What do you do when the mockingbird can’t sing?

It has been weeks since we made it back home after fleeing Hurricane Irma, freed the house of storm shutters and let the light in. Those who suffered many days in high heat and humidity have power and very welcome air conditioning. Gas stations have fuel and the lines are gone. Stores are stocked again. Businesses have cleared their property and sculptured green lawns invite customers. (Never mind the storm debris piled high on our curbs, until December the county website says.) We were spared the terrible destruction that Hurricane Irma could have delivered.
Thousands in Houston still struggle with effects of the flooding. Irma pounded many Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Maria gave no mercy. There, conditions worsen in many areas as limited supplies of fuel, food, water and medicines run low.

Then there are the earthquakes in Mexico, which left village after village with no homes, schools, churches or means to earn a living.

And massive wildfires in the Northwest.

We know how lucky we are. How blessed.

We are grateful. And yet, every time I chat with someone, after we’ve talked about hours on I-75, the tree that missed our lanai, or what we went through to find gas, there comes a sigh. “I’m just not bouncing back,” they say, looking away, perhaps feeling guilty that they are having trouble sleeping, or waking tired in the morning.

It’s as if we don’t have a right to still struggle to get through the day, or not be able to think clearly. We didn’t get it really hard, did we?

After I left a meeting last week a mockingbird flew toward me and landed on a signpost. I waited for my favorite bird song, free and unrehearsed. He dipped his tail, cocked his head, opened and closed his mouth, but no music flowed. For five minutes he went through all the motions, but his song was gone.
The next day I watched a wasp, unable to fly, walk across the sidewalk.

From tiny to human-sized, many in Florida are still a little dazed.

Dragging.

In spite of all we are grateful for, not singing.

Being the way I am, I can’t help pondering all this.

Hurricanes and other disasters cause sudden disruptions. Dislocate the daily-ness. Even those like me who don’t like a set schedule find we actually need a certain degree of routine in order to function.

Those hours of thinking 155 mph winds were on the way to blow away our house, then packing, wondering what to carry, what I could live without, then driving away with a deep ache at all the memories, especially of my mother, I might never see again, have all taken their toll.

We left late enough, and went east, so didn’t suffer the crawling parking lot on the interstate, but it was dark, and we were driving into the storm — the monster storm that seemed to reach out and grab everything but the Panhandle of Florida. We lost power that night at my son’s house and watched the constant tornado warnings, until we lost cell coverage, then internet. The wind howled longer than predicted. Transformers popped. And when it calmed, the once pristine neighborhood was covered in oak branches. Irma had come east, sparing our home, but causing more damage across the state. Then the sun came out. The storm was gone. Relieved, one by one, we made our way home.

So now, after the storm, when everything is “back to normal” what do we do with all that buried angst?

Isn’t that is what is tiring us out so much?

And is it okay to say it’s still hard, when we were so lucky?

I guess that’s the human dance, isn’t it? To be able to stare reality in the face, no matter how little we like it, but still turn toward the sun.

This past week I tried, taking more time with my Bible, dinner with a larger family group – laughing and enjoying each precious one at the table – gathering with dear ladies to worship and study the Bible, and leading music for worship on Saturday evening, singing my heart out, letting it all go. That helped, some.

Spent, I finally stopped on Sunday. I admitted it.

I’m tired.

It has taken me a week to write this. And that’s okay.

Much as we might like to watch superheroes, we aren’t designed to be one.

I think it’s okay to cut ourselves a little slack after a storm of any kind disrupts our lives.

Rest a little more.

Gather with friends and loved ones as often as possible.

Spend time outside, making friends with the wind again.

And, always, acknowledge our need.

Go to the One who is always ready to hold us.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28 NASB

This song I remember singing at my grandmother’s church keeps coming to mind. No more strong one here.

So how about you? Have you gotten to that point in your own storms? Where do you go, and what do you do?

She Gave Up the Ghost

MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
After almost a week in hospice, with loved ones by her side, my mother gave up the ghost. Long after I said goodbye, “give up the ghost” lingered in my mind. For over a decade I had walked with Mom through the tunnels of advancing dementia, then stood watch in the dim light of her hospice room. Over and over, she seemed ready to go. Her breath would stop, then twenty seconds later, she’d suck in air and battle on with furrowed brow. Giving up the ghost took on a different meaning.

‘Giving up the ghost’ comes from the King James Version of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s also used commonly, as an old car gives up the ghost.

For Mom, I think more of ghosts that haunt. Ghosts that lurk around corners and pounce at unexpected times. Ghosts of Christmas Past. Ghosts of if-only. Ghosts of what-I-should-have-done.

I believe the “ghost” that threatened her peace and made her reluctant to run to the Light was guilt over the death of a tiny soul.

When I was ten, my youngest brother drowned. As families will after a tragedy, we all privately blamed ourselves. But Mom was the mother, and she hadn’t cared for her three-year-old. Though she maintained she was fine, since Mac was safely in heaven with Jesus, that event shook her foundations, and brought her back to her Lord.

However, as executive function diminished in her brain toward the end of her life, nightmares and delusions often crowded out her joy. In the final days, clearly she could not let go. When my sister and I, separately, talked to Mom of going to heaven, that her mother and sisters were waiting for her, she beamed. But when we mentioned our little brother, she drew back, almost in fear, and the darkness covered her again. When we realized what was happening, we assured her that she was forgiven, by Jesus, and by Mac.

Still, I believe she was afraid to face that child.

After several more days of prayers, Psalm reading and songs, Mom found peace. The shadows gone, she is restored and whole and radiant. With her dear son, and the Son who makes true restoration possible.

Why, you ask, am I sharing this with you?

Because many of us have buried pain. Remorse still raw, or guilt not absolved. Perhaps “The Secret” that lingers in the shadows, waiting to accuse, again.

I’m encouraged by the lesson from my mother’s bedside to continue to let go. To journey forward on The Healing Path, and offer you, my friend, a hand.

When it’s my time, I want to run to Jesus with open arms, not edging back into the darkness.

Come join the journey to Peace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt 11: 28-30
(If you do not see the video below, click on the title at the top to view pictures and videos in the webpage.)

Mac
Mac
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mom birthday 2008
Mom birthday 2008

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Mom
Mom

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Janie and Mommom
Janie and Mommom

Mommom love
Mommom love