|Grace riding around the Cooper Wawa five years ago ...|
When I was little, my mom used to ride me around this river on the back of her bike. Once, there was a sudden thunderstorm, and we had to take shelter in a gazebo along the river. I remember feeling so safe. Mom, where are you? I asked that morning last week. My mom had made it clear to us before she died that she was not afraid of dying, if that was what was to be, though "Of course there is nothing I want more than to stay right here with all of you." I know that was true. Some people say, lightly, "Your mom is still with you," and of course though I know what they mean, she is not still with me. At least not in the same way that she used to be. How much I would love to be hugged by her one more time, or to hear her voice, or feel her hand warm in mine.
Last week, as I ran, I said goodbye to her again. I thought of her funeral, and how Ken Carter, the retired choir director of the Presbyterian Church in Haddonfield in which she, and I, had been raised, sang For the Beauty of the Earth. We hadn't seen Ken in years, but when the pastor called him up two days before the service to ask him if he would sing, he said yes without hesitation. Later, we found out that he had refused the honorarium. The song was his gift to us.
As I ran, the song's words came to me: For the beauty of the earth/for the glory of the skies/for the love which from our birth/over and around us lies ... This beauty, it is almost enough. Is it enough? Will it be enough for me? Can I believe, and remember, as a friend wrote to me after my mom's diagnosis, that "Our Creator is Good"?
As I crossed the bridge back home last week, the river beneath me, the sky above, I felt the answer, a gentle whisper in my heart: Yes. But ... Mom, Mom ... I still miss you so much. And just then, taking my breath away, a white egret glided in front of me, wings spread wide. For the joy of human love/brother, sister, parent, child/friends on earth and friends above/for all gentle thoughts and mild ...
So I will keep running, and I will keep running in the morning, even if it means rising in the dark. Somehow, between the stars above I begin with and the sunrise with which I end, I will find my answers, and my comfort, or at least I'll try.
These pictures were taken along the Cooper River after Hurricane Irene in August of 2011. There was flooding, and the wind was strong, really strong (thus my face, to the right). Though I am wearing running clothes, I didn't actually do much running after Joseph was born, until now. In that picture, I am standing on the bridge where I saw the egret (and have since seen the egret several times).