Friday, April 10, 2015

My New Blog...

Though still fresh and under construction, I've moved my blog HERE at Wordpress. Can't get much easier to find me there if you'd like. Or if you might have someone in mind who maybe needs to read such words (and may like to share too), I'd love to interact with them. ... Yep. This is my new address. 

Will you join me? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Palm Fronds through Window Panes

I didn't make the connection...

until this week. I'm surprised, to be honest, because if you know me, I'm all about the symbolic. I love metaphorical words, hidden meanings, and allegory. I inhale veiled nuance deep. Penned or printed words on a page are a feast for the eyes, but the story beneath the words is the undercurrent of flavor and aroma, layers of texture, beckons me into cascades of emotion.

C. S. Lewis wrote to J.R.R. Tolkien on December 7, 1929:

“The two things that came out clearly were the sense of reality in the background and the mythical value: the essence of myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggest incipient allegories to the reader."

But first the story of palm fronds...

And hidden places.

My mom's bedroom was caddy corner from the room I shared with my little brother. A narrow wall separated the two, but it might as well have been a chasm deep with only faint echoes of the other side. 

He took me there when the house was empty...

"Sharen, I'll be gone with your Grammy today, but your grandpa wants to take you to the country club. I'm sure he'll buy you a soda..." A rare treat. 

I wanted to flee, with no where to go. 

"Can't I go with you and Grammy?" I pleaded. "l'll be good. I promise."

She assured me I'd be much happier at the country club with my grandpa. My unrelenting pleas to go with her finally led to a stern rebuke. 

"You're going with your grandpa." 

“You can sit in the front seat with me, Sweetie. Say goodbye to Mommy...” 

The glint in my grandfather's eye scared me. I didn't yet know what evil was, but felt every bit of this nameless thing as it crept up my spine, unfurling fear, landing with a thud in the pit of my stomach. 

As promised, we went to the country club where I followed my grandpa and his friends around the course. I busied myself by learning the names of different golf clubs and counting the number of strokes it took to reach each hole. My grandpa even let me put the numbers down on the scorecard. And his friends were so nice, happy to have their friend’s granddaughter tag along. One of them brought me a root beer (my favorite) from the clubhouse halfway through their game. I wondered what it would be like if he were my grandpa instead. Would he touch me too? Like that? 

And then it was time to go home…

The club wasn’t far from my grandparents’ house, and when we arrived no one was home.

“Can we go to my school to play on the playground?” I was scared to be at home with him by myself. I didn’t want to sit in that chair with him when no one was home, knowing Mom wouldn’t be calling for me to get ready for bed soon. The sun was bright in the sky and bedtime was hours away.

“Sure. But I need to run inside for a bit. We’ll go in for just a few minutes, okay?” Satisfied it wouldn’t be long, I took his hand and we walked into the house together. We didn’t go to the den, but to my mother’s bedroom.

“I’ll take you to the school to play in just a bit, but first, I want to show you how much I love you. I love you so much. So so much. You’re my favorite. Did you know that?” His voice was gravelly. Hushed. “All grandpas show love to their granddaughters like this. Here, let me show you.  And when he laid me on the floor, my eyes focused on the palm fronds just outside the large picture window. 


yet I focused with all my strength on those palm fronds. The light danced across the green as the breeze moved them in waves across the sky. My hiding place. A shelter for my spirit. I found a sense of solace there, just beyond the the paned glass window. 

Palm Sunday and the story beneath my story...

"On the first day, you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook" (Lev. 23:40), and "You shall live in booths send days; all the citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt." (Lev. 23:42-43)

Symbolically, these fragile booths, covered with plant material, such as palm leaves, represented temporary shelter meant to protect His people during their time as slaves and as they roamed the wilderness for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. 

The allegory isn't lost to me...

Though the pain and struggle were real. Though I was battered and broken, somehow the jade palm fronds called my spirit to a place of shelter. 

My hiding place.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Dream that Changed my Forever

The blanket Mom made for my baby

Nine years old and broken...

like Thumbelina, my favorite baby doll. I pulled her string and she barely moved. I held her close to calm her fears, but nothing I did could make her awaken to my love. I swaddled her in the baby blanket my mom had sewn for her, and pulled her close. And I sang...

Rock-a-bye, baby,
On the tree top.
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall.
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all. 

I thought about the falling cradle, and pulled her closer to my heart. Broken and raggedy, still I loved her. Gentle, I swept her unkept strawberry blonde hair to the side. 

I'll never let you fall. 

Fear-filled every night...

blankets pulled clear up to my chin. Eyes closed. Frozen. I thought if I didn't move when he touched me, he would leave me to sleep, and sweep strawberry blonde hair gentle off my face. Maybe he would swaddle me gentle and tender. Maybe he would sing over me.

But his touch was of a wholly different kind. And pain joined my fear many times over. 

I wanted to die...

and every night, I thought about how I could just stop breathing. Vague memories of Dad telling me that Grandma had died and gone to Heaven taunted me with the possibility of escape. I pulled Thumbelina closer, and tucked her baby blanket tight under her chin. 

One night...

as I slept sound, I woke, not with a start, not abrupt and fearful, but serene. My body, mind, and spirit wrapped in tranquil warmth. Familiar surroundings eluded me as I was in an altogether different place.

Even now, I'm asking for God's words to flow a near close description of this place. I can only say that my presence there was something other than life here. Certainly other from life I knew as a deeply wounded, frightened child.

Fervent Love, radiant Light, peace-FILLED Presence. No fear, no pain. I belonged. His Presence was pure white, brilliant Light all around Him, through Him, from Him. The details of His face were veiled in Holy resplendence. Yet, even that was right.

I was loved. Truly. Completely. Eternally. 


When He spoke, His words didn't come audibly to my ears. They came as a whisper to my heart. 

You have to go back. It is not time. 

I responded not with words, but as He had spoken to me. My heart was begging. 

Please let me stay. I don't want to go back. I want to stay here with You.

His encompassing Presence didn't waver, but His Heart came to me again. 

I'm not finished with you yet. You have work to do. 

Again, my heart beseeched Him. 

Please, I want to stay. 

I woke in my bed...

and still the peace of His Presence lingered. I met the One Who loves me Eternal. Though I didn't yet know His Name, I spoke to Him each night until sleep finally came. I didn't hear any whispers to my heart as before, yet I knew He was with me. Somehow. 

Please help me sleep. Please help me not be afraid. Please.

Over and over again, I uttered these words in my mind. And when my grandpa came to hurt me, I somehow (a miracle, I'll never understand) found solace in silent conversations with this One who made His glorious presence known. Somehow, there was a sliver of safety there. I can't explain it. The physical agony, the emotional suffering, the shattered spirit of me, a raggedy, abused little girl had the tiniest of seeds planted into her being by the One Who loved her true. Through six years of torment, this hidden seed was my life preserver. I clung tight when I thought I would break. I felt its grip tight around me when I was sure to perish. 

Sharing the sacred...

here in this place for anyone to see is hard. There are those, I'm sure, who will find my words difficult to believe. I don't know why He chose to make Himself known to me in this manner, and have only voiced this sacred encounter with a select few trusted friends and family members. My intention was to keep this experience sheltered inside, guarded from the reproach of anyone who might tell me I foolishly misinterpreted a childish dream. 

But now, I am compelled to tell. And I'm willing to risk the consequence of naysayers. This is my story, and I'm sharing the sacred with my truest voice. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Father, Daughter Dance

Daddy will be here...

I know he will be. 

"You look so pretty, Share." She finished the ponytail with a slight pull and turned me toward the mirror. "You're all ready now." 

I know he'll come. He has too! 

"This dress looks so pretty on you. You're grandpa is going to love it too. Wait until you see him. He's all dressed up for your special night." 

But Daddy's taking me to the dance. He'll be here. He'll knock at the door in a few minutes, just in time. 

"Wait here a minute now. I'll tell you when to come out." She said. I waited for the knock at the front door when she stepped out. I leaned close to the door so I wouldn't miss it. "Come on out, Sharen!" 

Just because I didn't hear the front door open, doesn't mean he's not here. 

Eyes to my feet, I walked slow into the living room. "You're going to be the most beautiful girl at the dance tonight," he said. 

It's not Daddy's voice. It's his. 

"Shall we?" He reached for my hand, and I did the only thing I knew I could do. I put my hand in his, and he walked me to the car. 

"Have fun tonight!" I heard my mom's voice behind me, though barely. Her words pushed  through the reverberation of my silent cry. 

And so it went every year...

I finally gave up on the dream of Daddy showing up for Father, Daughter Dances, and accepted my grandpa as his substitute. At least he couldn't hurt me while we were at school. We were simply a normal grandfather and his granddaughter. Only not.

(As an aside... I would share a picture of my grandpa and me, but during my healing years, as an act of setting healthy boundaries, I got rid of every single photo of him. I'll share this story soon)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Peek into the Nearer Present

As I tell this story...

a glimpse of spring appears, and touches of ruby-tipped cocoons emerge upon newly hatched ruddy leaves. Petals wrapped safe in blankets of green test the slightest glow of the sun and begin their dance of unfolding. Each fragile layer emerges, one after the other, until the rose opens radiant. 

And so it is as I reveal my story. The beginning... the only place to ever start any telling. 

Yet, I'm reminded, today is decades beyond, and I must interrupt the flow of telling to allow you a glimpse of the here and now. 

Because a few have expressed concern that I haven't healed, that only now the wounds of childhood abuse were opening, I must, for this post, defer to nearer present years, to tell a story of restoration. 


It's true. She didn't believe me the first time I told her about the touching. And it's true, she dismissed my experience as a figment of my imagination. She did nothing to protect me. Instead, she turned away from her little girl (from me), refusing to hear the ugly truth of her daughter's pain. 

Until many years later. 

I was 29 years old, married, with three children of my own. My oldest, a daughter, had turned eight. Her smile, her infectious giggles... her precious innocence. How could anyone be so cruel as to take that away? My little girl's age triggered the raggedy girl inside of me. 

This confrontation happened months into my healing journey...

"Mom, I have share something with you. You didn't believe me the first time, and you may choose to not believe me again. The choice is yours. But I need to tell you now because I'm doing the work of healing in my life. I've already confronted Grandpa, and he is aware that I am telling you." The words spilled out without pause. Stopping their flow, however brief, could have halted the momentum. She had to know. And I had to tell...

...again. Will she believe me this time? 

"I remember. I'm so sorry. I remember." Her voice raspy through tears. 

She remembers.

Her words, though far too late to change the damage already inflicted through six years of sexual abuse, ushered in an emotional balm of sorts. 

She believes me...

And our relationship healed in time, as I did. Our bond was unbreakable until cancer took her from Earth into Eternity. 

Mom... Do you promise you'll be there when it's my turn? 

I promise. 

She promised.