Apr 15, 2014
Today is the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. In the wake of such tragedies, I often find myself processing the myriad of emotions through my writing- often in poetry, blog entries, sermons, or teachings but on the rare occasion, through short pieces of fiction. This was one such time. So, in memory of those who ran and those who didn’t get to cross the finish line themselves, I humbly present the following piece of fiction.
On some level, she knew she hurt. She couldn’t see, couldn’t hear; but something was wrong. The ground rumbled beneath her feet and she knew she had to open her eyes. When she did, she still couldn’t see until she wiped the dust and moisture away. When she saw the blood on her hands, she remembered. There had been a loud noise- like thunder- and then nothing. She needed to stand. She needed to move.
Why couldn’t she hear anything?
Slowly, wobbling like a newborn calf, she stood and took in the scene around her. People screaming, silent writhing bodies, dust, and so much blood. Dear God, it was so much. She jumped when a rough hand grabbed her arm and she turned to see a man in bright yellow spoke urgently to her but didn’t know what he was saying. She nodded and waved him on, watching as he moved to the old man lying on the ground in front of her, flailing his arms like a turtle on its back. The big man in yellow helped him up and she saw the old man’s wide, scared eyes and before she knew it she was wrapping his thin arm around her shoulder and once again shooing the man in yellow away. Maybe she couldn’t help but she could do this much. She could help this old man. It was the only thing that made sense in the madness that surrounded her.
There was no talking, she couldn’t hear anyway, but they leaned in and moved slowly toward the flashing lights further down the road. Together. As they moved her hearing began to return. A dull roar at first, then sharp screams as wounds were triaged. In the distance the streets were full of sirens singing awful melodies. They were coming. She wished they would hurry. The old man was heavy and her eyes were dripping again though she didn’t dare wipe them. If it was blood, she didn’t want to know.
One foot in front of the other. Bloody footprints were everywhere. Roaring, swirling press of mothers calling for their children. The oily smell of roasted meat. The acid taste of singed hair. Suddenly there were hands holding her up, taking the old man, and walking her across the finish line to an ambulance. A blanket was draped on her shoulders and a bottle of water, smeared with chalky dust, was given to her.
Confused, she looked up and saw a woman in a torn tee shirt holding the old man’s hand as a paramedic slipped an oxygen mask over his head.
“Thank you. You helped him cross the finish line.” She repeated with a shaky voice.
Nodding, she took another swallow of water and began to understand what had happened. Then she vomited, wiped her mouth, and shrugged off the blanket before trotting back into the chaos for another downed runner.
She crossed the finish line once. She would do it again. One foot in front of the other.
Feb 7, 2014
(Random thoughts on friendship, loyalty, and community.)
Why is introspection so important? Why are we admonished to ask God to ‘search our hearts’? It is easy to fall into the rut of boredom, especially where our faith in concerned. We begin to take our bibles, our teachers, and even the spirituality of our friends and family for granted. When this happens, it leaves us open to fear, famine (spiritually speaking) and isolation. We can fall prey to any of these and not even know it until we find ourselves in a crisis born of hubris and neglect. Sound familiar? This isn’t only about those who are struggling with addictions or recovery from emotional traumas, this idea is for every single one of us: we must learn to look in the mirror and search our hearts and motives.
It is this constant and open approach to the so-called obvious and self-evident truths we hold that leads to the greatest breakthroughs, the brightest moments. The ability to look into the depths of our souls and pull out rhetoric is what makes room for love. And I don’t mean the squirrely kind of love that hops from tree and tree as the seasons change but the oaken love that puts down deep roots and stays in spite of the lightning strikes, forest fires, and the rude young bucks eating away at your bark.
Putting down roots is scary business, if you really think about it. To believe that wherever you grow, there will be sunlight; that no storm can last a lifetime. To know that when the water seems to disappear there is no searching for it anywhere but deeper down, further into the secret places; there is no running away. But roots also mean growth and growth is good. Stretching out with all my might to provide shade and shelter and safety and beauty to all who pause and see. Whispering blessing and well wishes through fingered leaves to all who pass me by. Sprinkling acorns of wisdom for any who care to take them home and plant their own roots.
This is what challenging my own beliefs has taught me: the ability to be still and see others. The ability to stay.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Jan 9, 2014
My young rooster, Mr. Perfect, has been crowing in the basement all morning. I think he senses that the weather outside has shifted and there’s no need for him to be inside anymore. He tired of being cooped up where it’s ‘safe’. What the poor little guy doesn’t know is that the coop he wants so desperately to get back to is currently out of power and not ready for him and his ladies- they wouldn’t be able to survive the temperatures tonight without a heat lamp and something to keep their water form icing over.
All he knows is that the sun is inviting and the grass looks green and he’s been stuck in cramped quarters in the basement for 3 days. That’s ages in rooster years. So he crows. And crows. And crows some more.
I do that, too. I see the sun shining outside my circumstances and pray and pray for God to let me go outside and stay there again. But I’m coming to suspect that I don’t have all the information. I wonder if, like the coop without power, my place isn’t quite ready yet? I’m still chewing on that idea but, what I find fascinating is this: despite his incessant crowing, I’m not frustrated with Mr Perfect. In fact, he makes me smile when he crows and reminds me that the basement is not where he belongs.
He is even angrier (and louder) now that I moved the goats back outside. Poor little guy doesn’t understand all the facts. So he complains. Loudly. And I still smile because I love him. Me, the woman who is prone to angry outbursts and who’s motivating emotional factor is anger.
How much more patience and love for us does God have?
God, who says his name is Love.
Despite the cold, I feel very warm today. Very warm, indeed.
Jan 6, 2014
Tonight one of the chickens fell into the bucket of water for the goats. The rooster crowed (good rooster!). Rescued the chicken. Blow dried the chicken. Chicken liked it. She fell asleep on my lap. Weird chicken.
Jan 6, 2014
We’ve been going a little gaga for goats here on Soggy Weeds but, to tell the truth, I’m more excited about the bantam cochins (birchen!) I picked up the same day from my friend Nancy. After losing my entire flock last year it feels good to hear the occasional crow and have someone to feed scraps to. Today and tonight it is cold enough that I needed to bring the chickens in, too. After Badger tried to eat Mr. Perfect’s tail and Mr. Perfect chased her around (letting her know that didn’t work for him), they’ve decided to be friends. Trooper even found them cuddled up together while I was vacuuming upstairs.
By the way, my friend Nancy is a breeder who is gaining a reputation for high quality show birds: bantam birchen and bantam blue cochins. If you would like to be put in touch with her, contact me. Her prices are fair and she culls all rowdy or mean roosters so her stock is always gentle, well handled, and ideal for children who want to show birds.