Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Seventeen. Grenada, Alhambra, and the ghost of Garcia Lorca. Angels, part Four


The Moorish palaces of Alhambra is over a thousand years old. It stands on the top of a hill here in Granada, and is a series of Islamic palaces built for the last Muslim Emirs of Spain. Several hundred years later the Catholic monarchs overran the place, and then it was allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries.

Alhambra

Alhambra

Islamic poets, artists and architects don’t spend a great deal of time on outward appearances, so the inner courtyards, gardens, and facades are really remarkable. Christians could take a lesson from the analogy of inner beauty, come to think of it.

The outside of the Alhambra is kind of boring. But inside?

Gardens constructed for contemplation.

Water everywhere.

Water everywhere.Picture Moorish princesses  dreaming here.Poetry inscribed on the walls to think about.

Rooms with veined windows for the sunlight to gently illuminate.

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It was as if we had traveled backwards in time several months in the calendar. Gardens grew everywhere. We even found roses in bloom.

IMG_0447

The palaces are set high on a hill, with views of the city from all directions. It was spectacular to watch the sun set. 

Yet, there is something eerie about the city of Grenada, and the deserted walkways of the Alhambra.

Perhaps echos of a magnificent civilization that is no more? Perhaps the impermanence of things? Garcia Lorca was shot here in the bloody Spanish Civil war here in the 1930s.

Arguably one of Spain’s most important poets and playwrights, Lorca’s murder in 1936 is matter of controversy here as recently as 2009.

At this road, I am anxious to leave Granada, as it is sad and haunted. Looking for the life of Spain, we walked many narrow alleyways to get away from the larger shops and cafeterias. Here we found Mr. Cortez.

Sr. Cortez, holding my new wooden tea tray, with it's precise Moorish geometric wooden tilework.

Sr. Cortez, holding my new wooden tea tray, with it’s precise Moorish geometric wooden tilework.

He and his son run this tiny little woodshop that makes these wonderful patterned applique wooden boxes, trays and tables. They have a single part time employee, and it was difficult to walk around the stacks of well-crafted inventory.

I watched Faith and the Senor have an animated conversation in Spanish, and the life of the city began to glow again. Grenada is to be found here, in the tiny alleyways and lined faces of Sr. Cortez. Garcia Lorca haunts the libraries and universities, and the history is bloody and sad. But the life if the city is where it usually is to be found, in the faces of it’s people.

 

Chapter Seven: The Coffehouse Angel.

Mom had died earlier that morning. By that time, she needed round the clock care, and thank God she had the foresight to store the funds for such an event.About two oclock that morning, her “awake” care provider heard her make a noise. Not a cough, not a murmur, sort of a noise in her throat. She threw off the lap cover and got off the couch to investigate.

“Carolyn? Are you all right?” April was a gentle soul. She was a widow herself, with several children in their twenties. Truly a unique personality to provide such a service.

“Carolyn? Can you hear me?” She gently tugged on Mom’s nightgown. Mom’s face was still. April ran to the phone and dialed 911. Four and a half minutes later the blazing lights and fire breathing emergency vehicles descended in the driveway. They loaded Mom onto a gurney, oxygen strapped to her face.

The men blazed their way to Saint Marks, a local hospital, where Mom was rushed to through the ER without triage.

Brother John made the terrible phone call.

“Louisa, come to Saint Mark’s. Mom has had a massive stroke” It was three oclock in the morning.

The hollow feeling in my gut reappeared. . This was just to familiar. My sister had made the same same telephone call just eighteen months ago.

“Louisa, Are you awake?Are you understanding what I am saying?”

It was about three thirty by then.

John’s voice broke. “Get in the car now. Mom is on a ventilator, and the doctor’s don’t seem to think there’s much point in doing that, but she can stay on it forever if we want. “ John was openly sobbing now. It’s a terrible thing to hear your brother’s heart break.

I informed the children of what was going on. Thanks be to God they were old enough to stay by themselves.

I gathered them all in my room.

“Children, Nana said for years that she  never wanted anyone to see her when she’s died. She has very likely died now. I am going to the hospital to see her, and I don’t want you to come. “

The girls burst into tears. David Junior sat on the bed, stoic. So sad to have seen so much loss in just eighteen years.

The lonely night was snowy. The road hard, unforgiving. I drove on autopilot.

Nana? Dead? Who would parent me? Who’s the grownup now? Who did I get to go to for support?

Nana was one of a handful of people I knew without a doubt was on my side all the time. Even when I was wrong, I was right. Nana was crochety, opinionated, crabby and full of love for her family from her thinning hair to her arthritic ankles.

I passed a nearby Starbucks.

A ghost of a migraine was forming around my temples. Shit. A migraine. The last thing I needed.

Caffeine! That would help. I pulled in to the store. Thank God it was one of those twenty four hour ones.

I pulled open the door, squinting against the harsh lighting. A bright, cheery barista greeted me. Hundreds of times I had been here, never seen her.

“Hi! What can I I get started for you? “ My gosh, what a greeting so late at night. Or early in the morning. Whatever.

“Grande chai tea, skim milk, steamed extra hot, no water or foam. “

“Great!”She gave me a dazzling smile. “And how’s your day going?”

My day? How’s my day? What to say.  It was four thirty in the morning. Which day?

The truth always works.

“My mother died today.” I could feel my face start to crumple.

The barista stopped what she was doing. Her face took on an unusual glow.

She walked around the counter and put her hands on my shoulders and gave me another beatific smile.“I’m here to tell you something. May I give you a hug? “

“Yes.”

“I ‘m here to tell you that you are loved very much”.

For a moment, I wept, comforted on the shoulder of a stranger.

I got my drink, got in the car and continued the lonely drive. Peace started to creep into my soul.

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Merry Christmas From Granada! Angels, Part 3.


Snow Angel

Snow Angel (Photo credit: Atelier Teee)

We visit the Alhambra today and the ancient Plaza Nuevo. I’ll show you what I mean later, but Christmas ‘getting’ is everywhere. How about some Chrismas ‘giving’ to start your day? Thanks so much for the positive notes. It makes me happy to think fellow Visitors get a little joy out of these things, Much love,

V

Chapter 6: Joseph and the New Shoes 

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

 Night had come, and another shift at the college was about to start. The kids were in bed. Mark and Mary were three and five, and Taylor was probably still up, working on something from the office.

 I backed the ATV out of it’s shed and steered it around the grounds. This part of the college was often called the “Mushroom”  because of it’s funny looking dome that overarched the entryways. Still, I found the grounds to be beautiful.

I gathered my things, and strapped on my belt. Gloves, pliers, hammer, screwdriver, plastic bags, other assorted tools to keep this place looking good.

It never occurred to me to be embarrassed about my job, it gave me a chance to think. But things weren’t going well between Taylor and me. She was a research physician, and what she saw in the likes of me, was still a mystery, even after seven years of marriage.

I ran a small music shop for my ‘real job’, my partner and I gave guitar  and keyboard lessons to all comers. In this economy though, music lessons were a discretionary item, to be sure. The flow of students had dropped by nearly eighty percent since the recession began. Who could blame them, really? I mean, if you can’t put food on the table, how can you pay for your kid to learn to play Dad’s old Stratocaster?

It was only because Taylor’s job was steady that we stayed afloat at all. I fought off guilt about that, men are supposed to be the provider and all that. I had taken this custodial job at the  college to contribute more to my self esteem than the family budget.

But Mark and Mary? I wouldn’t trade the time I have with them for the world. Taylor’s first pregnancy had caught us both off guard. We should have known better. Both of us were in our twenties, and had just been careless. Surprise!

So the Catholic in me did the right thing, and proposed. I had never had a regular girlfriend, just a string of meaningless partners. I guess that makes me bad or something. I don’t know, I just hoped God was nice enough to let me off the hook. I didn’t mean to be a user, but it’s exhausting to please everyone, and proposing to Taylor seemed to be a relief.

Too bad it didn’t work out that way. At five foot eight and barely a hundred forty, I never felt like much, and being married didn’t change that.

“Joseph? He’s the little one. Don’t pick him, he’s weak.”

“Girly-boy Joseph? Look at his curly hair! He’s so little! He’s a girl!”

Taunts from schoolmates got so repetitive as to be trite.

“Joey? He just hasn’t gotten his growth spurt. I’m sure he’ll be big and strong some day.” My mother still said that, and at thirty five, I had gotten tired of correcting her.

Years of jokes about my size had gotten under my skin. Secretly, I started to work out, to ride my bike to the shop, and lift the weights I stored in my closet. I was stronger than most people thought.

Had to be, for this job. I filled a five gallon drum with water and hefted it through a wrought iron gate to the children’s garden.

The college had a child care center for it’s students and staff, and a lovely garden that I got to maintain.

“Joseph? Mr. Joseph? Is that you? A hissing through the children’s garden caught my ear.

I couldn’t quite make it out. After ten steady years in this business, I was a little afraid I was losing my hearing.

A small dark figure darted out from behind the flower wagon.

“Mr. Joseph!”

“Tommy! What are you doing here? It must be near midnight! “

Tommy ‘hung out’ quite often at the college.The food was subsidized and no one bother him.

“Please don’t send me home, Mr. Joseph. Dad got drunk and threw me out again. He says I bin dealin’, and that’s just not true! He found some glass in my brother’s room, and Jeremy said it was mine! It just ain’t so! “

The teenager’s teeth gleamed in the starless night. I could barely make him out. His coffee colored face radiated anxiety.

“Well , shit ,Tommy. Sorry. Shoot. Now how would meth get into you brother’s room unless you put it there? You’re the one in high school. What’s Jeremy? Fourteen?”

“How the hell should I know where he got it? “ Tommy’s voice rose to a whine.

“But I know that stuff. We have meth monkeys all over school, with their rotten teeth and twitchy attitudes. Skinny as poles, too. I ain’ t no meth monkey.”

I believed him. Something about his demeanor seemed to ordinary, too sixteen and squirrelly to be drug induced. I walked with him over to the sodium lights in the parking lot.

“You can’t stay here, Tommy. Where are you gonna go in the morning?” Tommy shifted on the pavement, as if it were burning his feet.

I looked down, aghast.

“Tommy! Your feet! What the hell happened to your feet? “

Tommy was small for his age, too. He had the feet of a twelve year old boy, and they were cut and bleeding.

“Have your shoes gone missing?”

“Naw. Dad got the baseball bat. I know when he gets the baseball bat I  better get the hell outta there right quick. “

I sat down, frustrated. What a thing to do to a kid. All the rotten decisions, all the missed opportunities in my life, one thing I was proud of. Two actually, and they were both at home tucked in their beds.

“Get in the car, Tommy.”

Taylor and I would have words, I’m sure. Money was always tight. But there are some things you just can’t let go.

“Anyone you can stay with tonight, Tommy? “ We pulled into the nearby Target.

“Yaw, my cousin lives down the street. She told me any time my dad gets going to come and stay with her an’ her kids. I can go there.”

“Ok, let’s go shopping.”

The Target was still open. Tommy and I trotted to the boys aisle, and slid down the polished tile floors. I used to love to do that when I was a kid, and had on slippery shoes.

One hour and seventy dollars later, Tommy and I walked out of the store, with two brand new pairs of shoes, size seven. Athletic shoes, because what sixteen year old can be on the b-ball courts without good shoes, and ‘fancy shoes’ for school. Just a pair of Dockers, but he promised he would wear them, especially on band days. Tommy loved the trumpet as much as I loved the guitar.

We got back into the car, chattering like children.

“Gotta girlfriend, Tommy?”

“Phht. Not me, Mr. Joseph. Look at me, I’m ugly. It’s easier for me to look mean. That way no one messes with me. What’re your babies doing? “

The boy directed me to a scarier part of town. The houses were run down, and closer together.

“Mark and Mary? Oh, They’re awesome. Growing so fast.”

“Just a little further, Mr. Joseph. Can I use your phone? “ He called a number, said “yeah” a bunch of times, and gave it back to me.

“She says it’s fine. She says you’re the best, and a real angel.”

“Look! There she is now!” A middle aged black woman with wirey grey hair came down the steps, pulling a terrycloth wrapper behind her. She tied the wrap around her, and opened her arms to Tommy before he even got out of the car.

Tommy opened the door and leapt out of the car, before I could bring it to a full stop.

He looked over his shoulder as he ran to the welcoming figure.

“Thank you Mr. Joseph! You’re the best! A real Angel from Heaven!”

Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Thirteen. Angels Among Us – Introduction and First Presentation


  • Good evening from the French Riveria, friends. We had a wonderful trip to the medieval town and gardens of Eze, and toured the Fragonard parfumerie beneath. I am working on some lovely pictures for your enjoyment, because we truly had a nice time, and including you folks makes me happy.

But, part of my ‘bucket list’ for Sabbatical in a Teacup was to fiish my National Novel Writing Month book, and it is done. What a relief!

Here’s a little background though, because I’m actually a terrible cheat and poseur. The goal for NaNoWriMo participants is to crank out a 50,000 word novel in the space of one single month.

I’ll let you in on  a little secret: Big goals scare the hell out of me. I cut it in half.

50,000 words is around 200 pages, or a normal novel. I figured if I could crank out 25,000 words in a comprehensible story, I’d be doing pretty well. So I did. A little more, actually, not quite 26,000. It’s about a hundred and fifteen pages.

So here’s a chapter. The premise is based on Psalm 91:11, the verse where God promises to “give his angels charge concerning you”, and the Skillet song I referred to in a post a few weeks ago. (Looking for Angels -Skillet, 2008, I think)

Now, since Chris died, angels have been a source of interest to me. I do believe they exist in the spiritual realm, heck, I think there’s a lot more going on in the spiritual realm then most people, even Christians, care to acknowledge.

But I also think that angels can manifest in a more concrete form, mainly you and me. This first chapter is lightweight, and actually happened. You have to get the visual here, to truly get the magnificence of the action. So read along, if you will, and picture with me.

Angel Babies

Baby Cuddler Wanted

Baby Cuddler Wanted

 

Larissa was only nine months old. She had just mastered the ability to sit up, and was reaching nicely with her hands for objects. She cried when Mom left the room, and smiled and stretched out her arms when Mom or Dad  came back.Erica was only a month younger. Their mothers were friends, college buddies, even. They had been pregnant together, given each other baby showers, even took vacations together.

Now, their baby girls were in the same preschool together, sharing the same schedule, and the same nursery.I was their teacher, if you can call it that. I had spent nearly nineteen years in a pediatric oncology wing, and that was way more than most. Finally, I had had enough of watching the smallest victims of this terrible scourge of childhood cancer.

Infant development had always fascinated me though. So when the local preschool advertised a ‘Baby Cuddler Wanted,’ I jumped at the chance.I didn’t need the money. Larry and I had plenty of pension cash every month, but I was beginning to get a little bored. But gonzo twelve hour shifts as a charge nurse? I think not.

Today was an easy day, and I sat both of the girls down in the fine motor play area. It was soft, lined with pillows, special seats to hold developing infants, and baskets of toys appropriate for little hands to dig through.

The “Bumbo” seat was a special, molded chair for infants like Erica. Shaped roughly like an inverted bowl, the idea was to sit the infant in a deep, pliable well, to support the developing stabilizer muscles. This left the hands free for reaching and grasping.

I sat Erica in the Bumbo, and placed Larissa a short distance away. A large part of my job with these children was watching. I used my professional eye to document these kids’ activities during the day, and gleaned a lot simply by watching how these children interacted with each other.

Erica started to cry. Larissa turned her head and noticed. Larissa looked at me, as if to ask “Aren’t you going to do anything about this state of affairs?”

I smiled encouragingly at Larissa. Aha! The green giraffe!

Erica loved that stuffed green giraffe. She loved to sleep with it, wave it around, gnaw on it, and now, couldn’t quite reach it.

She strained from her Bumbo seat. Strained and strained, but couldn’t quite figure out how to tilt her torso just a little bit to give herself the extra bit of reach.

Larissa watched this with interest. She rolled over to her side, and using her newly learned crawl, started to crawl over to Erica. Slowly, slowly, she inched her way over to her friend.

I leaned over to pick up  the green giraffe and give it to Erica, but something stopped me. Just wait a minute.

Larissa continued her determined crawl as Erica’s crying escalated.

Just give her the giraffe, part of me said. She can’t reach it yet!

Larissa finally reached the giraffe. Laboriously, as if telling every part of her tiny body what to do, she sat up next to the toy. Carefully, she picked up the green giraffe with both hands. Erica got even more angry. Larissa had her precious toy!

Larissa got a good grip on the neck of the stuffed animal, and very deliberately, handed it to Erica.

Erica’s cries stopped as if by a switch. Here eyes widened and she smiled at Larissa, and made happy cooing sounds. She grabbed the prized giraffe, and stuffed it in her mouth.

Larissa smiled next to her friend, and put her hand on the seat, as if satisfied. Mission accomplished.

(PS, My devoted readers, please don’t send me any Bumbo recall notices. I know, and I use them on the floor, and only around pillows, and with the strap. It’s all good. ) 

So there we are. Part of a series of loosely woven episodes. Mostly true, some explainable, like this one, some not so much.

Thanks SO much for getting to the bottom of this. Do me a favor then, if you liked the writing of this, would you hit the “like” button? I’d like to know what you think.  Authors can never tell if their own work is dreck, or pretty interesting. Thanks!

Look forward to hearing from you.

Eze and Nice are next.

Much love,

Victoria

Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Twelve. A Spiritual Diversion to Aix. God bless you Sarah, Where ever you are.


A miraculous thing occured today, I made every deadline I was supposed to make! I didn’t oversleep, miss a cab, forget breakfast for the girls, and most importantly, we made the train to Nice!

Not only that, but I used my fractured French to find the platform, figure out which of six trains, and which coach to get on! Incredible!

So about the midpoint of our six hour trip through the southern farmland of France, we got hungry. I found the car with the train food and got in line behind a woman who looked familiar.  She was about my age and  spoke French with an interesting accent, but fluently. She turned to me, and asked me something incomprehensible.

I replied “Uh, Je regret, je parle Francaise terrible.” I’ve found that line usually gets a smile, and communication starts rolling.

“It’s ok, I just asked if you were standing in line for lunch, I haven’t made up my mind yet.” AHA! Her fluid French was American accented!

“Well, hello! So you’re an American too! ” A frown creased her pretty forehead.

“No, no. Of course not. Not at all. I’m Canadian.” Oops, another American ethnocentric boo-boo. I tried to rescue it with a joke.

“Canadian! Oh! A French baggage inspector told me a joke.” The woman smiled indulgently. “I was asking about accents, and if he could tell the difference between ours. No, he said, we all sound alike to him. But if we have an American accent and don’t like guns, then we must be Canadian.”

The woman chuckled. The line was interminable, so we started to chat. She introduced herself as Sarah.

“What brings you to France?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m on a sabbatical of sorts. My older three children are in college, and all have the same winter break. The youngest is bright enough to keep up online, so we are spending three weeks wandering around Europe. How about yourself?”

Her eyes widened, and she took on a distracted air.

‘I’m here to clear my head. I was raised in Quebec, and fifteen years ago my husband and I moved to Aix-en-provence for his job. He’s a nuclear physicist. We had to move to Laguna Beach a year and a half ago, and put the house in Aix for rent. Now the renters are gone, and just in time, because my husband just told me three weeks ago he’s dumping me for his  24 year old yoga instructor. ‘ She smiled self-deprecatingly. I mistook her smile for politely waiting for me to respond. Then my brain caught up with the conversation. My stomach started to sink.

“And now, here I am, how trite. Telling my life story on a train to a complete stranger!” Tears began to well in her eyes.

“No! No, it’s ok. Nothing is ever easy. Let’s keep talking long enough and I’ll tell you all kinds of ‘husbands-dead-too-early -from- cancer stories,’ like mine!  Really, it’s ok. ”

She looked down, and then chuckled, darkly. “No, really? Has he been gone long?”

“Two years last July.”

“I’m sorry. That’s terrible. Now I’m in a terrible spot. I have a ten year old and a twelve year old who were born in Aix. I could move them back right here, slide them right back into the same schools and live in Aix. But when I get back, who knows? I mean, I’m not supposed to tell them their dad’s being an asshole, right? Dumping me for someone that could be his daughter.”

“It happens. More than you think.”

“I guess. But now were supposed to go back and pretend to be merry for Christmas? One happy family? I’m completely screwed. I haven’t worked in fifteen years, I don’t even have working papers for the States. It’s so complicated.”

We got our food and moved to the standing tables. She continued to tell me her complicated story of fear and abandonment.

Eventually, we traded stories, and that terrible sisterhood of incompetence started to emerge.

“I just don’t think I can do this by myself. I mean, my kids are ten and twelve.”

“I get it. I felt the same way.”

“What am I going to do? I was always the domestic one. Now I have to manage all the business ends of a family.”

“Intimidating, isn’t it? But you strike me as competent.”

“I don’t know. How did you figure it out?”

Hmm. That Question. How to summarize going from a complete, non-functional basket case to the competent person I am today.

“Well, not to preach at you, but I’m a Christian. I had a pretty sturdy set of helpers from my church from the very beginning. Lots of other folks too.  All sorts of exotic flowers in God’s garden came to my aid. I had to surrender a lot of my pride, and ask for the help I needed. ”

“Hmm. You’re lucky you’re religious. I never wanted to be in a church, and neither did he. Now I sort of wish we did.”

“This might be news to you, Sarah, but you don’t have to be religious to go to a church.  Jesus doesn’t keep score. And you know what else? He understands nasty. He understands mean. He understood me when I was being unlovely, angry and bitter. Thankfully, most of that is behind me. I get lonely now, sure, but I’m never alone.”

The train was pulling into Aix.

“You strike me as strong enough to get through this, Sarah. You can do this. I am, and if I can, anyone can. ”

She gathered up her things, trying not to cry.

“Well, it’s been nice talking to you. Good luck.”

“You too, Sarah.”

God bless you, Sarah of Aix.

Whew! So, here we are.


Hello, friends, long time no see.

Here’s the update on the book. It’s called “Angels Among Us” loosely based on Psalm 91:11. Here it is:

11For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

12they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Also, on this Skillet song “Looking for Angels” To my dear subscribers, you’ll have to open another window and cut and paste the address. I can’t figure out how to make the box appear like it does with Facebook readers. Sorry. It’s worth it.

Here are some of the the words, for those of us who still can’t make it out.
“Looking For Angels”

Going through this life looking for Angels
People passing by, looking for Angels.Walk this world alone try to stay on my feet

Sometimes crawl, fall, but I stand up cause I’m afraid to sleep
And open my eyes to a new day, with all new problems and all new pain
All the faces are filled with so much anger
Losing our dignity and hope from fear of danger
After all the wars, after settling the scores, at the break of dawn we will be deaf to the answers

There’s so much bigotry, misunderstanding and fear
With eyes squinted and fists clinched we reach out for what is dear
We want it we want
We want a reason to live
We’re on a pilgrimage
A crusade for hope
Cause in our hearts and minds and souls we know

We need it we need
We need more than this

[Chorus:]
Going through this life looking for angels
People passing by looking for angels
Walking down the streets looking for angels
Everyone I meet looking for angels

So many nations with so many hungry people
So many homeless scrounging around for dirty needles
On the rise, teen suicide, when we will realize
we’ve been desensitized by the lies of the world
We’re oppressed and impressed by the greedy
Whose hands squeeze the life out of the needy
When will we learn that wars, threats, and regrets are the cause and effect of living in fear

[Chorus]

I became a savior to some kids I’ll never meet
Sent a check in the mail to buy them something to eat
What will you do to make a difference, to make a change?

What will you do to help someone along the way?
Just a touch, a smile as you turn the other cheek
Pray for your enemies, humble yourself, love’s staring back at me
In the midst of the most painful faces
Angels show up in the strangest of places

I love this piece. I recently had a talk with a friend of mine who had taken a terrible blow to his health. He had brought it on himself, years of meth, heroin, and nicotine had finally wrung it out of him. He’s frightened, lonely, worried that no one will love him to the end. Who hasn’t been afraid to sleep? Who hasn’t had those kind of lonely fears?
His brain is fearful, his speech is scattered, and he has an incurable STD. I looked at him across the table, and thought again about angels. How can this be? What a mess. I used to love Rafe, a lifetime ago, we had just connected up in recent days, through Facebook of all things.
My book in NaNoWriMo is a beginners book. My daughters are truly putting me to shame, with their complicated plotlines and intricate characters. Mine is a series of episodes, and they are true, largely. Episode to episode, angel to angel, showing up in the strangest of places. If you like, I’ll show you a chapter or two in December.
“He will give his angels charge concerning you.” Maybe it means donning my own wings, taking my friend’s hand, and buying him lunch. Maybe it means suspending my own judgement, loving him in a practical way,  and realizing that I’m in just a big as mess as he, just not so obvious.
Maybe it means it’s always better when love wins.
Victoria

Apostates, Angels, and Starbucks


I lost my mother today. She was 82, and had a long, fruitful life. Her list of physical ailments had slowly increased over the years, but mortality is never so powerful as when it is sudden.

She had twenty four hour home care, and the night aide felt something was amiss. When Mom could not be roused, the aide called 911 immediately, and Mom was taken to the nearest hospital.

By the time we arrived, at nearly 2:30 this morning, the scans of her head were already up on the computer. The pools of blood displacing her brain tissue were painfully obvious. The neurologist described the hemorrhage as a ‘bomb going off in her head.’ Sudden, all encompassing, and irreversible. My mother was gone.

Later that night, I made plans to pick up my sister at Denver International. She had caught the quickest flight from Lancaster that she could, at would arrive late in the afternoon. I volunteered to make the drive, in spite of a migraine ghosting around my temples.

Caffeine! That would do the trick, at least for a while. I pulled into a nearby Starbucks, which was easy, as they are everywhere. I placed my order, and was given a bright, full-faced smile by the young, cheery barista.

She made my drink, and asked “So, how’s you’re day so far?” I could feel my face start to crumple.

(A long time ago, I once loved a determined apostate. He had once been a minister, and walked away from his beliefs. He wore his apostasy like a dagger, forged in some  unrevealed fire.)

The barista put my drink on the counter and crossed over the barrier.

(Apostates can be stubborn. I can’t judge though, I was the prodigal daughter myself, once.)

The unknown young lady lightly placed her hands on my arms. “I don’t know you, but I am to tell you that you are loved. May I give you a hug?” Astonished, I felt a wave of kindness and concern roll over me.

“My mother died today.” The dazzling barista reached up and hugged me firmly. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” For a moment, I wept on the shoulder of an oddly familiar stranger. “You are loved.”

 For he will command his angels concerning you 
   to guard you in all your ways.  Psalm 91:11

Much love,

Victoria