Favorites

His picture should be on the side of a New York skyscraper, his cuteness hanging near the clouds for the world to see. “That is my grandson”, I would say smiling at the bigger than life photo of an incredible 4 year old. I would chuckle and say it again, “that’s my grandson”. But better yet, I get to see him in person. He’s fast, busy, happy and crammed with emotion. His hugs could knock you over. He squeezes me so close and tight that even though there are no words spoken it equates to screaming I love you. During those hugs, the both of us, just for a moment leave earth for the moon! So, the other day, after our hugging ritual, I set him down and asked if he wanted a Popsicle. I held a box brilliantly beaming with primary colors “Orange or Red?” I asked. “Red is my favorite”. “My favorite” is his new phrase. The beauty of his life is played out in the just a few words, “it’s my favorite”. Do you snuggle with you mom? “Yeah it’s my favorite.” Do you play tackle with your dad? “It’s my favorite.” Do you like your bike? “It’s my favorite”. You gotta love that word, favorite for it means, beloved, my chosen, my much loved.

His uncle Beau, had favorites too. Toy accordions, coffee, nachos, white t-shirts and bandanas, this list could be a mile long, changing with the next commercial, or the next conversation. I never had to ask what his favorites were because he bore them like a badge, bright and shiny, in your face. It became so easy to find the next new favorite in his kaleidoscope of likes.

I knew his favorites when it came to things. What I was unable to do is persuade him that he was my favorite; my beloved, that he was favored and wanted by God and that in the end, he should be his own favorite. In the quiet of the night when his favorite things were long put away, if he felt he wasn’t being picked, it seemed he just never believed enough to pick himself.

Our favorites are our part of our distinction, our specialty. So I got to thinking about favorites. Do I know the favorites of my family and friends? Have I taken the time to notice? Have I shown them that I care about what they love? Do my actions scream “I love you; you are my favorite” to my loved ones and myself?

So the rest of this month I am going to find out the favorites of those around me and tuck them away for future moments of surprise and delight while I show them why they are my much loved.

Share with us something that is a favorite of yours.

Wild

I went to see the movie Wild. The story of Cheryl Strayed’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother and it took my breath away.

I walked out of the theater and into the fresh air, squinting through my headache as the sun bleached any chance of my seeing where I was walking. Sunglasses covered obvious tear stained eyes; protecting me until I made it to the sanctuary of my car. The car door opened and I sat as words, wet and unintelligible rose from my throat like dry heaves. It seems these days I never know when the creep of grief will overtake me. However, this grief was different, more tangible, less flighty, I needed to listen to it.

I needed to resist the pull to go home and make dinner, take the dogs out, load the dishwasher. I needed to resist reverting to the grind of self-preservation wrapped in bows of daily chores and instead lean in and soak up this lesson. I wanted to hang on to this feeling, not try to get over it. This story had somehow connected me with Beau; maybe he would share with me something I had missed that he wanted me to know. Maybe God would speak to me, guiding my next steps with the sureness a Savior. Listen, I told myself. And so I did.

In silence I rewound the story of Cheryl Strayed in search of the voice that was speaking only to me. In the end it was the vastness of her world that enticed me, the space in the wilderness where she could scream without notice, pain she could ponder in the quiet, love and memories she could replay, beauty absorbed and the time counted in steps, mistakes, sunsets and sunrises, all harrowing yet healing. An ache began to grow in my gut, the ache that is satisfied only by doing what you must. “You must have a journey” were the words spoke boldly to my soul. Ok. So I grappled with where I would go, what exactly would this journey entail? I got nowhere. Then God answered…..”It has already begun”.

Through this raw story I had connected with Beau. I lived the ache that had pulled him out of contact with those who loved him. I saw the dream he carried, to find healing in his own version of a “journey in the wilderness”. That night, through her story, I had walked with him. I observed his steps, his choices, smiles, and his sadness through a distant screen, unable to reach him, but feeling everything. At that moment Beau and I were in tune in ways we had never experienced before. And so I speak to you now my child and I want you to know I understand your pain and the gut wrenching “must” that lived within you. Finally, I get it and may my lesson bless others while God readies me to listen for whatever is next on my journey.

I wrote Cheryl Strayed to let her know I was up for buying her a cup of coffee and I shared with her my deep appreciation for her story, raw and real. We’ll see if we ever share that cup of coffee.

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