Essence After Death

 

I remember the physical presence of my friend from childhood, who played on my basketball team, and was a romantic at heart. She passed away too young, like the most beautiful souls seem to do.

My last job was at a school for children with special needs. A little girl named Abby stood close to me not long after I started to work there. She looked up at me with blue eyes, clear as the sky is when the sun comes up after a snow, and asked, “is it okay if I give you a hug?”

There were endearing distances between each of her teeth and it nudged a memory in me. When I said yes, a smile lit up her face. Her mouth becaume unbelievably wide–gorgeous. It was when she wrapped thin arms around my waist that I realized what the memory was. The friend from childhood, who passed away over five years ago.

Her essence was there in my slender new student.

Memories from the earliest part of my life elude me completely. I have theories as to why: trauma, anxiety, hyperactivity. I only remember photos of my friend when she was the age of my student, one specific photo comes to mind of her dressed in a Wal-Mart princess costume with a silver tiara.

God, I miss her.

Abby, my former student, has labels placed on her: cognitively disabled, socially impaired, disgraphic, among clinical diagnoses that I didn’t have time to read up on. Inside of the school, her reality is good. Hovering teachers police social interactions, diffuse potential bullying.

I wonder if my friend’s reality would have been good. She was cognitively and socially impaired, I know that much. That was part of why I loved her, and chose to be as loyal a friend as I could be (loyalty definitely isn’t one of my core values. I work at it.). I have always felt freer, more at peace and enlightened in the company of “disabled” (but not really disabled) people, particularly children. Were she still alive I would be able to analyze her, apply words in my head that make sense of her. Yet she is dead, which  makes no sense at all.

Having loved disabled students (really loved them, mind you. Not just-for-a-paycheck love) doesn’t mean I am, was or ever will be exempt from ableism, just as having loved a man does not exempt me from sexism, nor does having loved people of color exempt me from racism (Ableism: . Urban Dictionary ). In fact, I identified ableism within myself more for the time I spent at that school. Hopefully, I will continue to identify this and move away from it.

I wish my friend was still here, not just so I could feel her arms wrap around me in a gangly hug like that from my student. I wish she was here so I could feel her essence, that bubbly uniqueness that challenged me to release my hold on society’s hierarchical view of humanity. Everyone had a fair chance on the playing field of her mind, which is rare to find! Most of all I wish I had extra opportunities to speak up on her behalf. I wish I had 1,000 chances more to defend her, claim her, stand by her side.

I try my best to do this every day. It’s selfish, really. It makes me feel alive to speak for those who can’t engage with the world on its’ rat-race level. Advocating for those marginalized by physical and/or cognitive differences brings a level of liveliness to my life. Society’s structures, biases, prejudices make me want to float away. Those who see things clearly (and more creatively!), ground me.

Abby’s hug, her itch for attention, physical stimuli, or whatever prompted her to request a hug, was a gift from the one already gone. I squeezed her meaningfully in return. For who she is, and who my friend was, I embraced her, and kissed the top of her head, crowned with golden hair.

 

 

What the Tornado Took

He bolstered me for a trial of which there was no foreshadowing.
God was so near. In the blue lights, His Spirit took hold and spoke through me, when my shock was great.
Those are moments that I ask for the strength and memory to hold in my head and heart as pillars of faith in a living God.
Selfishness, frustration, and lack of faith bares its ugly teeth,
All while I seek to enter the pain again and again, to be rid of it.
It hurts now to laugh as family and friends seek to cheer me up;
Their support is invaluable.
May Jesus’ people be mobilized to support those with no (loving or living) family.
I had forgotten how physical the pain of a broken heart is.
There is a a heavy rawness in my chest
That wells to the forefront of my emotions when I see the wreckage, see the swathe of destruction.
My mind takes me to the place where the curtain was torn in two;
How much worse was Christ’s pain?
I could have washed my friend’s feet many times over with the tears that I have shed for her.
Let me live in such a way as to be washing the feet of those I love
(everyone)
Daily by my actions and sincerity of heart.

He takes our transgressions away, as far as the East is to the West.
He loves us to the sky and back.
(Psalm 103)

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning
more than the watchmen for the morning.~Psalm 130:3-6

Day 5

Leave it to me to discover that I need to spend more money while on a fast from, yep, you got it: spending money. It’s not that I’m stingy, or I never give anyone anything. No, I do OK on that I suppose. The problem is that I get so caught up in saving and calculating and earning that I forget to just…chill. And be a fun human being.

Lydia: I want food! (This born out of a twenty minute fantasy about Domino’s gluten free pizza)
Co-worker: Let’s get some when we get off.
Lydia: Dude I can’t afford to eat the food here!
Co-worker: I’ll buy. Really, it’s no big deal.

Yeah that happened tonight. I never would have made the offer that my co-worker made here. Had anyone come to me hungry or looking sick, sure, I’d buy them a meal (AND a soda!!) without hesitation. But short of a good Samaritan situation, nobody is getting overpriced food out of me.
There. My focus is on prices and quantity instead of time. How dare I forget the importance of simply breaking bread with another person. I am so busy thinking about helping people I don’t yet know that I neglect to take a minute and get to know someone whom God has placed in my life. If expensive food is what it takes to tell someone they are important then I should be all in for the pricey eats.

Lessons abound and it’s only day 5. How exciting! Brainstorming to find creative ways to meet and love on people without spending money…or being a complete mooch.

Camp Summer

The sweat
The thin layer of dirt
Gym shorts
T-shirts
Songs
Clapping.
Kids, kneeling, growing, learning.
Camp.
Not a cross-cultural mission trip,
(More like a visit to the neighbour’s)
But just as challenging.
Probably more effective.
Changing lives because that’s the business here.
Making life possible for the youthful oppressed.
Letting the Truth breathe.
Dunking kids & young adults
Into clear Holy Spirit water,
Comin’ to the fountain of life,
Believing thanks to the work God has begun in their hearts.
Feeding
Playing
Encouraging
Teaching
Encouraging,
Teaching.
For days this is our mission.
Ministry nothing-this is life,
Day in, day out.
Fighting to minimize thoughts of self,
To display the Gospel by love.
Kids. Young people. Next. Tomorrow. The lost. The unreached.
Now reached.
Darkness now penetrated by merciful light
Here
They can understand it.
This is the opportunity & God’s workers are making it happen
Year after year.
Livin’ right;
Great sacrifice for great purpose.