The Little House

     The following week, after my episode of getting lost, I drove back to Texas. My temp job in Minneapolis had ended. The months away from Texas had allowed me to escape the day-to-day tension of my marriage without calling it an official separation. Now it was time to deal more directly with my relationship.        Traveling solo was a treat for me, although it worried some of my friends and family. I refer to these cross-country trips as my “Soul-o” quests because they gave me time to disconnect from everything but God and the road ahead. I purposely drove on lesser-traveled highways, stopped when I felt like it, and took time to photograph nature along the way.      During the four-month hiatus in Minneapolis, my husband and I had seen each other twice, once at a friend’s funeral, and on one other occasion when I drove up to see him at our lake home.  Let’s just say that these visits had not gone well. Now we would both be back in Texas.       As I walked up to the door of our home, I could feel my anxiety heighten. It was a relief that he wasn’t at home. I placed my bags in the guest bedroom, which I knew would cause more conflict; however, I wasn’t going to fake intimacy that wasn’t there. I sat down in the living room and prayed for guidance.           When he walked through the door a few minutes later, it was clear that the immense wall between us still stood. My attempts to engage in constructive friendly...

The Way Back Home

Friends, I started writing The Little House Essays over a dozen years ago. I don’t know why it’s taken me all this time to share it. Maybe because it’s hard to bare my soul; maybe because I had a difficult time believing that my story was worth telling. Either way, I’m sharing it now as my self-doubt has turned to the belief that each and every one of us has a story worthy of sharing. In order to appreciate the following “Little House Essays”, a point of reference is needed. This is the Before Story. The events in this story took place one month before I moved to the little house and spent a year of getting my life back. A year that I refer to as a sacred year of the soul. THE WAY BACK HOME By Melodie Lane       It was the Monday morning following Thanksgiving break, 2008. After spending the week at the home of my sister Pam and her husband Jim in Rochester, New York, I was enjoying my last chance to sleep in before flying back to Minneapolis the next day.  I heard the overhead garage door shut after Pam and Jim left for work, and I lingered in bed pondering my life situation…       Up until four months ago, I had been living in Texas with my husband of 17 years.  From the outside looking in, we appeared to have an idyllic life – spending summers and autumns at a beautiful lake home in northern Minnesota; and wintering in Texas at another home in the prized Hill Country.  We both owned our...

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,...
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