Monday, September 10, 2012

Blown Back





The weather is changing. The nights are cool, and in the morning instead of walking outside and feeling like you are entering a sauna, there is a crisp wake up call on the breeze. I did get a brief chance to kayak Saturday, and the wind had a different feel to it. It was strong, making waves that splashed over my bow, and if I stopped paddling, it would push my boat backwards. This was not the still, somnolent, scorching laziness of a summer sky. This was winter knock knock knocking on Heaven's door. It is still warm during the day, but the changing of the guard is in the offing. I can feel it. I could not stop paddling or I would have been blown all the way back to where the river began. I could at times make no headway, but I learned a little trick. There were often lulls in the ferocious wind, and I would paddle manically at those times and surge ahead till the next battering of wind assaulted me.

As I sat with Mom K yesterday on the front porch of the Home, other residents lined up looking at the sky, she said, "Look at that blue."
We all looked at the sky.
"You know what we call that blue?"I asked, "That is Carolina Blue. Remember how in Syracuse it was always rainy and gray or snowing? This is why I came to Carolina, for that Carolina blue sky." This comment made the usually silent woman sitting beside Mom K to suddenly speak out, "I come from Pennsylvania." That led to a discussion of birthplaces, and Mom K describing Germany, and then we were talking about the alps, and soon we were comparing skiing stories. The silent woman told us how she lived near a coal mountain in Pennsylvania and used to ski down the coal truck trails in the winter. I kept us all leapfrogging from one subject to the next so that Mom K never had a chance to let her distorted memory accuse me of something only ghosts had done. I could tell she wanted to. She didn't smile when she saw me, and I knew that she was wondering what this incorrigible person was doing here, the one whom she was sure had stolen away her husband, or at best, had married her son secretly. I didn't give her a chance for her dementia to speak. When I helped her in the bathroom, I launched into a discussion of how on earth one gets rid of hard water stains. (bleach, by the way, was her answer.) She became so enthralled with the subject of bleach that she seemed to let the poison of her crazed thoughts seep away, and even kissed me goodbye.

I had a sore throat when I left. I had talked almost nonstop. I knew if I stopped speaking, the wretched and wrongful accusations would begin to flow from her and I would be blown back to where the river of guilt began. I didn't need the despair. Sometimes we really are working as hard as we can, and it feels like we are not making any headway. We are paddling against a hurricane. At times, the best we can do is forge full speed ahead in the lulls between trials, and then just hold steady when our strength to move forward is depleted. The good news is, you never know what hopeful influences you might be scattering on the wind to fellow travelers.

The silent lady smiled and waved goodbye when I wheeled Mom K inside.
"I enjoyed remembering home," she said. I could see that on the reminiscent peaceful gaze she then turned upward watching the clouds skitter by on the Carolina Blue sky.

1 Thessalonians 3:2-10 (NIV)
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, [3] so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. [4] In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. [5] For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. [6] But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. [7] Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. [8] For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. [9] How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? [10] Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.


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