After Onward Christian Soldiers…

hymns_62Recently some friends and I got to talking about hymns we sang as children — in particularly, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  Despite finding ourselves in a much different place spiritually than our early church days, we all agreed many traditional church songs hold special memories.

Stacey spent her childhood virtually without supervision. “We were feral,” she said. ” We were the wild children on our street.” When her parents divorced, her mother worked and left Stacey and her siblings to fend for themselves.  A number of years ago, Stacey went home and visited with some of her former neighbors. “I learned many on the street were deeply concerned for our safety.”

As a child, Stacey found her “home” in church. For one thing, her Baptist church offered snacks and often what she ate at church was all had to eat for the day. Stacey grew to love the sense of community she felt at church — a place where people cared for her and nurtured her. When she was old enough, Stacey joined the choir and sang her heart out. The words of the hymns she sang on Sunday mornings lodged deep in her brain. She particularly remembers facing the congregation and singing the lyrics to “Onward Christian Soldier” with great pride. She felt part of something, connected to others, fully supported and cared for.

Stacey and I could not have more different backgrounds.

My parents, Watson and Mary, were too strict, too strong and much-too-present for me to go wild. They structured my days, beginning to end. We rose to Dad’s wake up call and shared breakfast around the small round oak table in the kitchen. We gathered for Bible reading (each person reading two verses each until one or two chapters were completed) and prayers in the music room every day before school. As a minister and a teacher, I could not get away from his presence.

The summer of my 10th year, I was sitting in church one hot Wednesday evening and thinking how much I wanted to be wild. I longed to be anywhere but where I was — sitting on a hard wooden pew, staring out the open window onto the lawn of the house next to the church. The setting sun streamed through the trees and created lovely shadows on the grass. I heard the neighbor kids playing in the nearby park.  I felt real life — the giggling, running about, shouting and playing hard life — resided outside my small church.

Just about the only thing I liked inside church were the hymns. I listened to Mama play with passion the requested songs. I sang along from memory. We Thorntons had very little need of the hymnal because we knew the lyrics by heart. The words flowed with ease and they connected me on some deep level with the men and women in the pews around me.

My personal belief had not yet become an issue with me.  All I knew was that singing “Rescue the Perishing,” “Count Your Many Blessings,” “Onward Christian Soldiers” and many other songs that represented the faith of my parents helped lift my spirits, soothe my anger and spoke to my soul on some level.

imagesI left home for college when I was 17.  There, a boyfriend introduced me to Johnny Got His Gun and Malcom X. I began to question blind patriotism and American Christianity. As more and more male students dropped out, were drafted or signed up for the Vietnam war, I grew more and more uncomfortable seeing the American flag and the Christian flag together on the same podium — especially in church.

Stacey moved away from traditional organized Christianity, as well. Despite going to seminary and earning an M.Div.,  she does not preach nor does she attend  an organized church.  She’s found her place and peace in Wisdom theology and contemplative prayer. Stacey structures her life around meditation. She and her partner open their home to people in need of quiet and rest. They offer retreats, courses and counseling to those in search of inner healing.

Stacey’s a far cry from that feral child who roamed the streets. And me? The girl raised in church who went  in search of living wild and outside? I’m quieter now.  Stacey and I are both discovering more and more about living faith that nurtures hope and love.

I struggle to live like Jesus did. At time I wish I were more like Stacey with her peaceful aura and kind spirit.

Onward-Christian-Soldiers-Edited-900However  I know she, too, has her personal struggles. We both continue to take steps towards peace, not war, to pursue love not engage in battles.

I feel we’re part of a growing corp of enlisted people of faith who are marching onward, just not to war. 

 

Onward Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before

Onward then, ye people
Join our happy throng
Blend with ours your voices
In our triumph song

Christ the royal master
Leads against the foe
Forward into battle
See His banners go

Crowns and Thrones may perish
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the cross of Jesus
Constant will remain

 

 

C: It’s All About Mary/ Counting My Blessings

Growing up with Mary as a mother meant that music was central to my life. Our days as a family usually often began with her playing one or two hymns.

WatsonM7
The Thornton family well long I came to live with them. Mom delivered 11 children in all. I was #10.

She wasn’t much of a morning person. If she had her druthers she’d sleep until 9 or 10, I’m sure. Her favorite times of day were late at night when the family had gone to bed. But dad, as a guidance counselor at the high school, was up and out the door early during the week. On the weekends, he was the preacher, so definitely no late mornings then.

 

Mary dutifully rose and cooked breakfast for her husband and children. We ate together most mornings. Unless I was bleeding or upchucking, no excuse was good enough to miss breakfast or family prayers.  School bells could ring and I’d be tardy, but I could not miss devotions.

Once breakfast was finished, we migrated to mom’s music room for devotions. Two sets of oak sliding doors were used to close the room off when mom was giving piano lesson.  In the mornings, the doors were open and we found seats between and around mom’s grand piano and organ .

Family devotions consisted of (if time allowed) singing a hymn, reading two chapters of the Bible and praying for every person we knew by name — including missionaries all over the world, the people they witnessed to and then some.

When dad prayed for the family, mom remembered the missionaries. Bill and Alice Widbin somewhere Africa, Dorothy Clark in Nigeria, an orphanage in India with a little boy named Jothi.  I prayed for Jothi for decades. One day not long before mom died, I asked her whatever happened to Jothi.  She said he had grown up and was living near the orphanage. Despite his physical and mental challenges he was  doing well.  Good to know our prayers worked for him I said.  “Oh, Nancy, hush!” she said with a smile. She sometimes like my irreverence.  But not always.

She believed in the power of prayer. Dad did, too. They brought everything to God in prayer. And they brought us right there with them. We got down on our knees around the circle of chairs (I tried to get the softest one because I could catch a few more minutes of sleep).  Dad or mom started the prayers and we went one by one until all had thanked God for our many blessings or asked God for help with someone and something. The other parent would wrap up our time of thanksgiving and petitions.

I hated this time as a child.  As a teen, especially, I was so embarrassed when friends would spend the night and Dad and Mom would urge them to participate in the ceremony.  Nothing and noone kept Mary and Watson from spending time with the Lord in the morning.

Family worship wrapped up with the Lord’s Prayer. By the time we got to “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” I was up off my knees. By the “Amen”, I was out the door for school.

The middle part of prayers was reading the Bible.  We went front to back, Genesis 1:1 to the final verse of Revelations, two chapters a day, two verses at a time.  Starting with the youngest and going to the oldest. On the longer chapters, we could go around the circle three or four times. I have no idea how many times I’ve read the Bible through, Old and New Testaments, but I know I have countless verses committed to memory.  Even today, almost six decades after living at home, I can recall verses I read as a child.  I also firmly believe that we are all good readers because of these early days.  We learned to read at very young ages sitting together in the mornings sounding out words like Methuselah, Sennacherib and the pages and pages of Hebrew names in the Old Testament.

My favorite part of prayers, without a doubt, was when we had time to sing. Mom played her grand piano with such power and passion. She loved her God and she showed that love through her fingers on the keys, whether the melodies were hymn or classical pieces she had memorized.  As I write this I feel tears welling up inside. An ache for the woman who comforted me so often with her music. When I longed for something as only a teenage girl can long and it didn’t come to pass, when I had a broken heart, or when my feelings were hurt from someone at school.

Mama would sit me down in the easy chair next to the piano and she would play songs like “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, “Does Jesus Care?”

She played until my tears stopped.  And then we’d go and get a bite to eat.

Food and music.  It’s a theme you’ll see in Mary’s life.

For any faults she had (and yes, Mary Scott Gash Thornton had her fair share) she was a woman of intense love and faith, and my life continues to be blessed with the gifts she gave me every single day.

 

I regret that I have no recordings of mama playing.  Some may exist in the United States, in the homes of my sisters and brothers. But here in Ecuador, I have no access to them. Instead when I want to be with mama at the piano, I go to YouTube and plug in the name of a hymn that she would play.  The link below takes you to one of my favorites.

For friends reading who are not of the Christian faith or perhaps any faith at all, this may seem very foreign to you.  All I can say is I pray that you have a similar source of comfort and joy. Life feels easier with such a person.

My mother’s name was Mary.

 

 

All About Mary

The 2017 A-to-Z Challenge will begin in about a week. So for 26 days (not counting Sundays) I’ll be joining hundreds or (maybe) thousands around the world in blogging my way through the alphabet.

Last year I made itA2Z-BADGE-100 [2017] most of the way through the month describing our new life in Cuenca — from belching buses to homesickness, llamas to roaring rivers. Along the way I met up with some interesting people and made a few friends from far-off places.

This year my theme will be built around my mom. She was an amazing pianist and blessed my life with an abundance of music — both religious and classical.

The daily blogs will be fodder for a memoir I have in mind for her. In my family it seems like most of the focus has been on my father and his side of our ancestry.  Mom deserves her place.

She was smart and funny. Hated housework and spent hours on the piano every day. She was short and round and rosy-cheeked. Her children loved her dearly. Her husband of  60+ years adored her until her dying day.

This will also be a look at growing up as a fundamentalist Christian and becoming a progressive both in politics and theology. I will write of small town, middle America in the 50’s and 60’s. College in the 70’s. And life as the youngest in a family of 11 children. And every entry/chapter is centered around one of the most loving, interesting and talented women I have ever met.

I invite you to read along. Please pass on the blog site if you like what you read.

Mary was amazing!

 

Aging in the company of great women

friends
Left to right. Back: Mindy, Lou, Trisha, me; Front: Joanna, Julie and Nancy F.

This tribute to an amazing group of women comes from some writing I am to produce by this coming  Thursday. My topic is aging and my mind has been picking over ideas for a week and a half.

This morning I looked next to my desk at the picture of six women I have known for over half my life. While this writing does not help me fulfill my writing obligation for this week, it has allowed me to realize the sheer gift each of these amazing people have been to me.

So…Mindy, Lou, Trisha, Joanna, Julie and Nancy, this is for you:

We’ve been together in spirit for three-plus decades. Our motley girl crew first met and mingled in a small church in the Grant Park area of Atlanta in the early 80’s. For most it was pre-marriage, pre-coming out, and pre-kids (and grand kids).

No gray strands or crow’s feet at the time. No aching joints or health concerns.  Our hair–worn short or long–shone with health. Complexions glowed. Nature was kind and our bodies moved with ease and energy. Oh, so much energy.

Two nurses, a landscaper and a teacher. A writer and two business women with sharp-as-a whip minds. Excellent cooks and and crazy funny humor. Avid readers all. Bright minds with plenty of questions, looking for answers and not satisfied until we thought things through.

Some  more big-hearted than others (ok, than me), all generous and capable. Together, there seemed there was nothing we couldn’t do.

Our small congregation needed banners or costumes or programs, we whipped them up with ease. A few took on a 60-mile walk for cancer with far less ease and survived to regale the others about it. Meals for the sick. Gardens for planting. Wedding planning. Babysitting. Recipe swapping. Moral supporting.

We designed and built homes and (all but one or two) decorated with ease. And we opened our homes to friends old and new, serving meals for 5, 15 or 50. One formed a soup kitchen. Two women took on the city to preserve some wetlands. Others made friends with neighbor outcasts and brought new meaning to  community. We shared book readings, plant seedlings, pulled together holiday picnics, marched in protest and camped for fun. Cross-country trips and all kind of tips. Our lives stayed intertwined and roots grew deep.

Small groups and intense sharing deepened our ties and made us stronger, healthier and closer.

For a few years, we forsook family and work for girl time in the Florida Keys. A solid week to turn off and slow down and laugh it up, leaving spouses and kids to their own devices. And while we sunned and sat, slept late and talked, our families survived. And we thrived.

Struggles came and went. Through relationship woes, babies and new roles, bad bosses, painful losses and a church community that couldn’t be mended our connections grew stronger.

Wrinkles appeared and aging spots, too. Breasts sagged and minor ailments began to plague us. Conversations now include various symptoms and effective solutions we have found.

Gray that first appeared in strands has mostly taken over our heads. Glasses have brought the world nearer and clearer. Our get-togethers, when they happen, have an earlier curfew.

Most of our babies have graduated college and are beginning families of their own. Now we’re matriarchs but deep inside it feels we are the same. The laughter, the tears, the craziness of all our years together make my life so very rich.

True lasting friendship. An irreplaceable kind of love. Human gifts to one another, even though we’ve moved on– many to new states, new countries, building fresh communities in each. More unshared friends and adventures.but still we feel the bonds of love.

Ladies if you see this, read this and know.  I love you each with all my heart and miss you. Your presence in my life has given me so much  — laughter, support, encouragement, strength, fun, nourishment and surprise.

Thanks for being my friends for lo these many years!

What makes me one the world’s richest people

A former co-worker, Anne, told me she woke up every morning to the sound of Martha 220px-martha_and_the_vandellas_1965and the Vandellas filling her home. Her parents would stack 45’s on their stereo and crank up the volume. Instead of an alarm clock, Anne and her sister would rise and shine to the beat of Heat Wave. They dressed, ate breakfast and scooted out the door to the Motown sounds of Nowhere to Run, Jimmy Mack, Dancing in the Street or any of the other hits from this favorite girls group of the 60s.

The Thornton household was a bit different. We woke to the sound of music, but the beat was different. We had hymns. Love Lifted Me or Crown Him with Many Crowns or Like a River Glorious or any other of the number one hits of the First Presbyterian Church Hymnal.

Despite the fact that most of our music was penned more than 100 years ago, I loved it. Never tired of it. Three decades later, I’d give anything to be able to wake up to those melodies each day.

mn42002ucmf_1_0013No pre-recorded music for us. We had the real thing. My mom, Mary Scott Gash Thornton, sat at her grand piano in the front music room and played her heart out.

She didn’t look like a piano virtuoso — not the tall, thin, long-fingered personage of Arthur Rubenstein or even the sophisticated presence of Victor Borge. She certainly wasn’t a rockstar.

Rather, mom was short, plain, plump and matronly and modestly dressed. Her braided bun seldom remained in place for long and, as the day progressed, we’d see more and more wisps of hair about her face. Her cheeks stayed rosy. Her eyes sparkled bright with a deep inner joy.

Mary also loved to laugh. That’s a delicious combination – a house filled with music and laughter.

Boy could she play. When she sat at our aging grand piano, music filled the room and lifted my spirits, slowed my tears and helped me smile, caused me to break out in song and fall in love with life. Heartbreaks mended more easily when she played. Joy seeped in as her notes flowed with such expression.

Mary Scott played the piano like few others could.

She was something of a child prodigy. Smart as that whip people are often compared to, Mary could carry on a conversation with nearly anyone about anything. She skipped two grades in school. At the age of eight she performed a concert in St. Louis for the purpose of raising funds for the WWI war effort.

She went away to college in Wheaton, Illinois but quit after one year. At age 20, she married tall, handsome Samuel Watson Thornton. They sailed to Japan within the first year to serve as missionaries. She gave up her music to be his wife and, soon after, mother to 10 children.

Who knows what Mary Scott Gash could have done with her music if she hadn’t chosen to change her marital status, name and country at age 21?

Dad realized what she sacrificed and as soon as he could, though it took a few years, he bought her a piano.

She played day and night. She offered her gift to the many churches they attended throughout the years. She taught lessons to hundreds of children and accompanied musicians in myriad concerts and performances. She provided her services free of charge, introducing many to classical music for the first time.

She played with passion and her audiences loved to listen.

One of my favorite childhood memories was standing under our mulberry tree at 707 Main Street in Greenfield, Illinois one summer evening and listening to her play.  This was in the 50s when air conditioning didn’t separate neighbors like it does today.

Our front door and large front window that faced Main Street were open as were the side windows next to the alley. Neighbors to the left and right of us, as well as a few across two-lane Rte. 67 sat on their lawns or gently rocked in their peeling porch swings, taking in the sounds of music from our home.

There in the shade, leaning against the rough bark of the mulberry tree and staining my hands with its fruit, I listened to mom and felt such pride in her. My life was rich and good and full.

Things would always be right.

But they weren’t of course.

Air conditioning came and the windows closed. I grew up and challenged just about everything mom and dad believed and said.

Tensions mounted, anger erupted, I went off to college and my parents moved to Japan. Four years passed without seeing one another. I graduated and eventually grew up. A career was established and I moved as needed to advance. I went my own way and tested their way of believing and living. I sought a faith and lifestyle that was my truly mine.

By the time mom died, when I was 35,she and I had moved from being family to being good friends. We were alike in many ways, although she was so much nicer at being her than I have been at being me.

In my growing up years, mom and I stayed up late to watch Ziegfield Follies extravaganzas and black & white musicals with Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire. Mom would later play the songs on the piano and we would sing.

She encouraged me to get along with dad when I was in my bitter, he-doesn’t-understand-or-accept-me stage but she didn’t push it.She’d only remind me, “He’s a good man, Nancy.”

And that he was.

Good and caring -– for his family and others. Generous I thought to a fault. Principled and consistent. Hard working and at the same time he enjoyed a day off as well as anyone. Samuel Watson loved his children and found immense joy in being with his offspring and their offspring.

He was devoted to mom and showed it. A quiet man who may have preferred to be alone, he went along with mom and opened their home to countless guests over the years.

Rev. S. W. Thornton lived out his very deep and real faith and he felt called to introduce others to it. It seems his passion got twisted up in a legalism of sort though he would deny it. He definitely held himself to higher standards than I believe God held him to.

Watson lived more with law than grace. He held his sons and daughters to that as well. And that was the tough part. The part I fought against. The part that kept me scrapping until way too late into my adult life.

Dad died on my 45th birthday, one week shy of his 91st year.  I wept of course, but the intense grieving that I experienced when mom died was absent.

Dad was ready to go. He longed to leave his weakening body and aching bones behind. He was eager to meet his maker. Mom had died, he had few friends around. My sister Elsie and her husband Vince provided him with a warm and laughter-filled home, overflowing with children and grandchildren, plenty of conversation, music and love. Despite that, he longed to be “released from his body.”

Parting is much easier when the one you love is ready and eager to move on.

By the time he left the constraints of this world, Dad and I were on a much better footing. I had experienced his graciousness. His loving, caring side. During one visit, not long after mom died, I broke down in tears and confessed that I was involved with a married man.

The stern pastor/father who at one time would have chastised or judged me only looked at me with tears in his eyes. “You will get hurt,” he said. He then went on to reveal to me a time in his life that he was tempted to get involved with a woman other than mom. He didn’t, he assured me. But he knew the temptation. His gentle, loving response wiped the board clean of any harsh feelings I had harbored against him.

This aging, lonely, wizened man with thinning snow white hair and clear blue eyes demonstrated tremendous tenderness to me at a time I was at my lowest.

He saw me as a daughter and a single woman in search of love, not someone who needed to be judged for bad conduct. My heart began to heal at his expression of love. I felt the grudges I had held against him since childhood melt away.

So mama’s wish that I knew dad as good came true.

They both were such gifts to me. I can’t imagine nor do I desire having any other family but them. My life was blessed beyond measure by so much that they taught me and gave me.

They demonstrated love for each other. Compassion for many. They welcomed thousands of people, from all walks of life, into our home. Bankers and medical students, homeless and derelicts, foreign students and the lonely of all ages sat side by side in the extended table and shared delicious home-cooked meals. They gave generously out of what little they had. They shared freely with what they had been given. And they gave the world music.  Dad provided the piano and a lifetime of support. Mom played her heart out .

I am among the richest in the world.

 

 

my presidential decision

i am done.

i care but I cannot, will not, follow any longer the presidential election.

words spoken by one of the candidates enter my ears, register in my brain and cause despair.

presidentiali cringe. i cry out in disbelief. how can any sane person, any thinking, caring, loving person begin to think that this ignoramus is fit to run this nation?  any nation? my nation?

it’s absurd. no… worse than absurd.

it’s frightening.

yet, millions of men and women are equally convinced this same individual–for whom i feel no kindness toward, or faith in, only disgust for– can carry the country forward, through intensely rough times, violent issues, divisive actions.

almost as many people i call fellow Americans are for this individual as are, like me, against.

we are a nation truly divided.

i fear we may not stand.

i know for sure  we’re not standing so tall at the moment.

my feelings run cavernously deep. my knee-jerk reactions have intensified, becoming raw, angry, resentful and sarcastic. i feel a slow burning rage that threatens to erupt. i have begun to lose respect for those who voice support for the candidate i oppose.

my irritation grows and lashes out in malicious, sarcastic, ridiculing words. the world is full of idiots i begin to think.

what arrogance i have.

i don’t like the person i am becoming.

emotions knot my gut. my heart pounds. my throat constricts. my mind reels with negativity bordering on despair.

i feel helpless, threatened and ill at ease.

no, this is not who i wish to be. not at all.

my higher power, the sacred being, the God of whom I entrust my faith does not require my rage to keep this country of mine going. the world will spin on as it will. my ire will not correct the ugliness of the world’s people one bit. the rulers of the nations will rise and fall –just as our nation may or may not.  it is not mine to have a say in, really.  other than casting my single vote and leaving the outcome in the hands of  those confusing (to me) electoral college voters.

what is required of me–according to the talmud (old testament) — is to love justice, show mercy and walk humbly with God. these words repeatedly come to mind as if Someone, Some Presence, Some Greater Power wishes to remind me of my purpose and responsibility to those around me.

i can and must demonstrate my love of justice every day of my life. i can take a stand and speak up, raise my hand and step out on behalf of wrongs perpetuated to others because of the color of their skin, their sex, their religion, their abuse, their lot in life.

i can and do attempt to make every effort to show mercy on those around me. the poor and broken on the street as well as those who hide their hurt and shame inside lovely, elegant homes. i long to look through eyes of love and compassion at men and women with crushed spirits and little hope and offer whatever help i can. this, i desire, to extend to those with whom i both agree and disagree on topics of politics, faith and economics.

humility–now that’s a struggle.  i sometimes find it extremely hard to  consider everyone else as my equal especially if we are on opposite sides. i prefer to categorize them as worse (seldom better), lower not higher, and most certainly less worthy. out of my arrogance or insecurity, i tend to believe what i think is superior rather than just what i believe.

my truth is not another’s truth. not your truth. not your way. not your life.

and even those who insist that ultimate truth can be known by all and is exactly the same for all, these men and women, too, i must avoid feeling superior to. walking humbly means to let the beliefs of others be just that. i am not the deliverer of their truth. but boy at times i want to be.

during this election am finding it so very difficult to let go of the choices people make especially when those choices conflict with the ideas i hold dear. how difficult to know that what I feel in my core is right and good and necessary for the betterment of my world is not shared by so many others, others i have long respected and loved.

 

what’s the secret? what’s the way?  i feel as if the world–more specifically the U.S.–is caught up in one giant burlap bag. inside, millions of us are rolling around in this confined space, tumbling out of control, bumping into each other, shouting to be heard, afraid of the outcome, determined to make our beliefs known and looking for ways to ensure the end is more fair, improved and offering a better way of life for all. or for at least me.

the odd fact is that i no longer live in the U.S.  now, a resident of Ecuador, i am removed from the day-to-day in the land of my birth. i watch from a distance and listen to the words of new neighbors and friends from around the globe.

hotheadedness thrives in this tranquil land as well.  expats carry with them flaring tempers, deep-felt emotions and the drive to be right. our exchanges on expat forums stir and heat up the water. passions rise. written battles ensue.

this morning i observed in me a flash of anger bordering on hate.  i wanted to rip a contributor to shreds with words of my frustration and disgust. i didn’t.  i signed off without writing a word.

there’s no walking humbly with the words i wanted to write.  the way to show mercy is to keep quiet.at this point. the best i can do is to withdraw. seek silence. let the emotions go and trust that the events of the next 45 or so days will unfold as they should.

i am retiring from politics.  i’ve said it before on my facebook page but i went ‘back to work’ after a while and that was not good. today i believe my eyes have been opened.

i’ve made my point. i’ve shared my thoughts. i’ve ranted and raved.  i have attempted to (calmly)  convince others to change.

it’s time for my silence.

i’m out of here.

i love the United States but i have no input for the direction it takes.

a saint of a woman once said, all is well. all will be well.

please, let it be.

these times are in the hands of someone far greater than me.

 

 

 

 

Reflections on a Tuesday

An author wrote, “The real state of our spiritual life is best revealed late on some Tuesday or Thursday afternoon after a rough day.”

Whoever he or maybe she is.  I find the statement scrawled in pencil on a scrap of lined paper stuck in the spine of an old sketch book. The name of the work has faded from the torn sheet…and even from my memory.

But her words they stand strong. They resonate. They punch me soundly in the gut on this late afternoon.

It is on a Tuesday after a very rough day.

And the real state of my spiritual life has been revealed so very clearly.

With impatient words and gruff voice. Jagged nerves. Too little charis, too much malice in my thoughts, words and deed.

Not such a pleasing sight. Not right, not right.

Oh, there are reasons.  Always reasons.

A conversation that opened up old wounds and prompted the flow of tears from deep within. Jaw muscles tensed, clenched and locked to keep the feelings in and pain from spilling out. I worked to get them free–the muscles and the memories. And oh the bitter feelings flowed. Spirit-breaking remembrances that are as old as I am. They are too long with me and they have kept me from…

From what?

From experiencing a constant connection of the soul. A comfortable place of rest for my spirit.  A centeredness and settled-ness that creates a sense of being all right with the world, with myself and with God.

So what now?

I sit and silence the commotion of spinning thoughts inside.  I ease into quiet.  I let go of the wrestling with and blocking out of all that once hurt and allow it to flow into the stillness. I sense the vastness of God and the goodness as well.

Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Another day to allow a more relaxed and gentle spirit to be revealed.