A poem for my children as I just passed another Mother's Day and another birthday: My baby moved away today and took grandbaby Mae. Her and Him and all their stuff North Carolina they now stay. I have another child here my son, my oldest boy. If you see him tell him please to bring his Mom some joy. My circle of support shrinks daily as I struggle to survive. My children have all flown the nest and have moved on with their lives. My son became a father, my oldest daughter now youngest son. My baby is a mommy now, our lives are on the run. Hustle, bustle, push, pull, drag catching up when we can. Long gone are the days of driving 'round in our minivan. A lot of love and work dumped in to them my childen, see Each one of them raised up I pray To be who they chose to be. My lonely heart breaks more and more each and every day For the babes that they once used to be now leave me in the gray. As I push back single tears of fear for troubles they might find I also pray they've grown up now to be happy, strong and kind. My days of "teaching" may be gone But now I am their friend. I now can undo errors made To avoid a bitter end. I've loved my children way too much not enough and in between. Part of what a family learns As we struggle to be seen. My kids and I will be alright No matter who flies where It's love that we all talk about And make sure that we share. My heart may still be broken and my tears yes, still may fall I've raised some strong-willed children, and I know that they will call. When comes the day they need their Mom When only she will do I'll be there on the other side ready with my "I love you". (c) 2017 Dawn Bennett
It’s later in the month, later than I’d like it to be actually. I’ve been waiting for inspiration to give you something I felt was worth reading. It finally came today. It’s true, it’s real, it’s honest. It’s a page from my journal this morning. I know I’m not the only one in this quagmire, maybe that’s why I felt it’s worth reading. Happy Easter to all of humanity.
“It’s a Good Friday!
Abba, so much is changing, but you have stayed the same. The tomb is empty this morning. No one knows where you are or where you went.
This season of Lent has been so incredibly painful. I’ve been so far from you – and so close to you. I’m scared, I’m isolated, I’m exhausted, I’m angry, I’m so incredibly sad. I’m eager, I’m demanding, I’m questioning, I’m forgetful, I’m desperate. I have anxiety; I’ve traveled far and wide to find peace – to create peace – to upset peace – and to enjoy the peace. It’s Good Friday, and like the rest of the fold, I’m seeking because the tomb is empty and I don’t know where you went.
Ferguson is still looking for you. Naples says they have you, the golden roads are supposed to prove that. Nashville sings all about you, but the people are still dying of hunger and thirst.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to see you in everything and be grateful, because honestly, when I don’t get what I want (and the way I perceive I need it to be), I think you either suck or you’re looking at someone else’s life. I mean, there’s lots of us down here trying to figure this crazy shit out. Maybe you got me mixed up?
It’s supposed to rain here Sunday – I’m looking forward to that. Everything is better after some cleansing rain. The sun will surely rise and shine, that’s all it knows how to do. Thanks for that too.
Thanks for never taking your eye off me. I’ll try to reciprocate that a bit better today. I love you.”
I heard myself telling a coworker about some particular phrases a loved one uses. Every time I hear the phrase something in me twinges. Not because it is offensive, but because it is not what Webster would define as proper English. We, my coworker and I, were discussing vernacular in general and what peculiarities exist within an individual’s world view.
She told me a quick story about her dad’s favorite restaurant; it’s a Mexican place down the road called Sopapillias (soap-a-peeyahs). But, she explained, every time her dad wants to go there he says, “Hey, let’s go eat at ‘soppa-pillas’ (sop-a-pill-as)”. My friend just chuckles under her breath. Her dad is old, so she says it’s cute. We exchanged a few more vernacular faux pas and had a good giggle between ourselves. After the very short conversation, I had a very long thought. In my experience, to hear [what I perceive to be] a skewed version of a word catches me off guard and I sometimes think to myself, don’t they know how to say this correctly? I wonder if I told them the proper way to pronounce this if they would be offended. The more I thought about this, the more troubled in myself I became.
Somewhere in my mind it occurred to me that a person’s phrases are theirs, not mine. Proper English is a relative term. English is, after all, a bastard language. Not much comes up under “proper English” upon a quick google search. In America, we use slang a lot. Our slang is a reflection of our culture, our nature and our nurture. Where someone was geographically raised, the family dynamic in which they were raised and the environment of their community, all play a large role in acquiring their vernacular (i.e. slang). Life is also lived out in the story of our slang. In this instance, when I read between the lines of what I perceive to be improper English, I find that my loved one has seen, heard and experienced things I will never encounter. Much can be learned about life and culture by listening to stories. Stories are how we love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s how we learn to become a more intimate society.
In a continuous effort to live, love and laugh in our lives, we also must learn to respect each other in such a way that allows for the freedom to be different. Imagine a world where everything was a shade of blue. No red. No yellow. No black. No white. Just, blue. Eventually, we would run out of questions to ask. Eventually, we would run out of new things to learn. It is only through the lens of variety that we are able to see our differences and our similarities.
When applying this thought to vernacular, imagine a world where everyone spoke English, with only a northeastern accent. Bostonian to be specific (since it’s my home town…go Sox!). Seriously though, imagine a world where we all spoke that way. There wouldn’t be any “Hey, Y’all!” in the South or “Eh?” in the Midwest. There would be nothing to talk about after a while. No comedy, which we all use as a way to cover up the fact that sometimes we don’t understand what someone’s saying. Eventually, we’d understand each other perfectly and there would be no need to ask any more questions. Eventually, we would know all there is to know, and have nothing new to learn about a person.
We can say that it is only through the lens of vernacular that we are able to see our differences and our similarities. We can say that it is only through the language of vernacular that we are able to learn patience and kindness, and gain wisdom and understanding about culture and society and family and tradition. These social outlets are how we express ourselves and how we [again], learn to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Vernacular, whether understood or not, must be respected. It requires no correction. It desires acknowledgement and appreciation. It encourages friendship and intimacy. It is a catalyst for new beginnings and it challenges us to be a better, more enriched, more knowledgeable version of yesterday’s self.
So, the next time you hear what you perceive to be a grammatical faux pas, and are tempted to correct it, stop and appreciate the moment. For, it is in that very moment you have the opportunity to love unconditionally.
So you want to follow me? Do you know where I’m going? Maybe I want to follow you. Where are you going? Either way, get ready for an adventure.
Being a Line Leader is a huge responsibility. In preschool a line leader is somewhat of a celebrity, at least for a day. But what about those of us who have advanced well beyond the years of preschool. Perhaps we are parents, or maybe we are in management at our jobs. Or, maybe a pastor in a faith community. Every day we go through our day we are a Line Leader in some capacity, if only at the traffic light. To be a good line leader, you’ll need three things: 1) A destination, 2) A map of the journey there, 3) All of the necessary equipment for the trip.
Let’s break it down. First a destination. As a line leader, everyone is expected to follow me, that is, behind me. Now, if no one inquires where we are going I could easily have a group of very misled people. Also, as a line leader I have control and opportunity over my fold. From their perspective, they offer me trust [that I’m going to lead them to a good place] and encouragement in the event that I get weary on our way. Some Line Leaders may enjoy the silent sheep, how very dangerous for that sheep. How easily you will be mistreated and misled ….. As a good Line Leader I will have at least two others to probe me with questions and hold me accountable for my choices. Lest in my poor leading I negatively infect rather than positively effect. If you are in line, who are you in line behind? Where are you being led to? Do you know? Do you care? You have responsibility to know. And to care. Ahead of time. If not, then you forfeit the right to cry about your destination when you arrive. Get to know your Line Leader.
Second, as an effective Line Leader, I’ll take the responsibility to map our journey ahead of time. Preschoolers know three things for sure. They know how to get to the bathroom, the snack table and the playground. There is a specific direction required to arrive at each destination. So many public figures are Line Leaders and they have not taken the time to map the journey. Or, maybe they have mapped it right straight back to their bank account. But, what about the account of people’s lives? Far more volatile than one’s bank account. As a Line Leader I must, and I repeat must, realize that mapping the journey is a critical step toward ensuring my safety and the safety of my fold (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Hence, my need for those two others who ask questions and hold me accountable. Being a Line Leader is no easy task. There is a human element. What happens when I make a bad move? Well, Moses had a bunch of ticked off people. Out in the hot desert, hungry and whining. Thank goodness for Aaron, or he’d ‘ave sunk. How many public ministers I can think of today whose ministries have gotten dangerously big. So big, that when they stumble they take thousands of people down with them. As followers of the Line Leader people, WE have a responsibility to know where we’re headed and the basic plan of how we’re gonna get there! (Otherwise, remember, we lose our crying rights when we all fall down).
Finally, as a Line Leader I am tasked with the responsibility of packing for the trip. Some preschool leaders get to carry a flag, to signify their leadership. As an adult Line Leader, my flag is my dignity and integrity. And let me tell you, they will shine like a beacon as long as I’m on top. When I fall watch out! Not only will the light go out, but I will withdraw so you can’t see me (a human defense mechanism). As a follower, think about that. When my Line-Leader-light goes out, how will you see where you’re going? You see, as a Line Leader, I’ve only been given the role for a short period of time (relatively speaking). The reality is I’m human just as the rest of my group. I make mistakes, sometimes horrendous mistakes. If I don’t have the necessary equipment, which is my plan, my integrity, my moral compass, and my ethics in my satchel, then shame on you [followers] for getting in line behind me. (And by the way, you can’t buy ethics, no matter how many conferences or classes your pay for; either you have them or you don’t. A conference will just you up on Best Practices).
People, seriously, think about it. We all fall short. We all stumble. We all fall.
In life we are only Line Leader for a day, and some may never get the opportunity, because of social caste. Those of us in front have a huge responsibility to be kind, equitable, responsible and accountable. We have a responsibility to make a well thought out plan ahead of the journey. If there are changes along the way, fine, reassess, but always with the group in mind. The very day we begin to lie, cheat and scheme is the first day of the end of our leadership. If you are in line, great, we need supporters. Don’t follow blindly. Ask questions, hold your leader accountable. Stand up and be counted. If you choose not to, and it is your choice – no one can choose for you – you will forfeit your right to cry if you end up where you don’t want to be. Then, your journey back may be much longer than you planned.
Choose to be your own Line Leader. Just know people are watching and waiting. And we are all human.
What Do You See?
What do you see when you look at me? Do you see the scar between my eyes or my curly brown hair? Do you wonder what I would look like with blue eyes, or do you notice my eyes are green and be satisfied with what you see? I wonder sometimes if people see the pain that I carry around. What color is my pain? Do you think you know? My pain is black, most of the time. Today my pain is red, however. It is red because my heart is broken and I’m lonely. I was hungry until I found a little bit of food in my refrigerator. Can you see that I am satisfied now? What does that look like anyway?
I wonder what you would think if I told you I am gay, or that I had been emotionally abused in my earlier days. Would you still want to talk to me? Do I look like the kind of person who would allow herself to be abused in any way? Yes? No? What does that look like anyway?
Do you see that I’m struggling to know what to do with my life? Can you see God in me? He’s here. I assure you. But, I’m struggling to reach Him, and I know Him intimately. I wonder if you can see the scars from my past hurts. Hurts that I received from loved ones, well intentioned loved ones. Sure there are scars from those who deliberately used me and caused me pain. But, those don’t hurt as much as the ones that cut like a knife, straight through to the core of my person.
What do you see when you look at me? Do you see that I am educated? What does that look like anyway? Do you see that I want to become your friend? I would actually. I would like to become your friend. It would take some doing on both our parts, however. We come from very different cultures. People would talk about us, maybe behind our backs. Maybe to our faces. Would you still want to be my friend, if it would cause you some grief? I’m a good friend you know. Well, you don’t know. But you could know. That would take more effort on your part. You would have to look deep inside me. Past my outward appearance, since today I am not looking my best and I’m not in the best mood. Can you see that I have had a hard day? What does that look like anyway?
Can you see that my husband is a different race than I am? Does that show in my wedding ring? Can you see that he loves me beyond words and that he calls me his “Queen”. Do I show that in my actions and attitude? Can you see from looking at me, and at my life, that I have a brain- injured brother? How would that make you feel if I told you outloud after the “retard” comment you made. Can you see my pain? What color is it? Where does it sit on my body? What does that look like anyway?
What do you see when you look at me? Can you see that my father is dying and I am sad because I live far away from him? And my siblings are far away too, and my mother. I live down here all by myself. Can you see that my children are all grown? And I love them. Can you see my grandson in my eyes? The twinkle he brings to my heart. And the sorrow of not seeing my granddaughter in over a year. Can you see my heart for her?
What do you see when you look at me? Do you see that I am angry? Can you see that I am lonely? Can you see that I am struggling to make new friends because all of my old friends have fallen away? What can you see in me? Do you see my joy? My delight? The passion I have for my man and the eternal love I have for my children? What does that look like anyway? What color is it? Does my love for others speak to you? What does it say? Does my curiosity about you show? Can you see that I want to know you deeper? Can you see that I value our relationship? Can you see that I want to know more about you, and to have you know more about me? What does that look like anyway?
What do you see when you look at me?
December is upon us. The last blog entry of the year almost slipped by me. In the business of the holiday and many birthdays this month, my mind is a wellspring of activity. Nonetheless, I want to take time to talk about a simple word. Time. The word itself is simple, but the concept not necessarily so. Time prevents and permits. Time lengthens and shortens. Time saves. Time heals. Time takes time.
If you’re like me, this has been a year full of ups and downs (although most years are like that by the end). I know of so many people, young and old, who have had a simply treacherous year. Don’t fret. In just a few short days, Father Time will afford us a new beginning. If you have a few circumstances that you would like to leave in the past, I encourage you to do so. I must say though, time affords us the opportunity to reckon with our past. It is an important step in our human development. And, hard as it is, if we shirk it, our past will live in our present and sabotage our future.
The time it takes to ponder, search, pray, rest, and revive are all necessary. Take time (or make, I should say) to address each of the aforementioned. It will do you good.
Let’s see. Time prevents and time permits. Time sometimes prevents me from being honest with myself. If you ignore your character defects long enough (i.e. let enough time pass),you’ll soon forget about them and begin to think they are not a problem. The problem with that approach is that time will permit you to live in a fantasy world. And while that may seem just what you need, you’ll wake up….eventually. Then the time you allowed to pass will have likely created another issue to busy your mind and day with.
On the other hand, if given enough time (i.e. let enough time pass), that time could prevent us from causing irreversible harm to a very important relationship. We all need a time-out on occasion. Perhaps, a short few seconds or minutes is all you need to cool off. Be sure and go back to the relationship. There’s growth involved in the ebb and flow of time.
Time lengthens and time shortens. Time sometimes lengthens the period in which we take to be responsible. Alas, it can also shorten it. Time lengthens the vacation and family gatherings. Time also shortens, bringing death and mourning. Still, there’s growth involved in the passing of time. Nothing lasts forever.
Time Saves. When stranded at sea or in the forest, many a sojourner has held on until such a time when help arrived. Likewise, many a Believer has held on with a faith that could “move mountains”, just waiting on God, or a Higher Being to bring relief. Much to our dismay, God is never late. It’s in the waiting (i.e. letting enough time pass) that we grow stronger in our beliefs and convictions.
Time heals. Eventually, whether we like it or not, “it” will end. Life, love, play, work, hurts, joys, festivities, mourning, relationships. When loss comes, we grieve and time allows healing to move in and fill the space. When growth comes, we revel in it and time allows new opportunities to arise for us to put our hand to.
Last, but certainly not least, Time takes time. There is no rushing time. That is a fallacy. While working or waiting the object of time is to be in the midst of it. Remain in the present. Enjoying our time, purposefully extracting what we can, in terms of life lessons, is the most productive act we can do. As we grow and learn, we spend our time actively growing and actively learning. This seed planting helps to shape our future days. Opening up all sorts of new ways to engage with our time.
Happy New Year! May your time be blessed.
As I rounded the bend and glanced out my rearview mirror, I saw the most amazing and beautiful sight. The sun was coming up just over the horizon. The red glare was so bright it caused me to think it was a red traffic light. Once my mind caught up with itself and I realized it was the sun coming up from behind me, I quickly grabbed my phone’s camera to capture this moment in time. When I raised my camera up to catch the view, only a bright white light shone back at me. Lowering the camera, I checked the rearview mirror again. Yes, the red globe still hung over the morning sky, yet only white light could be captured on camera.
I thought to myself, “Ok God, I get it. It’s only for here and now”. That got me thinking about what I recall my mom saying for years, “It doesn’t come to stay, it comes to pass.” My next thought was, thank goodness. You see, at the moment I saw the sun blazing in the mirror, I was thinking about my life and the challenges I am currently facing. At times there seems to be no end in sight. The sun reminded me, these challenges, the ones I am presently working through, they are only for the here and now. As I learn to navigate the choices before me and make healthy decisions, I will pass through these challenges and onto the next. Not all challenges are difficult. Some have wonderful, motivational outcomes.
I spent several decades of my life raising children. I used to believe I’d always have them in my daily life. This has proven to be a young mother’s perspective. Adult life, mine and theirs, has shown itself to be a different reality. As I look back on what are now my personal golden years, I recall with gratefulness and joy that my kids were only young once, I raised them in the here and now. I am looking down the path of the second half of my life now, and I am learning how to be an independent person, separate from a mother or a spouse. I have new challenges to face, new decisions to make. This time, this here and now, is filled with sun drops of red and gold, just as my earlier years.
God was, is, and will forever be, so says He. But, interestingly enough, He is still very much only in the here and now. Take peace for instance, the peace that I experience from a relationship with him can only be felt in the here and now. The grace that I receive for the times I make choices that grieve him, and me, is available to me in that moment. Not before, only in that moment’s here and now. The friendships that I enjoy with others, although some longstanding, are enjoyed in the here and now. And the deep intimacy I experience with my mate is only experienced in the here and now as well.
I’ve come to realize this morning, in the picturesque beauty of the red rising sun, some of God’s best gifts are only available in the here and now. Present beauty, present struggle, present challenge, present grace and peace, present intimacy. The present, my here and now, that’s my gift.