Taking to the Air



Cashing in one of a series of birthday massages I laid happily under the hands of a skilled massage therapist, evident by the fine tweaking of stress carrying muscles and the release of tears that rolled down my cheeks. I often have spiritual experiences during massages and this one was no different, as butterflies appeared to flutter joyfully around the room. I felt free and alive and then suddenly an almost twenty year-old memory came flittering in.


It was another vacationers day of paradise except in our world. My cousin Jeffrey flew in with out stretched wings to rescue my children from the little beach bungalow in Santa Bell we inhabited until we discovered Bill’s excruciating headaches and garbled speech were a result of a brain tumor.


Like an angel of mercy, Jeffrey arrived in the middle of the night with tickets in hand to herd my four young children on a plane back to Memphis to my aunt’s house. Meanwhile, I struggled to manhandle our luggage and position my frail husband and myself on an airplane to Boston. We would then go on to Massachusetts General Hospital and begin to navigate the last five-weeks of our lives together, ending on that Good Friday when I said goodbye.

It was not sadness that accompanied this memory, but a breathtaking sense of awe around my cousin’s and aunt’s generosity that streaked my cheeks. Somewhere in the hours before Jeffery’s arrival, while struggling to stay in tact, family was orchestrating magic behind the scenes. My difficulty with asking for help had been superseded without even a request during my greatest weakness and need. This kindness was profoundly breathtaking even as I walked back down the corridor of jagged memories.


The butterflies continued to release newness with every wing brush, inciting questions and the ability to view my life from above. Who would I be if I had been able to receive these gifts of grace and not caved under my early conditioning and later church culture?


What if I hadn’t been afraid to receive that brand new car my granddaddy wanted to buy me when I was sixteen instead of insisting on the used one? What if I had been courageously unapologetic, settled into being completely loved so that I could have received every gift with wild excitement and open hands?


What if the girl that wrote edgy poetry and listened to Patti Smith, who wore wigs in comedic plays and sang in rock bands and musical comedy improve troops had not been dumbed down or, pushed in? What if I had always known that the giver wanted to give much more than I could contain and so I swallowed hard to gulp down every drop, instead of politely folding my hands to the appropriate?


Who would that girl be if her Good Friday world recognized the collision of every resurrection permission? I somehow doubt so well behaved and tentative in gulping.


These questions circled about me before landing deep within. And with every winged swoop I felt the waters rushing in and the waves rushing out with the grandest baptism of hope and release to soar along with those butterflies.


The joyful acknowledgment of complete acceptance frees us to never cower in the face of those happily grounded in their cocoons. Untamed hearts are free to gulp and fly.