Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roots and Wings, Hope and Healing

I had an epiphany moment just a little bit ago. It's a pretty neat little story, I think, and I wanted to share it with you with the hopes that it'll touch your heart. Maybe you'll get something out of it. Maybe it'll just be an entertaining story for you. Of course there's always the possibility that you'll think it was a waste of your time. If you want to take the chance, read on . . .

The girls and I are spending our spring break with my step-mom in East Tennessee, one of our favorite places in the whole world. For me, it's a very spiritual place. Something about it centers me, brings me back to who I am. While the majority of my roots are in Ohio, a line stretches all the way to this area of the world. My dad and step-mom would bring us on vacations to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg for as long as I can remember and they built their home just east of the famous vacation spot about 20 years ago. So part of who I am at heart is right here in the Smoky Mountains.

This morning was a beautiful, brisk morning, bright and sunny, about 40 degrees. So I decided to take a run/walk to clear my head, get back to who I am, and just breathe. As I was running along, a song by Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway, came on my ipod. The words of the chorus are:

"I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes 'til I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway."

Fitting song, given my recent circumstances. Listening to the song, I drifted back to the last time I took that same walk with my dad. My dad. My hero. I tried to remember what we talked about and couldn't. It wasn't important. What was important was BEING WITH HIM. I wondered what he would say to me if we were walking together now. Would he be proud that I'm a teacher and published author? Would he understand that I'm now a single mother? Just like Forrest Gump's mama, he always knew what to say to make things make sense. 

Nearing the end of our together walk all those years ago, I said to him, "Race ya up the hill!" Of course, he took the challenge. And he beat me! But when we got to the top of the hill, he pointed and said, "Look." And there was a Bald Eagle soaring right above us! It was beautiful and majestic. THat was one of the few perfect moments of my life. The memory has faded some - it's probably been 14 years - but I'll never forget that moment as long as I live. And today healing occurred as I shared that memory with my step-mom's new husband as we walked up that same hill together.

That's when I realized the complexity and yet at the same time the simplicity of the twists and turns of life. You never know what to expect, but one thing you can count on is life moves on. There IS life after death. There IS healing after heartache. There can be beautiful relationships after a broken marriage. And there is ALWAYS hope. Always. 


Jodie said...

Beautiful. Both the story and you. You are one strong woman, my friend. And I love how God orchestrates the "circles" in our lives!

Jen Riffle said...

Thanks, Jodie! I'm always amazed. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I'm reminded - sometimes in a nice way and sometimes in a tough love way - that I don't know anything! And I'm reminded it's much better that way!!!

R said...

You are supposed to call us when you come to East TN!!! You have to come visit our church! So glad you are blogging again!