Watching Closely

Boy… golly. Here I am, alive at the end of a year I thought I would never even survive. It is the last day of the calendar year today, and I woke up early in an attempt to get some time by the fire to myself, with my computer in my lap before my lap became filled with other two-legged creatures. The coffee here is grand, exceptional rather, and the wood stove, oh Lord… help me – Heaven on earth. The lights are still dim, but a few golden lights on the ice-crusted bay… It is dawn on the last day of a calendar year that I will never, not ever, forget – but will gladly turn the page on.

You have perhaps heard of the book and now acclaimed movie “The Shack.” Well, we have a shack… not The Shack. It is drafty, a river runs through the crawlspace, I kid you not, and when you are sitting on the commode upstairs you must keep your head listed slightly to the left to feel as if the entire toilet is not going to tip to the right. Someday, when we knock this shack down, it will breathe a dusty sigh of relief and faintly whisper, “Thank-you, I needed that.” The main redeeming qualities are the view and the wood stove. Someday, it is my ardent hope that the two will combine in a draft-free, well insulated slightly larger stable home that isn’t sinking like a cake taken out of the oven much too early.

Most of our blender family, sans two, traversed the country to come down here between Christmas and New Years, all three of the children still in their Christmas pajamas, (on a side note I had to peel them off the youngest two in protest and explain that they simply must be washed…) the person and the pajama’s must be separated for a brief, but painful period of time. In our home, it’s a good day, if you get to stay in your pj’s all day – a really good day. I digress.

The last few nights, I have laid in bed, writing in my head. I think to myself I should simply just get up and write while I lay there in the dark shivering. I shift a pillow on top of my body like an extra layer hoping to heat up my belly, which does absolutely nothing for the codfish that are my frozen feet. I squeeze as close to my heater husband as I can, only to be crowding him – he didn’t have room for his arms next to his torso with the way I attempted to get my feet and my bottom warmed up on his inferno of a body. My side is closest to the outside wall, and since I am eternally cold, this is a bad arrangement. Sleep finally comes, I am certain that I write through the night, it was likely fabulous and now eternally lost in the frozen landscape of east coast sleep.

Being cold is a trigger for me, I work at remaining rational about the whole thing, I really do. After my father abducted us from my mother, he took us somewhere in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There we stayed lots of places, but one of those places had beds, but no bedding. Mister, you don’t know cold until you have slept on a bed with no blankets or heat in the dead of winter in Winnipeg Manitoba, this is a new level of frozen hell. Combine that with the trauma of being torn from my Momma, (I was still in diapers), and a drunken father. I stood at the door and recall the thick impenetrable frost on the screen door. He had left in a rage, in a car – drunk. We three were there, frozen by ourselves ages 5, 3 and 2, no heat, no blankets, no hope.

Later in life, my remaining siblings and I were put out of the house regardless of the weather and not permitted to come in again until called. That meant that no matter how cold, how hungry, how wet, or thirsty, bladders bursting – we were outside and that was that. On the coast, winters are wet and damn cold. The sort of cold that feels much, much colder due to the high humidity and even with only moderately low temperatures. Hour after hour, day after endless day it seemed, of penetrating, wet cold – with no choice in the matter. To this day, I get anxious if I have to be cold and can’t get out of it. We all have residue.

I used to have a hair stylist who had three little ones, two boys, and one little girl. She was funny, I mean really funny, and I – the Lord still loves me, am not. Her husband is very physically active and keeps the children busy doing outdoor things, which is great for them all. She tells me, that one day, her husband and two boys were going out, he for a run and they on bikes. The younger of two boys turns to the mother and asks if she is coming… the older boy looks at his younger brother with utter disgust and vehemently stated, “Mummy doesn’t go outside!!!” And so it is, this Mummy doesn’t go outside unless I can choose when I stop and start, anxiety goes up considerably when cold is a factor.

The sky is lightening now, the blanket of night is being slowly pulled back… this morning I wish it wasn’t receding so rapidly. The golden lights that twinkled on the bay are blending in with the horizon. It a shame really, they are losing their luminous quality, and even some of their beauty as they join the greater light as the day is breaking. Perhaps that is what heaven will be like, when the lights that were given here, once so luminous in the dark, join the greater Light. It is my prayer that we will graciously give way to Day… glad that we are no longer isolated and illuminating the dark and lonely landscape that is this life.

As for the new year to come… it’s brand spanking new. I feel the urgent call to sojourn silently, sacredly… my footsteps will be seen in the snow, and followed carefully by feet shod with much smaller shoes. I look behind and ahead with startling, but characteristic sobriety. My words fall short, only His will do…

“This is what the Eternal One says, the One who does the impossible, the One who makes a path through the sea, a smooth road through tumultuous waters, The prophet appeals to a powerful memory: the exodus.

He reminds God’s people, all former slaves… how God liberated them from oppression. Stories of the exodus have been told time after time for many generations; they are permanent fixtures in their minds. The prophet evokes these amazing memories to comfort them and assure them that what God is about to do is like what God did do for their ancestors centuries ago.

Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past, or spend all your time recounting the victories (or horrors) of days gone by. Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none.”- Isaiah 43:16-19 The Voice

Slavery comes in many flavors, childhood sexual and physical abuse, neglect, repeated revictimization, rape, recriminations- the list is virtually endless. Regardless, the residue needs to be properly processed and repackaged to loose its penetrating and perverse power. We are called to feed on and remember the Exodus as a testimony that we are not forgotten and locked eternally out in the cold. He has flung wide the doors, the fire is roaring, the pot is hot and perpetually on. Welcome New Year. Eternal One… be assured that I am watching closely.

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