There are some days when I just want
to ask my mom
what I should do.
Because the way I remember her is
a vivacious spirit
who took the chains of disease that bound her ankles,
picked them up,
and danced, anyway.
I want to live like she did.
if I look close enough,
I find her wisdom
wedged in the pockets of her old coats,
locked within the cracked plastic frame encasing her watercolor painting
that I’ve kept next to my bed
since I was a child.
Thousands of times
I’ve imagined how
she must have smiled
as she brushed evergreen swaths
over these words by Henry David Thoreau.
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close…”
I’ve read those words,
unsure of what they really meant.
Somehow, I knew they were important,
and that one day
there would come a time when I would understand these words
and finally choose to live by them.
That day is today.
I’ve packed my bags.
I’ve packed away
the bowls and spoons,
the photo albums and flower vases,
the handmade Christmas ornaments and my Dad’s first bible.
I’ve taped up the stuff
I’m opening my heart and releasing
my stuff –
I’m departing from a place of home that’s held my roots since birth
and going to tend to a new sense of home that I’ve craved since I was
not knowing just how deeply I would want
until last year, when I asked myself what I believe
is one of the hardest questions to answer honestly:
“What do I want?”
It took me my whole life to ask myself that question –
took me being halfway around the world,
sitting on a rooftop,
the papers of my tattered journal quivering in my hands because the answer was so clear,
and yet, until that moment,
I had not had the courage to give my heart a voice.
I was afraid that my honest answer
All I could muster was a whisper,
the tears collecting at the corners of my mouth.
I was too consumed to wipe them away.
Those tears had been waiting for this day,
waiting to be released,
waiting to feel my skin and tell me that
it’s okay to want to be wanted.
But whispering these words wasn’t enough.
I felt them pushing against the backs of my teeth,
trying to rush forth into the open air and declare to the world,
“I want to be part of a family! I want to have parents.”
The words echoed across the evening sky,
startling a pigeon perched on the railing across the street.
As she flew away,
I began to sense my own wings.
It had been a long time since I raised them.
It had been a long time since I had parents. Two of them.
But after seasons of stillness and roots,
I knew that my wings finally were ready,
and that my whole life
God has been growing for me a spiritual family,
and that when I was ready,
they would be there to embrace me,
fully and completely,
as if I was their own.
The time had come for me to leap into
the greatest desire of my heart.
So I’m going.
I’m going to be part of a family.
I’m going to unpack my bag, put clothes and hangers, stick the bag under the bed and forget it’s there.
I’m going to be part of nightly family dinners.
I’m going to have someone ask me if I want to throw any clothes in with the next load of laundry.
I’m going to learn about what it means to have brother and sisters, nieces and nephews.
I’m going to drink my morning coffee with someone, every morning. And we’ll get to talk and pray and laugh and, heck, maybe have two of three cups … and we won’t be rushed.
The truth –
I have absolutely no idea how to calculate or plan for the road ahead,
except that I know this is the next right step for me,
for my heart.
And all I really need to know is that.
I’m living by my heart.
Led by faith.
Leaning into wings that have been growing,
trusting in the strength that will be given to me, moment by moment,
for the path that has been prepared in advance,
the steps of which I will not know until I arrive.
This is my journey –
my Journey of Family.
I’ve put my timelines in a box,
packed right next to the bowls and spoons.
I’ll pick them up again later.
Because now, I’m going to live,
to let my heart soak up that love of family and parents
that I’ve been missing for so long.
To my Portland family,
I leave the City of Roses today feeling so deeply loved,
it makes it hard to leave.
But it’s your love that made me realize that
I need this heart journey,
because family is so important,
and life is so short.
As I go to experience a different part of family,
I’m taking your support and encouragement with me,
stored inside my heart,
right next to my JOY,
which can never be taken from me –
the same goes for your love.
Leaving you today with one more hug,
and prayers for joy unconfined.
See you again soon!