That Which is Bound in Heaven is Bound on Earth
I have been thinking about the miracle of the human body. A part of a dual being. Part human, part spirit. Feeling gratitude for this wonderful gift, my spirit. For this amazing earthen creation, my body. A perfected and eternal spirit created by a loving Father in Heaven, on loan or lay away, only for a moment in the eternities, taken to Customer Service to be wrapped and ribboned in flesh and bone and blood. Commissioned by my parents, Dean and Teena in a brief and beautiful moment of love creation. In their union and in their imagining came I into this world.
I look at my baby picture, hanging on my dresser mirror. Even at only a few hours old, I looked into the camera, as if looking into the eyes of every person who will ever gaze into my eyes, and find connection. There is a certain knowing. I am incredible. Even as this snap-shot infant self, I seem to know just who I am and in it have a focus. Ignorant of the lifetime I would spend in forgeting. Now I’m forty-sevening and trying to remember more and more of what I once knew before.
I am filled with wonder and gratitude for this body and all it quietly gives. It seems to love my very soul, and spends it’s every waking sleeping moment serving the better part of me. And this it does with out agenda or complaint, expecting nothing in return except perhaps a sometime recognition, or thank you in food or rest and living water. Every limb and organ playing a part in the orchestration of this song of life. Bones, muscles, brain, and breath. With every arm stroke, and kick, with every bubbly spray and spit that I emit, I am alive….swimming. Alive. Climbing higher with every hamstring strain, vertical foot and handhold. Down again to rest after the downhill, drain, the run off, the swing of arms, and calves bellaring a water break. I hike this life. Impossible without this body. One human under God’s majestic mountain backdrop….knowing I am not here by chance, but rather by design. Forgetting this in the trance we call the dream of the world.
This body is a gift, and I chose to come to live in it. Without it, this feeling being would neither be, nor feel the things I sometimes take for granted. I would be little more than rocks. Erroded dust. And yet I read somewhere that even rocks, and trees and plants have spirits. If they could talk and walk, would testify and sing of their Creator, Christ and foreman, God the Father. This is why I love fantasy, and C.S. Lewis. Everything lives and testifies of His creation and of His love. Reminds us we are divine and made in his image.
Even on a cellular level, the small things like the standing up of errect hairs, as goosebumps on my arm form when I am chilled, and the crazy tickling trickle of sweat running down my back or face tell of the miracle of me and Him. This body, forever on the job, without a thought, a doubt, a calibration, or external, remote control of calculation….works, and runs and plays the tunes of life in living and in loving. Amazing miraculous thing. Even more amazing in the tender sharing of it. Thank you God. Thanks to my mothers and my fathers.
So I’ve been thinking, softer and loftier thoughts this Sabath day. And wishing I could find a way to gift my health and strength away, to pass it somehow forward to others.
So I found out about a mobile foodbank, and commited to boxing and delivering food from time to time. I know what it feels like to be hungry.
I searched the Murray Cannery Website and tried to find a time slot to make Maple syrup. I know what a pleasure sweetness on the tongue is, and I’ve made naked pancakes before. Quite incomplete without rich butter and syrup. Remembering one time as a child, in making breakfast by myself. Mistakenly added a cup of baking soda to the dry ingredients. Forked bites I could barely choke down. My father made us eat them anyway. Sliced up a tomato for a topper. Said that it would neutralize the alkaline. It made me gag, and quickly left me thinking dad a liar. And tried to think the addage “Honey attracks better than vinegar,” back then and now, as I am still trying to escape the negative.
Another day I made space and time to give blood to Red Cross, a rare type. In doing so I’ve helped three other people. Think on the odds of needing such a gift some day in my lifetime. Not likely, but my own grandparents, and parents needed pints, took units and survived.
Led a friend on a hike to see my favorite waterfalls. Joyed.
Took a bike ride with my girls. Joyed.
Walked the dogs to Rockport at the spillway. Joyed.
Stopped, and paid a long delightful visit without a clock or cell phone.
But I have for several years, set clocks, (don’t need to any more, as I just naturally wake up when needing to) got up and driven to the pond, some seven miles away to swim. I am so grateful for the school providing this to me. The best insurance policy they could ever offer. Enfused. Life extended. Lighted and delighted.
The teaching job moves me too. It fills my days with joy and laughter. I walk the classroom and the halls, rarely sitting. Happily ever after surrounded by children in their imaginings. I am grateful to introduce kids to learning by modeling what I love. Reading, thinking, problem solving, playing.
In teaching swimming to my students, I introduce, and provide feedback, because I’m passionate, and I care. In these brief lessons, I strive to pass along so many things: an appreciation and love for them outside the classroom, a viewing without judgement, no matter the skill level, I can find something to applaud and celebrate, a love for movement, for ease at being in the water, dispelling fears of something bigger and more powerful than they are; a segway into exercise, a confidence in their own skin, and maybe even skills that will some day save their lives. I usually succeed with each of them in some small way. This year, I will see for the first time, former students competing on the high school swim team. This excites me…being part of this as well.
I’d like to say I celebrate each and every human interaction requiring a body. But life is full of opposites, and opposition, and mine a narrow view. Focus on the positive, hoping to be alert to needs, to compassionately respond with timely care and empathy to sick, or weak, or injured, or anyone needing temporal relief. A coat, some shoes, something to eat. But old age, and expired warrantees are something different, and the wildest expedition I have ever heard about or seen. Starting and ending with my own parents. Another story, for another time.
This is not easy in the almost certain promises of death. A surreality. One I think will never come to me and that in perpetually moving and believing, I will live for ever, never aging, never hurting, never dieing, moving on to mystic, in a duo physical, spiritual reunion of perfected body and soul. Translated, and in so leaving the need for death and resurrection behind. These are imaginings I hope for, seeking, and in the mean time do my part walking forward.
While I have heard so many supernatural stories, and lived through many miracles myself, I keep the faith, but sometimes still see negatives and proofs of not such youthful outcomes, in so many, memorialized, and paid tribute to in obituaries. Most not yet passed on but in leasing thoughts of such. Recently in Mark’s Aunt Ella Adkins, and our neighbor, Jerry Homer, as they slowly stop believing life worth living.
The other day, I attended a viewing for a young devoted mother, almost thirty years old, who died in a horrific head on car crash. All hopes and dreams of raising two small children dashed in this. My plan to meet my teacher friend at the mortuary. But first a visit to granny, Mark’s Aunt Ella Adkins at the family tree. Ella is a sister to my husband’s late father. It had been a few months since the last time.
That day blossoms were on. Spring had sprung. This was before my son had gone to Italy. That day Granny was still upright in her chair and wore her favorite wig for hair, and carried on a conversation, mostly lucid, reciting poetry like “The Little Dog Under the Wagon,” and “The Miracle of the Crickets.” But she hesitated and faltered in the recitation, and she looked smaller, frailer, chasing down Ensure, boosting Boost nutrition.
In this return trip, I wondered how much more she would be altered. I wish I had been more wrong. She was in bed. A stocking cap on her head. Puffy, half closed eyes. And when I gave a cheery, “Hello, it’s Heidi,” she replied with happy recollection, but as the moments passed, she wasn’t so convincing. “Are you taking it easy today? I asked. Resting up, I see, “and pulled a chair up close to her. Took her hand. A deplorable, single word answer. “Hemoroids.” Big pause. What to say to that, I thought. “That’s too bad.”
Then, before I could say much more, she was on to telling me who had died in the home and in the larger Coalville community. Veire Stockton (once Coalville dentist) and Helen Blonquist, Jodi Coleman’s (my masseuse) grandma; Mugg’s mom. And I am reminded that Granny is forever fixated on death and dieing. So I keep trying to change the topic to happier, lighter conversation, finding cause for laughter in guided questioning.
“Who are some of your favorite people here at the home? Are there nice helping ladies? Hoping to hear about the staff and workers who have given kindnesses. Instead she laughs and says the name Bonnie Calderwood, a resident. I stretch in forming links and thinking familiarities toward Curtis Calderwood, my first year student. And Curtis’s dad, the Seminary teacher who goes by “Bro C.” These are all too young. Granny would know their grandparents. Dunno.
Granny is smiling, laughing out loud in her thoughts, which prompts me to ask, “What does she do or say that makes you laugh so?” Then Granny sits up a little stronger, straighter, and in her best actress voice says, “Why do you bring me this food you know I can not eat!?” Then she explains how Bonnie is always popping off with something comical, and very loud across the dining room. “And she gets around.” she adds, laughing. My diversion has worked. And for a moment we’re caught up in the chorus of a lighter cheeky song, rather than the usual durge.
I help her with some eye drops, exchange missionary updates, give hugs, say goodbyes, and go, knowing Granny is on the downhill slide. But feel good knowing I’ve tried to scatter sunshine. In the coming months, I will come and she will likely be the one who has died. My feelings all knotted up, rubber banded, tie-died in happy yellows, madder reds, and sadder blues, that change to muted browns in the mixing of all the colors.
I pull away from the Family Tree and make my way toward Main Stree Morgan. I tune the radio to a news story of an unlikely, surprise delivery on the side of I-80 westbound freeway lanes in morning rush hour. The Mark Giauque-like report claims it was just today, but somehow I think the story wrong in time and setting. Place it more accurately last Saturday afternoon, when entries and exits were made.
For a strange moment in my mind, a baby came, and Kallie Nelson left simultaneously, through the same thin veil. And in the parting, an ushering in and out of two precious spirits. I think this to be a quick exchange. And even though my thought bizarre, and a bit derranged, I see the baby coming, crowning quickly without preparation, and Kallie leaving equally in haste with nothing packed except her death robe. Neither waiting. And Granny seeing all of this as if a dream….wishing, painfully to be a main character. Wanting to trade places with the leaving crash scene mother as her proxy, and replacement, as soon as yesterday, and so many other days before this.
Who knew the freeway would provide the very setting for this and so many other thoughtfilled dramas, and who’d be on the stage, or in the audience to cheer or aide? These biways provide so many daily rural connections and interactions. Summer constructions. Think of other freeways, and paths of prayer. Change the channel.
I pull into the mortuary parking lot feeling a bit cloudy. Check the sky. Clear. Climb out of Big Black and looking directly into an almost noon day sun, I see my smiling, welcoming friend coming toward me dressed in clean pressed white. Just something short of Heavenly. And so we went on in. She was the closing chapter to my former vission that set my heart to hopeful yearning for the young mom’s children.
And then a few days later, I dashed to school to get my forgotten computer to write this all down.
Came home to a day bursting in hay hauling. We fell into our usual weekend modes, and then outside to throwing, stacking, transporting, rearranging, placing bales into a drier, higher, tightly stacked barn. Smiled at being outside, and sighed that I was still completely, breathing easily, without the side effects of allergies. And then our eighty-year-old neighbor came, like an answer to a prayer to help with the hay, most of which was going into his nearby barn. I breathed relief in knowing Mark would not be throwing bales all by himself.
After a couple of loads with Devon, Mark and Jerry, I asked my neighbor how he was doing. He said “ I have this darn Neuropathy. I can’t feel my feet. I don’t know if or when I might just go down.”
“Are you in a lot of pain?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. All the time.”
We continue for a moment back and forth, in between loads, and get a drink of water.
He won’t go to the doctor. Refuses taking pills. Cortozone shots into his toes don’t help. I wonder on other more natural approaches, and wholistic remedies. A Gerson diet, or Don Tolman’s systemic menus. There must be something I can find, or say, or do to relieve his pain. I am no help. We just keep working. And somehow in the working take my mind off of it. Wonder how he takes his mind off of his pain. I think in planning a Sunday Wendover trip. Tomorrow they are headed there to penny slot machines, and buffets, and Myrna’ eight-hundred dollar winnings. Jerry Luck-wishes his pain away. Keeps moving, working, cleaning forward into his eighties. The harder he works the more he defies the monster. I was just so glad we finished hauling lighter bales and not the heavy swampy ones.
Jerry is an inspriation in the fight he brings to life. And Granny in her enduring. I hope they keep winning jackpots and so many other prizes found in real life stories and miracles. I pray to keep on hoping and coping in the stories I write and in the ones that I will yet write into the future.