reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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learning. again. [merely-a-thought monday]

we were the only ones in the balcony. it had been a long time since we had sat in a church balcony together – almost a year – but this was an inviting and warm place, filled with good energy. filmy fabric draped over the light fixture in the center, rainbow pieces of gauzy weave, floating high above the pews below us which were full; so many people there to celebrate nancy’s life.

i’ve played for a lot of funerals and been to my own share of sitting-in-the-front-row services. it is sometimes hard to find family or friends to participate in the celebration of life that a service affords. people will attend, but they’d rather sit and watch than speak. this service was different. it appeared that there was not any difficulty wrangling volunteers to read or speak or sing or play. each participant seemed eager to share, grateful to be a part of the celebration.

up there in the balcony we sat, holding hands, tears coming to our eyes time and again. the service was gorgeous, the words eloquent, the music heartfelt, the praises for this amazing woman lofty. stories of her gardens, her flowers, her travels, her cooking, her zeal. and, over and over, the words “joy”, “light” and “love” were used. over and over.

to be at that service was to walk away with learnings and how appropriate that is for nancy, heidi and gretchen’s beautiful momma. we talked about it in littlebabyscion on the way home, driving about an hour and a half, reliving and relishing the time we had just spent. for over and over we learned that in the complexity of life – the very goods and the very bads, the blissful and the devastating, the extraordinary and the ordinary – this woman held space in her heart for both. she wrapped both in her arms, balancing and gracefully retaining her footing in the world, and carried on, always choosing to do more, experience more, feel more, love more. the stories of her vast heart were inspiring. the slide show following the benediction was a gift to watch. two-thirds of the way through i was moved to see a front-of-the-chancel-screen-sized photo of myself, laughing and embracing nancy. a part of the story. yes, no matter the size of star, no matter how satellite, we are all a part of the narrative, a part of love.

after hugs to those dear to us, we walked outside, the word “wow” on our lips. we got in and sat quietly for a few minutes. i looked over at d and said, “makes you wanna go do more stuff, doesn’t it?” he looked back, “yeah, it does.”

mostly, though, it makes me realize that – once again – that it is possible to sit in it all and to steadfastly stay centered, for all things to coexist in our hearts…the things that sadden us or make us giddy, the things we regret and the things we are proud of, the things we hold close and the things we have given wings, the hardest things and the easiest things. for dark and light to coexist. as heidi said, in a powerful tribute to her mom, “both belong.”

and the wisest angels, holding hands with her mom, nodded.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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at the lake. [d.r. thursday]

we brought the jelly jar and the tealight with us, anticipating a chance to privately and quietly celebrate his life.

the lake was the place. there were clear fishing bobbers on the shoreline, waiting for us to discover them, to wonder if somehow they were his. there were glowing golden aspens and burning orange underbrush bushes, crows crowing and fishermen cussing the ones that got away. and it was perfect.

we lit the candle and found the right flat rock to place it on. we toasted columbus and sat back and watched the candle dance and burn and flicker.

we were there way longer than we thought we’d be. it was serene; it was a direct line to him. and it was exactly where we needed to be.

we had no place to stay that night and i wished we had our tent, sleeping bags and camping stove. the lake asked us to stay. we asked it for a rain check. another day, we promised.

we will come prepared to stay, to watch the sun set and a new day rise. and he’ll be there, cheering us on.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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always an honor.

img_3625.jpgi played for a funeral today. the family celebrated the life of a beautiful young woman who i didn’t know, but who, through the stories told, sounded lovely. the sanctuary was full and boxes of tissues were numerous throughout the pews. my heart hurt for them; i was upstairs in the balcony, separated from this family, but joined in the feeling of what grief can do.

someone asked me if it was hard to play for funerals, if i would prefer not to. completely opposite of that, i am honored to play for a funeral. it is the last public celebration of someone’s life; it is sobering to think that you can play a part in maybe, just maybe, providing something that might be comforting to people in pain. as a minister of music i often play for funerals and for weddings as well; both are gifts, reminders of holding on to the people we love, letting these people know we love them. trite, maybe. but sitting in a balcony gazing down at those who have gathered to celebrate the coming-together of two lives or the time a person has spent in their midst cuts to the core of my soul and i always find myself weeping. i am fortunate to work with an amazing pastor whose extra-tall physical presence belies his soft heart. his voice cracks in emotional response in these difficult times. i feel lucky to be around someone who has so much empathy and compassion; our world truly needs more pToms.

years ago i played for my brother’s funeral. in recent years, my dad’s and my sweet momma’s. they were devastatingly hard to play for, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. i chose music i knew my dad and my mom would want, hymns that were their personal favorites, melody and lyrics that have meant something to them. i played a song i wrote for each of them. it was an unbelievable honor to have this important role in the celebration of their lives.

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my big bro and me. way too long ago.

today is my big brother’s birthday. wayne would have been 67 today.  i have often spoken of him in my writings. i don’t think there is a day that goes by without my thinking of him. i miss him. i say that each year. it never changes. grief is like that. it’s just there. the desperate moments, well, they ease up. but the i-wish-he-was-here moments – they keep coming.

today i sat on the organ bench and, in a moment of overwhelm, dug my phone out of my bag. i texted d…that this young woman was so…young. and that it took my breath away. it made me want to hug both of my children that very moment. impossible, with the girl in the middle of a move from one mountain range to another, and the boy in the middle of a beautiful boston day. so i texted d, who i knew understood all the layers of heart that playing for this service today touched. hard. not my favorite thing to do. but always, always an honor.