small dramas

5A0879C1-3E8F-41EF-9F7D-802D5EEF113E

A week of drama… mockingbirds standing up to a hawk, defending their babies nearby

5CD734DD-A172-4503-A6D6-EA1CF04DE9A0

Spider crabs

FE74D1D1-2638-49C9-9098-0869FD5B9930

under the watchful eyes of rescue dogs Lily and Lulu on the riverbank

F70C7D06-9C25-47BF-BE07-E95650539CBA

and a fledgling cardinal in the road, watchful aunts, uncles, parents, cousins frantic chipping overhead

DA856985-9427-466E-9014-D9A540A2A29E

so much drama.

C7733C95-9FB6-4569-A19D-DF011157E9E3
6BC37C42-3492-4172-8433-3F9BE8FF37E9

life on the river

I have never built a raft and explored a river. It seemed though wherever I lived (six states), I found myself near large bodies of water. With the exception of three and a half years in Tennessee. I can count the time I lived in New Mexico because the town where I lived, Farmington, is at the confluence of 3 rivers, The Animas, La Plata and San Juan.

IMG_1141.JPG

The other 4 states, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Florida are all coastal and each is  very different.

Here I have the bonus of a large river, the Cape Fear. Being a tidal river some days when rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I go there for our walk we can’t walk alongside the water but this morning the tide was out. Its mouth is near enough to the ocean that it is mainly salt water, not brackish and Lily forgets.

IMG_1146.JPG

Which is why I carry drinking water in the car for her. So normally we’ll see a few beached jellyfish, clam shells. As we walked up the bank there were hundreds of tiny scurrying objects that I figured were these centipede-like insects that hang around washed up driftwood. We got closer and they all darted into little holes in the bank sand which those bug things don’t do. They were tiny fiddler crabs.

IMG_1148.JPG

This is one hiding in front of a lump of sand. He does not have the fiddle claw, a claw as big as the crab.

IMG_1149.JPGLulu inspecting more closely

The larger claws look harmless but they actually have a powerful pinch so I avoided those with them. The others have tiny pincers which will cling on you but are not painful.

IMG_1147.JPGLily

I wonder what the little crab thought. Cornered by an unimaginably overwhelming creature that didn’t look anything like a crab. Anything that looks unfamiliar is perceived to be the enemy. Fight or flight. The little crabs all fled for their holes but those who got cornered  away from safety raised their little claws. Harmless maybe, but it was all they had. To another little crab it is a formidable weapon.

I am not often up against an enemy. I had the great good fortune to be born in the United States where life has been for the most part peaceful. Despite our differences I also had the good fortune to have parents who taught me to be responsible, never a victim. I was taught to put up my claw and fight when I needed to. Usually with words, calmly but with the strength of truth behind me. When I am wrong I was taught to admit my error and apologize if it was necessary and bear no grudge. My mother taught me to move forward without holding grudges. My dad taught me to be the bigger person in the event of an unfair difference and make amends.

IMG_1143.JPG

As I have lived more on my own, and raising a son I have better understood Holden Caulfield’s angst. Catcher in the Rye was not on the banned books list when I was in 7th grade and I understood why some books are worth reading if for nothing else than to emulate and be empathic in what pre-teens go through. Some don’t I imagine but most do.

And God. No matter what or who God listens. He sees. He knows and I can tell Him. I learned the value of His friendship in Jesus Christ.

Never alone.

download.jpg

 

courage

We lived in an older neighborhood when my brother and I were growing up. One summer day I found myself left to my own devices. I was in the backyard and our neighbors’ grandsons were visiting. They called me over to the chain-link fence between our yards.

IMG_1108.JPG

Smirking at each other one of the boys challenged me to a fight. I was only a girl, he said. I didn’t stand a chance. Surprised but up for a challenge, just not a fight I noted I was standing next to a small tree, maybe 6″ around, so I said he’d better not mess with me, I could pull that tree right out of the ground!

When they finished laughing bully boy put on his game face again and balled up his fists. Grabbing the tree I yanked with all I had. I landed hard several feet away, tree in my hands.

IMG_1107.JPG

Little tough guys stood gaping at me a few seconds. They practically knocked each other down running the other direction.

I’m still looking at this tree that, for its size was amazingly light. I walked over to where it had come out of the ground and saw it was crawling with ants. Completely rotted.

IMG_1104.JPG

Laughing, I looked up to yell, “hey, it’s a dead tree!” knowing the joke was on me.

They were gone. My bravado worked and no fists were flung.

IMG_1101.JPG

Just as well. They never bothered me again.

 

th.jpg

 

not searching for Grey Man

When my brother and I were little our family vacationed at a small, out of the way South Carolina beach. Each summer for a week we enjoyed a happy, stressless week with usually the same other families. Three incredible meals, huge breakfasts of eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, dinner at midday and supper in evening. The most restful sleep we could have.

At the end of our week a few of the adults would prepare a bonfire around which all the children would sit, wide-eyed listening to the famous story of the Grey Man. As happens with story telling there are many backgrounds to this legend. The one shared with us was of a young woman waiting impatiently for her fiancé who was away at war.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, her fiancé had been killed. Wandering the beaches one early foggy morning she saw in the distance what appeared to be a young man, tattered clothing, slowly lifting his arm to wave, and suddenly vanished into the mist.

Soon after she learned of her beloved’s death, just at the time a hurricane was anticipated. The families left the island and upon returning found all their homes had been demolished, all save the family of the young woman who had seen the apparition. Curtains still hung in the open windows, laundry still on the line.

Just at that moment in the telling of the story, some one of the group clad in a sheet would leap out from the sand dunes, all the children knowing this would happen still shrieked and were chased all over the beach, laughing.

The legend is that anyone who sees the ghost before an impending storm will return to find their property untouched. As I recall this memory one of the news stations is broadcasting the horrific events that happened on this day, seventeen years ago. The attacks on America.

So no, though I  admire the order of the natural world I cling daily to only God. No matter what happens, He is truly the only One who can restore order to chaos.

This day when I remember so much horror that happened for no reason other than abject hatred and utter evil I am thankful to the God of all that is. He gives us strength to rebuild, help others, to restore what was lost. We can’t bring back the innocent lives that many still mourn but we can do all within our power to see this does not happen again. It won’t eliminate evil but we know that no matter what, evil does not, in the end, win.

proxy.duckduckgo.jpg9/11 Memorial, World Trade Center, New York City

See you on the other side.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”   __ James 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blessings

So a little over a week ago the weather people told us the U.S. jet stream dipped well into the southeast. This was a good thing, (for here) right? Everything above it was cooler, below it is unimaginably hot.

No one has any idea how long this will be.

Ok, so yes, it’s good (for here) but with this comes rain. Meteorologists can explain why. All I know is we have basically had solid rain for going on 8 days now. With thunder mostly.

The thing about that is rescue dog Lulu won’t eat when it thunders. She turns around in circles by the back porch door, crying until I let her out. But she won’t go outside when it is raining. Well, that’s smart. And I do have these herbal chews thatIMG_0170.JPG are supposed to relax Lulu. They have lavender, chamomile and colostrum. They only help when she collapses in exhaustion from stressing over the rain storms and sleeps for about 2 hours.

2105551020-bfcf7f5f049178968f2aab6a0d35bdf1.jpgBut then rain is a blessing. Obviously without it nothing grows. No gardens, agriculture. No irrigation, no water.  Just because something appears inconvenient or is612294559-aa1bfc74e56dcb5f6d475ea40290989a.jpg not to my liking does not mean it is wrong. I learned long ago my perspective is a tiny fragment of a much bigger picture and the amount of control I have over this picture is not as significant as I sometimes may think. Like the butterfly effect. Generally something that ripples out far beyond anything I will ever see and will have an effect that is far removed from the initial thought or motion.

And many blessings are in the eye of the beholder. In food, in relationships, in acts of nature, in politics. I have learned to, if not be thankful personally then to thank God for whatever purpose He intends for whatever or whomever is the object of the moment. Whether I like it or not.

And I can be like Lily, reluctant to step out into the life that is happening because it is not to my expectation or liking, yet as the popular phrase goes, “it is what it is,” and my participation or lack of will not necessarily change things. It might, though. But avoiding it orIMG_0169.JPG hiding from it will accomplish nothing because Life goes on whether or not I choose to participate.

So, blessings.  Like beauty. Definitely in the eye of the beholder. Moreso if the beholder has wisdom.1599110096-Bible-Passages-Scriptures-Quotes-and-Verses-about-Blessings-pictures-and-images-Blessing-Verse.jpg

 

 

Offerings

This is awkward, because I am not often asked to help with things. Maybe people can just tell I am a klutz by nature, or shy, or I am just that good at not being visible. Whatever, somehow I was noticed and asked to help at my church altar guild.

There is an abbey near Charleston that offers silent prayer retreats where I have gone a few times to regroup my life. I love going there, it is in a beautiful setting on the Cooper River, it is actually the former plantation where Clare Boothe Luce lived as a married woman. Her library is still there. So each morning there is a mass and different retreatants are asked to bring the gifts. This one time I was given the carafe of wine. Terrified, I gingerly carried this beautiful symbol, slowly and thankfully without incident.

So this  should encourage me, and when the chair of the guild told me to decant the pitchers of water and wine I did so, she was at the moment out of the building discussing I supposed something with the priest, I chose a bottle she had been given by a member of the congregation, not the usual label.

Upon her return she exclaimed and laughed uncomfortably, explaining she had not intended it to be used this Sunday, how so many would complain, and had I tasted it? No, I hadn’t, so she poured off some in an empty plastic water bottle, drank a little and made a face like someone who ate a lemon. She shoved the bottle at me, “Here, you try this,” so I did.

It burned like fire.

Now understand no one ever gets more than a taste of wine at the communion rail, but with this wine that’s more than enough. Holy Spirit’s fire is rivaled by this wine. I understood why Native Americans called whiskey fire water. So I offered to pour it back. She totally ignored me! Chattering away, clearly to herself about looking forward to the expressions of everyone as they drank this wine, what the priest would think… and she told me to put the water and wine decanters by the altar.

She showed me how to dress the altar table for the service, how to prepare the chalices, how to fill the candles with oil and the sanctuary lamp and check the wicks. We put the host wafers in the paten, the priest’s wafer in the larger chalice one, placed everything on the altar.

And then we were finished. She collected her things, directed me to the fellowship hall to help her fill the coffee maker tanks with water for after service. Looking at me pointedly as we prepared to leave she mentioned she also had another lady in mind to help with the altar guild.

I think I might have been fired on my first day!

images.jpg

 

Challenges

We all encounter them. From the most cowardly, to whom a challenge might be a hangnail or split-ends, to the most robust who have battled dreaded diseases, the worst persecution, or returning from war to find not only are you profoundly different but as a result so are who, what and where you left. Some face whatever their challenge head-on. Fearless. Some stop and, if able, consider options. Some run the other way only to find what they hoped was evasion turns into another challenge or, worse, a reversal of life. No, it is always best when presented with one to face it. Then, as you are, as it is. It likely will not diminish and by facing it your perspective keeps it real. It is manageable or insurmountable but there it is. Some pray. Some feel the prayer is all they need with no action other than the praying. That is seldom true. By praying we are asking a God Who loves us, Who knows us better than anyone else or even than we ever will to help us. And by taking our part in the facing of whatever it is He diminishes our pain, makes our efforts seem effortless. And then it is over. We have come to the other side of it, however and whatever it was. And we give thanks. We look around and feel somehow stronger, better, clearer. We have achieved conquest. We move on. Forward. Upward. Lifeward. “…having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13)