A War of One in a Place of Grace

Kneeling at the altar of my own heart, I quietly release the breath I’ve been holding for so long. Taking a long, slow look around it, I can see what has been done and what still needs to be done. It continues beating, the rhythmic thumps going on and on like tired, weary soldiers trying to keep some measure of decorum. My feet are bare, so I feel each piece I step on…pieces of the now crumbled wall. This was once such a sweet and sacred place. Now it’s as if the cruelest of wars was fought and lost here. Right here. But there were no battles. No armies. No commanders barking out orders to soldiers desperately fighting to hold their line, to drive the enemy far from this place of grace. This was a war of one. I did this.

I look around my pale feet, now starting to bleed from stepping on the remnants of my walls. How easily forgotten were these things used to construct the protective barriers around my heart. I bend down to get a closer look and right before my face is a photo of my parents, only it’s torn in half. An old cigar stub from an abusive grandfather catches me off guard as I step on it an feel the burn on the bottom of my foot. I lose my balance and stumble around, eventually stepping on several pieces of rocks and glass. I sit to remove the shards of glass and realize they are from that awful day a building exploded, mothers lost their babies, my state mourned, and I lost a sweet friend. She simply went to work that day and did not come home. At my bleeding feet I see dirty broken toys, shredded paper, dirt, and heaven only knows what else. It stains the white lace hem of my skirt. I can’t bear it. As I push myself on, I see an old, worn Bible and a delicate pink handkerchief. The grandparents who were taken just as I was beginning to really appreciate the treasures that they were. Oh God, I want them back! The tears have started now and I know I have to finish this painful, yet necessary inventory. There are so many things with which I have built these walls. Painful memories. Buckets and buckets of tears. Things people have said and done that have bruised my spirit. Something ahead catches my attention and urges me forward. In this menagerie of memories, I see a perfectly white blanket fluttering in the breeze. It’s caught on something that’s keeping it from flying away. I hurry to catch it and see that it’s a baby blanket used in the hospitals to wrap precious babies in as they come to greet the world. I suddenly hear voices saying words and phrases like “low sperm count” and “male infertility” and “adoption”. I see his eyes, angry, defiant, blaming me as usual. This was the death of a dream. I feel myself doing what I would do many times over the years as I saw my friends and family with their swollen bellies….I placed my hand on my stomach. Keep moving, my heart whispers. Don’t stay here. Blinded by tears, I move on. Walking on bleeding, sore feet through decorations from baby showers, ribbons, newborn announcements, I have come almost full circle. The march around this heart has reminded me of everything I have used to build up these walls. I see what I must walk through and examine next and it seems almost unbearable. Love and the loss of love. Betrayal, loneliness, mistakes….I’m suddenly tired, worn out. I lay down in the filth and grit and feel as if I have nothing left in me. I suddenly hear a song. It starts out softly, as if far away, yet moving closer.  It’s bringing me back to a place of clear thinking, of breathing normally, of being ready to move on.

I don’t know this song. I only recognize the voice singing over me and know that it has given me the strength to get up, dust off, and get with it! My feet are no longer wounded, neither is my heart. These memories, these wounds have shaped and molded me into the sassy, kick up my heels, spitfire of a woman that I am. I have these sacred moments from which to draw and become an even stronger, more glorious chaotic mess.

These walls I’ve built and am repairing do not mean I want to keep them all out. They just might help me keep in the few, blessed ones I allow close to me.

So if you find yourself “trapped” inside the walls of my beautiful chaos, my glorious mess, this whirlwind of green eyes, freckles, sass, music, deep affection, and laughter….buckle your seatbelt, say your prayers, pour yourself a cold one, friend! It’s going to be quite a ride!

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