Friday's Theme: Messengers
My Mom died in October 2005. Don’t tell my sisters, but I was always my mother’s favorite. Truth be told, each of us would say that same thing. And how Mom pulled that off, I’ll never know. Even after her death, Mom has had a way of showing up at all the best times for my sisters and me. Wordlessly, intuitively she has offered support and encouragement. She did that for me a year and a half ago, and it was such a gift.
I was going through one of the hardest times of my life. On the same day that my world stopped on its axis, I went on a retreat with women from our church. When we arrived at the retreat, we were given a couple hours to wander around the property. There was a lake, and I headed that way. I found a spot in the sun and tried to catch my breath and find my heart. Earlier in the morning, I’d been told life-altering news and I was still reeling. Time passed and I noticed that dragonflies kept circling round, some landing on my arms and legs. [I hadn’t really experienced dragonflies and didn’t know if they had stingers. As they kept landing on my I decided I’d wait and see before I swatted at ‘em. Turns out they don’t sting.] The folks hosting the retreat were artists and it wasn’t until I was walking back to join the group that I noticed the 20-foot metal, red dragonfly looking as though it was sitting on the water. I remember wondering how I could have passed it earlier and not seen it. I wondered about that and moved on. Right foot, left foot.
Throughout that summer, I kept seeing dragonflies. Most sightings were when my friend, Kimberly and I were playing golf. I could always see one or two or three when we were teeing off at the 9th hole. Those were hard days for me. I felt robotic, conveyer-belting my way through most of my days, with very few moments of feeling alive and awake. Right foot, left foot. During that summer, I was also training for 2 triathlons, one in June and the other at the end of August. It was on the day of the June Tri at Calloway that I realized Mom’s gift.
Sister, Betsey was my coach and tri-partner. We had finished the swim and were on our 10-mile biking challenge. I’d gotten off the bike for two hills already and on my third hill, I got off and put my head on the bike seat, “Go on, Bets. Leave me here. I can’t do it.” Sweet sister just grabbed her water bottle, took a sip and said something kind like, “It’s OK. I can wait. I’m not leaving.” And she didn’t. Soon after I re-mounted, finished the bike, went on and finished the 5K. And (proud to tell you) I achieved my two goals: “I won’t be last, and I won’t die.” Later that afternoon we all went to the pool to cool off. I was sitting on a lounge chair, reading a book when a dragonfly landed on my knee. In that moment, the dragonfly - finally - had my full attention. She (my dragonfly friend) turned and faced me, and when she did, I said, “Hi, Mom.”
In that moment I knew that Mom had been with me all along. She'd been right there from the day my world stopped turning, until that moment at the pool. She was always with me. She had been there in that 20-foot red dragonfly sitting on the water and she was still there with me on that sunny, warm June day after the triathlon. She continues with me, still.
Sometimes messengers come in events, sometimes in music or just words; sometimes messengers appear as a presence that holds no real form, sometimes messengers come as dragonflies. For those of us receiving the messages, we just have to do our best to keep our hearts open and pay attention. For me, Mom was just there. She didn’t have advice or words of wisdom; she didn’t solve my problem or take away all my pain. She was there. And the gift for me was, she’d been there the whole time.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.