When I was a young teenager, and life was unsettled in so many ways in my home, I tried to hang on to the light...sunshines and rainbows were my personal theme. I had them everywhere, with bright yellow walls and brilliant orange trim, I wanted my space to renew my soul, and to reflect the joy I knew was within my grasp if I could only hang on. Even then, though I grew up in a family where spiritual matters were never attended to, I had a sense of the divine in and around me, and knew I needed to learn how to tap that presence.
Time marched on, I married young, moved out, and eventually lived in a home of my very own that bore a soft yellow exterior with white trim, a very intentional choice that was a sign of peace, joy and just said "home" to me. Though, as an adult, rainbows no longer adorn my walls, two rooms inside my home wear the yellow that was life giving to me...our kitchen was recently painted yellow and has hues of red and orange. Our bedroom has yellow and blue walls with paintings of sunflowers produced by the kids sharing our space, and a love gift from a dear friend of a quilt of marvelous detail and a symbolic twisting and turning in denim blues and reds framed in yellows hangs where I can see it each and every morning as I rise to start each new day.
Others might find our home juvenile with its color scheme, definitely not the subdued tones one might expect from a fifty-something year old. But to my family and I, it speaks to who we are. As we repainted a handful of years ago and considered other options, none of us could imagine pulling onto our country dirt road and seeing anything other than our sunny, cheerful yellow home smiling back at us, awaiting our arrival. Josh, in particular, feels it so deeply that he, too, wants to live in a yellow house of his own some day.
Yellows and oranges are the light in an otherwise dreary color palette, they whisper words of encouragement to me, they remind me that dreams do come true, that joy is a choice, and that hope isn't wasted. Images of sunshines, silly though that may seem, have always brought a smile to my face, and I used one as my Facebook icon for many years. If I ever get a tattoo, you can bet it will be a sunshine that is inked permanently under my skin, for it is the one thing I can imagine never growing weary of seeing.
We all have that thing that symbolizes our life's path...for some it is a spirit animal, for others it is a melody, and for yet others it might be a beloved poem, memorized and recalled countless times during moments of despair or elation. They take on greater meaning the more of life we have under our belt, for we turn to them as a reminder of our truest self, and the more we go through, the more often we count on them to center and ground us. We need our personal symbols, and we need a special few who understand them as well...
This past week the girls and I met up with my best friend, Candi, and her daughter Christi, for our Fourth Annual Spring Break Road Trip. We laughed a lot, marveled at the craftsmanship and skill required to sculpt a mountain, and we had a few days to simply be in the moment.
While we were on our trip, the boys were on their own First Spring Break Adventure in New Mexico!
While the boys were eating their way through bad restaurants, learning about aliens and missiles, and no doubt burping their way across the desert in a male bonding experience like no other, we girls were geocaching, doing puzzles and swimming in the evening.
One of those evenings was extraordinarily special for me, for I was honored in multiple ways in a surprising way. Replicating the "womanship/manship ceremony" (as it has been dubbed by the girls) that we have done for each of the kids as they hit 18, I was also honored similarly. By candlelight, each of the women present shared with me what I mean to them, and how they see me bringing light into the world.
Sitting there in that hotel room made sacred by the love being shared, by the heartfelt tears being shed, and the honesty being expressed, I was speechless. We almost never know the true impact we have on the lives around us, and I struggle in particular with seeing my own worth. Being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom isn't glamorous, it isn't noteworthy in any way. I have no "career", I have no official higher education, I have no claim to fame. Listening as each woman present, young and older, shared how my presence in their lives has mattered so much, I realized on a deeper level that every single one of us makes a difference, and can bring the sunshine wherever we are. Yes, it is that whole "Bloom where you are planted" quote, but it is also true. I almost always see that quality in others, but rarely in myself...that I have bloomed where planted, that I have shined a light where and when I could.
I was also presented with a gift that was representative to me of all that matters in the world...a gift the reflected an understanding of my life symbols, of how very much being in deep relationship with others is the single most important goal of my existence. Candi had secretly been working on a large cross stitch project for me. An award winning cross stitch artist, she mixed and matched patterns to come up with the perfect pattern. Then, for a year and a half, she worked diligently in her rare spare time to create this just for me. When it was completed, she had it specially matted in yellow and green, framed to set off the work, then had it packaged so she could lug it all the way out to us.
Stitch by tiny stitch, she thought of me. She incorporated an adult version of rainbows, added a sunshine, and spoke to friendship and relationship. It was me in every possible way, and I shall treasure it always.
We all have symbols, but one thing we may not realize is that we might be a life giving symbol to someone else! We might be the sunshine, the warm cup of tea, the place to simply be. We might be any color of the rainbow in another's life...a deep purple of intensity, a radiant crystal blue of calm. Be who you are, never forget your own worth, and always, always take a moment to share with someone else how they have touched your life in positive ways. It is powerful, it helps someone recognize that they, too, "...are more beautiful than a rainbow of flowers in the sunshine."