Tag Archives: love

A Few Hours with Them

Maybe it was the Christmas decorations that were strewn about…organized disassembly…boxes of deco stacked…a reminder that yet another year has passed…

Maybe it was the talk I had with my kids on the drive over about how life is messy and love is messy and health doesn’t always work like it should, and bodies and minds aren’t always strong…

Maybe it was the sight of a law enforcement co-worker from not so long ago being wheeled around the corner, his strong chest that once carried Kevlar, weaker but still carrying courage …

Maybe it was the beautiful and stoic face of the matriarch figure, walking her strong and determined legs down the hall toward her car to drive home in dark alone, but not before hugging me while I cried with her and listened to her tell me of her beloved, a stroke bringing in the new year and adding to his daily struggle to remember…

Maybe it was the fresh news of a beloved sister losing her daddy just that afternoon…

Maybe it was the old faces I carry daily in my heart of all the elderly in the State of Michigan that smiled proudly and humbly into my 19-year old eyes as I hauled their government box of food to their tidy and inexpensive sedans, shaking their hands during my first job in a line of many that taught me love and compassion for society’s overlooked…

Maybe it was just that I so wish my girls would know my GrannyCakes who left us all too early…

Maybe it was that the elderly man sitting quietly in the green chair at the end of the hall tonight was the spitting image of my Grandaddy the last time I saw him when he was in a place just like this and his smile and his gaunt figure still laid fresh my spirit when we all celebrated his life over pizza while choking back sobs because we knew that his final home there among our country’s heroes would be our family’s final meeting place and that when, 24 hours after flying back home at the end of our years-ago trip, I wasn’t surprised to get a phone call that he’d passed peacefully in his sleep, the smells of his loved ones still on the flannel shirt he’d worn  at that last family reunion.

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Maybe it was the trauma of a hundred little stresses of this past month pressing down and flowing out the corners of my heart.

Maybe it was the knowing that through all the anxiety and all the loss and all the heartbreak and all the tears…

… that faith in the One who holds it all…

…really will hold it all.

Or maybe it was just them.

The sweet, sweet and precious souls that filled the tables of the meeting place where the kids -my own kids and my 4-H kids- all met together and learned how to make cute little packages of art and scent and love.

Maybe it was just them that filled my heart and left me still…

…and left me wanting to watch it all and hug them all and love them all…

all in the two short hours we had with them.

Maybe it was just them that filled the place of grandparents and great-grandparents and homesteads and communities and those-that-have-gone-before.

Maybe it was just them.

This bridging of decades and disabilities and genes and generations.

These kids.

These seniors.

These ones who are new.

These ones who have gone before.

These ones our world could just forget.

These ones who bring knowing and wisdom and innocence and love…

and in bringing all that they bring weakness and they bring strength and they bring what life really is.

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Seventeen club members and at least fifteen residents sat side-by-side, and they put their hands together and made beauty and because they did…

bridges were built over decades and friendships were unfolded over minutes.

And when my precious girl who has such a heart for young and those who are weaker and especially those who are aged…

…when she sat down next to that fragile white-haired beauty who once farmed and who still has work in her hands, my throat made the ugly-cry and I had to choke it off lest I just start sobbing and not stop for the ones who were fighting the fact…

…that ugly fact that it’s all just ending too soon.

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When my children, these four I drive home, when they talk for hours about the joy and they bubble over to their daddy at home the delight the night brought them and how they can’t wait to go be part of the lives of the new friends they’ve made, I want to sob still because while there are new friendships forming, there are endings that come too soon, and this beautiful nest of a place reminds me of that and it leaves me still, and it leaves me remembering.

The endings can be so beautiful.

But the endings…

the endings,

they always come too soon.

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For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

New Face in a Hotel Room

We commandeered the lobby level pool.

I imagined him quiet upstairs, tired, ready for bed…and shaving.

I didn’t worry about him, but knew when we returned…

…he would look different.

Smooth.

What had been part of him, part of us, -rugged and soft and grizzly- for so long now…

…would soon be gone.

It needed to come out. Bad tumor filled his face and it was a week until we learned cancer cells built nests, but that night, before it came out…

…I thought of him as always.

With his beard.

But then bare, there he was…

…strong.

And love.

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Twenty Year Song in the Dressing Room

Several weeks ago I was in Fred Meyer shopping with my bffs for a new shirt to wear to Ladies Night at the gun store. Yeah, we know a wild and crazy Thursday night when we see one. We did duck face pictures with movie star sunglasses and acted like giggly freshmen girls.

Cuz we’re like that when we’re out on the town and forget we’re in our forties and that between the three of us we’ve got eleven kids.

Then the sweetest most precious song came on over the speakers and had me near slobbering tears while I picked out the perfect black shirt. It was so beautiful right there under the fluorescents, I swore to myself I would remember the lyrics and download the song as soon as I was outside. I threw an iTunes card on the belt, paid for my goods and set out to search for my new favorite song from the back seat of my girlfriend’s mini van.

I couldn’t find it.

I searched every single word I thought I’d heard over the tinny loudspeakers. But they got all jangly in my head like the bracelets we had been trying on and before I knew it, my results window was bringing me back to bebop 50’s music and then some Bruno Mars.

I was so sad.

Because you see, in just seven months, if I am still on the earth, I will be celebrating twenty years of marriage to a man I thought I’d never marry. I told him so, in fact, about twenty-two years ago. Sat right down on his lap at a party and told him he was so NOT my type I’d NEVER marry him. He was too nice to me, too good to me, too sweet of a man for me to ever consider marrying. Some date I was huh?

And then, when I DID marry him, I’m sure there were folks who thought we’d never make it much past a few years together. Heck, there were times when WE thought we wouldn’t make it much past a few years together.

We didn’t know what forever was…back before we understood what forever meant.

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The sweet song said “I love you more today than you will ever know, how sweet this life, I’ll never let you go….”

And it reminded me of all these years and all these miles and all these tears and all these laughs and all these sad times and all these babies and all these flaws revealed and all these forgivens granted and all these late nights and all these whispered prayers and all these gifts given and all these joys and all these dark times and all these light times and all this time…

…all this time together.

It made me think of all these near twenty years and right there in the dressing room I was reminded that yes, this life IS sweet. Marriage is sweet. This man is sweet.

And together, we’re sweet.

And while every single moment hasn’t been sweet, every single year of these twenty has been.

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But I couldn’t find the song. I didn’t forget about it, but after coming up empty in my intense search to find it, I quit looking.

Until today.

When, almost a month after the trip with my girlfriends, I dragged my kids through the shoe department of the same store for our annual new-shoe extravaganza. I happened to be standing underneath a speaker in the sneaker aisle three or four minutes after we started shopping and there, right there in my ears, popped a sweet little melody.

I strained to listen while the sweetness of the song started to stir my heart just like the first time I’d heard it. Unbelieving, my chest jumped as I scanned the ceiling to see where the speaker was located. Could it really be the same exact song?? In the same store?? Did they play this stuff on some sort of loop? But now? RIGHT now, THIS second, THAT song just happens to be playing??

I found the speaker and strode urgently over to it, leaving my kids standing in front of the tennis shoes and hissing to them, “shhhhhht” when they loudly asked my back…

“Mama? What are you doing??”

Those sweet words. There it was. I never thought I’d find our dressing-room, twenty-year song and there it was. Right out of the blue it had come to me while I was helping my girl find a pair of Chuck Taylors.

“And dreams are worth the chasing…Love is for the making…and I’ll love you more than you will ever know…How sweet this life…I’ll never let you go…Nothing compares to holding on to you…I’ll love you more this I confess to you…

…I confess to you.”

There it was.

I pulled my iPhone right out of my purse and googled up the lyrics and tapped out the name of the song and the artist in my note pad. I would not lose it again.

There it was. Right there in a song piped out of the dingy ceiling at the department store.

This Life.

When our Creator says for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh…He meant it. What a gift.

And I confess to you:

Marriage has hard times and marriage can have dark times. But marriage is sweet and marriage is precious and nothing…nothing compares to holding on to the one you chose to spend your forever with. When you told God, when you told your spouse, that you were in it until death, you confessed too. You said I’ll never let you go. You clasped hands and claimed dreams are worth the chasing…love is for the making…how sweet this life.

You said it.

Live it.

All the days of your life. If you have that person with you, that is your sweet life.

Hold them close…they may not always be with you.

For as long as you have them, never let them go.

I’ll never let you go.

This life.

That’s my twenty year song.

That’s my forever song.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… Song of Songs 6:3

Click the YouTube link to play Ryan Huston’s, This Life

If Love was a House

If love was a house,
where would it live?

Would it settle in the kitchen?
Listening and bowing…
food washed tender and chopped with time, nourishment brought from afar…
board games and laughter and milk spilled and cookies baked…
round the table and a family at each meal?

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Would it stake claim in the living room?
Cozy and warm…
snuggles on the couches and stories in forts…
foot rubs and late night movies and popcorn…
lips to hot foreheads and hands bringing ginger ale?

Would it dwell in the playroom?
Loud and giggling…
other worlds being built and workshops noisy…
messes and kingdoms and broken pieces…
creativity and growing in action?

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Or maybe it would choose the big bedroom?
Quiet hush…
stately with moonlight and quilts warm and soft…
romance and laughter, breast milk, jambly stacks of books, throw up and icy little feet…
beauty and refreshment, life and rest?

Or would it pick the front porch?
Sunny spot…
collection site for trash out and loved ones in…
where home meets the world, the going to love those outside…
the coming to gather up the air of here?

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Would love settle in the learning rooms?
Pencil places…
where reports get written and bills get paid…
the mundane details that are done by heart…
that keep the train on its tracks?

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Or maybe the bathroom?
Clean and refreshing…
bodies scrubbed and toes counted and teeth tidied…
and parents hide for small vacations and isn’t a toilet scrubbed…
all in a day’s work?

Or would love forsake the rooms and instead choose the walls?
Fingerprints rub…
photos hang, and calendar pages stand sentry waiting to be flipped while masterpieces are scrawled with glee in crayon. Food sticks and holes happen and memories ooze…
…and clinging to the foundation they breathe out and seem to whisper

right here.

Love lives right here.

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Children yelling joyfully

as mothers prepare packs for a hike.

Sausage sizzling on our campfire,

sweet aroma twisted

with the musty scent of camp smoke.

Wild roses filling the neck of our beer bottle,

her barbs still lodged in my thumbs.

Quiet, you’ll come back soon

and we’ll have breakfast…

…together.

Song of Silence

We didn’t talk for almost two days. And in the silence…

…we found each other.

Of course it was my idea, to go the weekend without speaking.

“What?!” I was crazy for suggesting it he thought.

Not in a silent treatment sort of way. I assured him. Our life is just so loud. Kids, animals, phones, dishes, diapers, music, school. The sounds are just too many sometimes.

“Yeah but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk!”

But we only get one weekend right?

And if we only get this one weekend, just these two little days each year, how do we make sure our ears won’t hear those noises while we’re gone?

“Hm. Well I guess. If you really want to. If it’s time to go get a cheeseburger though I’m gonna tell you.”

So we drove in the quiet. Kids happy with the sitter. The noises falling on the ears of another for 48 sweet hours. And we just held hands.

And what he thought was going to be weird was the happiest weekend of all.

It was so quiet in the car that our love was the only thing we heard and it filled our ears with a song we’d not known before.

The problems of the week went away and the mountains on the horizon looked beautiful.

The discussions that begged our attention weren’t an option and the sunset was like no other.

The food tasted better.

The time seemed slower.

He was so handsome when I wasn’t worrying over the stain on his shirt.

He became more deliberate when he didn’t have a constant stream of woman words in his ear.

There was peace in my soul.

And we were one.

We’ve not done that since that weekend. But that one weekend of not talking,- of deciding to set down the things that screamed to be picked up – that became a place, a rest. When the foxes come and tease and threaten to destroy…to take our peace…to lesson our bond, I have the memory of that weekend and I have the skills to quiet my soul, to hush my priorities and just.get.quiet.with.him.

Our life is louder now. But that one weekend of quiet showed me where to go when it gets too noisy. It was my teaching time, a short lesson in what it means to be hushed with my love, to be still in my spirit. It showed me how to turn down the noise, mute the loudness of this life and quiet my heart to catch a moment with him so that all I hear is our song….

…of sweet silence.

Be still, and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10

© Cassandra Rankin