the Crows and the Locusts

DSCN2733He was tainted and sick.  He was loved and often kind.  He was the brave type, the kind of fellow who would try then fall.  He was the kind who truly enjoyed a good romp down the half-pipe or the dirt trail.  He was athletic and squishy.  He looked up to her and she didn’t really know him.  She was too absorbed with her own wanderings.  Until it was too late.

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The rain fell hard those years.  Or was there a drought?  It was hard to tell because the heart and her hands were calloused.  Her knees were dry.  These were the years that the crows and the locusts came.  They destroyed everything.  They gnawed away at her fruitful harvests and her flesh.  She changed.

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And on the day that she began to drag herself through dust and storms, she realized her strength.  It was barely recognizable, as it was the fleeting caw of a songbird.  Yet it carried such devotion and intention so as not to disappoint.
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Hope is the things with feathers.  That is what they all said.  And she knew that they were spot-on.
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But what they didn’t know was that hope is the only thing to which resiliency is tethered.  It is the only tool to which we can grasp and hammer and saw at the raging night around us.  Hope denies the unbroken.
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As she warred between good and evil, in dark rooms on sunset beaches and through the shiny aisles of Target, she realized so much.  She learned so much.  Little bits, big bits.  Unforgettable bits and the humorous.  She realized that life was grimey and cold and love filled.  She realized that abiding by the rhythms of her earth brought her in to the embrace of God.  She realized that she knew things that were not true.  She realized that she was trying to be perfect when the world needed her to show up.
DSCN2737She began then to show up for him.  By spirit, at times.  In person, when she could.  He was well cared for by his roots.  They knew him and watched him and phoned the deputies when there was suspicion of trouble.
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Then one day, after many days of hills and drop-offs, her phone rang.  He had hit her over the head with a board.  And again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  Till she escaped!  She grabbed a foothold and a moment then fled.
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There is only one noise on this planet which is a body flung down stairs.  Head against wall, cursing and screams.  Hands outstretched to stop the straightedges from carving ridges in spine.  Then stillness and sobs.  I am not her.  Yet I am her.  I am all women who have been bruised and bloodied.  Who have been taken off the main road and smelled the rank breath of a greedy man.  I have felt their hearts of confusion and their hearts of stone.  I have felt the swell of their love and the pull of their tides of forgiveness and bitterness.  I am not these women.  But every story.  Every life has touched mine.  And I offer to them my heart and hand and they offer to me theirs.  And I have become every woman I have met.  I hope that they have become a part of me.
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But he.  He is locked in.  He is sick.  He is tormented.  Did you hear me?  He has an illness.  He does not simply choose to hear voices or to turn off the characters of his mind.  He is sick, like a person wrecked with the flu.  Or cancer.  Or Crohn’s disease.  Or arthritis.  Or diabetes.  Or chronic migraines.  Or PMS.  His biology changes his behavior.

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We all suffer.  What she learned while the locusts foraged, was that illnesses are unexpected.  And they hurt.  And the families suffer.  And the sufferer suffers.  And the community suffers.  And the church, if they are not deaf and blind and dumb, well then they enter in to the holy suffering, too.  Some of us are victims of other people’s suffering.  And she was that sufferer.  And she is healing and being counseled.
DSCN2742I am affected with tears and nausea.  And I give them freely to her.  And I give them freely to him.
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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  
~Theodore Roosevelt
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This is how my brother’s diagnosis has changed me: I have entered into my life.  The arena.  I have let fall my pointed fingers.  And my hands, they, they are put to the plough and trowel.  They have joined the world’s hands in work and joy.  And my heart has been lowered and taught humility.  Forever to learn humility.  Forever to hope. DSCN2743
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