A buncha years ago, my groceries were sometimes bagged by Judy, a woman with short black hair, and the tell-tale features of Down syndrome on her face. I remember one day she was letting her mood direct her contact with my produce and bread, and it seemed to me they were getting short shrift. I remember feeling irritated with her, because MY produce and MY bread should only be treated with the utmost care. Right? Well, whatever. Then along came Kepler, and my understanding of and appreciate for Down syndrome changed dramatically. I guess Judy moved on because I didn't see her anymore. Until today.
This morning, I took Anna-Jessie to my mom's church at Mom's request. Her desire was for her entire extended family to be sitting in the second row at her church to celebrate this special day in the Christian calendar. Oh, I had plans for my entire family to be there, yes I did. And Gina was bringing her family, and Mindy was bringing Joelie. Our family would stuff a pew! Reality set in this morning, and long story short, Gina's family wasn't there, so it was just Mindy, Joelie, Anna-Jessie and myself. Mom's church is more traditional than Crossroads, but I know their music is awesome, having worked with the director at another church many years ago. Not to mention I know when my mother is excited about choral music, I tend to appreciate it as well.
And they sang . . .
The weight of sin, the sting of death Were swallowed up by righteousness Vanquished by the Son of God It was finished on the cross It was finished on the cross
Chorus And we rejoice in victory We lift our eyes to Calvary Before the battle has begun By Jesus’ blood it has been won It was finished on the cross
His gift of grace our heart betrays With urge to merit or repay We need not live to pay the cost For it was finished on the cross It was finished on the cross
And I sang it too! I couldn't help but sing along with every song as the music was stirring, the chord progressions were harmonious, and the message was pure energy.
Suddenly, in the middle of the song, I noticed Judy. Right in the center of the front row. Singing these words with all her heart. Raising her hands in worship and praise. And it touched my heart so deeply. To think that a women who has the disability she has, with experiences in her life no doubt of being rejected and sidelined, has the opportunity to stand with other Christians and sing her heart out, affirming that her battle has been won. Tears rolled down my face as I considered how much love Christians give to others, how they include the marginalized and welcome them in with open arms.
Later, when talking with Mom about this, she told me that Judy actually sings in a monotone voice, yet she is welcomed into the choir. I love that.
I'm glad I saw Judy again. I didn't have a chance to talk with her today, but I was thankful for the opportunity to see her in a different light, one more loving and accepting than the one I had the first time I saw her many years ago. Again, I am thankful for Kepler. Again, I love the journey I am on.
I have a friend and fellow blogger who recently wrote a post on the commodification of water. I read posts like that and realize that there are definitely different types of blogging. His post was intellectual and dealt with big picture, important issues. But I'm really not so much about big-picture type things, other than the piece of the big picture that I can contribute to. Hopefully, at the end of the day, or the end of the post, I do contribute something to the big picture, as that is my heart. The best way I can do that is to express who I am.
Today, I'm writing about the Christmas cactus given to me by my grandmother about 10 years ago. When she gave it to me, she told me it was over 100 years old, which I found amazing, as it had been passed down through the family, and here it was, in my home, connected to all those people. I believe she said my great-grandmother had brought it to Oklahoma with her when they came for the Land Run of 1889. It has bloomed faithfully each year at least once, usually around Easter. I love the beautiful flowers. I treasure my Christmas cactus.
Recently, I noticed my cactus leaves were withering. Greg and I decided to re-pot, and sped to Lowe's to choose a larger pot. Came home with a large, ceramic pot, and Greg gave it all new soil and a new, fresh environment. He trimmed and pruned and we wished it well. But, the cactus still isn't thriving.
Another long-standing idea my grandmother passed down to me was the idea of not being enough. Don't get me wrong -- she never told ME I wasn't enough, but she clearly believed that she wasn't. Grandma created a beautiful life, and shared her creativity in so many ways with her family and friends. Each of my children has a homemade Raggedy Ann/Andy doll she hand-stitched from start to finish, including the clothes. I have written elsewhere about the privilege it is for me to have her china cabinet in my home. She was a inspiration for me, a strong woman, capable on the farm, a wondrous cook, full of humor and fun, patient with untangling the marionette strings we tangled up day after day, patient with grandchildren asking for help removing the ubiquitous Oklahoma stickers from our feet.
Grandma's fear of not being enough wasn't unique to her, but I bought the idea hook, link, and sinker. In my younger years, I tried hard to contradict the belief she had about herself. I saw her as a marvel, a light, a beacon, and I wanted her to see herself like I saw her.
I never convinced her.
I recently attended an event called Unleashing the Power Within. Part of that event includes addressing limiting beliefs. My mind finally understood that the belief of not being enough has been in my life, and has wielded great power. Yet, somehow I left that belief behind when I left the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
Is the Christmas cactus a picture of the belief system that she passed down to me, with love? Is the cactus no longer thriving because the belief system is no longer thriving? To the extent that the cactus represents the limiting belief Grandma embodied and lived, I am ready to let it go. Even if the cactus revives, the belief system is gone. Whatever happens to the cactus, my life has changed and will never be the same.