Bright Like Iron (Weed)


Can you guess my favorite fall color? It’s not the rubies, golds, bronzes, or sunset oranges in the treetops. No. My favorite fall color lives much closer to earth. My favorite fall color inhabits the ditches along the highways and springs up in the fence rows hedging country roads. It bursts bright and refreshing among the fiery trees. My favorite fall color is purple, but specifically the purple of prairie ironweed.

In all the burnt and blazing warmth of autumn, ironweed touches the color palette with coolness. Something puzzles me, however. I don’t know why the ironweed blooms now, in the midst of fall, rather than in the glory of spring; but, even if I don’t know why it is, I know that it have a point. This conspicuous bloom makes me smile, the gleam of royal purple like a beacon of life in a world preparing to hibernate.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy fall with its cooler air and brilliant color show. But I always remember that the weather is wending its way towards the silent grey cold of winter. A flash of ironweed reminds me of what will come after winter, after the cold, the silence, and the hard freeze. Rebirth, Renewal. Glorious spring. Ironweed reminds us that light and color and renewal will come again on the other side of the oncoming winter. I want to be like that.

I want to be bright like ironweed.

I want to be a reminder of the life that waits beyond the hardship, the struggle, the trials, and aching heartbreak. I want to be a hand for someone to grasp when it feels like their world is smoldering around them. A safe place amidst the storm.

I want to be bright like ironweed.

To be bright like ironweed is to stand as an island in the river for those who are raked over and shattered on the rocks of life. To show them my own scarred back, often hidden from sight, and assure them that their pain is valid and real and understood.

To be bright like ironweed is to be an alcove in the storm for those who are tossed and thrown about by the waves and whipped by the icy wind. To show them my own windburned skin and assure them that the storm will end someday and endurance and healing are possible.

I remember those who have been ironweed in my own autumns, those who have been bright spots amidst what can be the wearying blaze of every day. I recall what they have done and given, standing stalwart in the midst of emotional tumult or climbing down to sit in the low dark with me. I recall their rejoicing  with me in my triumphs, elation at my joy, and their love splashed over me in dry seasons. I want to learn from these people about  that brightness. I want to learn from them about living my purpose, whatever that might be, to be whatever help I might be. I do not know why the ironweed blooms when it does but I know that it is a blessing to me. I may not know exactly what impact I might have on the people and world around me but I can do my best to make it a good one. I know what has been done for me and how important it is to my life and my soul. I should like to do the same for others, to gift them with the same support, hope, and love that has been showered on me and has bolstered my spirit.

I want to be bright like ironweed.

 

[Featured Photo Credit: http://agardenforall.com%5D

 

 

The Blue Bench


There is a bench somewhere, probably nearby. You might have totally missed it before, but it’s there. More of a swing, really, though it’s mostly fallen into disuse as such over the years. Its color, however, has remained bright and vivid, as if it desires to teach the sky how to be just so. It’s a rather impossibly bright shade, making the bench simultaneously something old and something new.

This is an uncommon bench. This bench invites company. As you sit on the bench, you will find that its openness and space are not diminished. Rather, the bench seems bigger, longer, wider, brighter. So you add a friend. That bright blue bench seems bigger still. The more people who join you on the bench, the bigger it seems. The bench sees everyone as important and makes room for them.

The bench holds a lot of things, things spoken, sung, shared, and written. Joyous dreams. Mind-blowing adventures. Broken hearts. Torn souls. Stronger scars. Triumphant stories. Tearful whispers. But one of the most important things that this brilliant blue bench holds is a hand to always take yours, someone who has got your back and will always be there. Because the bench never met someone who wasn’t important. And everyone needs someone.

The Blue Bench

A Long Way From Home, Day 7: Expecto Patronum!


Today, I figured out what my patronus is. Or it finally told me, I’m not entirely sure which. BUT the point is that I know what it is and it fits! But, first, an explanation.

I and several of my friends and loved ones (and perhaps you, too) are sometimes plagued by nasty little thoughts and mindsets that lie to us and cause us to doubt ourselves, our voices, feelings, and our worth. We call them ‘brain weasels’ and we hates them. The cruel little things tell us that what we have to say is crap, that no one cares, no one will listen, it isn’t worth saying or writing, we are not worth it, we should be ashamed about taking up space and air, we have no right to feel what we are feeling, we don’t try enough, it’s our fault, and on and on and on. They silence our souls, break our hearts, and drown our thoughts. I have been fortunate enough to have dear ones who, when the brain weasels attack, will fight them with every ounce of everything they have, determined to beat them off with a red-hot poker and remind me that I am loved, I have worth, and I am not forgotten.

And so I endeavor to do the same for others to the best of my ability. Today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she had wanted to post her thoughts today but that the brain weasels were on the prowl, telling her that what she had to say was no good or that no one would care. I found myself commenting on her post and telling her, “You are safe here. I have a lovely weasel-hunting…” And then I paused before finishing the sentence. What animals hunt weasels, I wondered? So, what else? I looked it up and the animal on the weasel predator list that immediately stood out at me was a fox. Something inside me bloomed and smiled. Perfect!  It did. It felt perfect. So I finished my comment: “…I have a lovely weasel-hunting fox patronus.”

It fit. It absolutely fit. But “why?” was my next wondering. I knew that foxes are typically associated with being cunning and tricksters, but what else could they represent? (And friends who are knowledgeable and skilled with animal spirituality and totems, please feel free to chime in here, by all means!) One source lists the fox as representing patience, wisdom, intelligence, and adaptability, as characters who can straddle either or both sides of the spectrum (https://www.quotev.com/story/3671161/Patronuses-and-Meanings/1). Another source notes that the fox can represent observational skills, cunning, courage, invisibility, ability to observe unseen,
persistence, gentleness, swiftness, and a reliable friend (http://www.shamanicjourney.com/fox-power-animal-symbol-of-camouflage-quick-wit-cunning-agility-magic).

The fox has sat happily in my mind since the moment of its realization, and I cannot help but smile as I think about a silver-white-blue fox frolicking around, a manifestation of my imagination, heart, and soul for those I love. I have been blessed with a good assortment of reliable friends and family and more than a few very happy thoughts and memories.

When you, my friends, family, and dear ones, are beset by these brain weasels, I want you to know that you are safe from their lies with me. I am willing to hear you, listen to you, see you, and remind you of just how wonderful you are. Your thoughts are not stupid to me, nor are your feelings. You are valid and relevant as you are and you are still who you are, whether it is a great day or a bad day. I love you as you are. If you need a defender, I will gladly wrap you up in my arms (figuratively or literally, whichever is needed and allowing for distance) and point my wand at that nasty brain weasel of a Dementor.

This is my friend, they are mine to support and defend. My advice? Don’t mess with those I love because, believe me…

You won’t expecto this patronum!

 

(Featured photo credit: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Seamus_Finnigan)

Giving As You Would Have Given To You


We have often heard what is touted as The Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Have you ever thought, though, that that includes not only our actions but our reactions to people, too? Have you ever had a situation in which you longed and hoped for the best-case reaction from someone(s) but, instead, got the absolute opposite?

  • Instead of compassion, you were judged.
  • Instead of mercy and forgiveness, you were rejected.
  • Instead of support, you were abandoned.

Being truthful, coming clean, sharing our faults, shortcomings, vulnerabilities, or our need for help are often very difficult and even frightening. That fear is often built on the anticipation of a bad reaction from those to whom we must tell these things, and many of us have felt the pain of those fears realized at one time or another.

One of the most popular quotes over the past year (with over 51 million Google results and numerous memes floating about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) is: “Be the person you needed when you were younger” (Ayesha A. Siddiqi). What would our world be like if we gave the reactions that we wished we had received in our difficult moments? Better yet, what if we gave responses instead of reactions? “To react” is defined by Merriam-Webster as action or feeling as a result of a stimulus or situation. “To respond” is defined by the same as giving an answer to something. The former implies a visceral outcome, built on emotion. The latter implies conscious effort and thought given before speaking or acting. Now, that is not say that ours will always be the response that the other person would expressly desire but, in taking time to think, there is less chance of us allowing our emotions to hold sway and cause us to be discourteous, dismissive of, or even cruel to others in their heavy moments.

What if we gave responses instead of reactions? What if we took the time to consider? To consider humanity, fallibility, and kindness.  We can give compassion instead of judgement, mercy instead of rejection, and support instead of abandonment. How much better would our world be if we remembered the responses that we needed in our tough times and then gifted those responses to others? How many spirits might be spared, hearts edified, or even  relationships saved? Taking a pause is not always easy to remember or to do but I dare say that it undoubtedly worth it.

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