The quiet chair

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There is an empty chair over there, quiet and statuesque.  I don’t know of any home that doesn’t have one.  One that someone gone used to fill.  There are several at our house and miss those people every day.  As the holidays are upon us we tend to miss them even more.

I was looking through pictures last night when I realized just how much I miss people that aren’t here.  When my mother-in-law passed, I locked myself in the house to keep her memory close.  When my mother passed, my body replied violently and having so much to do and take care of, I counted all the firsts that she missed.  When dad passed I counted the firsts, seconds and thirds.  But having this past year to be still and heal I have come to realize just how much they live on everyday in my heart.

I meet them in my dreams, I smell them in passing, and often times I can feel them around.  They don’t want us to be depressed by the memories of them during this time of year.  They want to spend time with us and enjoy being a part of our lives still.  So as you look across at that vacant chair this holiday, know that you are wrapped in their love, you are held close in their presents.

Enjoy the memories of all the laughter, of all the times they blessed your life but keep on living and making memories with those that are still here and love you.

 

 

Backed in the corner

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She stood quietly in the corner of the little chapel, almost invisible.  The tiny little chapel lit by a wall of stained glass windows facing the patio in the middle of the hospital.  The alter was covered with little red votive sized candle holders that flickered in the shadows.  The air was stiffling with the smell of burning wax and the lingering of a multitudes of stale fragrances.  She stood backed into the corner, letting the two women find some place to sit.  She really didn’t understand why she was there.

Her mother had insisted that she come along but she felt as welcome as a demon in church.  She had spent her high school days in many different churches, some she felt warmly welcome in and some she felt like an outsider.  She had been to a church that had talked in tongues before but her experience on this day will stay with her for a lifetime.

Both women sitting in the pews had their husbands in ICU.  Haley’s husband had been brought in by her and her kids, he had had a heart attack.  The only thing the medical staff would say was this man’s heart is nothing but Jello.  He will never live through the night.  Two weeks later, the man was still hanging on.  She had three kids and was trying her best to keep things as normal as she could for them.  Haley was a strong woman on the outside but it was what was on the inside that kept her going.  Her faith.  Jeannie’s husband had been brought to the hospital in the ambulance.  He had been traveling for work in the Four Corners Region and contracted the Hantavirus.  One of the first people to have contracted it in the U.S.  and the hospital did not seem to know how to doctor it or for the time being how to even determine what it was.  He too was given the same nightly diagnosis: imminent death.  The two women became friends through the trials and heartache of the situation they were in.

Standing quietly in the corner, feeling alone and like she was intruding on something very personal, she watched and listened.  As Haley began to speak, asking Jeannie questions about her love and faith of God, the smell of roses filled little chapel.  A fresh breeze, the stiffling air squashed, seemed to engulf her.  She listened closely to the questions and answers from the two women, often answering in silence for herself.  Haley asked Jeannie to bow her head so that the two women could pray.  Her heart filled with love for these two women, she allowed it to fill her completely.  It seemed to grow beyond the confines of her heart, of her mind, and even beyond her own skin.  She allowed it to fill the room like a growing bubble that was sure to pop.  She allowed the love bubble to engulf herself and the two women.  It was as if the bubble grew big enough for the two women, sitting just inside the door, protection from any interruptions.  The bubble seemed to push against the door to keep it closed.  Haley seemed to have done the same thing to engulf the three of the women in the room.  The two bubbles seemed to have different colors and were only visible to the young woman standing stoic in the corner.  The orange bubble emitting from the young woman and a beautiful purple being spread from the blonde on the second pew.

Was she really seeing this energy flowing from them?  Was she too hot, too tired, too overwhelmed by the air in the room?  She seemed glued to the corner walls of the room.  She couldn’t tell at the moment.  She was over powered by raw emotions.  The feeling of love nearly brought her to her knees but she couldn’t move.  As Haley began to pray, it was as if her voice was changed, the pitch, the volume, the words were not her own.  When Jeannie spoke in prayer, her words where those of her own, soft, sincere and pleading.  She stood without making a sound, she could not have uttered a word if she had wanted to.  It was as if she was in the prayer, living the words, the energy, the love.  It was as if she could not just hear the words but see and physically feel them as well.  The distant sound of Haley’s strange voice was tangible.

The prayers ended as well did the energy in the room.  Her heart hurt as she stood there in the corner on wobbly knees.  The smell had returned to that of the candles burning on the alter, the heat returned over-bearing.  As Jeannie opened the door to the little hospital chapel, a wisp of cool air brushed across her face.  She realized how sweaty and hot she had become.  Jeannie left the chapel with her hopes and faith restored.  Haley walked over to the young girl and took her hand, leading her to the back pew to sit down.

She sat in silence, staring into the older woman’s green eyes.  Searching for some sort of reason some form of confirmation as to what had just happened.  Haley reached into her bag and pulled from it an old tattered Bible, turning to the book of Corinthians.  Reading to the younger woman verse after verse, explaining part of what had just happened.  She had known long before this instance that there was way more to faith than any church had ever come close to teaching.

I could hear you talking she said to Haley.  I could almost see your prayers.  Haley smiled and handed her the Bible, read child.  There is more to it than meets the eye, or the heart.  Let that love and faith that you have lead you in this life.  Never be afraid of it, it is the love of the universe and you are supposed to share it with others.  You do not own the gift of speaking, but the pure love in you allows you the greatest gift of them all… to hear.

They left the chapel hand in hand, back into their own lives, own struggles and battles.  Over the next month, through faith and prayer, through horrendous struggles both men lived night after night and were released from the hospital.  Only the power of faith, the strength of believers and most importantly through sheer love did this miracle come to pass.

hands……

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Since as far back as I can remember, I have had a fascination with watching peoples hands.  For the most part all hands are the same, fingers, knuckles, palms, skin, and muscles.  They generally all work the same way grasping and holding the things we care about in life.  But if you watch closely, our personalities come out in our hands.  I love to watch as people work, play, and love with their hands.  You can see peoples personality, their soul, and their passions by watching their hands at work.

Have you ever watched an old farmer, with his hands wrapped around the handle of a hoe?  His hands muscled from hard work, tanned by the sun, the skin rough from weather and gloves?  The precision of each movement, taking out only the weeds and grass, making a clean bed for the precious plants he cultivates for his family.  Watching his hands as they move, the ripple of the muscles and the passion for the earth but as he walks over to his wife and takes his glove off, he gently caresses the face of his wife.  To watch the love from those weathered hand transfer and she closes her eyes and a beautiful smile crosses her face.

Following the woman’s hand movement as she slides it around his waist, to hold him.  Her fingers spread wide to touch as much of his back as possible.  She retreats into the house, putting on her apron.  Her hands working to tie the bow behind her.  She sets about with her own chores.  Watching her hands, strong hands that are thin, each tendon showing as she prepares dinner.  Each blood vessel standing up strong as she kneads the dough for bread.  Her fingernails long but not too long and manicured neatly, her wedding ring just loose enough to spin around her aging hand.  She stops to wipe the tears from a crying child with such gentle motions, taking the small child in her arms and caressing them softly and she soothes the pain away.

In my mind, I can still see the hands of my parents and grandparents.  Each line, finger, texture, and movement.  I remember the feel of holding their hand, watching the movements of their day to day lives.  A looked down at my own hands, weathered and scarred from life.  I look at the wrinkles beginning to form from age, how the skin fits, how it feels how my fingers move as I write or type.  I see the muscles moving in their own unique way and I wonder….will someone remember my hands when I am gone?