I sat down on the painted wooden bench in the mud room determined to brave the outdoor chilly weather .
This requires intention and perseverance. I don’t want to go out there, at all, and every which way I turn, there are valid excuses that I don’t have to do this …except… I know it will be good for me .
Ski pants on, warm fluffy wool lined boots tied up, plaid scarf wrapped around neck, and face secured, hat plopped on my head which also wore a hoodie beneath for extra warmth, and mitts secured, I was ready to meet the outside, as an astronaut ready to step foot out into the moon. Oh to be weightless, and to float, instead of the trudge ahead amongst snow covered ground. The road ahead was uninviting.
There was no going back now. I had a goal . Now why am I sweating and also freezing at the same time? Is it hot sweats, or is it legit? My body is confused . This is not new .
There were only a few out today. The smart ones were all back inside beside their fireplaces.
Wait… I smell the welcome scent of wood burning, and instantly it does not feel like such a desolate path up ahead. That aroma always brings hope and comfort.
I began chatting with the Lord as I often do . The prayer list is lengthy. There are so many who are hurting, and ill, and feeling the effects of cancer, and Covid. The world moans. I hear the little chickadees singing their song of encouragement, and my heart yearns for more and so I ask .
Lord, “can you send down your glory today, I need to see your face?”
I ask this a lot, because I want to see, I want to know .
This phrase comes from a song, by The group, ” Third Day.”
“Lord, God, it would be really great if I could see a bright red cardinal today.”
I had seen photos from my good friend, Alison Berry, of a male and female cardinal that she had seen up her way in Burlington, Ontario. She takes amazing photos.
There are many who believe that seeing a cardinal means that a departed loved one is near . There are those I’ve spoken with that have shared stories of this nature phenomenon with me .
I continued on, talking to God , and myself. I was on the Trans Canada Trail, and was now continuing back to the street towards the house where I live, when I thought I heard a shrill chirp. I stopped, strained my ears through my multi layered hoodie, hat and parka insulated head covering, and faint though it was, came the chirp again. I turned, as in one movement, since my neck was bound so tight with a scarf, I could only swivel.
There atop a leaf empty tree he sat. All alone in all his crimson red beauty.. the male cardinal . He was a solitary chap.
Such a contrast he was against the pure white of winter landscape.
I could scarcely believe my eyes..
” God you are so good… you hear me”
” Thank you”
Tears filled my eyes, and instantly formed ice crystals froze on my eyelashes. My nose continued to run, and I was filled with such gratitude for this sacred moment. I was warm from head to toe in such a lovely way .
I turned back around, now indeed feeling as if there was no longer gravity to hold me to the earth, and then once again turned, and like he had never even been there… the tree stood vacant again.
I thought of my Mum. I am missing her . Watching BBC series on tv, reading housing magazines with her, drinking tea, going to lunch, laughing together at so many things… just all of it . Just her .. to talk to , to hug, to take care of …
Seeing that cardinal reminded me of the blood of Jesus too, and how it spilled forth from his side, ran down his face from his crown of thorns, and from his hands that were stabilized cruelly with rough hewn nails upon a cross of wood, feet secured in the same way . The brilliant red of fresh blood poured forth, from Jesus the pure white and spotless Lamb of God.
The thoughts came from the old hymn, ” wash me and I shall whiter than snow.”
I wrote this following paragraph, and shared it with a few of my friends… If it is repetitive, please pardon me .
So there are some things I noticed as I trod along the snowy path, as each step squeaked and crunched beneath my feet because of the cold temperature that threatened to envelop me. I came prepared today. I had on my full armor of insulated and warm clothing. What if God had decided that the snow that fell from the sky would be black as sin.. what then? What a difference the presence of color makes when compared to the absence of color. We are the bride of Christ… white, pure, adorned for Jesus. The sunlight glistens off the whiteness like the jewels and satin and lace of the bride in all her wedding finery. Jesus was the perfect lamb, without blemish or spot. The pure whiteness of fresh fallen snow reminds me that every day we are given the chance to walk with our savior hand in hand, elbow to elbow, bride and bridegroom side by side. Because of him we are washed whiter than snow.”
I find myself still hung up on what if snow was black? What a stark difference it would make if it fell like soot and coal from the sky blanketing the world, and what if there were no stars… Lights, and sparkle, and the single flicker of a lit match that always illuminates. It can’t not shine, it exists to bring light, warmth, hope… and comfort . What if?
” Sing praise to the Lord, you Saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. “. Psalm 30:4,5
Yesterday, after talking with my roommate Kathy , I went in search of my Italy memories from The Amalfi coast . I hesitated as I opened up plastic containers, knowing that these photo albums would bring difficult and poignant memories of my trip with my Mum. I kept on though, because I felt determined to find them .
As I opened up one tub, there lay ” yester -dates” moments within these treasured books.
What I had not expected was that other free photos would spill out too . Photos of me and my daughter that were taken years ago when she was about three years of age. My friend, Heather Krueger took them one day, knowing how irreplaceable they would be to me later on I believe . It was such a kind and insightful gesture.
I was thankful, but also hit with a wall of intense emotion as I thumbed over them, caressing each picture so that I could just reach in and touch her skin once again.
Of course the tears welled up… then I opened the albums, and there was my Mum, smiling back at me, beseeching me to come close, and keep on keeping on .
The world felt suddenly far away, the walls were shadowed, and instantly I knew a migraine headache was coming on. It was sudden, direct and insistent.
I was bewildered.. I hadn’t had one of these headaches start in I didn’t even didn’t even recal how long… The aura of flashing rainbow lights to the right of my left eye obliterated the photos, and encroaching nausea turned my stomach in the next moment. I ventured into the bathroom to find my ” headache cocktail” of ” Alieve and Benadryl,” searched for my water bottle and drank down the tablets.
One of Bianca’s neurologists one day suggested this headache cocktail combination to me, and I’ve been heeding his advice ever since.
I lay down on the couch, knowing I needed to close my eyes, and just breathe until the lights would dissipate in about 20 minutes. I pulled up the plaid mohair blanket up to my chin, the last blanket that covered my Mother’s body, and attempted to empty my mind of anything but peace.
Reflecting your on all this later in the day, of how the body reacts when hit with memories and images of loved ones no longer on this earth with me .. was illuminating.
The aura of ” migraine headache lights” were never welcome. They felt disconcerting and ominous, while the lights of candles, and stars, and fireworks, and sunshine upon the sea, were happy lights.
Such a dichotomy of light experience.
One day …..
There will be light… and that light will be Jesus .