Singing while shipping out

My eyes, unexpectedly, teared today.  I stared in surprise at my inbox at the letter from my dear friend; an accountant.  After seven years of living in our sunny state she is relocating to the east coast.  The waterworks sprung.  I should be used to this.  The hubs and I have been moving around since 1994 and, until now, have not remained in any one place longer than three years.

Whenever I hear the phrase shipping out I think of an aircraft carrier (aka ship) leaving port for deployment.  This particular girlfriend and her family are not military; though they hail from Virginia, a huge military hub.  As I packed boxes and typed labels at work, all neat and tidy for a shipment, I thought of my girlfriend doing the same with her personal effects (moving lingo term used by moving companies).   Her youngest son was my middle son’s very first best friend. 

How do you sort and pack up your life, all neat and tidy?

I consider these things in lieu of some recent news another girlfriend shared about her health.  She is organizing and sorting through her life in preparation for harder times; if/when they come.  On the very same day she shared this news I got phone calls from two other dear friends who were checking in.  The fact that all these events culminated on the exact same day makes me think there is a reason.   These friendships are interwoven, sisters.

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Isaiah 40:3  NIV.

One of these girlfriends is my photographer friend 3000 miles away.   After checking in she shared her testimonial.  God planted her exactly where she needed to be just as she was at the end of her rope; her faith unwavering.  Her personality bubbles to the surface and belies the depth of her struggles.   She always brings a smile to my face, especially since I had been saddened earlier in the day.  Her pictures are phenomenal and she reminded me that our family pics are on her website.   Check her out.  She is awesome!   http://www.taylormadeportraits4u.com.

The other call came from my laotong (from Lisa See’s book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.)  In Chinese culture, in the province of Hunan,  two girls are matched/bonded to one another as kindred sisters.  My girlfriend is not Chinese but the sentiment in this book makes me think of her since she recommended the book for me to read.  This is the girlfriend who finally sat me down in front of my computer and put me on Facebook (kicking and screaming).  I saw her on April 1st of last year as  I was attending a funeral for our friend who lost the battle against breast cancer.   Our families usually camp together on Memorial Day weekend with the girlfriend who just emailed that she was moving away.

I feel like I’m stuck amongst the trees in the wilderness.  I imagine myself, scythe in hand,  hacking down trees to prepare the way.  I like to be able to control my destiny.  How exactly should I prepare it?  The forest floor is thick with decaying plant matter that weighs me down.  In the understory branches keep getting in my way and smacking me in the face.  The canopy layer is dense and only traces of sunlight make it through.  But in those singular rays of light; particles dance and entice.  I hope to transcend through it all, towards the light.  If only…

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…weighed back down to Earth and reality; work.  The stuff is shiny and we have bars of bronze.  I tried to lift them all and the hubs laughed at me.  It’s a sight to behold; the dirty bronze, shaved slowly to reveal the shiny, copper alloy, beneath.  Maybe we’re like these bars.  They’re tough and resilient; a burden to carry.   But with a little shaving off and polishing, we can be shiny just like them.   Maybe there’s hope for me in this life to prepare my path and transcend.

I digress.

I came full circle with the email this morning; the idea that kept eluding me for so long.  Observing my girlfriend seek the community of her friends and family I realized the power of sisterhood that we, women, bring to one another.  It just so happened that I read one of my fave bloggers and she touched on the same subject swirling in my head.

“When you can’t believe – I will sing how you are beloved.  When you forget the words to yourself – I will sing your song – till you sing it too.” ~ Ann Voskamp

As an only child with deceased parents I need to learn to seek my fellow women, my community, my sisters.   They are everywhere if I need them, in: Illinois, Virginia, overseas, my neighborhood.  All these years I never saw them, the lone ranger forging my path.  If I tripped, I fell because I never asked anyone to walk with me.   I always sing my words in my head, silently.   I know there is a cacophony of voices out there; harmonizing to the same tune that I sing within.  I need to learn to practice my song and to share it.  I’ve been out of practice for so long.

I finally played my piano, in front of others, this weekend; a child inspired me.  It was The Spinning Song, fitting I guess, since I seem to spin my wheels all the time.  She refused to finish her song until I finished playing mine for her.

As my fingers played upon the ivories, slipping and out of practice, I finally stopped fighting the keys and let the memories of playing them relax me.  I was able to finish the song.  I plundered through the parts I’d forgotten.  But with practice, and some encouragement, I’ll slowly get there.  Wherever you all are; know that the songs you’ve shared with me resonate with my own.  We’ll sing life’s symphony, its crescendos and decrescendos, together.

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