Friday, August 25, 2006

Look at You

I saw you today as you walked towards me, I mean I really saw you. So handsome, so pleased with your new haircut, and so unaware of how you looked to me. You took my breath away. My son, no longer a baby, no longer even a little boy, but suddenly a young man.

My heart welled up within me as, in that instant, I realised the passing of time and the result of the years. And how intensely I loved you, and wished that I could freeze-frame that moment of time. You had no idea, of course, as you smiled and said, do you like my haircut mom? Like it, I said, I think it’s fantastic. You look wonderful. Thanks, you said, shy smiling, blue-eyed boy of mine.

And as I reflect on you and how the years have flown by, I have to wonder where will we go from here? Time will march on, and you will continue to grow away from me. You will find your independence, your passion, your purpose, and it will all be without me, just as it should be. But oh, how it hurts. How I wish it wasn’t the way of growing up. How I wish I could stay here with you always. Melancholy mother, I know, but the heart is not logical. It loves, it feels, it remembers and it cries.

So for a little while longer I will try to prepare you for your future, give you the tools that you will need, offer the advice that you may take, and point you in the direction that you may choose to go. I’ll make mistakes and forget some things, but my mother’s heart knows that God’s grace will cover all my inadequacies. And then it’s a matter of trust after that.

Then I will stand back and watch you go with God, my son.

Tarp People

I was out for a walk with my dog today. As usual, my mind moved from one thought to the next. Uninterrupted time is what I like most about my walks. Time to think and breathe deeply.

As I walked, I saw a common element in many yards and driveways that I passed by.

Things were wrapped up tightly in colourful tarps. Some tarps were green, others orange. Though slightly obscured by the tarps, the shape of each underlying item was visible. I saw a trailer, a boat, an R.V. and a 1967 GTO.. (nice car!) all wrapped up in plastic.

The tarps have a purpose. They protect and preserve surfaces from harmful UV rays and from rain damage. But the tarps can’t hide what is beneath them. The shape of the object always shows through.

I think we are often like that. We wrap ourselves in physical and emotional layers. Our tarps of choice have labels like The Gap or Lululemon. This layer expresses our personal style, and keeps us warm and dry. But, this layer is not who we really are.

We have also learned to wrap ourselves with emotional coverings. Pasted on smiles, “I’m doing fine, thanks.”, “Everything is under control”, or busyness layers, protect us from the “elements” of others. Sometimes these tarps are very thick and seemingly impenetrable.

The thing is, no matter what physical or emotional layers we choose to put on, the truth of who we are shines through in some form or another. Our tarps are often quite transparent. And, if the truth were known, most of us would much rather remove the tarps altogether and show who we really are.

Being real is something most of us long for. To trust one another enough to be who we really are, is our heart’s desire. And it is only through being real that we can experience true intimacy in relationships.

So, what’s the solution? How can we find safe places to be real? How can we trust others and ourselves enough to remove our tarps?

I think the ability to be real comes slowly and with age. It comes with being sure of who we are, and in putting our identity in who we were created to be. It comes with taking chances, learning lessons, and trusting again. It comes with healing. It comes with grace. But, it does indeed come.

So, if you catch a glimpse of the real, "untarped" version of someone you know, take the opportunity to affirm their courage, and shed some tarps of your own. The blessings will be mutual.

The fallen

The leaves fall under the trees in autumn. Oak leaves under oak trees, maple under maple, aspen under aspen. Branches reach over them, as if in one last attempt to capture the past.

With branches outstretched, the trees stand as silent sentinels. Wet with autumn rain, they stand alone in their solitary sadness and mourn the loss of their magnificence. Maple tree mourning maple leaf.

But oh, the brilliance of the leaves as they lie on the ground, glowing with intensity. Adorning the tired green of summer’s remaining grasses, they are as significant in this new setting as they were in the old. Leaf tips curl up to hold captured rain drops. They lie together in a riotous celebration of colour, each leaf worthy of belonging in a child’s collection of special things.

Until their colours slowly fade, and the leaves become a patchwork quilt for the roots.

If you look up into the trees now, you will see that their grieving has ended. On the once leaf-laden branches, a hint of life appears again. The buds lie dormant, waiting for the day that the upward flow of sap will swell them into significance, burst them into beauty.

Pregnant with hope, the trees await spring.

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