Monthly Archives: March 2015

Falls. Winters. Springs.

Ah, Spring!

Winter snow melts into greening grass unfolding in my front yard. Tulips and day lilies emerge amid leafy fall debris residue; the forsythia and pussy willows adorn my front planter. First markers of welcome seasonal change abound.

hope_of_spring_16x20_bbvo2011_600Hope springs!

Amid this emerging glory I’m celebrating another unlikely welcome marker, this one in my journey of life. Today marks the anniversary of the last of my seven recent falls. 

One year ago today I sported a black eye marking a painful encounter with the bedside table. In trying to get up I fell back partly landing on the bed and then dove left to the floor hitting my head just over my left eye on the sharp edge of the side table — an impressive cut above my left brow and goose egg and prize-winning black eye my colorful trophies.  I looked like I won the fight.  10-Free-Smiley-Face-With-Black-Eye

I look back today remembering each fall and the markers they left: two of them earned me broken ribs, one netted a bruised knee, one a fat lip, and one a fractured vertebra—L7 to be exact. That one bothers me still.

Life’s full of surprises. Some welcome. Some not.

So I’m sure this March 27 does not mark the end of my trials. Barring a miracle (which I still pray for), my path won’t be a bed of roses from now on just because of one encouraging milestone.

We all rejoice with a resolved plot or with the last pieces of the jigsaw in place—no unanswered questions or missing parts.

Unfortunately life isn’t always that neatly packaged, is it?

I still have trouble walking and limited use of my left hand. My new friends still include two pills every four hours 24/7/365, a cane, walker, and, on occasion, a wheelchair.

puzzle_pieces_istock_000005653019smallPain and perplexities, broken pieces, unanswered questions, the nagging doubts, and the messy realities of Parkinson’s disease collide with my vision of life as it should be in the Pleasantville world and I am still stunned.

At first I tried denial. It didn’t do much for my body or soul. So I began to share more openly with my worlds, not just because misery loves company, though it surely does—but also to acknowledge and point to the encouragement and redemption of suffering as I begin to see the resurrection beyond the cross in Christ’s life and, hopefully, in my own as well.

Easter season reminds us vividly that Christ “bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.“ So as I write this today in the midst of this ‘messy reality’ of a mysterious puzzle, I am thankful and hopeful. I’m thankful for strong support from family and friends. I’m also hopeful that as I experience the unlikely gifts of Christ’s joy and peace this suffering will yield its own unique redemption stories.

Someday. Yesterday. Today.

I’ll close with a favorite poem by Luci Shaw and a response reflection by me that show clearly the past, present, and future tangle in my March 27 mind.

Joy-Comes-in-the-MorningSomeday

Someday I will walk around the sun

And turn and touch Orion’s Belt

With more than hands.

Then I will survey Andromeda

Understanding all I see.

For the hand that spanned in light years

Has rested torn and bloody upon me.

Today 

 Today I will walk tied to earth;

Bound to frailty with cords of clay.

Ephemeral mist in the Siberian morning.

So easy to slip on the ice.

So prone to lose my balance.

Uncertainty beneath my feet.

Yet You say You will

“…lovingly guard

my footsteps

and give me songs

in the night.”

In this mist of ice and snow,

I will walk with You.

Bound to earth and to heaven.

I may fall. I will fall.

But I will not be “hurled headlong”.

I will feel Your hand lifting me up and

I will know that even though

“…weeping may endure for a night,

Shouts of Joy will come in the morning”.


Someday “ by Luci Shaw in Shaw, Luci. Listen to the Green. Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1971. Print.

“Today” by Barbara LaTondresse. Unpublished poem. ©1996 Barbara A. LaTondresse – All rights reserved.

Psalms 30:5; Psalms 37:23-24; Isaiah 53:4-6. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: Revised Standard Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1952. Print.

“Redeemed: How I Love to Proclaim It” – lyrics by Fanny Crosby, 1882. Public Domain hymn.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.bridgetbossartvanotterloo.com/po_hope_of_spring_16x20_bbvo2011.html

http://carrelease.info/view/puzzle-pieces

http://free.clipartof.com/details/10-Free-Smiley-Face-With-Black-Eye

https://www.idisciple.org/post/joy-comes-in-the-morning-1

Tangled Vines

vines at cotc enhansed Tangled vines. Random curves and irregular connections intersect as they wind around each other. The maze of twists where even the spaces meld and define seems to tell a significant story borne of weighty decisions and complex directions. No straight lines, dotted I’s, or crossed T’s’. Maybe it’s your story? Maybe mine?

I love that lent altarthis thought-provoking uniquely beautiful composition adorns the altar for the Lenten season at our little Anglican church. It unmistakably invites the introspection the Lenten season demands.

One of our deacons put it this way: The Lenten season invites us through the means of spiritual disciplines to examine our attachments.  The intention of discipline is growth in maturity and freedom, but the experience of disciple often brings us to a place of recognizing where we are and what we are depending on for our life and our lifting.  We might notice the direction we are taking.  It might be time for a new twist, a turning.

A painful decision perhaps?  

It reminded me of a dark time when we lived in Russia as missionaries. One particularly bleak afternoon while feeling sorry for myself I struggled with the price we paid to move to Siberia.

After all, I told God, we left home, family, friends, occupations, possessions, known language, familiar ways. I missed my grocery store. The list went on and on.

eeyoreupIn the midst of my Eeyore –like reverie, one biblical narrative in particular came to mind as I contemplated the cost of obeying God in the weighty decisions of life. It is the story of Abraham and sacrifice of his only son, Isaac.

God called Abraham to do an impossibly hard and seemingly frightful thing: sacrifice his only son, the son of promise. And yet as the story goes he obeyed and went even to the point of no return.

abrahamsacrificeHebrews 11:17-19 says: By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead.“

He believed Jehovah-Jireh, the God who could provide, would provide everything he needed. Including a miracle.

That realization guided his decision and that afternoon in Russia it guided mine as it cut thru my self-absorption and struck a vital nerve in my spiritual life.

Costly? Yes. Would God provide if I trusted him? Yes.

“Peter began to say to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.'”  Mark 10:28-30.

The twist. The turn. The peace.

That afternoon I wrote The Executioner’s Song. My vine began that turning-point day to reflect the knarled beauty of an unmistakable, unexpected curve toward Russia. Mosaic of Abraham's Sacrifice

 

The Executioner’s Sonby Barbara LaTondresse

The lonely mountain death walk–

Mist rises with the early morning sun as the chill damp reaches my soul.

Every part of me is cold.  

I’ve been here before, Lord.medium_twisted_vine

I recognize the path.

It’s worn and obvious, not overgrown; winding precariously around the crags and skirting precipices; narrow, but sure–not random.  

This had been planned; prepared.

Executioners always know this way.  

Yet you say Your name is Jehovah-Jireh.  

What will the Lord provide?   A sharp knife? New rope to bind my Isaac?

Skillful, deft hands, quickly moving so Isaac is surprised and tethered before he can get away?  

I avoid his eyes.

I know they will speak of betrayal, shock, fear— I, too, feel the sudden unmistakable jolt of revulsion.

Together we both know I hold the knife and we both know it will come down, so I avoid his eyes.

He lies still now, expecting the blow— hoping the knife is sharp and the aim is dead accurate.   religious - Abrahams bundle-knife

It is.

In one wave of glorious surrender, the knife falls.

He is dead.

I am, too.

Neither of us will ever be the same.

We both sing the Executioner’s song and sense the uncanny peace.  

On the mountain Jehovah-Jireh has His way;

so we carry the bloody knife and remember.

1 March 1995 ©1995 Barbara A. LaTondresse – All rights reserved.


A Lesson from the Vines. Witham, Cheryl. “Crossings.” Church of the Cross. N.p., 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.

Hebrews 11:17-19 & Mark 10:28-30. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. N.p.: Good News, 2001. N. pag. Print.

The Executioner’s Song by Barbara A. LaTondresse  –  1 March 1995  ©. 1995. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.ofthecross.org/crossings-blog/

Altar at Lent taken by Janet Evans McCuistion. March 2015. Church of the Cross. Hopkins, Minnesota.

https://wordincarnate.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/abrahams-knife/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10789305/Death-sentence-in-Lambeths-glass.html

http://wondersofdisney.yolasite.com/resources/winniethepooh/eeyore/eeyoreup/gif

http://spmercyministry.com/2013/07/16/the-difficulty-of-trusting-in-god/