Sitting beside each other on the sofa. Surrounded by their grandchildren. I watched them. Adoringly. She took his hand and put her fingers through his. He took the youngest grandchild's hand and did the same. Generations. Hand in hand. I caught them looking at each other. It was a look I had never seen them give each other before. Not a look I even have words for, actually. The picture was taken and the kids got up. Just the two of them on the sofa now. Still hand in hand.
He has cancer. Worse than they thought. Both in their 80's. Grey hair. No hair. Age spots. Beautiful wrinkled hands. Together. I watched them and couldn't help but wonder....... do they think about that thing they had their worst fight about -now?
Does he care about that thing that always drove him crazy - now? Do you think she cares that he always forgets that thing that he always forgets - now? Do they remember that time they weren't sure they loved each other anymore or that time they wish they had maybe married someone else?
How much does resentment veer it's head - now? How often are they angry with one another - now? How big are the tiny things - now? How much grace do they give each other, how often do they say "I love you", how much more patient, loving, gentle, kind are they to each other ... now?
There was a client I had who others consistently said was in the Mafia. I'm not convinced he wasn't. I'm actually a little more convinced he might have been. He denies it wholeheartedly. Interesting soul. Like no one I had ever met. (and yes, I was granted permission to write this : )
"I am getting away for a few weeks to do some things"
Vagueness was something I was used to with him. But he was more vague than normal this time.
"No, just need to get away for a few weeks." I left it at that. Two weeks came and went and I saw him again. And he was different. He was lighter. He was more transparent. He was softer.
"How was your last few weeks" I asked. "Pretty good, actually" His eyes sparkled a bit.
He went on to tell me that the last few weeks he went on a "little journey." I probed and he answered and explained and I became more and more fascinated and amazed. Of his stories. Of his journey. Of his - well - pilgrimage of sorts. But he didn't know it was a pilgrimage at all. He really didn't think it was anything special. But it was. Fascinating, actually.
"Something inside of me told me I was supposed to do it. I decided I needed to make some changes. 95 percent of the people haven't done the things I have done. And they shouldn't have done them. I needed to get right for me"
What was that "getting right"? Three things. Three things he came up with on his own with no prompting from me. At least not that I was aware of.
"Forgiveness. Atonement. Reflection. For two weeks."
He went on to say that throughout this road trip he made a lot of stops. He visited those in his life he needed to forgive or ask forgiveness of. He met with them, talked with them, and decided to let go of what he had been holding on to or apologize for what he needed to ask forgiveness from. Then he went to those people that he needed atonement with, those who he felt had harmed him, hurt him or problems that were still unsolved. He had conversations he needed to have and did things he felt he needed to do. Going from place to place, talking to person after person, letting go of burden after burden. And along the way? There was reflection. Reflection on who he was, who he wanted to be, changes he needed to make for the rest of his life.
He wouldn't call himself a man of faith, really. He is skeptical about organized Christianity. But there are things he values.
Amends. Reconciliation. Forgiveness. Reflection.
He didn't have cancer. He was not looking death in the eye. He was making some changes before he got there. Because he needed to. Because something inside of him told him he should. So he did. Simple as that.
"She is a good nurse for taking care of me" He said as she got up to get him something to eat. Somehow you could tell she delighted in it. His appetite was getting a little better.
"I bet you would do the same for her...." I said. And he would.
Because that's what love does. The sad thing is that sometimes it takes the fear of loosing it to cause us to treasure it.
I watched him look at his grand children when they weren't looking and get teary. It was the first time I had ever seen tears in his eyes. Hugging him goodbye. It was tighter than normal. Silent crying you could hear beneath her breath. Leaving them to be with each other. To love each other.
I drove away in thought of how precious life is and what it would be like if we valued it as much along the way as we did before it was getting ready to be taken from us. If we understood things - now - like we would - then. Wondering if that is even possible. Somehow I think it is.
What am I taking from this? A lot. I'm getting ready to go on my own two week journey, actually. Two weeks before Easter. A holiday of freshness. Of new beginnings. Of resurrections. A time for Forgiveness. Atonement. Reflection. A time of holding on to the treasures in life and letting go of the burdens. It's really as simple as that sometimes.
Father, I am sitting here listening to the rain, watching the sky dance with lightening, listening to the thunder roar and crackle and demand attention. Candle beside me and all around is quiet. Thank you for that. For the quiet. For the calm before, after, and somehow, during the storm. For the moments of fresh purity we can have that puts all things in perspective and causes us to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to make the changes we need to make. To treasure those things we should treasure and to release those things blurring our vision. I thank you tonight for the freedom in forgiveness. For the possibility of atonement. For the power of reflection. I give you these next few weeks as a pilgrimage closer to your heart and the possibility of making all things new. I am graciously and humbly.....