Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Papa's Petals

Easter morning 1991.
5 am.

I sat straight up in my bed, not able to catch my breath and wide awake. I'd missed the Sunrise Service again, but this time it wasn't because I overslept. I'd planned to go. Set the clock. But for some reason this morning, the alarm didn't ring.

What a dream, I thought. What an unbelievable dream.

It was simple really. Nothing earth-shattering, spooky, or even riddle-like. I knew exactly what it meant. And I never ever forgot it.
From time to time through the years when I've been faced with a decision or a fork in the road, I'd think of the dream and remember how I felt that Easter sunrise.

It always brings me peace.
And joy.

Today was no different.
I was on my way home from a meeting that didn't go the way I'd hoped. I was a little disappointed. More than a little anxious to find a solution to the angst I felt, I found myself driving down a long crooked country road I knew well. To a place I needed to visit.

The elegant white marble had turned dark in places. No flowers on either side of the large heart-shaped tombstone. Barren. Cold. Stark. How could I have let this happen? You've been busy, Mimi. He would understand. I'd been just too busy to drive out of town and tend to this? Apparently so. That was a fact and I felt a little ashamed.

It was glowing.
The rose in my dream that faraway morning.
On fire.

There are dreams that mean absolutely nothing. There are dreams that come from too much thinking and tossing and turning. Most dreams are forgotten, misinterpreted, exaggerated, tossed aside.

And then there are dreams like this one.

I'd been struggling with a decision. A decision I knew I had to make sooner or later. At that time in my life I felt stifled. Almost stagnant. I was spiritually adrift. Hanging on by a petal - as it were.
I wanted writing on the wall, a burning bush perhaps, to win the lottery, a palm reader, tea leaves.....ANYthing. I needed answers.

I got a visit from a rose instead.

Strange thing about this flower.
When I awoke that morning it was almost as if I could feel it. Like it was burning inside my chest. A simple image had appeared in my dream-life that morning. At first it looked like an ordinary yellow rose. Nothing special. Just there. Funny thing about this dream. I still - to this day - remember the conversation I had with myself while the mesmerizing dream unfolded.
"Why is it changing like that? I've never seen anything like this before. What does it mean?..... I know I'm asleep and dreaming but it seems so real.... ...."

They'd married in midlife, my Papa and his bride. A second chance and an undeniable passion that flowed between them. Sweethearts starting over in the prime of their lives with dreams and new beginnings and children between them. They adored each other and were eventually buried side-by-side at the edge of a little grove of trees in the country - underneath a double-hearted stone etched with praying hands and intertwining rings.
I don't hold much with cemetery visits.
I'd left them there many years ago, together and content.
Peaceful. Nestled in the side yard of the white clapboard church for all eternity and happily resting beneath an oak tree.
I imagined them happy; as they were in my little girl memory.
And today, I needed to visit.

I looked up at the steeple of that country sanctuary and a myriad of memories flooded over me. I wondered if the large painting still hung behind the pulpit; the one of Jesus Praying in The Garden of Gethsemane. It always fascinated me and seemed even more significant when I saw my Papa - as I did many times - lead the morning prayer or teach a class. I imagined at the time that Jesus must have been content to let Papa do the praying.
It was his calling after all.
That I am sure of.

But today, as I stood in the little graveyard among great-grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins, I felt a wee bit like I did that Easter morning. A little glow in my chest, a bit of angst.....and yet I somehow knew that I would find the answer I needed here. Slightly to the left of my vision and far across a field that needed plowing, a sunset was brewing. A dark blue cloud hung magnificently just below the fiery solar ball as it tucked its way inside a brilliant ray of beams. Getting smaller and fading away, it was still on fire - and dominated the simple landscape.

I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

The petals - in my dream - began to widen. It started as a bud. A delicate infant. Pale yellow and darkening in color. The shallow hue turned to a golden tone and a few more petals opened slowly. Very slowly.
But what happened next was remarkable.
And unforgettable.
The rose began to burn with a rich intensity. From within. A warm light flowed from the center of the flower and spread throughout the petals until it burned a sparkling rich red. The light - and the life - that flowed from the core of the flower was all-consuming, and eventually caused the entire bloom to glow brightly. When it was done, I could see a beautiful red fiery glow in the middle of the golden lighted petals.

"It's your essence. The core of this rose is who you are. Who you are destined to be. The real you. It is who you are. Trust it."
Don't ask me if I heard a voice. No, I did not. I just knew.

And don't ask me, as I stood in that field today staring at the sunset, how - or why - my dream (as you shall see) got entangled in such a moment. I haven't a clue. It just did. I know that sometimes affirmations happen when we least expect them. Strangely, the sky reminded me of Annelisa's sunrise photographs, the ones taken in East Sussex Great Britain - one in particular that I love seen below, except the colors today were golden with dark tones of red and amber. And the angle of the clouds are almost identical to the sight I saw today. The light there is so alive. So bright. So hopeful.

Why am I thinking about a peace blogger and her pictures today of all days? I'm standing in a cemetery for heaven's sake!
I have decisions to make. I wish I could ask Papa.
I need a sign.
Now, I usually don't go around asking for signs. Especially in a cemetery.
But today, it seemed fitting and so I did.

I retraced the steps between the headstone and foot marker.
"Father" on left. "Mother" on the right. I bent down and touched the marble. So unique. Not another one like it on the grounds. A white marble symbol of their commitment to one another. The intricate design and the beautiful inscriptions loudly and sweetly said it all.
All that mattered to either one of them was that they loved each other. They didn't care what anyone else thought. It was the essence of who they were and who they remain.

My Easter epiphany was the beginning of several years of gathering the courage I needed to step out of my own comfort zone and make some changes. I always knew the dream was significant and it reminded me on more than one life-altering occasion just how important it is to listen to my instincts and trust them - right down to the core - whether anyone else believed or understood my conviction. The journey I find myself in the midst of now is the fruit of honoring an unexplainable vivid dream - that still teaches me to trust.

To trust me.

I was about to turn away and end my visit, making a mental note to bring back a flower arrangement soon. Content in understanding there would be no sign today.
I placed my right hand on the marble, touched my lips, left a kiss, said a quick "I love you" and started to rise. I lost my balance for a second and caught myself with my left hand, which touched the ground just at the tip of Papa's headstone.
A crunch.
From the weight of my hand the pile of brown leaves beneath my fingertips moved aside and then I saw it.

It was silk.
Perfectly shaped.

A rose with faded yellow petals - and a fiery middle.

(Glowing Rose pic by Sondra Kicklighter)


Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

I am sitting here tryig to compose a comment to this and all that comes to mind is "wow", "amazing", "stirring", "incredible" and none of them seem enough.

Mimi...thank you so much for sharing.

I hope you can make your decision with comfort now.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond -There was a definite peace I felt at that moment. That's for sure. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

FYI... On your link, I changed it from "great Writer" to brilliant Writer"..thought it better described your skills

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Even though I knew a bit of the story that your shared with me, I was not prepared to be so moved.

Bond is right. Brilliant.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - Your encouragement and support mean the world to me. Thank you, sweet man.

karen said...

Amazing post! I read Mitch Albom's "for one more day" on the train today and it left me with a similar feeling as when I read your post - very moving. I'm glad you found your sign...my best wishes for pursuing your dream!

Annelisa said...

Oh god... how do you keep doing this, Mimi! Shivers all over!! I love this sort of happening... it's part of what makes life so mystical, yet so exciting!

Funny, we must be linking up mentally - I just did a post on my dad for his birthday... and I don't usually write about him. An itch needing scratching... I just needed to talk about him. Maybe that's why you thought of my piccie... because we were both thinking of someone very dear to us!

Brilliant, as ever, Mimi!

Mimi Lenox said...

Thanks Karen. I simply do not believe in "accidents" anymore.

Mimi Lenox said...

Annelisa - We are kindred spirits indeed.

Dean aka Sgt Dub said...

Amazing post Mimi, I so do enjoy reading what you have to say. It's from the heart.

Mimi Lenox said...

Hi SGT. Sending good vibes and peaceful thoughts your way. Stay safe.

Mother of Invention said...

Beautifully told! We could all use a rose like that from time to time..something to connect us to a larger self. Glad you found it.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mother of Invention -Thanks for stopping in. Yes, we all need a nudge from time to time.

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