Fall Glory

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Where is the glory in this autumn season when leaves fall and the earth prepares for the deadness of winter? The light dance of golden leaves torn from their branches by icy winds seems silent and cold. They fall to the creek and float out with the tides to join the mammoth river without choice or say in the direction they must take. It seems a sad, lonely fate has befallen them all. It is possible to ignore or deny the obvious signs that the leaves are telling us: Change is on the way! All I have to do is close my eyes or look the other way because it hurts too much to watch so many little deaths. It seems the natural world is falling apart in autumn and in some places, at least, it happens in a blaze of color. Whether I choose to notice or not the seasons are going to change and life will be different once again. Instead of denying the inevitable I might as well embrace and appreciate the beauty in each season of life’s journey. The old passes away and the hope of new life is born. This happens to all things and to all life in God’s time not mine. There IS glory in the fall!

Turkey Creek Retreat

As much as I would like to go away for a retreat on my three day weekend, I am appreciating instead the beauty in my own backyard on Turkey Creek. With a little reframing of my attitude that loves going off for a retreat or workshop to feel closer to God, I know that He is just as present here as He is in Asheville, NC., or at Springbank in Kingstree, SC., two of my favorite places. It’s just not the right time financially to make such a journey and it is up to me to know I need the time for solitude. The important thing is to take the time, whether it is here or there, because God is certainly everywhere! Just as “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” so shall I treasure my Turkey Creek Retreat.

Anyway, I couldn’t take my buddy and best dog, Roofus, with me if I were going somewhere on a retreat. He has become a faithful companion…even though this morning I had to forgive him for chewing up the foam meat wrapper from the pork chops we had for dinner last night. The other dog, Abbie, may have played a part in the mischief but he looked the most guilty so I think he did it. The temptation was just too great; last night I saw the foam tray near the trash can but not IN it and I was too sleepy to bother with it. They’re still my friends and it was easier to forgive after I’d had my morning cup of coffee and was more awake to clean up the mess. It makes me wonder about the messes in me that God continually cleans up with His mercy, love, and grace. How patient and forgiving a Father He is, always loving me in spite of my sins, weaknesses, and mistakes.

So, onward I shall go, taking this question with me to my Turkey Creek Retreat: “How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?” (Author Unknown) and this verse: “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9 from A Daybook of Grace. “Lord, may our eyes be opened to see the gifts You have given us!” (pg.330…11-11-11!)

A Day in the Park

I miss these babies and the frequent trips to playgrounds or the duck pond to feed the ducks.  I am grateful that they have grown up quite nicely and all are married and living their own lives.  Still it is hard to accept the quieter house and the need to let go of a lot of stuff that has piled up over the years with three kids.  Photos like these will always remain and remind me of happy days in the park or at home.

Now a day in the park seems like a walk in the park.  You may not be able to tell from the picture but I vaguely recall Corey and Sophia were fighting over who was going to hold the new puppy, Sassy, for the family Christmas photo.  I choose to dwell on the joy and love, not the inevitable conflict that comes with young children.   I sometimes eat my lunch at the duck pond, to escape the conflicts of the adult work world and breathe in the fresh air and the beauty of nature.   In honor of our many adventures in the parks, this week I will bring some old bread with me to feed the ducks and the geese.  Even the ducks and geese have to deal with conflicts and though they will never learn to share, as I hope my kids have by now, I can still support God’s creatures and throw extra pieces of bread to the ones left out of the feeding frenzy.  I am a champion of the underducks of the world and believe sometimes we all need a little help fighting for our morsels of bread and our place in the world.

From Cairo with Love

Yesterday one of my tasks of the day was to pick up a package for my husband from FedEx.  Sounds simple enough and since it was a Monday, and also Halloween Day, I was glad not to have an overabundance of items on my To Do List.  I thought it a little strange that it just couldn’t be delivered and put in the screen door on the front porch, the way so many other packages arrive.  I didn’t see what was so different about this one and when I asked Pedro about it he dismissed it as typical of FedEx these days.  Then he gave me his license to show when I signed for the package.  This wasn’t a problem since he is having his truck repainted and he is getting rides to and from work, yet it added to the oddities beginning to pile up in my mind.

Thankfully, FedEx wasn’t busy at lunchtime so I stopped in on my way to pick up some food.  The nice lady behind the desk did ask to see Pedro’s license and my own as well before I could sign for the small package she held before me.  I got in the car and headed to Wendy’s drive-thru, the package beside me on the seat.  I got a little more curious at the first traffic light I stopped at and looked at the return address:  Cairo, Egypt.  Pedro did tell me on my birthday a few weeks ago that there was something else coming for me but it was coming from Egypt.  I didn’t take him seriously because we are always kidding around and he had done more than enough for me on my birthday.

By now I was VERY curious!  I texted him about the return address and he texted me back to OPEN IT!  Opening a package while driving is not smart but curiosity won out over common sense and I carefully removed the small square wooden box with inlaid designs from its cardboard wrapper that was covered with pictures of Egypt and a label that said “From Cairo with Love.”  At the next traffic light I came to I quickly opened the little wood box and inside was a bright yellow drawstring bag.  I untied the little bag before the light turned green and inside was a shiny, gold Sphinx charm.

At first it didn’t occur to me what the meaning of this gift was and I called Pedro to thank him as I pulled out of Wendy’s with my chicken sandwich.  He said, “This is really from your Dad and I am just the vehicle.”  Still, it didn’t ring a bell and I asked him what he meant.  He said, “Remember your dream?”  A blurry memory popped in my mind and I vaguely recalled a dream about my Dad, who passed away almost three years ago, and a Sphinx.  Tears welled in my eyes from some deep place inside and though I couldn’t remember the details of the dream, the feeling was suddenly there.  I thanked him again and hung up crying.

When I got home later that evening I searched my journal pages looking for this dream.  It was in May of this year and I read it again thinking how I’d nearly forgotten about it, but Pedro remembered me telling him about it months ago!  Yes, that’s the very sweetness in him that I do love!  In the dream my father is ill and bedridden in the house I grew up in.  I am a little girl again and I lay down on the bed beside him.  He tells me that he has something to give me and that I should always keep it with me, that it will protect me after he’s gone.  He asks me to hand him some boxes from the nightstand drawer and opens one of them.  Inside is a small, shiny gold Sphinx and he puts it in my hand, closing my fingers around it so I won’t lose it.   I remember being very sad in the dream and waking up right after he handed me the little charm.

At the time I did research somewhat the Egyptian Sphinx, enough to know that it is a symbol of protection, a male human head on the body of a lion, that guards the spirits of the dead in the Giza pyramids of Cairo, Egypt.  I didn’t dwell on it too much except to take great comfort in my Dad coming to me in the dream and reassuring me that he is still my protector from the afterlife.  The loss of my father as my guardian had a profound effect on me in the few years since his death and was a source of an underlying depression that I  functioned  in spite of  in my daily life.  For my husband to remember this dream better than I, enough to search the internet for a site to buy it from, and to give it to me for my birthday is a gift that I will always remember and treasure.  That the Sphinx arrived From Cairo with Love on Halloween Day just seemed all the more symbolic of divine mysteries unfolding before me as a reminder of my father’s love and his guidance from an eternal realm reassuring me that I am protected from evil.  Writing this today on All Saints Day, November 1st, is a fitting tribute to my Dad, who I believe is in heaven watching over me and I hope he can hear me say through the ethers of time “Thank you, Dad!  I love you!”