Saturday, July 24, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

I am in a pretty contemplative mood today. Well, it's an extension of a mood that began earlier in the week really. And it struck me that, at nearly this exact time last year, I was experiencing a similar phenomena ... and for some similar and yet quite different reasons.

Last year during the third week of July, our family choose to empty our savings account to accommodate a trip our oldest son really wanted to be part of - "Jesus, Justice, Jazz," the ELCA's Youth Gathering in New Orleans. Because Stross has severe physical and intellectual disabilities, we couldn't just drop him off at church when our church's youth group began to load for the rigorous chartered bus ride south. As those familiar with disability accommodations know, travel presents some of the most daunting circumstances to overcome for people with extensive medical needs. So we did what our family has learned to do because of our oldest son, we figured out how to make it happen for him, knowing that we would be emotionally rewarded by this shared feat.

And that is pretty much what happened, even thought it didn't all go smoothly - far from it. But we did make it happen, and in the process, we simultaneously had some of the best moments of our year that week and some of the most emotionally excruciating ones - personally, and even though on vacation, professionally.

One day, one moment, stands out as a point of awakening. You can try to see it in the video below, but it won't let you see what was happening inside me while I waited in a long line to throw myself off a tower while standing beside my youngest son. You won't see the phone call from my employer (my second of the day) that I took while waiting in the line or how it brought an awareness that my life was changing beyond what I could fully comprehend or know or even do anything about.

Then, minutes later, as if written for a movie, when Skye and I were in place at the top of the zipline tower, an announcement came over the convention center speakers. It was time for the entire assembly to pause for one minute of silence - more than 38,000 people called to a time of prayer. I looked down at the silent throngs, looked over at my beautiful son, and filled with a sense of divine peace. I had not asked for that moment. It simply came. An incredible, beautiful gift just for me. It told me all would be right in my world. I didn't have to know how. I just knew it would be.

So when I, with a mild fear of heights, threw myself off that tower, I vowed to let go of many things and to begin focusing more intently on others.

And, wow, what a difference this past year has made. Among some of the differences: My youngest son is now taller than I by at least one inch. My oldest son has matured in ways we had always hoped possible. I am unemployed. I am more than half done with a master of arts in teaching. I am happier. I am dreaming again. I am more like me than I have ever been. My husband is still the most incredible human being I have ever known.

So what has me in a contemplative mood this July? Well, for starters, our family again accommodated one of Stross dreams, but 98% of the accommodating fell squarely on Mark's shoulders this week. Stross wanted to go to Boy Scout camp, and Mark made it possible. And while they were navigating the forces that comprise Camp Ingawanis, Skye and I spent the week together, only this time we didn't have any pinnacle moments. He did, however, keep me company as I traversed an emotional valley.

After a morning where we shared a delightful mother-son breakfast together at a local diner, he watched me wrestle through the remainder of my day dealing with some pretty crappy stuff. And while I cried off and on through an angry, frustrated afternoon, my teen-aged Boy Wonder found his childhood teddy bear and brought it to me - a gesture that he knew I would remember from his preschool days. With echoes of last year, I looked at him, smiled and was at peace.

I think I'm ready to zipline again - if only metaphorically. I'm just not sure how many people will be with me when I do. I am pretty sure I can count on at least three companions who know what it means to - as the theme of last year's Youth Gathering reminded us - "Be the Change" we seek. But there is always more room for companions on a journey.

Who's in? Who is ready for something new? Something that will bring a whopping sense of peace?

I wonder how I'll be feeling the third week of July 2011.


Bobbie Jo Ryan said...

Hey Joy,

I hope this finds you well. Though I know I didn't have a class with you at Waldorf (or your husband) I was aware of you who you were and I'm certain we said "Hi" as we passed in the halls... I knew of you and your family more through Waldorf and the fundraiser that was held for your son.

It is wonderful to be able to read your blog and find out how your family is doing and what has been happening in your lives but I wanted to take a moment to thank you, one Mom to another.

Plain and simple.... you inspire me. Your honesty and the depth at which you share what you have learned and are learning, it is also what I feel called to do with my life. So, I just wanted to take a moment to say "Thanks" your words are encouraging to me in my busy days with two kids whom I homeschool and running a business... It's nice to have a glimpse into others lives and be able to learn how to be a better Mom.

I don't think enough people take the time to share how others touch their lives, even if it is in the slightest way... but I do know that when it is shared it too can serve a purpose to encourage and enrich the lives of others. So please, continue to write from the heart and share your journey, I'm certain others are also impacted in a positive way because you are you.

And one last thing... as I read this last blog entry the thought crossed my mind to share with you that I have the word Joy tattooed onto my inside left wrist... and No, it's not me stalking you or anything, LOL. I had this tattooed just over a year ago in hopes to constantly remind me where to look... It stands for Jesus - Others - You.

So you are probably wondering how this relates... well, as I read your blog I just got the feeling that it is the way you live your life. And that is part of what is inspiring to me.

God Bless,
Bobbie Jo

Joy said...

Bobbie Jo!

Thank you for acting on the impulse to share this with me. Your words are affirming and encouraging to me at the end of a week when my thoughts can use both affirmation and encouragement.

And I love knowing about your tattoo - what a beautiful reminder. That is an aspiration of mine; however, I wish I could say I was as intentional as your act of remembrance.

Thanks for taking time to write and inspire me in return. I hope to never feel so overwhelmed that I cannot find time to write/reflect and live an examined life.

Joy to you, always.