

THINKER
Do I?

CURIOSITY
A place is a plane of existence.

THINKER
Oh

CURIOSITY
Are you a place?

THINKER
Am I a plane of existence?

CURIOSITY
You tell me

THINKER
Maybe

CURIOSITY
Well, are you a thing?

THINKER
A what?

CURIOSITY
An object. Something tangible. Unless it’s an idea.

THINKER
Am I tangible?
I can feel myself. But if I feel myself, does that make me tangible? Or could I feel myself even if I weren’t here?
Am I an idea?

CURIOSITY
I don’t know. Maybe you’re not a place or a thing or an idea. Are you a person?

THINKER
How is a person different from a thing?

CURIOSITY
A person has life.

THINKER
So do things.

CURIOSITY
But things are different.

THINKER
How?

CURIOSITY
I don’t know.

THINKER
What is life?

CURIOSITY
The state of being alive

THINKER
And what is alive?

CURIOSITY
Having life….

THINKER
So a place is a plane of existence. A thing is a tangible object. But it’s different from a person because a person can feel itself and has life which is the state of being alive which is having life.

CURIOSITY
I’m losing interest.

THINKER
When you lose interest, do you fade away?

CURIOSITY
I don’t know.

CURIOSITY walks offstage.

THINKER
When you lose interest, you fade away. Unless you’re the only one there.

                                                                                                                           THINKER stands to walk offstage.

THINKER
But if you’re the only one—are you?

Exit THINKER.

THE END

Brushing Away the Dust

I met an old friend this past weekend. Someone had said something that had reminded me of a favorite composer. So I revisited his music.

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Photo Credit: Vintage Junky

The music greeted me with the same love it had before. It recognized my heart. If anything, I think it understood me even better now.

It spoke tenderly and and with empathy in “Vocalise,”  reminding me of the past it and I had shared together, reminding me of the hours that it had listened to me pour pieces of my heart onto the piano’s keys with this song.

Too many years have passed.

Pinterest informs me that music brushes away the dust from the soul. There is always a song that fits whatever I’m experiencing, and the music enhances and improves my understanding. It helps me express myself. It helps me be honest with myself.

I have enjoyed spending time with this composer’s music. And when I have a piano again, I will pull “Vocalise” out and rekindle the friendship even more.

Opinion Is Knowledge in the Making

I am of the opinion that I can change my opinions.

I am young. I am curious. I am testing ideas to see if they hold up.
And I am learning.

Sometimes people don’t understand why I’m so curious and why I’m so willing to test ideas and beliefs. I understand their fears; they want what is best for me and are afraid of where my journey might take me. I appreciate that.

I want what is best for me too—that’s why I’m so willing to challenge ideas and belief systems. How else can I know what I actually believe and why I believe it?

The great poet John Milton (think: Paradise Lost) wrote, “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”

I am willing to risk being wrong in order to learn. I recognize that the ideas I hold to now might not be the same ideas I hold to later. But right now I argue about them, write about them, and have opinions about them. I do this in the hope of gaining knowledge. My opinions may change…. *I reserve the right to change my opinions!*

“What is true? and what is truth?” People have asked this question since the beginning of time. Eve asked it when she was tempted by the serpent. The ancient Egyptians asked it because they believed their hearts would be weighed against the feather of truth in the afterlife. Pontius Pilate asked it of Jesus before sentencing Him to death. Every person has asked it (audibly or not) at some point. I’m don’t pretend to imagine that, out of all these people, I will be the one to know all truth. But I want to know as much truth as I can.

So I question. I think. I write. I argue. I form opinions.
And that doesn’t scare me.
It’s all part of my journey.