Friday, September 11, 2015

Misty Mornings on the Meadow

Late summer mornings on the meadow have a beauty all their own. As I listen to somewhat melancholy music on a rainy Friday morning, I treasure these moments before fall arrives. The kitties are all fast asleep; Tommy and Bitty curled up on the sofa nearby; Hobo in his little house on the deck. 

This is the 14th anniversary of 9/11. Such a time to remember. Obviously contributing to my sad and remembering mood. I miss Derrick intensely on this day, remembering his reaction as a third grader. I always wonder if that somehow contributed to his decision to serve as a Marine. To make a difference in the way he thinks best. 

I was working at the college then. Somewhat early in my career there. Sitting in the office as per normal that morning. Lori, my sister called. She was living in Arizona at the time. She told me what had happened, watching the morning news as her family readied for school and work. At nearly the same time, a colleague’s husband called with the same news. The word spread quickly through the office. Some of the team decided to go to one of the classrooms they had heard were watching as the horror unfolded, as part of an unexpected change in the syllabus. 

Thinking it was my obligation to let our supervisor know where the team was, I knocked on his door and went in. He was working on a project with the door closed that morning and I knew he was busy. We had the understanding I would always inform him as I deemed necessary if something came up. Who would ever think it would be something like that? I remember telling him about it, and the look on his face. A peace maker, I wasn’t certain what his reaction would be. Shock, but also an almost disbelief in what I said. Almost a dismissal, something I never saw in him before, or since. 

There were plans for me to leave around lunch that day. I had to take Derrick to a doctor appointment. I was thankful to be able to pick him up, knowing that I would be the one to tell him about the news. In times like that, we all long to be with the ones we love most. He was full of questions. We had left his dad earlier that year and were living on our own in our little town. He was concerned, even at that young age, about where another likely target for terrorists would be. He thought about our county court house, the schools. As any mother would, I assured him I thought we were safe, tucked away in our rural Indiana community. All the while thinking about the mothers unable to assure their children the same. 

The days that week unfolded in a surreal fashion. I couldn’t bear to watch the television as most people did. Still, the visuals are etched into my memory. There was a community gathering in the high school, lead by church leaders in the community. The place was packed. As I went into the building, a formation of F-16s from the local Air National Guard flew overhead, breaking the silence of the sky without any flights allowed that week. There were several gatherings for discussions of the college community, held in various locations on campus. I went to one, lead by some of the professors and administrators, my supervisor being one. A student that worked for me in the office and babysat for Derrick nearly fainted. I helped her out into the cool air outside the meeting place. We held each other, crying. 

Each year on the anniversary, when Derrick was still at home with me, we would light candles in the evening and say a prayer of rememberance. Always, the realization of that morning returned to me as if a movie was playing in my mind, putting me right back to those moments. My heart aches with the feelings stirred by things read on Facebook, seen on the Internet wherever we turn today. 

As T and I have reconnected after all these years, we’ve talked and shared our memories of that fateful day. He says he has always remembered that it was me who told him about the news. Knowing him all the better now, I understand his reaction. Masked pain. It gives me an incredibly poignant feeling that even in all the years between that morning and our present life, our memories of that morning are intertwined. 

The misty mornings of the meadow are part of our joined lives now. Blending our souls in love and joy. The realization that it can all change in a moment. That the only moment we have is the glorious moment of now. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Blessing of the Oak Trees

The sky is whole and clear.
The earth is whole and firm.
The spirit is whole and full.
~ 39th Verse of The Tao

The oak towers above. It stretches into the sky; clear and sunny, dark with the moonlight dancing in its branches, or sheltering us from the storms that pass through. The branches of the tree have no control over the movement of the wind. Yet the tree teaches us that we too have a relationship of soul to spirit. We sway and lift with what sustains us within. 

The oak spreads its roots deep within the soil of the earth. Always reaching to an understanding that can only come from the depths. The tree teaches us to ground ourselves within the solid foundation of our life. The tree teaches us we are all connected on this earth.

The tree is whole and full above us. As the spirit of the wind moves through its leaves, it reminds us to listen, to feel the Spirit. We bless what these trees have given to us. We will remember the spirit of these trees, the shelter, the beauty of their gift as we go on without them overlooking the lake.

As T and I plan to expand our small cottage, it became clear we would have to lose two oaks. I mourned in anticipation of their demise. They have sheltered me through many a personal storm these past years. I have fond memories of Henri, my homing pigeon, flying through the trees. The wonder of watching an owl on early summer nights, perched on the horizontal branches overlooking the deck.

Yet the expansion of the cottage will give us more room when we want to have visitors. Not to mention the fine day we move there upon retirement. 

As the trees came down, it was obvious there were large chunks of them that had died, hollowed out. So even if we weren’t expanding, the trees could have dropped limbs during a storm that could have done substantial damage. Or worse, hurt someone. It is a bit of a relief. 

Still, I am grateful for the shade, shelter, and beautry trees have given us. We’ve had some logs set aside to use as book shelves and perhaps a coffee table to use in the cottage. The oaks will always be with us in spirit.