Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Sacred Choice.


To receive is to be.
To stand perfectly still.
With no “next steps”, no plans, no agenda.

Expectations drop to the earth.
Layers of shame fall away.

To receive is to listen.
With kindness.
With intention.

Resistance yields.
Anger subsides.

To receive is to touch.
Mind to the present.
Heart to the Spirit.

Slowed breath.
Open hands.

I choose to receive.
When life is hard.
When blessings flow.

I choose to receive.
When my feet hurt.
When my attention fades, and my breath runs dry.

I choose to receive.
When my thoughts are scattered.
When I want to give up.
When I run.
When I speak.
When I move.

Here I am held.
I am fed.
Understood.
Valued.

The greatest challenge is the greatest gift.
We were born to receive.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

She Walks.


She walks up and down the grassy hills.

Up at a slant.
Down at a lean.

Inhale.
Exhale.

Slow.
Steady.
Calm.

The smell of a newly manicured golf course.
The smell of summer.
Lawnmowers.
Lemonade.
Chlorine.
Dirty knees.
Messy hair.
Bare feet.

The summit of each hill feels more like a smooth bump instead of a sharp, needle-like point.
And each hill meets her feet like loud music hits the chest.

Vibrating the body.
Intruding the senses.
But ever so kind.

She never stops to ask why or how or where she is going.
She just knows what it feels like when she stops- her muscles sob, her blisters plead for attention, and layers of skin start peeling away like pages in a calendar.

Each step presses into the earth, resembling a heartbeat pounding away during a long run.

Up.
Down.
Slowly, gracefully, she walks.



A Silent Shoreline.


This summer I cried in front of an 11 year old. 

A boy with blonde, wavy hair and a good heart. 
A heart that was being pulled in ten thousand different directions. 

Blame it on the hormones that are beginning to flood his body and confuse the hell out of him. 
Blame it on the kids that give him attention when he is the “boss”, the bully with the coolest clothes and the strongest free throw shot. 
Blame it on his parents who are constantly fighting at home, his puppies screaming at nearly every sound in earshot, or his chores piling up at home by the minute.

Whatever the cause, I knew this wasn’t really him who got me to the point of tears. It wasn't really him who was yelling at me at the drop of a pen, talking back to me every chance he got, and saying all kinds of hurtful, unimaginable things to the other kids. 

But I simply couldn’t take it anymore. 
So I asked him what was wrong.

“You’ve been talking back a LOT lately.”
Tears fall.
Head drops.

He apologized.
His voice, soft.
His eyes wide.

He said he had a "lot of stuff going on at home".
And I believed him.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for an 11 year old boy to see a 20-something babysitter at the steering wheel, crying. I would guess it's probably confusing and scary to a degree. 

A loss of control. 
A loss of stability.
It throws you off, changes your tone, your body language, your confidence level.

This was my honest expression, the raw and rigid overflow of stress coming out of the corners of my eyes. This was me taking off my mask for a minute, and not really by choice.

It was real.
It was… me.

As adults, we want so badly to be “in control”, to have it all together, no matter who is watching or what is being said. But I was reminded this summer that I simply cannot do that. I don’t know how to hold it together sometimes when kids are yelling at me, parents aren't answering texts, and I am not getting enough sleep.

At some point, I just break.

The mask is put aside and I stand face to face with the harder things in life.
The kinds of things that throw you off-step, kick you in the stomach and knock you down.

But here is the gift that was placed in my open palms during this difficult conversation in the car.
We are all human.
Whether we choose to accept that or not.

We are sand on the beach.
Tiny, gritty specks of sand.

Swept away by the wind.
Dampened by chairs, towels, and creatures of all kinds.

We are stepped on.
We are thrown around.
We are shaken off of towels and out of hair.

But together, we form a beach, a silent shoreline, a calm resting place for the healing salt water to return after a long, hard journey. 

Sand is a beautiful thing, really.
Tears and all.






Pairing Up and Holding Hands.


I feel the gravel rustle beneath my feet and my mind wanders back to the long, noisy road that was the entrance to summer camp in Northern Alabama. My stomach was always relieved when we finally made that infamous right turn after the lone 7-Eleven on the corner. 

I have never been one for windy roads in the car, even as a child. One too many "mishaps" in a friend of a friend's parent's expensive, leather-seat car made me more than aware of this fact. And ANY time when we reached our final destination after more than an hour in the car and I walked away with clean pants was a major victory.

When my mother and I got out to unload, claim a bed, and take a walk around camp, I would remain fairly quiet at first. Observing from my secret hideaway in the woods, just waiting for the lion to move on and find his new prey.

Rest Hour was always my favorite part of camp. 

Designed to be a quiet time to reenergize before the second half of the exhaustingly hot, give-me-a-popsicle-or-I-will-die kind of day, rest hour was nothing but quiet. Beds squeaked, feet shuffled, giggles contagiously spread across the cabin. Our counselor would begin the hour with loads of “Sshhing”, but halfway through, she would undoubtedly surrender to the madness of the Jonathan Taylor Thomas obsessed preteens.

I remember two girls who refused to go by anything but “Bubble Gum” and “Tic-Tac”. And I remember thinking that was weird at the time, but now I only wish I would have been as brave as them to go by Tic-Tac as a 12 year old.

I remember when a girl whose bunk was across from mine told my friend Amy she was pretty. 
The look on Amy's face revealed she had never believed that to be true.

I remember the summer the girls in my cabin changed outfits every hour and spent increasing minutes in front of the mirror trying to make their eyelashes curl so that their eyes would "pop".

But I didn’t pack enough clothes for this, I thought to myself.
I don’t know how to make my eyelashes curl like that.
I like my eyelashes as they are.

That was the same summer the girls and the boys started pairing up and holding hands as they walked down the hill back to the cabin. And then my friends started getting "dates" to the dance. That seemed odd to me. Why can’t we all just go together, I wondered? Why so many couples?

That was the summer camp felt foreign to me.