You don't know where you are going. You don't know how to get there. And you arrive just the same. Ghanaian saying

Breaking Point: Clouds of Mercy

William Cowper wrote

“Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread Are filled with mercy
And will break with blessings on your head.”

I wrote before of my redemption and its alchemy.
Moving away after ending an empty marriage
And learning from my scars compassion
For many other wounded ones around.

I thought that I forgave and was forgiven.
My grieving done and quietly put away
Still sadness lingered as I remembered
Dreams of what never came to be.

I was startled when above me broke dark clouds
And drenched me with a precious gift unknown.
I learned to view my memories down-side-up
And found a vein of gold embedded there.

News that former husband and his wife
Were moving worked its way into my heart.
I felt sad because I knew the worth to him
Of life and work that he would leave behind.

I sent an email wishing him success.
He thanked me then wrote words that changed the game
“You are always an important part of life to me”.
And I wrote “Our years are an irreplaceable part of mine”.

That’s all it took. Broken dreams fell away.
I saw rise instead parts I treasured that were “us”
Understood that ours was a marriage all its own.
We have a unique and quirky history.

I sought and framed a photo that I like of him
And placed it among others of my family.
I feel so free and open to include them all.
A gift of pure forgiveness made it so.

Dungeon Prompt: Breaking Point


Redemption Song: Alchemy

Redemption is a lonely place.
A conqueror bearing scars
Thinking I’m not freed from past
It pulses round me still.

Sadness but no grief abounds
Tinges nights and days
Residue of what could not be
Lingers in my soul.

Let me count my golden coin
How I’ve paid my fare
With wounded heart wide open now
To share another’s pain.

I see a world of suffering
No one is immune
I know that breathes within us all
The power to forgive.

For Dungeon Prompts: We all have a redemption song. What is yours?  The Seekers Dungeon


Quiet Ferocity Part One: Flames and Embers

It was all so long ago. In my senior year of high school it was the tradition in my small southern town to give parties – lots of them – to honor the graduates. The hostesses paired us girls up with a boy by asking us to choose an escort. I had had my eye on the class president for a while and jumped at the chance to go to parties with him. One thing led to another and eventually he warmed up to me. After graduation his family moved to another town and we both went off to college. The end of my dream – or so it seemed to me.

He came back to town to visit friends a couple of times after that. We had fun going to Christmas dances, another of the town’s cultural delights. Nothing much was said about “feelings”. That was the 50’s. Then out of the blue I received a gorgeous bunch of yellow roses from him the spring of my senior year of college. That summer he wrote a letter saying that if I weren’t wearing the fraternity pin or engagement ring of another boy, he wanted to visit me. I was getting used to his non-verbal style and found it quite romantic. Also I could read into it whatever I wanted.

Life went on. He went off to fulfill his R.O.T.C. obligation. Those were the days of the Draft when all young men were required to spend two years in military service. I went off to find a job and became a bank teller. That Thanksgiving when he was home on leave from the Army we got together for a college football game close to his home and the city where I worked. After the game we had supper in a small cafe on the town square. He asked me to marry him. Well, I did have to think about that! Next day I said “Yes”. We bought a bottle of Champagne to celebrate and with it a can opener that had a corkscrew and beer opener attached so we could open it. The can opener has out-lasted my two marriages. It is in my kitchen drawer as I write.

We were married for thirty years in the then-traditional division of labor model. We became parents of three boys we both loved dearly. I was the full-time mother and he was the full-time bread-winner. In time we began to live separate lives and divorced.

Five years after the divorce we attended our 40th high school reunion, separately. This was only the second reunion our class had celebrated and we had missed the first, our 20th. He had a companion with him. I was by myself. A classmate I had not known well began a conversation with me saying he had been in love with me in the sixth grade. He showed me snapshots he had taken of other classmates and me with his Brownie box camera, an early forerunner of the cellphone camera. I laughed and replied that I had no idea. This was the beginning of another story and my second marriage.

Our marriage lasted almost twenty years. Good years. We traveled to most of the places I had long wanted to see. In time the same old division of labor thing intervened. I should have known that my hard-won sense of being my own woman clashed with his idea of my role in his life.

In the last few years of our marriage we began spending Christmas at my son’s house. My daughter-in-law had decided she would invite us and my former husband along with his companion to dinner. Things grew comfortable between all of us. The day after Christmas one year my daughter-in-law took some of the out-of-town guests to see a local attraction. My husband, my former husband, two of my sons and one grandchild stayed behind. My daughter-in-law, who loved to cook and decorate the dining room table for guests, was late getting back. We got hungry and decided to feed ourselves leftovers. My former husband, two of our sons and I rummaged around in the refrigerator and came up with a fine meal. We stood at the kitchen counter and ate from containers – a stark contrast to my daughter-in-law’s elegant entertaining. We looked at each other and suddenly recognized that we were acting like the “family” we once were. We were bonded by our old habits. My husband and the one grandchild sat at the breakfast table and looked on in amazement as the circle of family kept spinning.


Writing 101,Day Four: The Serial Killer

In the posts for assignments about music yesterday, many writers talked about losses of relationships and sadness and moving on. I reflected that I married my two serious relationships and later divorced them when things were not working  out. It was a different time. I’m sure I felt loss after the divorce of my first husband, the father of my children. Tomorrow would have been our 55th wedding anniversary. We divorced in 1990 after thirty years of marriage. I married my second husband in 1995. We were married eighteen years and divorced a year ago. My story is not about divorce, though, but about what followed.

My first husband and I  were high school sweethearts. We had the traditional 50’s wedding. It was followed by the birth of three sons, buying our first home,  performing the expected male/female division of labor, and in the 60’s (not in the original playbook) growing apart into a parallel marriage. During our marriage I was alone in body and soul. I created a life for myself but was still lonely. I went to theological seminary to get a Masters of Divinity degree.  When my last son went off to college I completed my degree and only then felt free to strike off on my own. I asked for a divorce and received it. I pastored a little 150 year old church in a semi-rural area not far from the city where my former husband lived and where our sons returned to from time to time. My primary emotion during the upheaval of divorce was anger – an expression of my feelings not “allowed” in the context of my marriage.I learned to use  anger to fuel my breaking our of a very stuck place. I grieved what I could not give my sons in the way of a stable family and home. I did not regret my new freedom.

Several years later I went to my 40th high school reunion. My former husband was there with a lovely woman who was now his companion. Another classmate arrived with a photo album of pictures he had taken during elementary school, including one of me. He showed me the picture and asked if I knew that he had been in love with me in the 6th grade. I laughed and replied “No”. I wasn’t interested in boys then. That was the beginning of many conversations and my eventual decision to move to the city where he lived and marry him. I thought my sons would think me giddy but I was determined to follow my bliss. We had an untraditional wedding and lived an unconventional life. We had a great story! But not a true foundation. In time my husband spent more and more time with his work and later his grandchildren. Again I created a life for myself.  Now that I have left him I have so many memories that are triggered by music, reading about the places where we traveled, having supper alone, picturing the space I lived in with him, remembering my dreams of “what might have been” and  feeling the emptiness of living alone for the rest of my life. And knowing that I am where I belong. I’m grateful for my tears and the softness inside that reminds me of the good things we had together. He has a new wife now who suits him well. And I’m beginning a new life again, back where I started.

In the midst of my marriage to my second husband, my first husband re-entered my life. By then two of my sons and their families had moved back to their original home town. We’d all get together in one of my son’s home for Christmas. By then the family had grown to sixteen people, including my first husband’s companion and my second husband. As years went by my first husband and I reconnected over our long history and sharing grandchildren. When I flew to visit family he would pick me up at the airport. Now that I have moved back to where I began, he regularly invites me out for coffee and our conversations continue. In March he, his companion and I traveled together to our 60th high school reunion. The other day while we had coffee he was trying to think of the name of a cousin of his he hasn’t seen in a long time. I came up with her name. Later I realized that I am the only person on earth he could have had this conversation with. I know he has my back as long as we’re alive, but this is far more than that assurance. We are in a place beyond marriage. There is a saying that in Ghana you don’t know where you are going and you don’t know how to get there yet you arrive just the same.