Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Nothing's changed and everything has changed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A girl in a raincoat

"Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person's throat." Papa in The Shack

"Hey, what can I get for you today?" "What can I get started for you?"
"I'd like a soy latte" "Drip coffe. And an apple fritter."
"Will that be all?" "Anything else?"
"Yes" "Nope, that should do it for now"
"Your total comes to three-seventy seven" "Carol will ring you up"

Inside the warm coffee shop there was a bustle of people. Students in the corner, hogging the comfy chairs as usual, loudly quizzed each other on biology facts that nobody else cared to learn that morning. Ding. Crash. Passers by stopping in for a spell to get out of the rain that had begun to come down harder. You could spot a tourist by the oversize umbrella they carry. From the warmth of the sunnily lit coffee shop, nobody noticed the girl across the street.

She was wearing a yellow raincoat, the slicker type, and a pair of red ladybug rain boots that were in fashion five years ago. From a distance she could have passed for a twelve year old, as her build was slight, and her face mostly hidden by the dark fringe of bangs that surrounded her face and the hood pulled up tight to shield her from the seasonal downpour. She seemed oblivious to the drizzle that had turned to a moderate downpour. If a passerby stopped for a moment they'd notice she was staring intently at a grave. It's an odd site during the day, especially mid-week, but there she was, standing alone, in a graveyard in the rain.

After years of searching, of enlisting search angels and websites, she ended up here, at the grave, of her mother. Could anything have prepared her for this?


You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you. -Frederick Buechner

This girl, with the dark fringe bangs and the yellow raincoat, standing in the cemetary across from the coffee shop has been haunting my dreams and daydreams for two or three weeks. She isn't real in the physical sense, unless I've somehow become a psychic and have tapped into some unknown life-story, but she's real in the sense of a story, how characters from books are little friends I carry around with me. Real friends and imaginary-book friends all leave footprints on my heart. I've hesitated to write about her, as I often don't "get it right," and I don't know what will happen now that I've given some words to her story. Will she stand there in the rain forever looking at her first mother's grave? Will she meet people who come alongside her in her journey? Will she walk across the street and order a peppermint hot-chocolate and tell the barista her story? I don't know. I've only written what I've seen thus far, and didn't do it justice yet. Perhaps there will be more to her story.

And perhaps their won't.

And how do I feel about the possibility of knowing only a little bit about someone, even if she's a character in my mind, a figment of my imagination? And why, with this particular girl, can I not imagine more than I already know? How is it that she is authentically real and her story is unfolding organically, but I am not, as the writer/imaginer/etc. the one in charge of it all?

And how does it relate to my counseling, as I begin relationships with people for a variable length of time? This quarter I had students who I met with for 3 or 4 sessions and then, abruptly the relationship ended. Mini-break ups. Stories unfinished. How will I cope with these unfinished stories?

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. -A.W. Tozer