Time Found Us

Tracing the  length of my arm to the tips of my fingers,

invisible strands reach for the laughter and dance 

that is found 

in the vastness of the stars filled

with you.

 

No corners to get hung up in.

No room filled darknesses.

 

Boundless breaths of air fill me 

to a point of expansion 

where radiant beams of  light 

warm and surround me

with you.

 

No boundaries where lines are drawn.

No hearts held motionless.

 

Yesterdays bring us to a place where tetherball dreams

and race car schemes collide 

Hand printed words carried into laughter induced moments 

where the desk in front of me is occupied 

with you. 

 

No rulers to  confine thoughts.

No splintered reflections.

 

Only a connection and a plan 

where there are no walls to run into

or red flags to slow it down.

Only measureless possibilities 

with you.

 

No obstacles to cause stumbling.

No doubts to bring retreat.

 

Unlimited movement finds truth 

as it reaches for the laughter and dance

found in  the vastness of the star filled strands 

leading to the tips of your fingers

as you trace the length of your arms

to me.  

 

Without Words

Cans

 

Presumptions were made on my part 

as you approached me, I noticed

your gold colored t-shirt that was worn backwards;

dirt stains splattered across your pants and the back side of your shirt

led me to think that your daily walk was street-held.

 

I stood at the cash register, 

as you came in the wooden double doors

Your approach towards the counter brought a look of hesitation, 

a reluctance encompassed your walk filled pace.

“Do you have a black marker I can borrow?

I have some words to write on a box.” 

 

It is not unusual to see one, maybe two, maybe three

pairs of hands on nearby street corners with a cardboard sign

each pleading for coins to get through the day, the week, the month, 

marker-ed scribbling

voice the words that the hands and heart need.

 

I hadn’t seen you on the corners before

Your dirt stained hand stretched out to mine

A black marker was left, help you did find.

“Please make sure you bring it back.”

 

Through a pane of glass I watched…a world away,

as you decided what words you needed to say. 

Your hand moved from corner to corner 

leaving lettering that I couldn’t read.

 

Back through the doors you came, 

A different walk, not the same. 

A smile and assurance written on your face

A young man on a mission, a young man knowing his place.

 

Handing me the marker, with an outstretched hand,

You voiced a “Thank you.”  and turned and continued 

to attend to what your heart did demand 

 

Hours passed, my shift ended

The marker request, not forgotten, but put aside 

until I saw that gold t-shirt across the way,

in the middle of a lot where cars park 

in the middle of the day.

No window pane, no worlds distant and far away.

 

I drove closer,  to see where your box might be,

it wasn’t there. 

Did you change your mind about what others should hear and see?

As I inched closer, you bent down 

picking discarded candy wrappers and plastic cellophane  up off the ground.

White plastic bag, in your hand, the contents was clear to see

As the weight of your bag showed your work, your mission, 

Your heart called that day …your current destiny

 

I started to go and wondered if you were hungry

or why it might be that you chose to clean  a parking lot of its debris.

Was someone paying you?

Wouldn’t standing at the corner with your scribbled words

be easier on such a hot day?

I rolled down my window and asked

“Where’s your box, the one where you needed to write upon,

did it not work, is it gone?”

 

With that reassured smile you stated,

 “Oh yes, it works just fine, 

it’s over there on the corner

where those who feel the need,

 can drop cans in it and keep the streets litter free.

Isn’t it sad, how careless people can be? 

I put some rocks inside the box, so it wouldn’t blow away…please know I’ll take the rocks out, 

when I pick the box up at the end of the day. ”

 

A lump in my throat, tears welled up inside

As I listened to you, while you stood there in those dirt stained clothes

with only your heart to display and confide.

 

I asked, “Are you hungry, are you doing ok?”

You hesitated with reluctance and a smile, 

“I’m ok for now, for a little while.”

 

I reached into my change holder and and pulled the few dollars that were there

I took them out and handed them to you, 

wanted you to know that someone noticed and cared. 

“Well, thank you for cleaning up the parking lot, when others are careless and don’t think about what they do.

Here’s a little something to perhaps take a break and get a drink for you.”

 

You stretched out your hand,

A little dirtier than before

Your face lit up and your words took me by surprise,

“If it’s ok, I’d like to go buy another box

to put on this other side. 

People need  a place to put their trash so they don’t 

clutter up the outside.”

 

We talked for a few minutes more, 

I left you to your work,

I realized…you were fed with God’s heart given chore. 

I drove away, feeling somewhat ashamed

Of presumptions made,  and not doing enough

asking myself, what I could do, 

what more?

 

The wheels of my car turned as I crossed the parking lot, 

past a man who stood at the corner with cardboard in his hand,

tears fell, 

as I knew what my heart did command.

 

I pulled over and looked for my wallet

did I have any more cash that I could give,

Do I give it to the man with cardboard in his hand 

Or the young man with a heart command. 

 

It was then, I saw the gold colored t-shirt, 

walking up to Walmart with his debris filled sack.

Depositing his bag into the can left outside the doors, 

He disappeared….went inside…perhaps a box…a drink  to buy.

I will  wait until he comes back to finish his chores. 

 

While I waited, I drove over to the  place where a cardboard box had been placed,

I read the words scribbled from corner to corner. “Cans”

I  got out and looked inside and there were rocks strewn about and a few crushed cans that didn’t hide.

What more could I do, my heart prayed…fill his box on this day.

 

I went back to the place where I work,

to the blue recycle bin  that held aluminium cans 

Tied the bag together and 

left with what God’s heart called and did demand. 

 

Not really knowing if this was the right thing to do

but I took the bag and placed it in your box.

I smiled through tear filled eyes…oh what a surprise. 

No more words to say, 

the “more” was done on this given moment, this given day.

 

You taught me to do more than I set out to do that day

You followed a command and scribbled some words on a box

and on a woman’s heart in your own special way. 

Coincidence?

 

Compass

Life keeps moving forward. Right now, I’m just sitting back and allowing life to fall into place.  As of June 1, I am a retired public school teacher.  I tried retiring early a couple of years ago and a ton of chaos occurred…it simply wasn’t the right time.  As I look back on the two years that took place after trying to force retirement, I understand now that I simply had some people to meet up with.  Those people made me a better person and I think I left a bit of myself with them as well.  Retirement this time around is much calmer and is the right time in so many ways.

A teacher is never really retired.  Teaching continues.  Yesterday, I received a message while I was at the lumber yard.  It was hotter than blazes, but I stood in the brick section and face-timed with a student that I had my first year of teaching.  I hear from her occasionally, but not usually through the face-time way of communicating. She was walking through a crossroad of life and reached out to talk about it with me.    As we talked, she reflected on how things in her life seem to be coming back around to the same place, no matter where she went, no matter with whom she was with.

Two other similar conversations took place over the last few weeks with two other former students. One from my 5th year of teaching and the other from my 10th year of teaching.  All three of these young ladies faced trauma in three totally different ways in their childhoods. All three are extremely strong willed and determined young women trying to figure life out.  They each are raising babies of their own now.

As I think about the commonalities and the differences in these three young ladies lives, I realize the common thread among them is myself.  I was placed into their lives in their upper elementary school years.  The traumas each of them faced, were not easy situations to go through at the 4th or 6th grade level. I remember just loving them through it all, that’s all I knew to do.

Interestingly enough, these three and the recent contact I’ve had with them are feeding into my latest journey of “what’s next” in my life.  I’ve got a pulling on my heart, been happening for a while now, to put together a plan to help young  mothers and older women facing financial and emotional challenges in their life.  I have placed chart paper on my kitchen wall with the sketching of some sort of plan and interestingly enough, those three girls’ names were on the chart before they even contacted me over the last few weeks.  The plan is unfolding more and more each day that goes by.

The conversation in the middle of the bricks yesterday, led to a question “Is it just a coincidence that I keep coming back to this one place?”  My response was….”The more I live out my own life, I understand that nothing is a coincidence. Pay attention to those things that keep reappearing, there’s something there that you need to work through. There’s something there that you need to do for yourself or perhaps someone else.  Don’t ignore their reoccurrence. ”

That young lady didn’t know it, but she helped to verify the path I’m on today.  The compass keeps pointing the way, it’s up to us to keep moving forward in the direction that is laid out for us.

Today, I realize more than ever, that not only does the teaching continue, but the learning as well….nothing is a coincidence.

 

*** As I started to leave this website, I went to my email….I was reminded that another young student from 2 years ago contacted me back at the first of June.  She sent me a random email through my school account to ask how my last school year went.  We have passed several emails back and forth.  Significant? Coincidence? ….only time will tell. Ha.

Purpose-filled Restoration

Isaiah

Of all the books in the Bible, I find myself in Isaiah, more times than not,  rereading and studying the words written long ago about individuals and groups of people who followed God’s law and those who didn’t.   I reflect on and study God’s part in individuals lives;  I reflect on and study God’s part in groups of people;  I reflect on and study in order to perhaps find answers for myself. 

A long time ago, I started writing in my Bible…notes, dates, comments, questions.  Some people disagree with writing in a Bible, but I find the study of “myself” in my notes….I find the growth of myself in my notes.  There are times when I can read a verse and it will be just words on a page and other times,  I will be taken to tears when the words are exactly what I needed to hear.

Isaiah 49:16

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;   your walls are ever before me.

The verse Isaiah 49:16 is one that brings me comfort in times of need.  Knowing that there is a “higher power” who is at the wall before I even get there is comforting.  I have at times come to this verse and thought, “Who am I, that You would want me “on the palm of Your hands?”  I have come to express gratitude and thanksgiving for placing me on the palm of His hands.

Isaiah 50:4 

The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned…..

The verse 50:4 has given definition to “my purpose” throughout life.  Close to thirty years ago, I chose to become a school teacher.  One of my goals was to ensure that every child in the classroom had a voice.  There are students who stand out in class, they speak up, they act out, they make their presence known.  It’s the quiet ones, the struggling ones that I wanted to make sure they knew someone saw them.  As I near my last week of teaching in a public school setting, I can look back and know that I reached that goal many times over.  Names and faces appear in a flash and tears form as I realize how many children and parents God brought to me over the years.

Leaving the classroom doesn’t take away my purpose, it will just be in other places, still with faces that need to hear the words that will be sent them.

Isaiah 51:16

And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.

Isaiah 51:16 isn’t one I have marked as many times as some, but today touches me in a realization of knowing that there have been those whose paths I’ve crossed that are laying their own foundations and plants because of the interaction arranged by God between me and them.  I simply carried a message.

Isaiah 51:9

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.

While there are days that I am tired, I am so grateful for the strength and purpose given for each day.  There is so much more to be done.

Dance Card

Honored to be asked; to dance once more

there in dreams chased; dance floor,

Wooden slats so tightly laid

shoes did slide across thin blades,

Hem of her dress did caress the breeze

as it fell gently against his knees.

Hand held with such tenderness and grace

warmth of palm against her face.

Music rushed through with great delight,

eyes aglow in pale moonlight.

Dreams did savor as breathe release,

honored to be asked, to dance..well pleased.

Moments Within a Frame

Heaven gained this keeper of history. I spent some time working with him as volunteers…the few short hours that we spent together left a huge impact on me.  You know how sometimes you run across people who make you think…“If I could do and know half of what this person knows….I would…..”

I left the following on his obituary page for his family and friends.   I record it here, as well. Richard was a meeting on my path that I know wasn’t a fluke, he has been a part of my journey. 

https://www.barnettfamilyfh.com/obituary/richard-wellman

Richard Wellman

Richard Wayne Wellman

Richard and I worked together on the mounds of photos at the Jefferson County Historical Museum. As he and I sat side by side one afternoon with photographs scattered around us, he walked me through the process of cataloging the photographs. He showed me the files he had started many years ago and he and I worked at bringing them into more current software and filing. We discussed old ways and new ways and combined the two into a workable document. I loved the process of bringing his work into a place where he could see how easy it would be someday for others to look things up. His face lit up when I showed him (theoretically) how the system would work eventually. He knew and I knew that there was a lot of work ahead yet. He was an organizer of his own way and his system made sense to me. He seemed to understand my way as well.

Richard talked about the photos and the people in them as we worked through the numbering and labeling. I loved listening to the stories about the memories the photos would remind him of. We talked of buildings, marching bands and parades, farms, milk bottles and wagon wheels. He taught me how to really look at each photo and to know the person even though I had never met them or their family. While we sorted , part of our conversation one day was about whether or not the photo job would ever get done. He didn’t think it would in his lifetime. I reassured him that I would follow through with what he started. In his gentle way, he laughed and finally said, “One photo, one file at a time.”

One of the last times I talked to him was when he called me on the telephone. We talked about setting a time to get together again, but didn’t pinpoint a date on that day. He did encourage me by telling me that he had noticed how many photos were already put away in the file cabinet. I told him that I had put them in the folders, but the computer work still needed to be done. He laughed and reminded me, “One photo, one file at a time.” Richard told me he would add to the computer files he had already started when he had time. His eyes tired easily and had just settled into his new home and was getting things situated. I laughed and I said, “One box at a time.”

Richard was a kind, soft spoken man who left a part of himself with me in the few conversations we shared about photographs and families of Jefferson County. May each of you, his family members and closest friends feel the warm embrace of God’s love through each of the memories shared throughout this time. Even now, I feel him saying to each of us, “One photo, one file at a time.”

 

As I think about the promise I made to him, I wonder how on earth I will fulfill that promise in my lifetime. There are literally thousands of photos waiting.  I keep thinking I should recruit some history majors at the colleges nearby. 

Free? To What Degree

I looked up from the stack,

written words bound in red, blue and black.

Moments captured and left on a page

stories of young and old, known with age.

There he was sitting quietly, up and out of the way,

for such a young one, not really much to say.

First thing that caught my eye were the braces attached to his shoes,

traveled to his knees, right below his denim blues.

A book lay in his lap, our eyes did meet,

as he watched me write on a small white sheet.

His feet didn’t touch the ground,

that chair a bit large for the young boy who sat without making a sound.

He took in all that was happening nearby

my mind and heart did employ with a quiet sigh.

 I wonder what he thought of those who walk unaided,

Is being “normal” overrated?

A gesture from someone who looked a lot like he

both feet on the ground, no longer, hands free.

I hadn’t noticed the rest of him there,

lying on the floor right beside that oversized chair.

His feet lightly stepped with the assistance of two more,

bringing a total of four feet on the floor.

He was across the room as quick as could be,

his voice chattered with anxiousness, something in the next room to see.

A sight of freedom as he entered through the big double doors 

a smile on his face, lifted him high up off the floor.

Birds that could talk and fly around,

making an unusually loud squawking sound.

Allowed to fly without any assistance,

Freedom came without resistance.

 

They..the boy and birds.. flew across the room as quick as could be

Feet off the ground, hands free.