Lori and I spent a life changing summer together in Arizona seven years ago. A summer that I look back upon with complete gratitude for the freedom I encountered, but also with the ever-present shame that most of us face when our lives don't look perfect. Lori and I were in that place together and because of that have an unspoken bond as we fought together. My time with her made me think of the places in my life that have defined me. It is easy to acknowledge the good - the nights at Messiah College on the swinging bridge - wrestling with life and faith...Rhodes Grove Camp - watching lives change and being part of those intimate moments in the lives of youth...the woods behind my childhood home in Landenberg - a beautiful escape, full of adventure, Baystate Medical Center on June 13th, 2009 at 12:11pm as Julia arrived into the world...these are the significant moments embraced in sheer joy. Arizona is among the top places of change in my life - more specifically, the mountains of Wickenburg. The journey in getting there wasn't pretty and it's easier to forget, but the notion of forgetting gives power to shame and dismisses a huge part of who I am today. I am so thankful for my time with Lori and the chance to reconnect with the beautiful mess of memories that will continue to keep us united.
Where are those places in your life? The places that you think of when you ask, "how did I get here?". The places that are mundane to some people, but profoundly altering to you. There is a healthy place of reverence in remembering - it keeps us whole. Our lives are shaped in these places - these places that are dotted with people and threaded with refining moments that help us learn and grow.
It was so wonderful to be with someone who has that same desire to keep moving foward - I was reminded of one of our many quotes from that summer by Anne Lamott, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don't give up."
It was rough, but I landed on my feet
Now the whole world knows a little story about me..."
-Maggie Elliott - Sugar and Shoes
Check out Ophelia's Place - a great place that Lori is part of in New York. It is a gathering place for support. It is inspiring.