Monday, February 23, 2009

Playing in the Fields of Life

* * *

“If I could save time in a bottle . . .”
~~ Jim Croce ~~

* * *
“You can always make more money,
But you can never make more time.”
~~ Spud Harris ~~
quoted OFTEN by Husband Gary

* * *

A rainy weekend yields lots of play around here. Massages (she calls it homework, I call it Heaven), reading, cooking, listening to music (really listening), making “things,” holding, hugging, loving, learning, accepting, refusing, choosing . . .

“You can’t live your own way!” cry the incredulous as they dash around on the world’s timeclock. I simply reply, “I can if I choose . . .” But they haven’t waited for my reply, they had an appointment to meet, a mall to visit, a thing to buy, a meal to drive thru. So many lovingly decline an invite to tea with me and they can’t imagine how I have the time to just sit around and do nothing so often.

“Do nothing?” I snicker, “I’m busy playing in the fields of life.”

Alas they have dashed away before they heard my answer. But then, they may not have understood it anyway. I had a “special” teacher. I had an unfair advantage.

In my earlier days I struggled with this very infection of “busy-ness.” Struggle comes from steps into darkness. A wrangle with fear happens in the shadows of doubt. Today I choose the brighter side of life. I choose simple, slow, quiet as God envelops me under His wing. Every thought, deed, choice held captive to my goal of abiding in Him. I find joy in playing at life in His arena.

In earlier days I grappled with the name calling and judgment of others as I made “different” choices. These days I breathe deeply of freedom to dance upon my own path. I dress as I feel comfortable, wear my hair in a style of ease and comfort (no stylist required), and follow no man's rules concerning dress, food, music, worship, prayer . . . I live a life of ease because I have learned that this is not my home . . . I am merely camping. And we all know how casually we camp.

Once I sat in a packed chapel saying goodbye to a very “special” young lady. Katie lived a precious and perfectly wonderful life unlike any one else I knew. She cared not a whit for fashion, though her mom dressed her in the best. She stored no treasures on earth in her 24 years, but luxuriated in the moment – sparing no expense as she shared smiles and precious gifts of beauty. Admirers and followers flocked to her memorial. Great weeping eyes filled each pew.

As the pastor extolled the virtues of Katie’s all-too-brief life and entreated us to rejoice rather than weep, my son Andrew let out a whoop of celebratory JOY! He laughed out loud and pumped his legs in dance as the gentle speaker shared a vision of packing up one’s earthly tent and moving home. He acknowledged us as vagabonds on this earth with a hope-filled home in Heaven. I blushed a bit as my son did everything but “High-five” Katie’s family at her death.

But, you see, Andrew knew this truth. He celebrated Katie’s Homegoing with gusto. Both Andrew and Katie shared the gift of severely handicapped bodies filled with joyful lives. Lives and minds filled with all the same thoughts and hopes and dreams we so casually accept or reject as ours to determine. Katie and Andrew had no ability to get up and run to grasp ANYTHING save for the moments of eye contact, shared touch, sweet surrender of knowing what really counts. They succeeded in teaching their families and friends and even total strangers that life should be enjoyed even if you never run in a soccer match, dance at a prom, drive a car, toss a pebble into a pond, or even brush your own teeth. These precious kids quickly learned to distill the beauty in a day and celebrate it with joy not gloom, despite the restrictions. A “small” life by the world’s voracious definition, but a sweet life when savored.

To grow up knowing your time in a bottle has been severely limited may trouble some, but my son seemed to know it held a gift. He would be spared much of life’s pain in his brief campout in this fallen place. “SPARED?” some ask incredulously. “Trapped in an inferior body, dependent on those around for even the most basic needs like turning over for comfort or the wiping of a tear? How can you call that spared?”

I simply smile and remember how much Andrew managed to teach me in less than 16 years. His eyes, his smile, his razor sharp mind collected wisdom while others fought over legos. He savored each flavorful morsel while others pouted for sweets. He cultivated peace and serenity in the midst of chaos, fear and pending death while flying in helicopters, enduring ICU rooms, fighting for breath. Through it all he lived and lived well. Never did he miss an opportunity to cuddle, or smile, or sigh out contentment. He belched when he needed too and laughed because it felt good. His moments counted because the counter moved faster for him than most.

He taught me well to spend my time wisely. “How did he know?” you might ask. He knew. From his earliest breaths of life the doctors spoke of death. He grew up hearing of his pending death. He knew . . . we knew . . . He knew his bottle would empty quickly, that the tent would be folded and rolled away in the blink of an eye.

The day my son celebrated at Katie’s Homegoing he refused to quiet down. He wanted all to know that this time called for joy among the tears. He held onto nothing in this life. His little hands refused to clutch. His heart had to do all the holding and hearts pick and choose – they require the best. His heart opened wide and drank in the finest. No grudges, no avarice, no jealousy over things ~~ he lived his life in moments: one treasured event after another without any need to find a place to hold the junk. He had no junk worth keeping. Wheelchairs and bathing chairs and feeding tubes and such didn’t merit wasting time dreaming about bigger, better, or more. He would have gladly tossed them all and run free . . . as he did one early May morning.

When Andrew folded his tent and crossed over I felt so strange. I wept and rejoiced. I’m sure many thought I had lost my faculties along with my son. As we buried his unneeded body and the pastor shared a message of rejoicing at Andrew’s gain, a playful butterfly flew under the tent we erected against the beating sun. The butterfly danced gaily in our midst . . . “A postcard from Heaven,” I breathed. I smiled through the tears. I rejoiced with Andrew, just as he had rejoiced with Katie. He had taught me well.

I play at life so much more since Andrew taught me how to “camp” with the proper perspective. Won’t you play along with me in this earthly campground? There’s no need for tears and stress and greedy time-devouring thoughts of more or future or fashionable. The dust we gather on our skirts whilst we dance won’t make it to Heaven anyway.

Let’s be free!

Tag you’re it!

[And she runs off into the forest with a giggle and a cloud of dust.]

* * *
These things I have spoken unto you,
That in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
But be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

* * *

Time in A Bottle
by Jim Croce

If I could save Time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'til Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time . . .

* Artwork by Rachel


Dawn said...

Thank you for sharing this wisdom that you learned from your precious son. I'm in awe of your beautiful way of looking at life.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

swipes a tear and giggles, what a joy to have in your life and what great lessons he taught!
Skipping along behind you in the forrest :)

Becky said...

Now you have gone and made me cry... but in a good way ;-)


LadiesoftheHouse said...

Hmmmm.....I slept a total of one hour the entire night last night because of letting something bother me. This "something" is a recurring problem, you know, one of those things that rears it's ugly head as soon as you think you'll never dwell on it again.

My Father loves me, I asked Him for help, and He sent me to read this post first thing this morning.

Andrew is alive and well and giving me a big thumbs up from Heaven to remind me what I should be dwelling on. The lucky duck, he had it figured out all along.


Lesley Boyer said...

Thank you for posting about your dear son, Andrew. You see, I had an "Andrew" of my own. For almost 25 years my son, Matthew, lit up my world with his laughter, his sweetness, and his incredible zest for living. Born blind, ill and functionally quadrapelgic, Matthew could do little but love. And so he did - warmly, hugely and without reservation. I was blessed beyond measure to know him. And now, through your words, I have been introduced to Andrew. Thank you! I wonder if Andrew and Matthew have found each other yet in Heaven. I like to think they have.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

My Dear Lesley,

My precious Andrew would surely have a soft spot for a "Matthew" as his identical twin is named Matthew (and special, as well). You can meet my Matthew by clicking "Living with Autism" in my "labels" section (which badly needs updating).

I can't seem to find a way back to you, so I hope you check back here for my reply. I'm so glad you let me know that this touched you. When I bare my innermost thoughts I praise God when they touch another's heartstrings. God bless you and your sweet memories of your special son, Matthew.

Karen Deborah said...

This post is one of the most beautiful you have ever written. Having known and loved both of those children I know how true and lovely are the words you have penned for them. They taught all who met them something. Some of us learned very deep lessons, others not so much but each one they touched learned that all life has value and meaning.
These posts you have written in the days I was working make me miss you and the girls very much.
Thank you for writing this. I know what it cost you.

Ruth MacC said...

Of course you dont forget your boy but it is great to see you writing about him:-)

I am with you Debby!

Ii need to try harder... too many years conforming.

One Woman's Journey said...

Dear Debbie - I have been reading your past entries. You make me weep and you make me smile. You are so wise and you share what I know and what I sometimes forget.
Or rather forget to put into practice.
Blessings and prayers sent to you this evening. You have been a blessing to me this evening and I read what I needed to be reminded of.

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