Cloud Sails

Nothing perpendicular nor parallel nor artificial about the clouds, the only construction in how they are always self-shifting, in motion, morphing into pictures and infinite undefined shapes. No straight lines to not cross nor borders boxing in the imagination, already dissected and discarded by the non-hands of mortal science “experts,” the angels that form them, sunset color them, exercising their talents even in heaven, a role for every soul based on their former heart’s passions, now freed from binding form themselves. How can one ever look away from the clouds?

Why must I ever be called from this intriguing trance? What non-essential obligations must disrupt my lackadaisical, free-roaming, playfully-romping musings? How long can I get away with this get-away, setting dream after fantasy after dream asail on these departing wisps and puffs of hope? I wish I could say what I thought about all day, but the elusive intangible keeps flitting from capture; no, not flitting – much slower, matching the amoeba motion of the white ink blots. Leave me in peace with such ungraspable endless possibilities of these Rorschach mind concoctions.

I hear someone coming. Dragon and Pegasus swoop down to scoop me up, but today I think I’ll hop onto Sea Turtle’s back. “Take me away further into that endless perfect blue, my friend.”

Is it wrong that my favorite companions are clustered water droplets?

Words and images ©LauraDenise

The Steps

The heat was on! An advisory, in fact. The shade and clouds, sparse. The distance, minimal. But oh that terrain: deep sand. The kind where you feel you are simply sinking, barely advancing, despite all of the effort you are expending. Will I ever make it back to my car? Why didn’t I bring my water with? Those were my dramatic reactions to the very short hike I went on at the National Seashore. Those reactions felt severe and real enough, though, in those moments. I was also the only one out there, so to keep myself entertained, I was pretending I was on a deserted island and evaluating my resources. What would I use for shelter? Is that weird fruit-looking thing edible? (No, there is never a dull moment in my mind…)

I also can’t just see anything at face value, it seems. In nature especially, I see so many stories and lessons. The one I thought about in reflection to this day was how mental health battles are similar to that short hike.

I’ve had my share of struggles. I’ve been to places I wish not to return to ever.

When we are in the midst of those personal battles, to the outsider, it may not seem worthy of such mental and physical distress–the distance, the goal, seems short and simple–but to the one facing it, sometimes all of the mental and physical strength one can possibly even imagine summoning is needed to simply get up. To take steps beyond that can seem impossible. It is the deep sand. In the sweltering heat.

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We feel completely alone, like on my imaginary island, even though others are actually there. We see no end to the trail. We lose hope. And with lost hope, we lose the strength and determination to go on. I knew the distance to my car. I knew I would be completely fine, that my discomfort was but a brief nuisance. But in real-life mental-health scenarios, it is that end-sight that is crucial. We must believe, no matter how far we actually are, that we are almost to the car. We can’t give up, when around the next bend, everything may very well end

up all right.

We don’t think, like I did in my mock scenario, though; we don’t usually see those resources, think about how we could use them, need them. But we do. We shouldn’t do it alone. Most of time, we simply cannot.

All of us need someone to lean on, at the very least. Someone who has come from the direction we are headed to reassure us what is around the bend is the “all right” and beyond, that they know the way, that they will walk beside us. They have brought water, too, to give us a needed boost.

We all need hope. And we need to whole-heartedly believe in an achievable, better tomorrow. Sometimes that tomorrow takes time to arrive at. Sometimes, it is just a few more steps away. Leaning on a higher power seems essential to me to acquire this faith.

If you are on this deep-sandy path, keep going. Take the next step. Then the one after. Do the next right thing. And then the next.

And if you have arrived or were never lost in the first place, help another find the way.

 

Footprints in the Sand 

by Mary Fishback Powers

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

All images ©LauraDenise

It All Started with a Flower

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Pure and white,
in the morning light,
the large, soft petals
lovingly envelop me
as if I were its center
missing
and returning home;
the embrace
makes my eyes close,
and I lose myself
in the sweet scent
of belonging,
the chaos
within me
subsides,
and I know
what serenity feels like
for the first time.
I wordlessly agree
to begin my
healing journey
to restore,
to add to,
to become
purely

me.

I guess you could say it all started with a flower. My healing, that is. I don’t know if it was my first-ever encounter with this flower or just the first time I ever really observed it up close. The Southern Magnolia. Just one of these magnificent, hardy, creamy-white blossoms would spill over in two gently-cupped hands. The way the morning sun so softly lit it, gathered in its core to set it subtly aglow, made it look celestial. It drew me in and held me in an eternal moment, its breathtaking beauty speaking directly to my soul.

Its center, lovingly embraced and protected by four of the nine large petal-like tepals, resembled a pinecone exquisitely carved from butter; some of the fallen stamina revealed pink tips like whimsical little playdough matchsticks. The way the one before me was opened up made it seem so brave yet vulnerable, as all opened flowers do, I suppose, revealing their innermost part, the most beautiful part, the eye of the flower, that both reveals its essence and its secrets while drawing out yours when you don’t even know yourself enough yet to be able to recognize them, or maybe you have known all along but simply have forgotten, or gotten too far from yourself in life. Either way, this bloom was my first clue, in either reminding me of or leading me to my true self, the one I once was, have become, and have yet to be: all of those, it seemed so clear, make up me.

As I stood before that magnolia bloom on that spring morning, as it entranced me and stilled my insides—all of my chaotic years—as it applied some sort of antidote to my soulful wounds, as I marveled at the absolute beauty of its purity, I saw, perhaps for the first time, the possibility of my someday complete healing, my someday of either finding or returning to my own untainted state, my someday of freedom from the chains of that which I cannot control. But my someday was no longer just a dream. My someday was at hand. My someday was beginning now.

I knew then and am reminded now that that journey is a long one, requiring patience and hard work and the acceptance that there will be many stumbles and even falls. But it is my journey now. And that one and only path through that endless cave blocked by the boulders from avalanches had opened up to reveal endless trails between trees illuminated by sunbeams reaching through them. I photographed the magnolia bloom, my first clue in the direction to go. I knew not what I sought, but I did hope along the way, I would find or would be reunited with my authentic self.

My healing started that day, the moment that bloom touched me.