"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, September 15, 2013


Sisters, one twelve, the other six or seven, went into foster care last week. Remarkable only because I know them and love the older sister (probably would love the younger, too, but I haven't spent time with her). Unfortunately, not an unusual event - one source I checked said there are more than 400,000 kids in out-of-home care in our country every day. Sadly, and maybe even inevitably, this move guarantees a rougher road ahead for both girls.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the paths we find ourselves on, some intentional, but many out of our control.

My own childhood could easily have ended with me in foster care, except it was the early 60s in rural Idaho and nothing showed on the outside.

I was a foster mom for a short stretch during my cult years—twelve kids in three years ranging in age from newborn to thirteen. I hated it. Loved the kids, but hated fostering. Mostly because I wanted a baby of my own and in my relative youth and religious judgment could not understand how giving the kids back to parents who lost them in the first place could possibly be good for them.

Of course it's not that simple. And it's only been recently that I've come to really understand that even kids raised by loving, intentional, child-centered parents can find themselves on rutted and rocky roads. That perhaps every life path veers and winds and reverses and even seems to diminish into nothing from time to time. I believed for the longest time that my own path was too broken to take me anywhere  but shadowlands of scrub and second-best.

I can't say why one person's journey, no matter the twists and turns, takes them into the light, while another's seems only to draw them further and further into darkness. For myself, now, the path is golden with light. Light that beckons from without and warms from within. A gift of light. Grace. Not something earned for sure.

Although I know things will be hard, maybe even horrendous, for a while, I'm optimistic for those two girls. As long as there's enough light for them to see a path, as long as they travel in the protected guidance of guardian adults who love them, as long as there's time, their journeys can be abundant with all the best life has to offer. No matter the path, they can become who they came here to be. The gift of light available to us all illuminates their possibilities, hopefully enough to keep their eyes and hearts open to their own best destinations.


Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

From every word you now write the light radiates for others to see if they wish it. How beautiful you have expressed that hope is there. I'm always grateful to have enough vision to be able to read posts like yours. Wisdom from life's experiences floe here.

Sandi said...

It's a rare day when I am the first to comment! I found this post especially poignant, Deb, being one of those who wasn't a foster child, but could have (or should have) been. Fortunately, I was "fostered" through various people who entered my life, knew I needed them, and stuck around.

I was struck by many sentences, but these words, "I believed for the longest time that my own path was too broken to take me anywhere but shadowlands of scrub and second-best." Me, too!

You and I have talked before about being survivors, and our determination to rise above, basically come hell or high water.

I think it is no accident we have found ourselves in the profession we are in, doggedly attempting to be the patch in those broken paths.

Much love to you, my sister in patchwork.

Barb said...

Hi Deb, I hope for the resilience of those children. I don't know what makes some people sink and some swim - how some get lost and others finally find their way. Speaking for myself, having people at different stages of my life who believed in me made all the difference. Just knowing that another person thinks you can is sometimes enough to build confidence.

Linda Reeder said...

I am catching up to blogging, and I have just read your last three posts. There is a theme, of course - children. Fledglings, not yet complete people finding their path, some coming to a abrupt end to a too short life. Children, full of promise, but with hurdles to overcome, and you there, beautiful lady, to help so many of them.

yaya said...

Our county has a very high rate of kids in foster care. It was front page news. I see so many kids born at our hospital that I'm sure will end up there. I too hope those girls are placed in a good home and can find peace and live a good life.

DJan said...

I do so hope that things will turn out the way you envision for those girls, Deb. It's a tough thing not to have stability and love during one's formative years. Although I did have that, I was unable to provide it to my own son, and he suffered from it. You are so big hearted and empathic, I cannot imagine what it was like for you as a child.

Linda Myers said...

Sounds like a possible conversation for the Vashonistas.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Love your post. I work with kids every day. Many children in our country go to foster care. Some are in and out like a revolving door. Sadly, I think they build up a shell that eventually shields them from hurt.

I don't think it helps--the shell. Only postpones emotions that will burst out one day, for good or bad.

kario said...

I keep learning over and over again not to question my path or anyone else's. I have a friend who often gently reminds me that I cannot affect someone else's journey in any other way beyond holding space and offering light and love. I cannot travel another's path (or any rocky, unpleasant part of it) no matter how much I want to in order to spare them anything. I also find it helpful to think about a Tibetan Buddhist notion that each of us has chosen the life we would live and the lessons we would learn long before we found ourselves here. The more we think of these things as opportunities to grow and learn and become our best selves and contribute to the world, the easier it becomes to live these lives.


tricia said...

Your post has caused me to think differently about the concept of "fostering" than ever before. I believe, I guess, that we are all fostered at one point or another, as well as all being the fosterer occasionally. The truth is, we all need each other in this life, and thankfully, there are those who are willing to stand in the gap when we need. Thank you for being that in my life!

Dee said...

Dear Deb, this posting is such an affirmation of possibility. Thank you. Peace.