Tag Archives: hope after suicide

Homeless at Christmas

homeless shotThis week, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. And then this morning, the bitter wind howled outside my bedroom window as I lay there snuggled in my warm bed.

While I love the snow from the warmth of my comfortable home—and even like playing in the snow with a cup of hot chocolate afterwards—I have thought often of the man I met two weeks ago. As my husband and I finished our lunch in a lovely restaurant, I noticed this man sitting on a curb—holding a sign.

“Do you have any cash,” I asked my husband as he rummaged through his wallet. Four dollars. I would give the man four dollars.

As we exited the restaurant, I approached this gentleman and sat down next to him on the curb. Homeless was the only word I read of the many words scrawled on the tattered piece of cardboard.

“Tell me about yourself,” I said as I placed the four dollars in his hand. “Where are you from, and what brings you here to this curb?”

For the next several minutes, I listened as the man shared a piece of his life. He had come from California thirty years earlier and had worked for several years in a large mine. He then found himself in prison. He lost everything—except his name, which he recited to me in full.

“It’s going to be cold tonight. Where will you sleep?” I asked. With tears in his eyes, he shrugged and motioned to the street.

Homeless.

Some people advise to never give money to beggars.

“Don’t give money.”

“They’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol.”

“Give them a hand-up not a hand-out.”

“They need to get off their butts and get a job.”

Some people say to give food instead. We offered him our untouched sandwich but he already had one and couldn’t carry more in his small back-pack. Money fit in his pocket.

I couldn’t deny the instantaneous love I felt for this man I had just met.

Would the Savior, born in a lowly stable with a manger for his bed, turn this man away? Or would he look. And would he see.

How many times have I averted my eyes from the man or woman standing on the corner as I exited the grocery store parking lot—not wanting to see? A coin from my hand to theirs would have allowed me to connect—to see them. And to feel a measure of the love our Savior has for them—for each and every one of us.

For we are all homeless—sent to earth from our heavenly home. And whether we watch the snow from the comfort of our warm houses, or whether we sit in the snow on the curb, we all desire to be seen. To be loved.

As I said goodbye to my new friend, Patrick, I gave him a heartfelt hug. I noticed the tears again in his eyes as he said, “God bless you.” In my heart, I prayed that God would bless him.

My hope for all of us this Christmas season is that we can be God’s hands—that we can reach out to one another and connect. That we can see each other.

That we can love.

 

(Photo credit: http://everyone-is-someone.blogspot.com/)

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Melancholy Memories

christmas5A week ago, my husband and I welcomed our children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews to our home to celebrate Thanksgiving. My heart was full as, in turn, we shared what we were grateful for. Family, food, mountains, and home were some of the blessings we listed. And LOVE – an expansion of heart that allows us to connect at a deep emotional level that transcends any thing that we acquire.

As I hugged my children and grandchildren and siblings goodbye, my heart was filled to capacity with that love. And I felt happy.

The next day, after all the family had left, my husband and I began the task of taking down Thanksgiving decorations and replacing them with our beloved Christmas decorations, collected over the many years that we have been married, thirty-plus years in all. Thirty-plus years that we have laughed and cried and yelled and fought and played and prayed together – and LOVED.

Through every up and down, good day and bad, we LOVED.

And on this day of transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, as we lined up each of the thirty-plus dated ornaments and placed them in succession on the tree, I felt sad. In the midst of a heart full of love, I felt sad. Not an overwhelming sorrow or sinking depression or scary feeling of helplessness – just sad.

Sad that children are grown, that Santa needn’t stop at our place this year. Sad that we will spend our first Christmas Eve in our entire married life with just the two of us.

I thought for a minute about this sadness and realized I was no longer afraid of sad. I had spent much of my life trying to cover up sadness, run from sadness, and fight sadness. And on this quiet night as my husband and I embraced – I was no longer afraid.

Instead, my heart was again filled to capacity – with love.

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Mom’s Visit

hobblecreek15Yesterday was Mom’s birthday, and she showered me with gifts when I visited her heaven on earth.

I drove down the little dirt lane toward the tiny house where children’s memories dart to life like the dragonflies that guard the crystal pond.

The river flows faintly now, weary from the long, hot summer; yet her banks remember the lively spring when she carried winter’s swift melting snow, depositing pebbles and sand – a diary of her once exuberant life.

I was met by a family of turkeys – eight or ten or twelve – who gathered together and slowly moved to the far side of the fence. They glanced cautiously towards me as they continued their elegant march through the golden field next door.hobblecreek1

There is safety in numbers.

I inspected the home – Mom’s little cabin – guarded by a squirrel who sat on hind legs with muscles taut and dared me to enter. And enter I did, just for a moment, then heeded Mom’s call to the other side. Across the river to the edge of the pond, heaven awaited. Still and reverent – and alive.

I sat quietly, without breath, and watched as the dragonflies came up to inspect this earthly creature – me – who had entered their celestial space. Their wings caught the sun like an angel’s would. Indeed, they were angels carrying God’s message to my heart. hobblecreek7 hobblecreek16 hobblecreek17

“Mom, won’t you come to me?” I cried silently as tears escaped my eyes.

I looked into the heavenly sphere which reflected earth’s brilliance – a mirror of all that is good. Mountains and sky and soft downy clouds reached across the pond to touch my feet and enter my heart.

hobblecreek10Across the pond, a family of six ducks slipped quietly into the glassy water. Gracefully they swam next to the water’s edge at the far end of heaven and crossed to the other side. Then one by one, never breaking the eternal line, they climbed up the bank in the same order they had entered into the crystal pool, and made their way out of sight to other adventures. I was reminded of my own family, bound together with love and light that reaches past this earthly realm into the next .

Mesmerized by the dancing dragonflies, I barely heard the rustle behind me. One step and then another tentatively approached the open clearing behind me.

I turned my head, wondering who had invaded my being. And my gaze met Mom’s. A beautiful doe looked straight into my heart. Waiting for my unspoken invitation, she took another step towards me. One step…two…three…and four. Ever closer she came, never once turning away her wide brown eyes which peered into my soul. In silence we sat. Love encircled us both, creating one.

hobblecreek11

As slowly as the doe had come to visit me, she left. Carefully and deliberately, looking back one last time to say goodbye.

Then silence.

“Mom, won’t you come to me?” I had cried.

And she did.

In Mom’s heaven.

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Let there be LIGHT

alaska mountain 3This week, I returned from a long-awaited vacation to Alaska. I marveled at the bigger than life mountains with the gigantic trees, two foot tall dandelions, and skunk cabbage with four foot long leaves – all soaking up the twenty hours a day of sunshine.

LIGHT.

ALL DAY LONG.

And all night too.

dandelion 4One night at 10:30 p.m., people were still fishing for salmon at 10:30 p.m. in the river just outside our hotel room window. Still not quite sunset. Smiles and laughter and busyness celebrated LIGHT – and life.

alaska flowersWhile there, we heard stories of the long, harsh night of winter – three hours of dusk – and then blackness. Headlamps illuminate just the few feet in front of you.

Despite the darkness, person after person described leaving everything behind to move there from across the country – across the world – to become one with the night and the promise of day.

Life is hard in darkness, but magnificent are the rewards of enduring the cold, bitter night – bigger than life beauty. Warmth. Sunshine.

DAY.

And after the blackness,

Let there be…

LIGHT.

alaska sunset 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April – 40 Years

mountain retreat“I think I might be depressed,” I told my husband nearly half-way through April. The flowers were out, the sun was shining, and a thick film seemed to cover my brain – a heaviness in my heart that had persisted since the end of March.

In an effort to remove the darkness, I escaped to the mountains, I exercised more, I wrote in my journal, I soaked up the sunshine, and I meditated each morning all without relief. So I napped. And sometimes I cried. And I acknowledged the heaviness – the heaviness that came with April – 40 years since Mom took her life.

And I waited.

For light.

And the light returned. Surrounded by beautiful women in a little cabin in the mountains I shared my heart. And they shared theirs. And together we listened in silence. Together we loved.

Words from my heart fell to the page in tribute to Mom’s heaven on earth where the sweet peppermint and savory watercress return from death as they soak up the living waters, and where yellow dandelions defy the freshly cut lawn.

Mom’s haven.

I sit by the river and remember. I grow from a young girl to a mother myself. In my mind I walk with mother, while my children and grandchildren splash in the water. The river has lost its natural bend which once sloped gently to the water’s edge, now lined with rocks and pebbles carried from higher up by life’s storms. Flooding tears.

The earth collects my tears and holds them sacred. Tears from which new life blossoms.

And the watercress and peppermint poke their heads once again through the stones.

***

In recounting Mom’s Heaven, I give tribute to all women – angels who lift and love in Mom’s absence. Angels of light.

And I say goodbye to April for another year.

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