Hope in Autumn Blooms

mumsIt is the season of mums – that glorious coloring of perennial happiness.

Each year, I plant and nurture a variety of chrysanthemums. These are the plants I prune in the spring when everything else yearns to bloom.

When late September and early October creep onto my calendar, these will be the plants that greet me with tiny buds, then fuller blossoms.

Rust, purple, red, yellow mums fill my garden with spots of color. Yet even within the enjoyment, I feel a chill of remembrance.

Mums were the plants loving friends brought when my babies died – Ryan in 1981 and Rachel in 1983.

Such promise those pregnancies brought. After years of infertility, sharing the joys of friends and family who so easily bore children while I waited with empty arms. It was finally my turn.

Waiting, hoping, praying for the lives of my little ones. Yet both of them dying before birth. Each life ending at 12 weeks.

How does a mother reconcile the image of her own womb morphing into a coffin? She cannot. I could not.

Numb, then raw, then screaming out my grief to the God who watched my babies die and did nothing to save them. Was he not supposed to be a Savior?

Why? No answer.

It is within the silence of our griefs that faith best grows.

Faith – the evidence of things not seen. The babies never held yet somehow carried to heaven where I believed with certainty they were safe and loved.

Friends who could give no answers brought mums to plant, to nurture, to prune back and wait until autumn brought them to life.

The hope of this mother that another season might bring another child – a living babe to hold, kiss and sing to.

Again with divine silence came only the belief that somehow God knew a time and way to bring life to my womb.

Just as mums somehow know when it is their time to bloom.

My Caleb – third born yet my only living child – delivered in 1985. Did ever the screams of a newborn sound so sweet?

Still, each year in late September and early October, I seek out another mum plant and gingerly plant it.

Some unresolved grief so desperate I can no longer weep cries out for a tangible reminder of the babes that were taken. I honor my children by planting these mums as my personal cemetery token.

In the spring, I cut them back, then marvel at the first blooms of autumn. And in those orbs of color, I see hope.

Somewhere in heaven wait two children who want to meet me, throw their arms around me and whisper love words we have longed to share all these years.

In the waiting – in the hoping – comes a resolve. To honor each day in the land of the living even while looking forward to the land of promise.

©2017 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

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Hope Watches the Autumn Dance

A year ago, I happened to be on the deck as a tree unloaded its entire leaf burden. It was as if God said, “It’s 3:24 on November 2. Disengage.leaves-falling-autumn

Within seconds, every leaf had let loose from its moorings and the tree stood naked in the autumn wind.

Since then, I have made more of an effort to watch the leaves fall.

Some of them let loose to fall quickly and suddenly – as if they have given up on ever becoming anything more than a falling leaf. Done. Hit the ground. Boom.

Other leaves are more graceful in their descent, twisting and turning as they spiral downward, then find a spot of yet-green grass to slide to a landing.

But my favorites are the leaves that dance as if floating toward a purpose, the mulching of the ground, the photosynthesis of time.

These are the leaves that catch a final wisp of Kansas wind and turn upward for a moment, then pirouette in different directions, exposing their golden undersides to the rhythms of autumn.

These are the leaves that take my breath away as they meander across space and take their time letting gravity win.

The analogy of the autumn dance signals that even when nature introduces another winter – the rhythms of life will continue.

Day and night. Seasons of life. Winter will follow autumn but also promise spring.

I want to be most like the meandering leaves and take my time enjoying the process of aging, the transitions of life that come to all of us.

Somehow, I want to find the cadence of trust that allows my soul to float without worry, to sing in harmony with a greater purpose.

Maybe I can best mimic these graceful leaves by paying more attention to the way nature forms them – like veined boats that gather morning dew and shadow us during summer’s heat.

The reds and golds and oranges of the autumn dance remind me how God colors our world with various shades of skin to remind us all are beautiful – different yes – but glorious in our uniqueness.

And just as God programs each tree in its autumn leaving, he also engages within the seasons of my life.

He knows that exact moment when I will let go and dance toward a greater purpose – when the questions will be answered and the direction clear.

Gratefully, in his arms – I will segue from dance to eternity. But unlike the leaves, I will fall upward.

©2016 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

Hope in Autumn Blooms

mumsIt is the season of mums – that glorious coloring of perennial happiness that I plant and nurture each year. These are the plants I prune in the spring when everything else yearns to bloom. Because I know that when late September and early October creep onto my calendar, these will be the plants that greet me with tiny buds and then full blooms.

Rust, purple, red, yellow – I love to fill my garden with these spots of color. Yet even within the enjoyment, I feel a chill of remembrance. Mums were the plants that loving friends brought to me when my babies died – Ryan in 1981 and Rachel in 1983.

Such promise those pregnancies brought. After years of infertility, sharing the joys of friends and family who so easily bore children while I waited with empty arms. It was finally my turn.

Waiting, hoping, praying for the lives of my little ones. Yet both of them – each life ending at 12 weeks.

How does a mother reconcile the image of her own womb becoming a coffin? She cannot. I could not.

Numb, then raw, then screaming out my grief to the God who watched my babies die and did nothing to save them. Was he not supposed to be a Savior?

Why? No answer. It is in the silence of our griefs that faith best grows. Faith – the evidence of things not seen. The babies never held yet somehow carried to heaven where I believed with certainty they were safe and loved.

Friends who provided no answers brought mums to plant, to nurture, to prune back and wait until autumn brought them to life. The hope of this mother that another autumn might bring another child – a living babe I could hold and kiss and sing to.

Again with divine silence came only the belief that somehow God knew a time and way to bring life to my womb just as mums somehow know when it is their time to bloom.

My Caleb – third born yet my only living child – delivered in 1985. Did ever the screams of a newborn sound so sweet?

Still, each year in late September and early October, I seek out another mum plant and gingerly plant it. Some unresolved grief so deep I can no longer weep cries out for a tangible reminder of the babes that were taken. Miscarried babies receive no funeral, no cemetery plot where mothers go to grieve. So I honor my children by planting mums as my personal cemetery token.

I wait for spring to cut them back, then marvel at the first blooms of autumn. And in those orbs of color, I see hope that somewhere in heaven wait two children who want to meet me, throw their arms around me and whisper love words we have longed to share all these years.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

Shadows of Alzheimer’s

The shadows of the autumn leaves dance across the blinds in my office. I enjoy this extraordinary moment of now. shadows on GW blinds

With the changing of the season, I revel in the colors and textures – reds, oranges, golds – blended with the green leftovers of summer. The crunch of tiny acorns under my walking shoes, a pubescent pine cone that fell too early. Orange pumpkins reign near my almost-gone summer annuals.

These are the sights and sounds of autumn, often referred to as the harvest season.

In the Reverend G books, our brave little minister wonders how to deal with her own shadows of Alzheimer’s – the seasons that come and go, leaving her a bit more confused, a bit closer mentally to her younger self even as her physical body ages. She yearns to share her faith with the residents at Cove Creek yet she can’t quite remember how to speak the Gospel.

In one of my favorite scenes in the third book, Reverend G tries to preach a sermon and jumbles the story in an endearing yet tragic attempt to speak about her faith. What a character she is and how bravely she tries to deal with this disease that has stolen even the memory of ministry from her!

In this season of change, I wonder about my mother, too. How does she deal with the shadows on her plastic blinds in assisted living? Does she remember the changing colors of the trees on the farm? Does she still long for those autumnal moments or have they completely retreated in the Alzheimer-forming plaque that captures her brain?

I so want her to remember this season of autumn for its beauty, the crisp air and the promise of harvest. I long for my mother to recall with joy the way we celebrated with church folks, joined in a giant pot luck and sang, “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.”

I hope Mom still rejoices within that sacred holy of holies inside her soul, that she somehow catches a tune from the past, the aroma of pumpkin pies cooling on the cabinet and the presence of her beloved Hank next to her.

And just in case my genes fail me and throw me also into Alzheimer’s shadows, I will rejoice in the now and enjoy today. I will continue to walk in the crisp air, crunch tiny acorns under my feet and praise God for the colors and textures of autumn.

For how else can we deal with shadows but to look for the remaining light. And how else can we face something as horrific as Alzheimer’s unless we look beyond it to the harvest of heaven.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Why Mums?

The doctor’s eyes filled with empathy tears as he handed me the Kleenex box. “You know,” he said, “no one – not even the medical community – knows how to explain miscarriage. No one truly understands what happens to the woman or how she feels.

“For whatever reason, God chooses to take these babies early.”

After my second baby died, they decided to run tests. The results also provided no answers, no reasons why those little babes slithered out of my womb.

Each of them lived only 60 days. 12 weeks – enough time for me to fall in love with them and desperately long to hold them.

Ryan was born and died on November 3, 1981. He was the promised child, after six years of infertility – the baby who would finally fill the nursery with his whimpers and his tiny smile. I have wondered many times what kind of man he would be now, at the age of 32.

Only God knows, and God chooses to keep that secret from me – for now.

My daughter, Rachel, was born and died on January 6, 1983. She was the child who was expected to survive and grow to someday be my friend. She was the daughter of tea parties and coloring outside the lines and making chocolate chip cookies and shopping for just the right shoes. I wanted to help her fasten her wedding gown.

Someday, I will see her in a heavenly gown – both of us in our robes of white.

Every year in October, I celebrate the brief lives of my first two babies. I remember them this month because the chrysanthemums bloom.

Someone gave me a beautiful mum when Ryan died – red mums with orange centers and yellow tips. Someone else gave me a mum when Rachel died – deep, dark purple.

Both of those plants died, just like my children. Living and vibrant one moment. Cold and gone the next.

So every year, I find a beautiful mum and plant it in my yard. In the spring, when the first green leaves appear, I cut it back to protect it during the summer heat and encourage more growth. Then in October, it begins to bloom.mums

As I water my mums, I think about my children and thank God they are safe in heaven. I will never have to worry about their health or wonder if they are okay. I picture them happy and free – waiting for me to get there so we can finally meet in person.

The season of the mums helps me to find hope within these unraveling memories. It reminds me that no matter what happens to our children, mother love continues.

Even when our children leave us – through death or distance – our hearts are forever connected.

And somehow, whether it’s a journal entry, a faded sonogram photo or a beautiful mum – we keep the memories of our children alive.

We honor them and bow to the omniscience of Almighty God who knows best. He keeps the timelines for each of us and of course – he is the one who offers final hope.

So on this first day of October, I celebrate you, Ryan and Rachel. Your momma misses you, but I know you’re okay.

Someday we’ll meet and wow – won’t that be fine!

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1