Wonder Woman

My sister Merry was a force. She was a red-headed Wonder Woman, packed into a 5’2” frame. She was a tsunami of energy when it came to getting a project done. She could accomplish more in a 24-hour span than most anyone I know. Whatever you needed done, you’d want Merry on your team. Need a room painted? Need to create a detailed spreadsheet (with several mathematical formulas)? Need your house cleaned for a graduation party or reunion? Need to hook up a printer or a computer? Install software? Need your lawn mowed? Need a creative idea for a birthday gift? Need to plan a trip to another country? Merry was your gal. And if Merry didn’t know how to do something, she researched it, figured it out, and then got it done. She learned how to lay tile in a friend’s basement.  She collected and perused data, comparison shopped all the products and sub-contractors for the home she and her husband Tom built, and then created a detailed spreadsheet with prices and timelines – all while she was undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. She wanted so badly to have it completed before she died. She wasn’t solely focused on doing something, just to cross it off some checklist; Merry was the epitome of generosity in her many deeds. If she thought you needed…well, anything, or you happened to casually mention you could use a pair of good walking shoes, a week later a pair would arrive in the mail. You had to be careful what you said around her, or you’d find whatever it was on your doorstep...

The Other Side of the Lens

Yesterday I lost a good friend–a faithful companion who helped me see life from a detailed perspective, one full of appreciation and fascination for the beauty in the world. My husband Kevin and I were visiting my brother Michael and his friend Nanette in St. Louis, Missouri. We spent the afternoon touring the city’s famous aquarium where I captured images with my trusty Nikon SLR camera of red leafy sea horses, fluorescent jellyfish, rare freshwater stingrays, and countless other creatures I had never seen before. Afterwards, we stopped to enjoy a drink in the elegant lobby of the newly renovated Union Station Hotel and took in the spectacular light show. When the show first started, I took out my camera to snap some pictures, but decided that sometimes events are more fully appreciated without being behind a lens. So I sat back and listened to the dramatic music as animated images flickered and danced across the 65-foot high ceiling. We topped off the evening having a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant before heading home for the night. At 3:00 a.m., I sat up in bed, shook Kevin awake and said, “I don’t remember picking up my camera when we left Union Station.” Trying not to panic, the next morning I searched the front and back seats of the car in vain before calling the hotel. I spoke with several different hotel personnel, hoping that someone had picked up my camera and turned it over to security. No one had. To the person who now possesses my camera, I’m disappointed that you chose not to do the right thing....

Kairos Time

Kairos Time The ancient Greeks used two words for time.  The first was chronos and referred to clock time – time that can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, years. Kairos was the second. “Where chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment. The perfect moment. The world takes a breath, and in the pause before it exhales, fates can be changed.” (McKinley Valentine) The older I become, the more I realize that my life has really been measured in kairos moments — those times when I have forgotten completely about the clock and have gotten lost in the aliveness of the moment. They have occurred in a variety of experiences, some of them alone: composing music, photographing nature or angels, taking a walk, writing a story, singing, or simply looking up at the stars. But most often, they have occurred when I’m with others: gathering with family, being part of a theater production, sharing dinner with friends, or having a heart-to-heart conversation. While every second of time (and life) is precious, a moment in chronos time is essentially lost once it passes. A kairos moment, on the other hand, adds more time to our lives — not in seconds or minutes, but in the significance of that particular experience. My wish for you this holiday season, is that you are blessed with the awareness of the kairos moments in your life — remembering the ones from your past; recognizing them in your present; and gratefully awaiting those yet to...

Minutes Left

Minutes Left By Melodie Lane   “Noooo!” fell from my mouth as I doubled over in my seat. The text message was from my oldest sibling, Pam:   “Just heard from Cheryl. Minutes left for Merry. Fading fast. Text Cheryl with your final words.”        What message do I send … in the last minutes of my sister’s life?  Yesterday, we were told my younger sister Merry, most likely wouldn’t last a week in her battle with ovarian cancer. So, early that morning, my brother Jamie, his wife Jody, and my husband Kevin and I were in the car driving to Austin, Texas. We were somewhere in Kansas when the text came in.  We weren’t going to make it. She wasn’t going to make it.      What message do I send?  My little sister Merry and I had shared a room from the day she was born until the day I left for college. We were each other’s protectors. When either of us was going through a struggle, the other was there for support. When I was going through a tough time and needed a change of location she even helped me find a new job. Merry was the first person to arrive in the midst of a crisis. She was the fixer, the organizer, the one who took charge of a situation. If the family needed a project done, Merry was the one to do it.      What message do I send?  The past twelve months flashed by in a blur – surreal, unbelievable, heart wrenching. Merry called me October 25, almost a year ago,...

Following Still

I don’t remember the actual day in 2008 when I began photographing angels. Like many paths in life, we come upon them when seeking something else. I was seeking comfort and answers from God about my life’s purpose. Photographing angels had given me temporary solace, but after a year of searching, I was still unsure about my life path. One night, as I lay awake, I opened my eyes to see the moonlight streaming through my window. It caused a unique shadow to appear on the ceiling of the room–in the luminous shape of an angel wing. Then a voice from inside my soul whispered, “Follow your angels.” Although I had doubts, I made the decision to listen to my inner voice and trust where it was leading me. I continued following and photographing angels. I am following...

Now Is That Time

Now Is That Time to…   ~ Let others know you care –  every single day. ~ Continue to learn – the opportunities are endless. ~ Laugh until you cry, and cry until you laugh. ~ Express gratitude. ~ Know that you are good. And enough. ~ Allow experiences to flow into your life – and sometimes out. ~ Notice daily signs of grace – a leaf, a child, a dragonfly, a smile. ~ Embrace solitude. It’s the best time to hear what your soul is telling you. ~ Get enough sleep so you can stay awake for your life. ~ Keep dreaming. ~ Keep hoping. ~ Keep striving. ~ Now. Is. That....

The Seconds Between

I’ve been thinking about my dad every day on my trek across England. He would have loved this hike–the picturesque views, the mountain climbs, the rolling green pastures, and the wandering herds of sheep. Sometimes, when the trail is steep and it’s all I can do to concentrate on every step and every breath, I think of the last moment I shared with my father before he died last summer. It was a sacred moment-just as this experience is, and I am carrying his memory with me across 192 miles. The Seconds Between I hear the song of the bird and look upward, searching the surrounding treetops for the soloist. The sun is bright in the sky and I shade my eyes with my right hand. There was no mistaking its call. My dad had taught all of my six siblings and me to listen for and recognize the songs of a variety of wild birds. There, in the highest branch of the tree, I finally spot the bright red silhouette of a male cardinal. Its song is joyful, without being showy. But at this moment, there is a bit of mournful nostalgia in its tune. Life had changed. Not for the cardinal, but for my family. 47 days ago, my father passed away after a long struggle with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia. I had been counting the days since he left us. And I recalled my counting on the night he died… It was nearing midnight on June 14, 2015. After a two-week vigil of singing hymns, reading psalms, and sharing stories with each other around my...

Mind Your Head

The English have a lovely way of phrasing things. One of my favorite public signs on this Coast to Coast trip has been “Mind your head,” meaning, “Pay attention so you don’t hit your head!” However, after eight straight days of hiking through the English countryside, I’ve come up with my own interpretation of this phrase: pay attention to the world around you. It was mostly my father who taught me to mind the nature around me. Taking walks he’d point out the different animal tracks; the lone scarlet leaf on a branch of a tree; the two-note whistle of the chickadee; the furry caterpillar crawling in the grass; the billowy shapes of white cumulus clouds… I could go on and on about all the “ordinary” things he showed me–turning each one of them into the extraordinary. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was really teaching me to “mind my head”– to appreciate the gifts and beauty of every day. On this 192-mile trek, there has been plenty of time for my traveling partner, Gloria and I to pay attention to nature. We take time to stop and look around at the magnificent green valleys, the rippling waters of a lake, the force of a mountain waterfall and the undulating hills preparing us for the climb ahead. And perhaps to Gloria’s chagrin, I’m also pointing out the large black slugs on our path, the iridescent and odd-looking mushrooms, the decapitated sheep’s head, the dead mole in the middle of the trail, and the unusual striations in a boulder. On long days with grueling, steep peaks to...

Hands

Hands Their aged hands are joined from wheelchair to bed. He sleeps. She waits… for the inevitable. Occasionally, she nods off from her black metal perch. But their hands don’t let go. This is how it’s always been— the two of them. Connected. By hand, By heart, By love.   In memory of my father, David T. Lane February 21, 1924-June 14,...

Getting Lost

Getting Lost I’ve come to the conclusion at this stage of my life, that getting lost is a natural and, I dare say, necessary part of life’s journey whether it be getting lost in the city, lost in the country or lost in the direction that your life has taken. Getting lost usually has a negative connotation; but I think getting lost has gotten a bad rap. I mean it isn’t ALL bad. Take Moses for example; after forty days and nights, he became a spokesperson for the Big Guy and had several movies made about him. And how about the two dogs and the cat in The Incredible Journey? Their trek was beyond incredible, but were it not for getting lost, they’d just be three stray animals. (Stay with me here.) Here’s another one–Henry David Thoreau. He actually went to the woods to “lose” himself in thought to discover the essential part of life. It seems to have worked out well for him. Where am I going with all this? Well, I’ve been on this wonderful adventure with my best friend Gloria–a 192-mile, Coast to Coast hike across England. Let me just say, it isn’t for sissies, and if we make it to the end, we’ll both feel like Wonder Women. For 3 weeks, we’ll hike 5 to 14 miles every day. The first section is through some serious mountains where one mile can easily take an hour because it’s straight up the peak. So far, on each of the first two days we have managed to get lost, costing us several hours of additional hiking time and miles....
More Than Ever

More Than Ever

As I sit next to you my hand resting on your arm, you sleep. But still your hands tremor. I want to rub the Parkinsons out through your finger tips– to slow what it is taking from your life. I watch you through tears and memories of years of adoration and love. Now, my father, you lean on me. You rest. Feel my love and gratitude for all that we have shared. I will treasure this moment when you open your eyes, look into mine and ask, “Do you still love me?””More than ever.   “Dedicated to my Dad, David Timothy Lane who fought the good fight until June 14,...

Change

Change. There’s no escaping it. This statement alone assumes that change is something to be avoided. Certainly, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or financial problems would fall under that category. When difficult changes are forced upon us, as they most assuredly will be, we are left feeling that we have no choice in the matter. But we always have at least two choices when dealing with painful change — the choice to deny it, or the choice to accept it. For me, denying change, which I have done more times than I’d like to admit, has always created more pain and stress than accepting it. I’m not suggesting that reflecting upon and analyzing difficult change shouldn’t get its full attention; I’m only offering that there are . . . well . . . some situations that we just cannot change. And change is one of those situations. It can leave us feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed, desperate, or, at the extreme, broken beyond all hope. But eventually all of those feelings can, and will, change. Even change changes. In accepting change, I try to remember that change involves two parts–endings and beginnings. Perhaps something is leading us in another direction, not because our current situation needs to change, but because . . . well, there’s just something else waiting for us.  It may come in the form of a subtle whisper or a loud wake-up call. It may sneak up on us after years of being lulled into a sense of security in a job, relationship, or attitude about life. It may beckon us, or force itself upon us. Either way, change can fill us with intimidation, skepticism, and fear. For me, this is because I want to know (ahead of time) where the change will lead me....
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