Friday, January 7, 2011

The Moral of this Story

It is not uncommon for me to read something and ponder it for days, thinking about how it relates to my life, looking for connections and a bit of profound advise. I feel like there is always room to grow and perhaps see life through another lens, another vantage point, to actually walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I used to lie on the floor with Cooper as close as possible, our heads smooshed together trying to see the room, the lights, the fan as he saw it. Perspective intrigues me. There is no contesting life with a special needs child and the loss of a child are difficult roads. Our perspectivies and philosophies may differ, but we all grieve, we all search for understanding and we all celebrate the little things. Each in our own tidepool. 

Author Unknown

I am wearing a pair of shoes. They are ugly shoes. Uncomfortable shoes. I hate my shoes. Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair. Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step. Yet, I continue to wear them. I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy. I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs. They never talk about my shoes. To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable. To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off. I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in this world. Some woman are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them. Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much. Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt. No woman deserves to wear these shoes. Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman. These shoes have given me the strength to face anything. They have made me who I am. I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

"God’s a Zebra Too!"
Rev. Ron Campbell

I noticed a zebra figurine sitting on my pantry door-frame this morning. It reminded me of the only time I’ve ever written a preface to a pastoral prayer. It was Easter Sunday, 1999. Although it’s not Easter now, this might be a helpful word of comfort for some of you.

     “I feel led to share with you the context of the formulation of this Easter Sunday pastoral prayer. On Thursday afternoon I was standing in the checkout line at Albertson’s. In my basket I had several containers of vitamins. The lady behind me asked me if I were a doctor.  I said, ‘No, I’m a pastor.’ After a brief exchange she said she hadn’t gone to church in over two years. I invited her to attend our Easter Service. She said she might come the Sunday after Easter, as it would be too difficult to be in church on Easter Sunday. She was still grieving her son’s death. Her son had died two years before from meningitis at 18 years of age. She was grateful for the six weeks they had together to say goodbye, but now church was too painful an experience for her to bear.
     Tears welled up behind her eyes. I told her that I couldn’t relate fully to her pain as I had not had to make a place in my heart for this kind of loss. My son was alive. But I knew people who did understand her pain. One of my friends, whose daughter was tragically killed when she was 20, told me that although we’re all in the horse family, those who loose a loved one tragically or outside the expected life span are a sub-group. They’re zebras, with strips that can only be recognized by other zebras.
     The lady behind the woman who’d lost her son had been listening in. She looked at us with tears in her eyes and said ‘I’m a zebra. I’ve lost two sons.’ We shared a moment of quiet empathy, and then I inadequately expressed my hope that this Easter God would comfort them with his assurance.
     Later in the parking lot it came to me what I could’ve said and wish I’d said; ‘Although I can’t fully relate to your loss, there is someone who can. God knows your pain. He also lost a son. He knows what that’s like. And God also knows what the joy of reunion is like. That’s what we celebrate at Easter. God’s a zebra too. He has the same kind of stripes as you.’
     Church should be a place where zebras can come and feel God’s comfort in their pain. I offer our prayer today with these two mothers in mind as we pray as Jesus instructed us, not for the well, but for those who truly need of a word of assurance and hope from God.”


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