Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Five years ago yesterday a young boy who was a resident at Eagle Village was killed in a car accident on a transport to visit his family for the long Thanksgiving weekend. The weather today has been beautiful but then it was sleeting, cold, miserable. A newer staff was responsible for the transport and while driving a semi-truck slid across the center line and hit the vehicle carrying the resident and staff. The staff was in the hospital recovering for a long period of time and if I correctly recall he at first had no idea what had happened and it had to be explained to him over time. (This may not be completely accurate but the tragedy is correct as written)

The boy's brother was also a resident at Eagle Village. I don't recall if they were residents at the same time. The boy who died in the accident was getting prepped to be released home and this extended visit was part of that.

A blue spruce was planted in memory of this young boy who had done so well in the program but never had the opportunity to prove himself outside. The tree has done well and every year the second boy and family members visit. They don't come into the house, they don't stop to say hello. They come to visit the tree and remember. A car pulls up. Some of us recognize the family and we watch them get out of the car, walk to the tree, and sprinkle tobacco at it's base in memory of the lost brother/son/grandchild.

Today was the day they visited. Two boys had stayed back at the house from chapel with me. We were unloading supplies from the van when the family turned into the drive. The two boys with me did not know who these people were and watched them, confused a little by what they saw.

I spoke with the family briefly before they left. It was difficult for me. I cannot say that a I didn't cry a little, or that I was able to quickly and easily rattle off words of condolence. Pretty much anything I would have said would have been empty. When I approached them they were breaking up a cigarette between the three who got out of the vehicle. The woman who got out said they had just come to sprinkle tobacco around the tree. All I could say was "I'm sorry. It's very hard." She met my eyes and very earnestly answered, "Yes, it is." I let them be so they could continue their short ritual in private. When they were walking back to the car to leave I quietly spoke apologizing and letting them know I didn't want to keep them long. I asked the brother how he was doing and he said, "Some good, some bad." And then, though NOTHING could be said about their situation I said through tears, and after taking a what seemed like days to get my composure to speak, that I was so grateful to them for being able to come and wanted to assure them that what they were doing also gave the two boys with me proof that there were people who still care about others. I told the brother to be good and they thanked me, the brother gave me his phone number and asked if I would pass it on to the chaplain.

And they got in their car and drove away.

We'll probably see them again next year just before Thanksgiving. It seems at odds to have the holiday of Thanksgiving be the annual reminder of the loss of a loved one. Especially one so young. But they come every year, I'm sure grateful for the time they had.

We can never love enough, long enough.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's been a groggy, do nothing day. The dogs were walked and about midway blue jays off to the south began screeching and screeching. A few moments after that three deer came charging behind us out of the woods and across the field. My brother and I had to wonder what kind of predator had caused the commotion. I have to admit there was a sense of fear and dread initially because I just couldn't imagine the jays this time of year making a fuss like that over a hunter. My periferral vision kicked in and I made certain to listen closely for any disturbances in the woods. Round the bend and heading back from the field down the sheltered two-track (it had begun to rain so we saught shelter, even leary of what had possibly caused the commotion earlier, probably not too bright.) We discovered it was not a human hunter as no vehicles had passed through and we saw no one on this path back to the house. There were no unusual paw prints to be discovered on the journey back either. Perhaps it was nothing, maybe the deer were rutting to close to where the gathering of j-birds was and they found this upsetting.

No evidence of any large preditor which in a way makes me relieved but it also reminds me that I live in the wild and have to be on alert. Still enjoy my time outside but be aware. In that respect it's like life in general. Make certain to enjoy it, make the most of it and appreciate what I have. Instead of accepting the distractions as the norm I want to be more vigilant and call them what they are instead of giving in.

A poinant Jesus moment this week was at work. One young man was very angry, threw towels down the hall during quiet time, swearing, yelling, refused to pick up the mess after quietly being asked to do so. My thought was this was not an argument that was worth pushing when I could take care of it myself. Another young man was sitting quietly in the hall reading his Bible under lamplight. He kept his frustration over the commotion causing resident quiet and to himself. When he saw me shrug my shoulders, sigh, and start to pick up and refold the towels this young man got up from his devotion time walked over and helped without being asked and without saying a word. He probably suspected that I was trying very hard to not personalize the outburst but I don't know if he knew just how much it affected me. In those seconds this young man had allowed himself to be the physical embodiment of Christ whether he realized it or not. I'm thankful for having had this experience this week. I'm thankful for a job that seems to take it's toll in so many ways and still be able to see the moments when our Creator is watching us and caring for us. Even when we've done absolutely nothing do deserve it.

Amidst chaos there are blessings everywhere and Good will always be present in some form. Let us not trivialize that blessing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Work is stressful. The economy is stressful. Family is stressful. Having animals is stressful. Politics are stressful. War is stressful. Just about everything is stressful. Even taking a walk can feel stressful and forced. But that's what I had to do tonight and I'm so grateful that I did.

While visiting my mom I was getting antsy knowing I've got to work tomorrow and it's a 15 hour day. Work has occupied 90% of my weekend time for months. It's not healthy and it's making me sick. Tonight I was feeling boxed in at my mom's apartment so I went for a walk. By myself, down the streets of Big Rapids. What I discovered was that I needed that alone time. That time away from my brother, my mom, anyone with me, the dogs...anyone that I would feel responsible for while they were with me. I needed time to just take care of myself. What a difference it makes. I haven't done that in months. I always at least have the dogs with me and have to watch them. This was different. I was able to smile at people and say hello as we passed. The sky was clear, sun going down, becoming dusk, warm pleasant evening. Noticed the smells, the sounds, buildings and people I wouldn't have taken time to notice before. My physical self feels much less tight, less pained, tired in a good way, not fatigued and restless.

It's never good to forget to take care of yourself, or if you remember to, don't deny it for too long. It's crucial.

thank You for quiet and alone, solitude.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some days I am not certain which realm I am living in. There is the realm of the things going on around me: the boys at work acting out, harming each other and themselves, cursing parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and now any adult even when the adult is trying to help them. People walk past others judging them on looks alone, fat, skinny, dirty, clean, smelly, fresh, handsome, beautiful, ugly, ordinary, boring, exciting, bland, dangerous. Brandishments on placed on people we don't even know. Distractions from the things we should be doing in the form of movies, television, glamor magazines, pornography, dirty jokes, mocking others, laughing at them, talk radio, left, right. Thinking so much of ourselves, so little of ourselves, losing touch with family, community, our neighbors, our friends.

Some days the above is just too much for me to remain in. And that's just a tiny sampling of the things that distract. When it's all overwhelming then I find myself living in another realm where distractions do not exist. I like myself, my surroundings, my circumstances, I realize that I am able to offer something good to someone, I seek out those whom I think will appreciate me and what I feel I can offer. Is this escapism? Coping? Denial?

Both realms are real and many others in between. It's the meshing of these realms that is important. Not ignoring one for the other. I cannot stay in one over another. Even when circumstances are heavy, very heavy, they must be appreciated, faced, not ignored or avoided.

It's a day to remember those we have lost, to hope for those we want, no, NEED to return. A day to think about people everywhere fighting battles we cannot understand, battles they have not chosen but have to be part of. And we pray. For we are all soldiers, we are all brothers and sisters in arms... Somehow our battle has become something we fight against each other and we are so, so far from who and what we are meant to be.

Healers, encouragers, helpers, lovers, welcomers, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, families, neighbors, worshippers, forgivers...

Hear us in our pain, our struggle, let us love again, forgive us for we sin against You again, and again, and again, and again. Welcome us, hold us, free us...all of us...be with us, in us and use us for Your Glory.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tonight I'm fatigued, somewhat melancholy, feel like I have little to offer and have left work early (with permission) to rest and see if I can somehow jump start my spirit. Though there is reason to suspect that some of this may actually be physical I can't help but feel that much of how I feel right now is brought on my my failure to hold myself accountable in personal matters. And at the moment I really don't want to think about it much though I know it's constantly eating away at me. This is conviction by the Spirit and lets me know that repentance in necessary. Grace awaits and I do not come to Salvation of my own accord or works. That comes from Christ alone.

The boys were calm and quiet when I left though it took some time for them to get to that point. One boy is insistent on demeaning staff in very cruel ways, using extremely foul language, mocking them, threatening to beat them down, treating staff as if they know nothing. It's very difficult to deal with him and even more difficult to not personalize much of what he does and says. After a while it does start to impact the object (staff) and it wears people down. I think it's a control thing for him. He's always so excited when he sees anger from the staff and voices that he's proud he made someone angry. I don't understand this mentality but I know that he's hurt, afraid, angry, does not like himself. It's a shame really because he used to be very likable before he resorted to his non-stop assaults on others. I worry about his family and what he's going to do to them when he's finally placed back home. I can see the family falling apart if he does not change this. He uses this to control everything and he's his own worst enemy.

No one can be made to accept forgiveness, to accept love. These are offered freely and forcing them upon someone would make them something different than what they are. A violence of sort, much like what this young man inflicts on others.

I'm grateful that, even though undeserving, I know a Creator that Loves me and does not grow weary but fills with Joy every time I repent, break away a part of the shell that I cling to as identity. There is a great fear in letting go of these pieces and transforming more (and slowly) into who I am meant to be. Thank you Father and I do love you, even when I cause you sorrow. I am sorry.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The busy weekend is over, I watch 5 kittens scarf food from a metal bowl on the porch then huddle back around their mother. There are three other cats that hang out regularly that I'm not able to get close to though they seem to be less skittish as they watch how well the mother and kittens are treated. It's all a guise to trick them into becoming friendly so they can be moved to another farm, one that is actually up and running. I think they would be happier there than at my house.

My brother is taking his dog, Gunner, to the vet today. Gunner's getting up there in dog years and is displaying some signs of pain or weakness in his hips. It could be cold wet weather related, age, unnoticed injury while walking the other day, any combination of those plus so many other things. I just want him to feel well and know that he's cared for.

Tired, much inner turmoil. The tiredness is my own fault, staying up late the other night, doing things I shouldn't, feeling stomach pains and nausea while doing them (Spirit intervention?) and the lethargy and un-preparedness the following day a constant reminder. Was not able to sleep until I felt that I had done something, anything to correct my actions. Repent, delete, erase, move on.

Though not worthy, grateful for forgiveness and mercy time and time and time again.