After our four enjoyable days with our friends Sherry and Greg in Minnesota, Rich and I loaded up the Harley and set off on the next leg of our adventure. We headed west from Brainerd toward North Dakota. The scenery started changing as we approached the border between the two states, becoming flatter and less green.
As was our norm, we stopped for a break and a tank up after about an hour and a half of riding. Then we continued for about the same amount of time until our tummies told us it was time to get some lunch. We had noticed that the exits had grown further apart and offered very few food options, so as soon as we saw an Arby’s we decided to pull off. We are not big “fast-food” eaters, but Arby’s passes muster for a quick lunch.
Once inside, I made my food choices and left Rich to pick up the order while I went to choose a table from which we could keep an eye on the bike. There was only one other couple in the restaurant, and they were seated about three tables away from our window table. They were an older couple and the husband was in a wheelchair, and I could hear them talking quietly from time to time.
Rich bought our order to the table and we quickly got organized and ready to eat. Then, as always, we held hands and thanked God for a safe trip so far, asked him to continue to bless and protect us, to bless the food and continue to feed us spiritually. Then it was time to dig in and eat up.
I guess we were about half way through our meal when I became aware that the woman from the other couple was clearing away their things. Suddenly she was standing beside us and, leaning in toward us, she apologized for interrupting us. We said, no problem, and she carried on talking to let us know why she had come over.
She explained that she was “one of us” and that it had really warmed her heart to see us praying over our food before we began eating. She said that sometimes it was very hard to be a Christian because she felt we were in a minority. She also said that not many people were willing to be public about their belief in God and that as we prayed we had allowed her to feel as though she were “not alone”. It was a very warm moment of fellowship and my heart went out to her.
Rich agreed with her and told her that just a week or so ago we had done the same thing as she had. We had been having a meal at one of our favorite salad bars, “Sweet Tomatoes”, when a woman and her two daughters came and sat at the table across the aisle to us. Once they had settled into the booth, they all bowed their heads and said a prayer of blessing over their food. I remember how heart-warming it felt for us to see that, and as we left the restaurant Rich had paused briefly at their table to let them know how great it had been to witness that.
We exchanged farewells with the woman, and as she pushed her husband out of Arby’s I wondered what their story was. We feel very blessed to have met certain people, complete strangers, on our ride who have uplifted us and shared a God-moment with us. And I remembered that other couple in the rest stop parking lot in Tennessee who had cared enough about us to pray for our safety as we began our long trip.
I have been in a “dry spell” again:-(. And yet I have so much I want to write about. So many things running around my head. But it all seems stuck inside and I haven’t been able to release it. It is so frustrating. So let me start somewhere and see if I can unblock something.
So much has happened in my life in the last couple of months. Oh nothing monumental or earth-shattering – just life. But it has been so much more than the various bouts of sickness that I have had to contend with. Towards the end of February we had an amazing Lenten Mission at our church. A man fired with the Holy Spirit, Fr. Jim Curtin from Wisconsin, came and woke up a new spirit in our parish. I will eventually write a full posting about that.
One morning in March (fortunately in one of my healthy periods!!), my husband suddenly experienced chest pains and was hospitalized. I discovered through that experience that I have a weird way of dealing with unexpected shocking news when it involves my loved ones. That’s another posting too.
Easter and the celebration of the risen Lord came around again. With each year I become more and more aware of the passing of the seasons and the special church and State feast days and festivals. And each one seems to come around faster and faster. I am sure that this has something to do with what happens internally to us as we get older. Food for another posting.
At the end of March we had the joy of a fleeting visit from my eldest son Marco. He was flown from Naples, Italy to DC for a conference. That was a chance not to pass up and so he came a couple of days early and we flew him down to Florida so we could snatch some time with him. It was a happy time, yet tinged with sadness: his ten year relationship with the love of his life is seemingly at an end. The culprit? Words – those said in anger and those left unsaid. I know in my heart that I can write something about that.
And then came my birthday. Thank God by then I was done with being sick and I was able to celebrate with joy. Dinner with friends one day. Lunch with “the girls” another day. Cards and telephone calls from family across the sea as well as those close by. And wonderful gifts that showed just how much people cared. Beautiful flowers from my husband.
Celebration followed celebration as Mother’s Day came just a week after my birthday. What a day of bitter-sweet emotions. Mother’s Day this year occurred on the fourteenth anniversary of the passing of my own mother. I miss her so much. I still have times when I want to telephone her to share a special moment. I often think how she would have enjoyed a visit to my home here in America.
Again I received calls from my sons overseas. My husband showered me with more flowers and a lovely card. And of course my “baby”, my beautiful daughter Melissa, also telephoned. I was out in the garden and had just seen three butterflies in quick succession. They are my special connection to my mother but almost always cause the tears to flow.
I shared my memory of my mother with Melissa and we both cried some together. Between the tears she said, “I wish I could spend the day with you Mum”. But we both know that while she makes the choices that she makes today, that cannot be possible. And my heart is broken all over again. Sometimes being a mother just plains sucks!!
In the last few days I have realized that much of this being blocked, of my inability to write, is connected to this particular heartbreak. I have to put so much energy into staying upbeat, into not walking around looking miserable, that I have no energy left for play dates with my internal Muse. By the end of the day it leaves me totally exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So now I have to figure out a way to break through this situation so that I can reclaim my inspiration, my time with the Muse. Perhaps I have taken a small step in this direction this week. I have found a support group that may help me to walk through the difficulty in my relationship with my daughter. Then I hope to free myself and my energy and move back into daily regular writing.
For the trillionth time in the past few years I heard someone say, “Oh my God, time is just flying by”. And I mentally concurred as I noted the date on the calendar. It’s November 2009, almost Thanksgiving with Christmas knocking on the door. And, as usual, I found myself internally asking, “Where does the time go?”
Well, it goes by doesn’t it? I mean it doesn’t go for a walk, or to the movies, nor does it go to bed or on vacation!! It simply goes by, tick-tocking the seconds one by one. It never stops, nor does it go back on itself. It keeps on marching and no one can stop it or change it.
Sometimes when I think about the inexorable passing of time I get in a bit of a panic. I suspect that’s the very human part of me that recognizes underneath it all that with the passing of time my life span gets shorter by the second. However, there are other moments when I feel quite OK with the passage of time and I’m sure that’s when I’m more spiritually fit, when I’m more God-centered rather then me-centered.
I actually have a personal theory as to why time seems to be flying by. I’m very sure that the closer my soul feels to home, the more it seemingly accelerates time. It wants to get there, no delay!! I am of course speaking from a Christian perspective. I do believe in an after-life and I think that the closer I get to my transition date from this earth, then my soul is just in a hurry to get there.
Then I find myself thinking about heaven and what that might be like. When I was younger I used to imagine thousands of us, all glowing white and gold, surrounded by angels with long golden trumpets, just kind of bobbing around in this shiny nebulous place – rather like bobbers on a fishing line all massed together and smiling beatifically at each other.
Today my idea of heaven is greatly changed. Seeing as it’s my goal to get there I’ve given it quite a lot of thought. I’m very sure there will be activity rather than just sitting or standing around “bobbing” and beaming at the other souls. I really imagine some of it will allow me to sit on a seashore or a riverbank with Jesus and Buddha, Gandhi and Gibran, Richard Bach and Og Mandino, Marianne Williamson and Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Princess Di and Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Wayne Dyer.
There will be time to talk with them, collectively and individually. Unlimited time to ask them questions and have long discussions with them. I am sure I will meet the spiritual beings that were my family members and friends and that we will be able to connect in ways that were impossible here on earth because of the lessons we were learning, or teaching, here.
Most importantly there will be love, complete and unconditional love which will be the true source of happiness and joy. Practicing compassion will be the norm. There will be a beauty that transcends any earthly concept of beauty. And there will be no pain and no hatred. Now that’s what I call heaven.