We were some of the first guests to arrive.
Might have had something to do with the fact that our charming hostess told us an hour(ish) earlier than she told everyone else.
There were just a few of us when introductions were made but still there was that awkward feeling, that discomfort, that little-gray-mouse moment that grips me when I am in a crowd – however small – and meeting people for the first time.
Except, apparently we’d met before.
“I remember you! ‘Cause you are so tiny!” exclaimed an elderly woman with a silver bob and sporting a shirt that was such a lovely shade of purple my eyes kept wandering back to it.
She said tiny.
I loved her already.
And then I noticed she played by her own rules: silver earrings with a gold necklace.
I loved her a little bit more.
“How’d you get so tan?” Her forthrightness and spunk made me smile.
“I walk every day.” I told her.
“I walk.” she stated. . “And ride.”
“You ride a bike?” I asked, striving to keep the skepticism from my voice. She certainly couldn’t have meant a motorcycle, though.
“Horses.” Ah. that made sense.
Charlotte went on to state matter-of-factly that she’d outlived three husbands and was quite content with her cats and horses, thank you very much.
I was intrigued by her zeal and knew that I’d try to corner her later for some further conversation. For now, I wanted to go take in the beautiful setting where we would be dining. The inspiring hostess and her husband had completely transformed their back yard over recent years. The center piece was a huge pond (turned-swimming-pool) that boasted some 10,000 gallons of water, a huge fountain and serenading waterfall. The tree lights, and flagstone patio and wooden deck and roaring fire in a fire pit created an inviting and romantic atmosphere for gorging on the meal that Martha Stewart would’ve envied.
Later, when my belly wa full and my brain was overloaded from various animated conversations, I wandered back into the house where Charlotte was comfortably seated on a sofa. I plopped into a chair next to her and we were soon immersed in conversation.
Not only had she lost 3 husbands (a car crash – which she had witnessed, – a heart attack, and cancer) but she had also buried four children. Leukemia. SIDS. Underdeveloped lungs. Sorrow upon sorrow. She had survived two forms of cancer, one of which had labeled her “terminal.”
There she sat, with glowing skin, and an open heart.
“Did you ever feel like quitting?” I asked. “Like just giving up?”
“Well, my mother was a strong believer who taught me that you can handle anything the Lord allows to come your way. But there was that one time. After the loss of the last child..” She admitted. “You ever heard of Suicide.Hill?”
I shook my head.
“Well, it’s up there on Look-out Mountain. People just drive their cars off it. I thought about it. Took the day off work and headed up there. But then I looked up and all of those aspens were dancing, twinkling a magnificent yellow and gold and I thought if God can do something like that, He can take care of me. And I drove back down and had lunch with my mother.”
“If you had to sum it all up, what’s the secret?” I asked her. “You obviously have a joy and contentment with life now. How do you suffer through so much tragedy and come out okay?” I anticipated a long and sage reply. Her answer surprised me.
“Take a walk.” She said.
“Well, I do love walking, and I do believe solitude is a gift,” I told her. “But tell me more.”
Unfortunately our conversation got cut short and we didn’t talk any more before Scott and I left. But I’ve thought about those three simple words a lot.
Take a walk.
Take a walk.
It is one of my favorite things to do.
So many kinds of walks.
There are the strolls with friends or Scott or my children , when we discuss everything from paper crafting to what’s going on in the world.
The practically everyday walks that I take, where I just reflect on the simplicity, the goodness of life, with headphones on and my heart overflowing with the sound of music.
Power walks, where I’m just intent on speed.
The walks where I’m listening to and striving to mentor others.
The sweetest walks, down winding dirt roads with no clear destination in mind; just surprises waiting to be discovered.
There’s also those other walks.
The ones where I
shout at talk to cry out with every fiber of my being to God. When I have questions and brokenness and sorrow. The ones that go on and on until my legs feel jelly like and my shirt is sticking to my back and yet I keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for an answer.
I think it’s time for one of those walks, friends.
I’ve got questions and I’ve got sorrow.
But I KNOW the answers will come, The Savior has never let me down. I know that even in the sweatiness, the weariness,the just-keep-going-ness of it all, there is joy waiting to be plucked along the way, lessons to be learned.
And I know these particular kind of walks are necessary.
And though I know I have to go this one alone, it would sure be awesome to know you were praying for me. Praying that I’ll be back, a stronger and better writer and exhorter than before.
Grateful for this abundant life,
Marie with a :)
About the IC/blood pressure.
It did come down a great deal. But my physician feels that it’s still too high for someone of my size, and persuaded me to try a low dose medications. So I’m not TOO stubborn to accept good counsel. Meds it is. Thanks for praying!