Mom’s reality … Mom’s world …

In the last few months, Mom has told me several times that she doesn’t know what she would do without me… It seems that now I am her whole world… I am what links her to reality as she has always known it to be…

That is a lot of responsibility…

And sometimes… it scares the hell out of me…

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Frozen…

Daily prompt: Fight or Flight:  Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

I was high above the earth, straddling a space of about two or three feet.  I had helped my team mates get across the space from one side to the other, and now it was my turn… all I had to do was find something for my hands to hold on to, push off with my left leg, step across the space and onto the other ledge and I and the rest of the team would be home free…

Except that there wasn’t anything really substantial for my hands to hold… that is why I had been there… I was the person everyone else could use to steady themselves as they stepped across.  I would have to do it on my own, with no one to steady me and not much to hold onto…

I was tired, and my muscles in my legs were tired… they were beginning to tremble from the exertion and fatigue of holding the necessary position that had helped others to pass…   And while in reality I was only about eight to ten feet up in the air, it seemed a whole lot higher, and all of a sudden I was afraid that my legs would give out when I moved and I’d fall…

The more I thought about it and about trying to move and the possibility of falling, the tighter the muscles all over my body got and the less strength I felt in my legs… jelly legs they were becoming… and that wouldn’t work… I’d never get across…

I tried to make myself do it… to just push off with the left foot and swing it over… I kept telling myself what to do and how to do it… my mind was screaming the instructions but my brain did not seem to be sending the signals to the rest of my body… or my body was just not listening…

Instead, I just sat there… trembling… frozen…

In the end, I finally had to admit that I could not do it, and the instructors that were monitoring our group’s progress through the obstacle course had to help me down… chalk up a “fail” for the group on this obstacle…

You see, everyone in the group had to get through the obstacle to get a “pass” on it…

The Gift of Presence…

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”        ~Mark 14:32-34

Some thoughts:

1. Jesus knew he was about to die…

2. Jesus asked his closest companions to “keep watch with [him]”…

a. Jesus was not asking them to be his bodyguards, to protect him…

b. He did not want them to watch so they could warn him to make an escape…

c. It seems Jesus only wanted his companions to be “present” with him…

What did their “presence” give to Jesus?  Why did he want or need it?  Perhaps an aspect of his humanity is showing itself as he faces the death he knows is coming…

What does our “presence” give to those with whom we wait and watch?

A seventeen year old, wanting his mother’s “presence” as the time of his death approaches says, “Mom, I know I’m dying.  Just wait with me.”   And then over the next few days, he gradually slips into a coma…  but there are family members and friends near… waiting.

How many others want the presence of someone else with them as their time of death draws near?  What does the presence of other people bring or give to those who know they are dying?  And how hard it must be to be that other person, that witness, who can do nothing to stop the inevitable…  Who can only wait and watch, with no power to change the coming events.

Why is this important for the one dying?  Maybe because the one dying knows that he or she does not face death alone if someone else is waiting and watching with them… The dying walk through death’s door, letting go of one hand to reach out and grasp another…  Love takes them to the door, gives them strength as they pass through it, and meets them again on the other side…

The night before he dies, the seventeen year old briefly wakes from his coma…  Family and friends are gathered around.  Perhaps for him it is one last time that he can look on those he loves and see that they love him.  He slips back into his coma, continuing his journey…  knowing he is not alone.

His younger sister is asked if she wants to sleep in his room, with him, that night.  She says yes, and so a cot is set up.  That night, as she sleeps, she is given the privilege of being the one who is “present” with her brother…  But she does not know this…  She only knows that she is receiving the gift of his presence with her, a presence that she knows she is losing to death…

Once upon a time, they lived joyously ever after…

Once upon a time … They lived happily ever after!

The typical fairy-tale beginning and ending… life nicely and neatly described, wrapped up and summarized with these statements.  It is a fact though that real life lies between the statements… in the spaces where the periods (…) are.  And the “real life” that most people lead cannot always be summed up so neatly with “…they lived happily ever after” because not all of life’s stories end like that.

Actually, living “happily ever after” does not indicate the end of life, but rather the end of some difficulties or challenges that have been resolved, so that from that point on, one lives “happily ever after”…  Implying no more problems, difficulties or challenges will ever again be a part of that person’s life…

And that’s where the fairy tale quality comes in… because everyone knows that for as long as one is alive, in reality, there will always be difficulties and problems to encounter and challenges to overcome.  That is just the way life is in our world.

But what if we tweaked the phrase a little?  What if, instead of saying, “they lived happily ever after” we said, “they lived joyously ever after”?  Can one live joyously in spite of problems, difficulties and challenges?  Can one live joyously amid hatred and violence and war?  Can one live joyously in spite of sickness or suffering or death?

While some might say, “No! It is not possible!” I believe that it is possible.

Living joyously does not mean that you always feel happy… It doesn’t even mean that you always like what is happening… because living joyously is an attitude towards life… a way to face what comes at you.  It suggests a hopeful outlook, in spite of (whatever)… It means living courageously… It means asking for help when you need it, and giving help when others ask… It means trusting… It means not giving in to the fear and despair that can so easily overwhelm…

I don’t know about others, but I can’t live joyously on my own strength… I need help to live joyously… and my help comes from the Lord… from Almighty God… from the Creator of all that is… from the One who walks beside me through all of life’s ups and downs and to whom I look for strength and courage…

One of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 121:1-2) says it all:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

This is my story… this is how I try to face life… joyously ever after!!