Day 30 (Giving thanks)

My brother, John, wrote this shopping list for my mom.

At first I tried to figure out why olives are at the very top because who needs olives for Thanksgiving? People kept talking about it all day, and I couldn’t figure out why, and they told me it was just because people like…olives. People that are not me. But I’m glad they’ll make somebody happy.

And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what MS meant. MS? The disease. What?

“Maple Syrup,” John said matter-of-factly.

Maple Syrup will forever in my heart be called MS. Forever.

And as I admired the interesting doodles that accompanied ‘the list,’ and I listened to the Christmas music my dad holds off from playing until November (Oh, Nate King Cole. I will be yours truly, always), and made pie, and found myself in the middle of a mini LaBrasseur Family Reunion, losing to my 8 year old brother at chess, winning against my 18 year old brother at Peggle, laughing hard with my sister (who’s one of the only people that gets me), and welcoming said sister’s fiance into the huddle as I challenged him to eat three mandarins simultaneously, which he accomplished with aplomb (not), and at fudge and ice cream, and played backgammon with my old man, prayed with my mom…

What is there to be said when words cannot suffice? How do I articulate such intangible things as receiving a hug from your big brother, or pressing out pie crusts with your dad, and being happy? Life hasn’t been easy this past year. I could fill tomes with my words, but they need not be said. No one needs to read those; they need to know that God is good, and that he loves us– that I’m waiting to go home. To enter the gates of Glory where God will catch all my tears in palms that could contain all the oceans, call me by name with a voice that birthed the stars in the heavens, and come home.

But, for today, I can wait.

We will shop for olives and Maple Syrup, play endless games of Apples to Apples, and we will wait. And today I will find joy in the gift of a thankful heart.

Day 29 (An incomplete list of small pleasures)

Ahem.

  1. Being the first in line at the stop light
  2. That time I used the bathroom at a restaurant, and they had 20 different kinds of soap at the sink
  3. The moment you wake up to a bed that’s the perfect temperature
  4. Finding recognizing a star constellation
  5. The action of my fingers sinking into the keys of a grand piano.
  6. Letting balloons go
  7. Old school licking a stamp and sticking it to your letter
  8. Little baby rabbits with ears that drag, and fly up into the air when they hop.
  9. Laughing about the sound straws make in their lids with your little brothers in McDonalds. We totally lost it.
  10. Meeting little girls named Lucy.
  11. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  12. Taking a nap. A long one.
  13. Surprise company.
  14. 12 oz. Chai tea latte with 2 pumps hazelnut
  15. Buttoning buttons
  16. Dealing the perfect amount of cards during a game
  17. Cherry hardwood floors
  18. A man in a good suit
  19. Finishing a book
  20. Reading words in another language
  21. Reading music
  22. Shooting a rifle.
  23. Picking berries in the hottest weather
  24. Hiking for miles and being greeted by the ocean at the end
  25. When a strange dog is happy to see you
  26. Facebook notifications
  27. When your driving is complimented
  28. Keeping a plant alive
  29. Tiny spiders
  30. Winning at Monopoly

 

 

Day 28 (Flash Fiction)

What secrets they whisper behind closed doors, drawing the curtains to check the pathways of light;  they think darkness inspires health, but I feel my spirit repining in these shadows. My breaths come at a dearer price every time. The clock strikes 11 in the mourning. I notice the rooster has finally stopped crowing, and I wait. And he comes.

He stands at the foot of my bed. His cloak is black, and inside is blacker. I cannot discern his face. I sigh as he sits by my bedside, kneeling over me as I feel smooth, gloved fingers grasp my own, the weight of the fabric from his sleeve resting on my waist. All other noises die away, all the hushed worries and pitying eyes. Only him.

“She will die.”

I shiver. His voice is older than the stones that fill the hills. A strangled sound escapes my throat. I compose myself, murmuring, “No.”

“Yes,” He says, unflinchingly. “What can you think to argue? You cannot deny me, so I will take her.”

My heart runs cold, for I know He never leaves empty handed. I clutch my little on in my arms, press her closer to me.

“Me. Take me.”

He grows very still. His thumb runs absently inside my palm, following the lines, as his hooded face gazes at the child I have barely known.

“You?”

“Yes,” I breath. “Yes.”

Very carefully he bends over, pulls back the hood and kisses me. For a moment, half a moment, I am captivated by death.

And then I am gone, and there is nothing.

Day 27 (Tribute to Shell Silverstein)

I wonder what happened

To the boy in the hat

After he sprouted those wings

And flew up in the sky

And flashed a bright smile

As he waved a goodbye

And his mother shrieked loudly

It sure hurt my ears

And she ran down the street

In those heels

Drenched in tears

As her dear baby boy

Decided to fly

And just left

Because

Frankly

What is there to say

When she pinches your cheeks

And corrects your bad grammar

Dresses you up

And forbids you to play?

So Mikey took off

Never did see him again

And us other kids wondered

and pondered

And dreamed

Of growing some wings of our own

And fly, freed.

Day 26

Before the sun rises

My dear one

My darling

Before the sun welcomes the blue back to the sky

Before the the dove coos

From it’s nest in the rafters

Before you open your eyes

Limned with laughter

My prize

Before the dew gathers

While the wind travels north

Before the sea wakes the gulls with it’s churning

And tendrils of seedlings are dazzled by morning

Let me whisper a secret

Let me invoke the last rite

My dear one

My darling

My ends of the earth

Love without scruple

Let me bid you goodnight.

Day 25

The world keeps turning.

3There’s a fire going in the living room (in the fireplace), and we don’t have any working alarms in this house. There’s a magnetic strip above the stove that holds all our butcher knives, and I can’t help but think it gives the impression of being too…convenient.

Details, details. They’ll get you. Like the scent of your grandmother’s living room when Sam, the labrador, was still alive, and when your grandpa still bowled. She used to keep the dog biscuits in a canister, letting you take two out every day to help encourage a sit or  handshake.

The view from the upstairs window of the house where you lived for two years.

Talking to the neighbor girl through wire fencing in the back yard.

Onion paper Bible pages. Fanning through them, creating a current of wind across your face.

Life.

I’ve got a piece of advice for you. Stop whatever your doing to get through life. Please. Stop waiting to go to college. Stop getting up to go to work everyday. Don’t count the days till retirement. Don’t forge ahead toward a career or position. Stop trying to get there. Stop it. For a while sit down, and think about what you’re doing. We’re dying. No matter your religious affiliation, you will be dead someday. You’ll keel over, or you’ll get pierced through the heart with a spear, or cancer will start eating you, or you’ll just get old and your body will give  up.

We’re going to die. Are you helping people? Is that how you feel good about your life? Well they’re going to die too, sooner or later, no matter what. Forever compared with 70 years, and that’s if you’re lucky. Forever. 

This is no fire and brimstone sermon, this is the irreducible fact. Death has no scruples. You graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law, established a non profit firm and bettered the lives of countless minorities? You’ll die, and so will they.

I never thought about it that way. Ever since I was a child I knew my body wasn’t the only journey I was designed to take. But my Christian faith aside, this fact hit me: I’m going to die. Just because I’m washed in the blood and forgiven doesn’t mean I’m incapable of missing the point. So many times I do things for here, not for later. 70 years. And I marvel at the hoards of people who populate successful jobs and prestigious universities, the people who try so hard.

The bum playing video games is the one being honest; if you don’t have a reason to thrive, why should you?

What makes you do what you’re doing?

I have a friend who’s a prophet. Sincere, talks to God prophet. I remember a time when the peak of our excitement involved silly putty and my little ponies. She made a comment recently – “It’s funny. I’m walking down the street and people don’t even know who I am- a prophet.” My immediate mental response to that was, What’s even funnier is when I walk down the street and realize people don’t even know who they are. They don’t know what they have been made for.

Who are you? Why do you try so hard at life? What is life to you? Everything is dying, and you’re trying to so hard to live before time runs out. Most of that comes from lack of reference- it’s harder to remember life is fleeting when you’re young. 69 is a bit different.

This is stuff that pokes at my brain at night, or while ordering dessert, riding in the backseat of the car after a movie. I’ll look up to the stars and remember how small I am, because no one can see me from a gazillion miles away. Go read Ecclesiastes, preferably in the King James; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

I remember when my cat caught a pheasant, and I grasped the skin at the back of his neck and watched as vibrant plumage of golds and browns and reds burst forth from his sharp teeth. Memories of life. Why do we hold on to it? Why did that bird flee to safety?

Man, I’m so tired…

Day 24 (…Yep.)

Day 24. 6 more days and then I’m free. I think I’m running out of material…or perhaps I’m too tired to think of anything inspiring or original. How do people do it? Be amazing. Sometimes I feel so–you know what? I’m going to stop talking like this and write; there’s already enough sniveling on the internet.

*Deep breath*

There was once a blind girl by the sea

Who lived completely alone and blithely

In a bucket collected

Beautiful things she selected

And handed them all out for free

.

Day 23

I have to wake up in 5 hours and I’m trying to feel good about it. I mean, I ironed my shirt. I even threw my pants in the dryer to make them look clean.

I made an unexpected trip to church today. Usually I don’t work Sundays, but my boss gave me the ‘you must like taking vacations all the time’ talk after all the tim I’ve had to request off from work, because of missions training, weddings, and voting for the president. So when they asked me to work Sunday, I said yes, then I said yes again. And they think it’s weird that I like church, but that’s okay because they’re not Christians, so they don’t have to understand why it’s everything.

It’s hard to explain what happens when you get a group of believers together and start singing. Some would blame emotionalism, but I’ve attended concerts, watched speeches and rallies, the movie Braveheart. There’s something different about Church. We sang amazing grace, and while we recited the famous verses there’s just something… like living in a world where everyone claims the sky is green, and we finally get to sing about the sky being blue. The unadulterated joy that settles in your heart even though your throat aches from singing so  loudly.

And nothing compelling us other than the fact that He, the God we serve, loves us. It’s so simple. We strain and struggle with sharing the Gospel, us Christians. Books have been written and forums have been stuffed and documentaries have been shot depicting our failures and triumphs. Some think it’s nice that we’ve found our niche, but to leave theirs alone. Some call us silly and irrational, unscientific. Some actually seek us, but only because they admire Christ, not because they understand the fact that He died for them. The news is stiff with opinions and noise about religion, the big question “Is God real?” And how suffering and omnipotence could ever coexist. How could every other religion be wrong? How do you know that you possess the ONE truth, the needle in the haystack? Paul said in Romans that creation itself speaks the declarations of it’s maker. And Psalms:

The Heavens declare the glory of God,

The firmament shows His handiwork.

Day after day utters speech

And night after night shows knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where there voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

And us Christians, we try so hard to tell people, to make them know. And we forget that it’s simpler than that. Benjamin Zander was once told that only 4 percent of adults enjoy classical music, and they were wondering how they could push that to 6. Zander smiled as he said, “96 percent of the population loves classical music, and they don’t even know it yet.” And that was a stroke of wisdom. His words sunk deep, deep into my soul.

Everyone has heard the voice of the Lord, they just don’t know it yet.

And that short Ted Talk changed my life. Zander isn’t even a Christian, and he’s showing me the ropes. The beautiful thing about serving the God who created time and space is that He makes things work like that. My entire perspective changed. Now every day I see it. I see the line running through the earth, and there is only one. For no other reason than that He loved us. Loves us. It’s not about playing defense or offence in the verbal scrimmage of religion, it’s about pointing to the line. It’s already there.

Day 22 (Sonder)

Sonder

“n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” (Courtesy of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)

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Waiting at gate A26

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Like this instagram, I’ll keep it simple (or heartrendingly complex?).

I was sitting in the Denver airpot, messing with my ipod; covertly resting it on my knee, I had pressed the capture button. As I kept staring at the photo that appeared on the screen, I realized I was their coffee sipper. I was their blur of traffic, their lighted window at dusk. Those people in my periphery– was their periphery. In a mere moment the faces in this photo grew starkly independent from me, and I loved humanity. It had not been the first time, nor will it be the last, that Sonder possessed my heart and wrenched it from the familiar, the narcissistic.

And I find I can no longer walk a crowded street without imagining elaborate passageways.

Day 21

I just spent the day in Seattle, with one of my best friends. We rode the light rail into downtown, hit up this place:

 

Brass pig. Fish throwers. Street performers.

 

Ate at this place:

 

World’s best mac n cheese. And the flagship cheese they use in their sandwiches is sinfully good. Tillamook, I’m afraid my heart’s affections have been displaced. It’s Beecher’s or bust.

 

Hit up this place:

 

(Sara decided it was definitely not worth betraying your family for. And thought it was hilarious she was eating turkish delight with someone named Lucy. Perfect.

 

Totally stopped by to say hi to the mermaid at her very first store:

 

Best Hazelnut chai I’ve ever tasted. I love the hardwood floors in this place, and that they have a friendly and female employee directing waiting line traffic.

 

And after that we just walked around Seattle talking and this Guy…

 

It’s hard to stop talking about someone your in love with, so we just didn’t stop.

 

Sara brought me a dress for me to wear into town, and I noticed I was getting noticed by men. I’m not used to dressing up nice, but I definitely understood the look when I saw it. We laughed about it; I think I like my sweats. It felt like I had a weird, feminine superpower that I never tap into. I just want to live on some mountain. Life is simpler there.

And we rode the lightrail all the way back, drove home, and just sat on my bed and talked a bunch more about life. Shasta the kitten hopped up into my lap, and for a few moments everything was perfect. Then we got ready for dinner and went to a nice restaurant on the harbor, where we feasted on happy hour delicacies. Server was nice, food was beyond tasty, and my company choice. Right now she’s asleep in the living room, curled up on the couch by the fire.

Tomorrow we conquer the space needle while dining at Sky City restaurant. Mhmm.