Friday, July 18, 2008
I was reading last night and came across something quite interesting. The author - Sarah Ban Breathnach was talking about how women have 2 extra senses on top of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing - women can cultivate their sense of knowing and their sense of wonder. It was just something that struck me, in fully living the life that we've been given, when we use these additional senses - we truly do live more abundantly because we are more fully appreciating the sacred elements of our day. I used to always question what my intuition was, that special "knowing" that my mom used to say we would have when it came to falling in love, or understanding the pain of loss. She used to say "one day you'll just KNOW". In further reflection, I know that my dad had these extra senses too.
Not a day has gone by since May 16th, that I haven't thought about my dad. Little things trigger it all the time. Yesterday when watering and weeding the gardens in my backyard I thought about him. He was an avid gardener and was always in the backyard - picking up leaves from the grass, pruning the grapevines and tending his flower and vegetable gardens. Every year since we've been married, Chris and I have grown to love working in our gardens more. Especially when he started working for a wholesale nursery. Whenever we'd plant something new, I'd think of dad and wonder what he'd think of this or that, and often I would call him for tips on tending our beds. When he came to visit, even when he was sick, he would go out to our backyard and comment on our plans or efforts in the back. So last night, in the twilight when I was out back, I walked around the side yards and noticed that the raspberries were ripe on the vine, and that the quince and plum trees were starting to ripen - and I grabbed a basket to pick some fruit to make a yummy treat for my boys, imagining their delighted squeals when I took it inside. Instantly I was transported back to a golden summer with dad.
When I was sixteen and Jen was 13, dad took us to Greece for almost a month in the summer. It was magical, literally a golden summer that for me, for many reasons hailed the beginning of my passage from childhood to womanhood. I was taken to one of the many moments of pure bliss from that summer. Jen and I were sitting lazily in a hammock that he stringed up for us, the sunlight dancing through the leaves of the fig trees. The air smelled like a sweet mixture of the fruit from the orchards, the flowering oleanders and the salty sea air. I could hear my cousins laughing and see my papoo and yaya sitting in the shade of the porch. My aunt was cooking something delicious in the kitchen and my dad was walking around the fruit trees, picking juicy yellow plums. He eagerly brought some over for us to eat, and I remember the light in his eyes at being able to bring us a treat. He never lost that look, right up until the end...
I have a picture of him on the bookshelf in my living room. He is sitting on the beach with his knees up, just looking over the water. There is a distant look in his eyes, like he's thinking about something else. My dad didn't say much that other people would classify as "deep". But he really was. He knew the pain of leaving his homeland, of losing both parents, of not being able to share his day to day life (which really is your life) with them. More than that though, he lived with a sense of wonder over the small things. The seasons, nature, smiles, hugs and kisses, memories, family, the joy of making people laugh, of giving without expecting anything in return... I now know, I never had a problem understanding or recieving the love of God, because I knew the love of my natural father.
Dad was often "off" somewhere - sitting in his garden, when we were walking the walking path around the creek, at the kitchen table drinking one of his many coffees - and when you'd ask him what he was thinking about, he'd just heave a big sigh and say nothing... I'm in wonder now, of how much I'm becoming like him. The wonder that accomanies understanding a bit of the depth of losing a parent - the constant memories, the unexpressable sadness - as I just get very quiet and can't really talk about it. Releasing the regrets and holding onto the remembrances when they come, I find myself doing the same thing dad did - I go to a place in my heart and mind and then I come back and just heave a big sigh. It's part of the "wonder" of it all. Of life - of knowingthe beautiful, of knowing grace, goodness, love. Of knowing yourself, your creator and other. Of realizing that the abundant life increases when we've lived through loss and abide in the secret place in Christ, who has gone ahead of us and shows us the way.