"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sky Gifts

A raw early November day, my birthday. I enjoy the day as much as I've enjoyed anything in the last year. Which means I'm as fully present as possible around the grieving that's taken up residence in my body since last December. As we walked toward the restaurant on the Tacoma waterfront, where I anticipated a wonderful evening with family, the sky caught my eye. I gasped gratitude, both at the incredible beauty, and for the flare of joy the view ignited.

It was as though I hadn't seen the sky in months. And it's not that I didn't look. I love the sky in ways I love little else in my life. It's where I meet God, find answers, see birds. It's what lifts my heart and stirs my spirit. It is both constantly changing and constant. Even when I can't see it, which is often in the Pacific Northwest, I know it's there waiting for me.

Sky has been there every single day for the last year, yet it has seemed beyond reach in some way. Muted, veiled, distant.

When it spoke to me on my birthday I accepted it as one more gift of the day, and then forgot about it. Although the picture I took stayed with me, pushing itself into my consciousness at odd and random moments.

Then a couple of weeks later I was up at my regular predawn hour, doing my usual morning tasks, when a faint glow caught my eye. I looked east to see the palest infant pink behind the half-century-old douglas fir sentinels that surround our place. It's a common sight for me, one I almost take for granted. One I've seen and turned away from without praying gratitude for the last year. On this day, however, that tender light found its way through a crack of my broken heart, and something new stirred.

Since then the sky has showered me with gifts, as though to strengthen our renewed connection: A full lunar eclipse viewed alone in holy stillness. A young bald eagle flying directly overhead. My owl perched on the flagpole for the first time in months. Bright blinding sunshine filling an afternoon with gold. A whiskey-throated raven flying up the river, then back again, offering some message I can't quite grasp, but don't seem to mind missing.

On this first anniversary of her death I am able to imagine my daughter held in the arms of the sky, freed from gravity in all its forms. I long to grow wings and search for her among the stars, to bring her home. Yet I accept Sky's timing and the grace of its wisdom. I look upward to stars made brighter through my tears, and breathe gratitude.

It's been weeks since I've been around to visit my virtual friends, and I want you to know I miss you. Walt is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. Work has been insane. Christmas is at our house this year. I'll be back to a routine after the holidays, both as a blog friend and as a blogger. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your lovely wishes, your prayers and your understanding. It helps more than I can say. 


Stacy said...

One time when we were flying somewhere we went up through the rain clouds and into the beautiful blue sky. It had never occurred to me that above the rain clouds was the blue sky just waiting to peek through the storms.

Isn't God like that? Waiting to peek through the storms in life and sustain our spirits.

Hugs from Ohio, Deb. Just a few more days until break.

DJan said...

This is so beautiful and heartfelt, Deb. I hear you. I too saw the eclipse in between the clouds here in Bellingham, and I am simply amazed at the beauty in the picture, the layers upon layers of peace. I am lighting a candle in hopes that all my blogging friends will see the spiritual light through the darkness...

Niki said...

So inspiring, beautifully written...happy to hear you are present in the moment, around your grieving...a beautiful young woman, praying for you.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Beautiful: the post, the sky and you.

Merry Christmas!


Linda Hoye said...

Happy Christmas, Deb.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Another beautifully written post--a heartfelt reflection and a sweet reminder of God's present in the nature--sky, flowers, light...

Writing is healing, Deb. I'm preparing a future post about my 24 year-old cousin who was murdered 18 years ago. It's a painful event to remember, but somehow writing about it seems to help with my grieving.

(((( hugs ))))


Sandi said...

Oh Deb, I love the layers in the photo. It reminded me again of a recent post of yours titled, "Layers" (I think that was the title!).

What struck me most in this post was, "On this first anniversary of her death I am able to imagine my daughter held in the arms of the sky, freed from gravity in all its forms."

The idea of our beloved children being held in the arms of the sky, freed from being held down with the weight they were buried under, fills me with new hope.

Thank you for bringing that image to my heart. I, too, wish I could sprout wings and seek my son, and bring him home to me. Yet, within my heart I know, he is already "home", safe and sound.

I love you, and I'm holding you close in my heart.

Sally Wessely said...

This was just a beautiful post. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

Your daughter was such a beautiful woman. My heart aches all over again for her, for you, and for her other family members. I'm thinking of you.

I also have been bad at posting lately. There has just been too much going on.

Wanda said...

So glad to know that you are okay (more or less). :) I've missed you, too. I wish Walt well with his recovery. I think of you often. My heart is with you.

Rita said...

Imagining your daughter being held in the arms of the sky, free from gravity--well, that just says it all. I am happy the sky and the birds have touched your broken heart. Nature is healing. Bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Deb Cushman said...

If you can picture her in the sky, she will always remain in your heart. Best wishes to you and Walt during this holiday.

tricia said...

Kathleen is beautiful and amazing and finally really living. You are real and raw and in pain, and I love you, and I understand you. I cannot wait to share some tea today and catch up, my friend.

Mark Lyons said...

I love your imagery. And I'm so grateful for the healing that you continue to find in your life.

I love you for ALL that you are.


writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Beautiful photo and essay.

Laura said...

"I gasped gratitude, both at the incredible beauty, and for the flare of joy the view ignited." Oh Deb...I understand this experience so well...I love the way you have visualized your daughter, gravity free in the sky...peaceful at last...both of you? I hope that Walt heals quickly and well. It will be good to have some time off from work, I'm sure.
Bright blessings my friend.

Donna said...

You write from the soul and I hear you that way too. Such heartfelt greiving and yet I see your healing too. A year is a terrible marker...one has to be so aware of it. After that, it gets easier. It never goes away, just gets easier. I so sorry for your loss but as you say it so well...sky is a gift and all that generates from above it. You will be together again and soon, just not as soon as you'd wish. We honor our loved ones by appreciateing the moments here. Wishing you wonderful holidays.

yaya said...

Such a beautiful post that comes from you heart. I wish you a beautiful sky every day and sense of peace and love too. Some day all will be made right. What a great day that will be. Have a wonderful Christmas Deb.

Amber said...

As always, love, love, love to you.


graceonline said...

She is so beautiful, your daughter. I send prayers for a peaceful heart, warmth through your bones.

Thank you for sharing these moments with us in this tender way.

Laura said...

Happy New Year! May your life always be filled with blessings!

Charlene N. K. said...

This is one more beautifully expressed and inspiring blog. Yes, there's so much in nature that can give us hope, joy and comfort; so much in the sky that cheer us up in distressing times; so much to be thankful for.
Thanks for sharing your inspirational thoughts and experiences.
Thanks too for being the first to comment on my blog this year.

Barb said...

I wanted to come by on this first day of the New Year to wish you not only One Good Thing but many in the coming year, Deb. I hope you've had a restful break. Happy 2012!

kario said...

Your ability to take what is presented to you never ceases to amaze me. I love your connection with nature and your willingness to share it.

Know that I hold you dear in my heart and send love and light to you and Walt.

Dee Ready said...

Dear Deb,
I hope Walt is doing better and that your Christmas was filled with the joy of the season. In reading your posting of the gift of sky, I thought of the following poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I'm not sure why this poem came to mind, but I trust my instincts and so I'll type it here for you now:

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

Unknown said...

It feel so sacred,
your space here.

Sending you a very heartfelt hug. In appreciation, in friendship, in community , in peace.

Life is wonder. Hard. But so very very beautiful.
Thank you for knowing it and gifting it.