The butchers came in broad daylight. With no thought of disguising their work, they sliced limb from limb and left misshapen trunks in their wake.

It was totally unexpected. Yes, they left their warning mark months ago, so long ago it had become ignored and then forgotten. But they didn’t forget.

It served their purpose – ridding the space of troublesome interferences. Things that could get in the way in the future, in the colder times to come.

But there was no other thought of what is to come. No appreciation for loveliness or symmetry. Only practical concerns. Empty space that once was filled. The power must get through.

Now it is left to us to wait for the healing, for the growth. And to shape that growth along the way, in the return to beauty .

Yes, to wait, and to watch, and to be thankful for the new life that follows destruction. Always. Every day.

the start to a perfect day

It was the perfect day
What I’d give if I could find a way to stay
Lost in this moment now
Ain’t worried about tomorrow
When you’re busy livin’ in a perfect day.

I got up early that morning to run an errand before work. It was a bright clear day, the sun barely up but already bringing things into focus. There were sparkles of light here and there, rays of sunshine seemingly just for me.

The air was cooler, crisper, more refreshing. Just the barest touch of fall color was brushing the tips of the trees.The sky was becoming a brilliant blue, not a cloud in sight.

Finding just what I needed at the store, I returned home feeling satisfied that the coming day was going to be a good one. It was encouraging to accomplish something so early in the day.

I returned to my home and to smells that don’t usually greet me as I enter. The fresh coffee I started before I left, the clean laundry finishing in the dryer.

Soon I left home again, this time to head for school, and listened (with the volume turned up loud!) as Lady Antebellum sang another chorus:

It was the perfect day
What I’d give if I could find a way to stay
Lost in this moment now
Ain’t worried about tomorrow
When you’re busy livin’ in a perfect day.

the head is very vascular

Today is our son Mark’s 24th birthday.  We didn’t get to see him today, and we will celebrate later, but I have spent some time today missing him and reflecting on being the mother of this fine young man. I couldn’t help but recall some instances from his childhood, which I am sure we will rehash when we are all together. Here is one of our favorite Mark stories:

One Sunday we were talking with friends in our Sunday School classroom after church. Our children were young then, and they were playing with each other as the adults talked. Our son was about three and as he was running around the classroom he ran into the chalk tray that stuck out below the board, and he cut his head right at eye level in his hairline. Of course there were screams and tears.

As we were consoling him, one of our friends, a nurse, said, “You should take him to get stitches.” Even though he wasn’t bleeding too much at that point, she continued, “The head is very vascular, you know.”

We decided to take him to the emergency room and see what needed to be done. As we were getting in our car in the church parking lot another church member, a pediatrician, came up to us and asked to see Mark. “I heard he cut his head. I can’t go with you to the hospital right now, but I know they will take care of him there. He really should get stitches. The head is very vascular, you know.”

So we were off to the ER. By this time Mark was calm, and seemed to be in pretty good shape. He was only bleeding slightly from the half-inch long cut – but the head is very vascular, you know, and we didn’t want him to start bleeding later.

When the staff heard that Mark had hit his head, they took us back quickly and the doctor insisted that he have an x-ray to determine any internal damage.  Standard procedure for all head injuries, we were told. I went down the hall with him and as I sat outside the x-ray room, another friend of ours, a physician, came by and asked what I was doing there. When I described the scenario, he said, “It’s a good thing you brought him in. The head is very vascular, you know.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that,” I replied.

Everything was clear there so we returned to the ER and the doctor DID give him stitches. He was covered up with green sheets from head to toe so the nurse and I were rubbing his arm and leg to let him know we were there and that he would be just fine.

Then we noticed an odd sound coming from beneath the covers. My husband and I stopped, listened, and then smiled. Mark wasn’t the least bit agitated. In fact, he had fallen asleep and was snoring. Knowing there was no internal damage we let him sleep on and get those stitches so there was no chance of bleeding – because the head is very vascular, you know.

Happy Birthday, Son!

the sound of music

Recently our local Heritage Foundation, dedicated to preserving historic structures, undertook a major fundraising effort to restore our downtown theater. The result of their successful work is a state-of-the-art venue for movies, concerts, and plays. Our community is fortunate to have dedicated citizens who look to the future with an eye on the past.

This summer my daughter and I went to see Studio Tenn’s production of The Sound of Music on its opening night. As usual, when the day came for us to go, I thought of a hundred different things I should be doing with that time. But I was thankful to be spending time with my daughter and anxious to see a live production in our new facility.

The evening was absolutely amazing. The talent of the actors was evident in the performance of their lines as well as their musical numbers. The set was minimal but very effective. I felt as though I was right there in the scene, and when I reminded myself it was a play rather than real life, I felt as if the cast members were performing their very best work, just for me. Yes, it was that good.

But it was more than just a wonderful evening at the theater for me. I was totally involved in the story and the music. The performance took me back to the moment when I saw the movie for the first time, wrapped up in the beautiful scenery, the grumpy father, the children and their unique clothing, the intrigue of the escape, and the charming Maria. I could remember the year I was in sixth grade, singing the songs in school programs and listening to them at sleepovers on the weekends. This story was definitely one of “My Favorite Things.” Why hadn’t I even thought of it in the last few years?

Can you hear “The Hills are Alive…” and not see yourself, arms spread wide, spinning around in the mountain meadows? And I remember playing “Climb Every Mountain…” as one of my piano pieces, the first time I played high notes alternating with low chords -“til,” (boom), “you,” (boom), “find,” (boom), “your,” (boom), “dream.” The yodeling of “The Lonely Goatherd” was a part of my childhood, too. When the nuns sang “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” near the beginning of the play, I sang along in my head, every note, every word, phrases I hadn’t thought of in years. And it was the same with every solo, duet, and chorus throughout the entire production. It was all there in my mind, waiting to be rediscovered.

And then, near the end, we heard “Edelweiss,” and my daughter smiled and said, “Here it is.” The song that was sung in rounds with my friends at camp, and later the tune to a sorority favorite on the last night of rush – a melody I sang to my children as I rocked them to sleep, and a memory engrained in the heart and mind of both my daughter and myself. Such a beautiful, inspired tune, along with words that span years, and cultures, and dreams.

Music has that quality like nothing else does– to revive long-forgotten memories and bring fullness into hearts that can easily get downtrodden with the monotony of day-to-day life.  To show us the best in others and the possibilities for ourselves. “My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I’ll sing once more.”