Monday, March 24, 2014

leaden echo, golden echo

I've been wanting to write about this for two weeks now, and after a few false-starts think I might actually finish.  I'm waiting to do a skype interview for a teaching job and I'm nervous.  I hope writing can help relax me a bit.

We attended Sarah's memorial service a few weeks ago; it was such a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman.  Many emotions rolled through me that morning as I listened, felt, and watched.  I could only sob as  her two youngest kids walk out of the chapel with their arms around each other, the last ones of the family to exit.  I try to banish the feeling of helplessness that begins to well up within me with sights like that.  I hope my hugs to them, given later, portrayed at least a portion of the love and hope I have for them.

During the service many beautiful lines of literature were shared, from C. S. Lewis to Marilynne Robinson.  Sarah's father, Sterling Van Wagenen, read a stunning poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I had never heard it before and he breathed the words so movingly that I was in awe.  I wanted to stand up and applaud; it was that beautiful.  I got home and looked it up and found a reading of it by Richard Burton.  If you have three minutes and four seconds, read the poem while you listen.

I'm grateful for these words and how they were shared with such deep feeling.  I'm eternally grateful to have known Sarah for the year I did.  She inspires me to become better in many ways.

I'm so grateful for heavenly goodness.  Despair takes over my heart easily, but as long as I turn to my Savior I can be uplifted and find comfort, peace, and rest.

Take courage.  Our God will never us forsake.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

here i go, reading old emails again

From February 2008:
Little moments like the one I just had make me thankful and bring a smile to my face.  I'm in the process of grading my last stack (of the day) of writer's notebooks.   We read The Chosen long ago during first term; it wasn't the best experience for me.  I love that book, but I felt like we trudged and grumbled our way through it.  I felt hardly anyone enjoyed it.  But hark, what's here?  A surprise.  A clever student still remembers Mr. Savo and one of his favorite words--cockeyed.  I quote from her writer's notebook:

"In my opinion, texting is stupid.  It is of the devil.  Adolescents in this day and age are so consumed in their technological gadgets that they never stop to look at the wonders that surround them.  Example: There is a teenager at the bus stop, waiting for his ride.  He is extremely bored.  Heaven forbid he stoops down to examine a butterfly's intricate wings or ponder the meaning of life.  :)  Nooo, he would just whip out his cell phone and start texting!!!!  As Mr. Savo would say: 'Cockeyed world.'"

Anyhow, it just made me happy to read that and realize that at least one thing has stuck in at least one student's mind.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

be not dismayed

Why do I laugh?
Really I should be crying all day long and on throughout the night.

I'd like a wailing wall like May's.

Write up my troubles.
Write up all the troubles of the world.

All day long and on throughout the night.

Days and nights and nights and days.
On throughout all time.

Write everything.
Scraps of paper covered with my scribbles.
Cram them in.
Let the rocks crush out the terribleness of it all.

What else is there to do?
A pool of cleansing water?
A soulful song of lamentation?
A flower rolled flat between my thumb and finger?

Why do I laugh?
How do I smile?

When my heart aches as sharp as weary bones,
I picture myself falling asleep
Beneath the orchard's blossoming branches.

The pink petals soothe my eyelids to close.
I hear them whisper as the breeze rustles through.
I pillow my head with the grass.

My midday repose ends as I yawn myself awake.
The smile from dreaming remains as I breathe deeply;
Gaze focused skyward, I stand.

The stones hold the heat of the day.
I curl my toes round them,
Jumping off when I can't stand the warmth any longer.
The dandelion fluff dances high with my landing.

I cannot.
I cannot cry throughout all time.

So I
Take pause,
Land again,

Build those smiles together to fashion true laughter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

almost two years

Yesterday was one of those days when my soul simultaneously soared and sank.  

How to explain?  How to enumerate?  How to attach words to feelings experienced so powerfully?  

In mulling it over, my husband gave me a word to begin to describe how the death of a friend affects us: cumulative.  It's a cumulative loss; that's how he put it more or less.  

So when I think of Sarah gone from our ward family.  When I cry because I won't see her smile again in this life.  When I fret and cry and lament her children's and parents' aching hearts.  When I mourn her too-soon departure, my mind and heart tick back to the three most recent funerals I've attended: Zoe's, Grandpa's, and Tawna's.  The most fresh, the most recent adding to the absences of the others gone before.

And yet for all the dark clouds pressing in, the sun shines above.  

Sinking and soaring.  I miss Grandpa saying, "See ya in the funny papers."  I ache for Zoe's parents who lost her on Christmas.  I wish Tawna could be here, holding my babies, her grandbabies.  I miss Sarah's sincere gaze.  And yet.  

Their goodness inspires.

From the Latin, inspire means to breathe upon or into.  

Their goodness inspires.  They invite me to live more fully, to use all the breath I have to meet them again at Jesus' feet. 

They are spires.  I lift my eyes and heart because of their lives, because of their deaths.