This morning, following the children’s time in the church service, the pastor gave out Tootsie Roll Pops to all the kids. While he was passing them out he said; “The only rule about these is you cannot run while they are in your mouth!” Made sense. Anyone with a chunk of candy attached to a paper stick could choke themselves if they tripped and fell lodging the sucker in their throat. The kids did what I would have done; pulled off the wrapping and put the candy in their mouths. They walked back to their seats careful to heed the pastor’s words of warning.
I reflected on the warning of the pastor, running with a tasty treat but also a choking hazard. There are times when we have a good word or tasty gossip on the tip of our tongue. We want to run and tell someone the good news or the tantalizing tidbit. Instead of first being mindful and still, being thoughtful and thankful for the blessing, or hearing a salacious piece of fact or fiction from someone we rush to the next waiting ear to spill all the details. We forget or don’t care that careless words hurt people.
Words are life-giving and soul-crushing. We must be careful how we use them.
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Outside our kitchen window, beside the front door is a bird’s nest under a wooden box. Inside this nest are several baby birds that apparently need a lot of attention. Because of where they are situated we can hear them every time they begin to cry for their parents and believe me when I write; “We can hear them!” They also cry each time we go out the front door because of the vibration. I want to pick the box up and look at them. I want to tell them to; “Pipe down! and give mom and dad a break!” However, I dare not risk disturbing the nest, the birds or frighten off the parents during this delicate time of growth.
As I type this post I am listening to the baby birds and reflecting on the needs of those around us. When we hear the needy cry we want to run to their rescue, free them from anything that might be holding them back and give them whatever they need whenever they need it. This sounds like what any person with empathy and a heart would do but can inhibit their growth. We should be careful not to let our emotions get ahead of us. The best case scenario is working with them, helping them so that, eventually, they can help themselves. If we come running each and every time they cry, giving them what they want, never teaching them how to make it without assistance, they will never learn to do and be.
One day soon the mom and dad will stop coming to the nest and the baby birds will have to make it on their own. When that day comes mom and dad’s skills at being parents for their needy ones will be revealed.
My friend, role-model, and father passed away early this morning a little after midnight. His fight was over and he was ready. He sat up one last time as if to say, “It’s my time. I’m coming home.”
The house seemed empty today when we returned from all the breathless running around one does after a loved one takes their final breath. Even though he hasn’t been home in a few weeks it seemed he had just left the house. Keys, hats, computers, movies, his chair all still in their proper place. It seems this is still his house, his home. But…it’s not. Sure, there are memories and experiences. A lifetime of highs and lows to relive for the rest of our time on this shadow side of eternity but he has moved and left a forwarding address.
I sit in the quietude with his presence still lingering. I think about all of the rough days he’s had over the last 8 months, the noises of the machines which were keeping him alive. After we received the phone call we drove over to the hospice house to say our; “Goodbyes.” The room was so still. No beeping, whirring, pumping, dripping, nurses checking in. It was motionless and the silence was deafening. My mother began to fill the atmosphere with soft cries, and soft words to her best friend and lover of the last 40 years. My brother and I standing in the background, witnesses to a heart affair which is rare in this world. Finally, after a few more kisses from her on his hands and cheek, we left all thankful we’d never see that room again and that he had moved on to his permanent address.
And now, we are left to carry on. To occupy a house which isn’t home without him. To learn to adjust to a new normal we didn’t choose. To loosen our grip on this world, this place, because we know home is waiting for us on the other side.