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So exclaimed Mary R Woodard (no period after the letter R), her body broken by decades of washing, ironing, and cleaning for others in St. Louis, Missouri. As a child she hunkered down in a ditch in Christian County, Kentucky, and watched her twenty-year-old uncle lynched for looking at a white woman. Following her move North as part of the Great Migration, her experience of racism morphed into “bitter with sweet meanness.” Psalm 37 protected her gentle spirit from its contagion.

 Into Mary’s life came another outsider, Jane Ellen Ibur, a toddler living in an affluent home with a swimming pool. Screaming battles with her parents led her to seek Mary’s bosom, in their basement where she ironed.

This little girl subsequently became a teacher and a poet who honored her mentor in this poetic memoir, both wings flappin’, still not flyin’ (2014). Their mutual selflessness defies words: Mary’s habitual recourse to God and Jane’s care of her the last eleven years of her life—such reveals the brilliance of the Sacred Feminine.

We learn from them.

 

Loose soils engorge spidery bulbs beneath wintry graves.

Hesitant greens wiggle and meander among mulched beds.

March rains drench tentative shoots like children forgetting their lines.

 

Weeks pass.

 

Spiked blades pattern gardens like players on chessboards.

Hard nubs stretch like infants flailing rubbery limbs.

Flickers of pink balloon and soften the petals.

Within such freshness glistens Creator God, the Master Colorist.

 

The same Colorist also brings forth spring shows within us, if we wish.

 

We give thanks!

 

“I can’t!” says a towheaded three-year-old, leaning upon the handlebars of her blue bike and looking up at her mother. Her sneakers grip the asphalt path in the park, alive with birdsong. Ahead, breezes tease the leafing weeping willow like a violinist tuning his strings before a performance.

“Oh, but you can!” says her mother steadying the seat of her bike supported by training wheels. “You’ve done so well—this first time out. And look how far you’ve come—And we’re so close to home.”

She looks over his shoulder, then slowly grins. “Yeah!”

Is it not all about balance? Managing to schlep through challenges whenever and however they come?

In a deeper sense, it seems like life’s developmental challenges also require “training wheels:” parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, pastors, supervisors, counselors, doctors, lawyers—the list goes on. The secret is to know whom to approach when swamped by yet another glitch. Only with its resolution do we grow and become more helpful to others.

Indeed, such daily discipline enables practiced souls to rely upon Spirit of Truth to steady their spirits and lead them to their ultimate home. It works that way.

 

 

Available on Amazon

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