Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today I wandered with my three little ones through the graveyard. The sky was a pensive bluish-grey that leaves you with a feeling maybe a storm is near. The wind was sending what's left on the trees sailing toward earth. There is something peaceful about graveyards. Perhaps a sense of perspective comes as you walk past names, dates, history, so many stories, so many dreams. Of all those stories there are some things that you know bond them all, life, love, friendships, brokenness, dysfunction, desires, hope. I feel so very small and a strong sense of the brevity of it all. It's changed though, everything has changed since five years ago today, when I buried my dad. There was a time when he was my strong hero.. doesn't every little girl want her dad to be her hero? We spent sunny afternoons catching sunnies and he hammered nails in mason jars so I could catch fireflies. He was gentle,rugged and invincible. Then one day he was old, frail, vulnerable and dying. He needed help in ways I wasn't ready to have to help him. I found myself sitting in front of him in his wheel chair. He held his paralyzed hand and I tried to help him finish a painting. Golden light came soft through the window of that Autumn day. I saw a sorrow in my father's eyes I had never seen before. It tore at my soul and it was then that I joined the the family of the wounded. It was not that he lacked faith, for he knew where he was going. It's just that life doesn't always fit into our tidy theology. In his eyes I saw a man who feasted on the stuff of life to his very core, the scent of the earth in his hands as he gardened, the poetry of clouds, the faces of his five children and the faces of the little ones he would never meet... he missed it all...even while he was still here. And I could see it in his beautiful ocean gray eyes. I put my cheek on his and went back to mixing oil paints through tear-filled eyes, while he looked at the canvas with a vision that was slipping away. I'm not sure what compelled me to write about this afternoon. It is not a place I go to often but it is real, raw and human and it changed me. And surely there are those memories and pictures in my head that are painful and sacred and beautiful and I keep them locked up tight like a treasure trove, so that they remain untouched, unchanged by the light and air. So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for my dad, for everything he was and everything he now is. I am thankful for the healing that God has given me and for the wound that with its bearing allows me to see others' wounds and have compassion. I am thankful for my Savior who will put an end to all death and disease. I'm thankful that my dad is home and enjoying life of which all the beauty he knew here was merely a glimmer. I am thankful for the history and the story I carry with me.

"Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."

part of Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas


heather said...

I remember him in all his joy and twinkling smiles, child-like glee at Christmas time and delight in the beauties of nature ~ but his sorrow-filled eyes are forever burned in my memory. The day that photo was taken was the day I joined the ranks of the wounded. I couldn't bear to face him that day, to see such raw emotion... 5 years later, its amazing how that grief can still come keening upon us in such intensity when we take a moment to allow it. I don't know how people grieve with out the assurance of being reunitd in heaven. Thank you for sharing, Linda.

Christine said...

This is breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your memories with us, and for being that vulnerable. It sounds like your dad was a very strong, tender, special man. I love that Dylan Thomas poem, too.

Susan said...

We can be thankful for the big holes that love left and knowing that one day all the holes in our hearts will be healed. This is a lovely tribute to your father. You are so much like him. Love, Susan