Level Places of One

Few chances come anymore to feel as if others are one.

Last week we had to bring in more chairs. People I had not seen in a good while and some who I had spoken to by phone but never met all arrived around the same time.

One person I had never encountered walked in bravely.

Alone, she entered a room full of strangers and found a seat cornered between two others at the corner of the table.

One other arrived a little late and I was happy he made it, told one of the regulars he’ll most likely “saunter” in.

This one elderly man, a father grieving his daughter, seated close to me smiled as if he and I shared an inside joke and whispered that was a good description of him.

I consider us friends.

The sauntering and kind gentleman called later to comment on the meeting, concerned over some of the new people, wondering if he can be available to them.

I told him I appreciate the way he helps guide the discussion and the way he’s both truthful even if hard to hear, his words as well as compassion and concern.

He thanked me.

I told him that the diversity in the stories that night, the circumstances that led to suicides and the contributing factors as well as starkly contrasting personal struggles and family make ups were evident.

But, not evidenced in any of the faces of the listeners, the words offered in comfort, comparison or even explanations possible.

It’s level ground, it’s like a mercy table, one meeting I am a part of that sees past differences and looks at the one thing.

The one thing of suicide.

One of many things I do not fully understand.

One thing I do not know.

And so I’m one with them only in my presence, one only because I am there and I’m one because neither do I understand.

I’m one with this group I lead, this group of solemn yet, steady and supportive encouragers.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The man who sauntered in closed in prayer after asking permission.

In the pause of his, I presume thinking, two ladies added their supplication. I considered being the third and all my heart could come up with was “Thank you, God for bringing these people to my life.”

I knew God would understand what I meant. I was afraid they would not.

I sat silent and I listened as the gentle man closed out his prayer for the others around the table.

Bringing the support group for those bereaved by suicide, “a club no one wants to be a member of” to a close.

Today, I’m linking up with others here, prompted by the word “One”.

One

If you or someone you know has experienced suicide loss, our group meets monthly. You can find other groups in your area by searching afsp.org.

Tomorrow is International Survivors Day. Across the country people will gather to talk, listen, be one with one another.

Info on this can be found here:

International Survivor Day

I am thankful God brought these people to me. They’ve grown me, taught me that silence is good, that I don’t always have to give my insight and that we are all one in God’s eyes, all of us humans down here.

Walks Across the Country

Yesterday, I met two vivacious young women. They were dressed in athletic type shorts revealing tan lines and their T-shirts boasted of their initiative. Its front had a logo of a bicycle and the words “wheels for mental wellness”.

Tomorrow night I’ll host a gathering, a platform for them to share their why.

I’ve heard there’s a reason, it’s because of someone in their family.

Yesterday, I walked with the largest group ever as I participated in our community’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk. Some of them I know, they call me Miss Lisa and friend.

I thought of them last night, hoping so badly that the day had not been too draining, that they’d know they’d done their best, always.

The woman in the red shirt’s name is Rose. I’d never have known her if she hadn’t decided to come with another mama to my office, both of them military moms, both of them mothers of sons who died by suicide.

Both of them, there today, walking proudly and purposefully. Mamas who most likely moved heaven and earth for their sons when they were little boys to grown-up men…and still, they are, they’re not letting up, walking, taking up for their boys, moving heaven and earth for them in the only way they can, still. I’m fortunate to know them, moved in lots of ways I can’t describe, my being close, not really knowing; but, close to their grief.

I hope they sleep soundly tonight knowing they gave it all they had today for their boys!

Walks are happening across the country right now if you get a chance you should join in, walk alongside another.

I’m told and I know that being there is not ever enough or maybe close to anything at all. But, it is important; important for others to simply, be there, there with them.

November Like Grace

Yesterday, the tiniest of yellow leaves were dancing down around my friend and I. We were happy to be likeminded over loving the frenzied leaves falling down, likeminded in our acceptance of our imperfections and our wonderings. We didn’t say so, but now

I think we both were thinking likely, of grace.

November, I welcomed you! Hard to say clearly why. Surely it’s not the hustle and bustle of holiday coming that makes holiday so unholy, so hurried and so “un” divine.

October felt so lengthy, intense, its work , its worries and its waiting.

November, for some reason felt like corner turning, drawing nearer to the fruition of a more solid settling.

And then yesterday and later, I heard of death by suicide and I read a sister’s story of her brother’s too soon death due to addiction.

I couldn’t, can’t stop thinking of how haphazard life can be, how some of us get tripped up and fall and get back up and safely carry on.

Sadly, not all.

Some make it, find the resolve to continue, and the continuation of that resolve, in increments assures no more falls.

It’s a precarious world we’re slap dab in the middle of. My friend and I talked, yesterday because we’re aware, we’re not able to avoid or willing to turn blind eyes.

We’ve had people in our midst, their struggles are more than just speculation or someone else’s issue. We are with others and we have seen evidence.

Evidence of hopelessness. Evidence of fear. Evidence of doubt and evidence of destruction slowly through either addictive indulgence or addictive control or addictive forlorn failing feelings.

Either way, it seems hope is in high demand, kindness, persistence, refusal to avoid and if you can, when you can just demonstrate deliberately that you care.

Sometimes, though it’s not that simple. Your kindness is less than a drop in a deep ancient well.

You do what you can, keep dropping your love there.

I’m still happy it’s November despite learning of new deaths.

I’m still happy for November and Saturday and the way the cold caused my toes to curl when I let the dog out.

Happy that I spent time reading my Bible, not scanning, delving deeply in to what Paul told Timothy and what God told him to tell me.

And you.

Today.

We still have this hope. That Christ died for us so that we could live, not so that we could be perfect or withstand all our falls from grace and flat on our faces falls; but, so that we would see His face when we pick ourselves up to rise.

That we’d continue to do our best.

That we come closer to an understanding of our lives here, our lives are meant to be His, to be lived out based on our rescued from the fall, faith.

Maybe through us, others will see grace.

Maybe through others we see it too.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s an old hymn we used to sing called “People Need the Lord”. When I was a member of the choir, I’d suggest we sing it more. There didn’t seem to be a Sunday someone might need to know and believe that in these days, we need the Lord.

We’re not able on our own.

We live in a world of simply not knowing what may come, whether someone we love might fall.

Remembering now the sister’s heartbreak over her brother and another’s trauma that has her trapped in a deadly self harm cycle, I wonder if my words are unwelcome, if my hope will be a hindrance, hokey.

I understand. Grief is not a quick thing, hope is not on grief’s horizon. If it’s anywhere it’s around the bend of some crazy and unthinkable scary roads.

Hope is rarely on the mind of grief. I imagine hope as a sweet child with little words, only telling grief, I’ll come out Sir or Ma’am, when it’s my turn to join the grown up table.

And then it sits down together with grief and it sweetly adds its beauty and peace to those dining habitually over their mundane plates, changing slowly the place, the setting.

Like a hopeful child it may not be my place to add comment or conclusion at times.

Last week, I realized clearly that my insights, my intelligence and my speaking incessantly about how much I care about heartbreak and tragedy are insignificant to the person in their grief, their trauma, their fear.

I sat with the truth of that for a long time. Depleted from the knowledge of nothing I can do and the acceptance of it, I courted thoughts of giving up, of being a more silent spokesperson, of staying in the background, kind of keeping to myself what help I may know.

There’s value in that, giving what you can when you run across a need, otherwise just waiting and knowing people know you’re there.

November, it’s only day 3 and you’re really schooling me!

You’re refining my understanding of brokenness and you’ve got a steady eye on the fire that’s creating me as valuable, a vessel for pouring out my knowledge my and hope.

You through me.

Made to know you, to worship you.

To reveal my hope.

Hope that is needed.

Hope incomprehensible, hope that others need.

Farther along, we’ll understand vividly, so clearly, the why of everything.

I love so very much, this folksy rendition, this truth and song.

Farther Along

November, I see your reason, my naming you my turning of season.

Grace, November, you are feeling like grace. I’m grateful you found me again

For catching my almost fall back in to what looks like sadness that is actually fear.

Too Wonderful to Know

I wish I knew the source of his sorrow.

Three of us there, I think of the differences now.

Me, an executive type pretend director wishing to stay home and paint, an interesting stranger and a preacher who is for real, he emanates peace, attentive love.

It began with two, myself and the young pastor.

I call and called him friend.

Breakfast outside that began with open discussion of things I’m struggling with and most of them made worse by the deeply buried truths hammered in angrily to the soul of a little girl who’d follow any command just for the chance to be loved, to be beloved.

We were in agreement. Oh, the peace of that, to be in agreement with a man of God, a preacher.

To be validated in your understanding of God, to be assured, yes, this is the God you are seeing, this is the Jesus you know.

“’Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭42:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We must’ve been a half hour in. The sun on my back no longer pleasant and I am hot.

Miserable, faking being okay.

For a minute I try to pretend, try to stay composed in my wrought iron seat on the sidewalk sauna.

I shift my chair to the shade and cover my omelette and my grits with a napkin to keep my eyes from darting with the flight of one annoying fly.

He continues with his toast, unconcerned over the fly and simply smiled as I shifted in my seat.

“Is my forehead glistening?”, I wonder. He doesn’t seem hot at all. How is he so chill?

I promise I sensed God’s spirit in his voice, most of all in his listening.

My friend and I continued. I told him I’d just finished the Book of Job and that I was moved in different ways than before.

The words barely uttered and a man hurried past us then turned to ask,

“Did I hear you say Job?”

We welcomed him in.

It was a God thing for sure. My pastor friend listened as I confirmed we were discussing Job.

The tall man who must’ve just left the bank because of the three different wallets he held tight, clutched in his palm.

He hesitated walked away and then returned, his body bounced and then settled and then shifted weight one side to the other.

Job confounded Him, it was clear.

What God allowed to happen to Job bothered him significantly, the fact that God took Job’s children and that God allowed it, actually handed them along with Job over to Satan.

It was clear this troubled this man, standing before us on a small town sidewalk, his face scruffy with stubble and his muscle tank on backwards, his shorts, a faded blue tropical pattern, old sandals and he was bothered by the weather as was I.

Which was good, it wasn’t just me.

He began to sweat as he spoke, elaborating further and my friend kept his cool, listening even when I added in too much information as I often do.

Telling them both I love the last chapter because Job forgives his friends, shows the ones who turned against him mercy and then God gifts Job with more years better than the ones before.

Two things for me there. It is right to let the ones who left you hanging off the hook.

It is thrilling to know your now and your future can be phenomenally better than your before.

Both men smiled and the tall man shuffled his feet telling us he’s sure Job’s in heaven with his family and friends.

He believes Job, his friends and his family were “grandfathered in”.

He’s still not sure why God had to let it happen this way.

We agree. We aren’t either.

And my pastor friend essentially said we don’t know and that maybe we forget how small our time is here in comparison to heaven.

And if we remembered heaven, well, we might not so angrily and aggressively need to understand now.

That we might finally know what Job meant when he realized there are things too wonderful to know.

Last night, I reread the last chapter and I paused at one place, the place that tells me my bad days are over, my better has only begun.

I began to cry.

“And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭42:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

For now it is so very wonderful to know my past does not define my future and wonderful to know that God is in agreement with my forgiveness of those I felt should have done more. My prayer, to forgive them.

“…and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭42:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Wonderful to know the little that I know.

I thought today how I wish I knew more of his story, the stranger and his sorrow causing his questioning of God in relation to Job.

So many things, my pastor friend, the tall guy and I, God has much yet to be shown us, so many things we do not know.

Tonight, the sky said hello gradually with the popping out of bright stars.

The dark clouds buffeted the horizon and the space up above was clear.

I snapped a shot driving home, so blurry, because of my dirty windshield.

Then I thought of heaven vs. earth.

We’re a mess down here below, it’s impossible to capture heaven on the other side of the sky.

It’s just way too wonderful to see, too wonderful to know.

And too significantly difficult to comprehend.

A family has lost a son tonight, a grief incomprehensible.

Many are the sorrows we may know or not know.

I wonder why Job called them “wonderful” and realize it is not for me to know.

Too Wonderful for any of us to know.