Wherever I walk, I see trees down.
Unlike in the days right after the tropical storm came through on October 30, the fallen trees are now stacked up neatly in rows, creating a natural separation between yards, neighbors, conversations, dreams, and goals.
I attempted to make a thirty-minute drive two days after the storm, foolishly thinking the roads would be cleared. I probably would have turned around had it not been for the fact that my social life has been non-existent for eight solid months due to COVID. But I have this one dear friend that I walk with regularly. I call Maggie my ‘little miracle’ because I met her at a Mat Kearney concert four years ago when I was still fairly new to my state. Maggie recognized me from my blog—meaning, she already knew all my flaws and insecurities and loved me because of them, not despite them.
Over the years, Maggie and I have met half-way between her house and mine to walk and talk about the things that matter.
But this time, reaching each other was proving to be impossible. Every time I turned onto a street, there was a tree blocking the way. At one point, my friend and I were 1.2 miles from each other, yet I was out of alternate routes.
Sensing my distress, Maggie texted, “I will come to you.”
It took her over thirty minutes to make that one mile drive because she continually had to stop her car and reassess the route.
While I waited, I paced back and forth in the unfamiliar church parking lot where my travels had come to a halt.
As I wandered in the leaf-covered parking lot, I couldn’t stop thinking about those five words she wrote:
I will come to you.
Something told me those words were very important—and over the past three weeks, I’ve discovered why. Those five words have become my directive, my commandment.
Everywhere I look, I see trees down.
In my house, the distance is palpable. My child is in the darkness. She feels out of reach.
“I will come to you;” that is my directive, and I take action. I do not abandon the work because it feels too painful.
In my neighborhood, racism rears its head. My friend is hurting. She worries for her family’s safety.
“I will come to you;” that is my directive, and I take action. I do not ignore the work because it feels too uncomfortable.
In my city, the virus rages. My friend lives too far away to provide nourishment and necessities for her mom and sister recovering from COVID.
“I will come to you;” that is my directive, and I take action. I do not forgo the work because it feels too daunting.
Those are the good moments; they are few and far between. The other moments have me assessing the fallen trees around me and saying—
I don’t know what to do.
I can’t make a difference.
The effort is futile.
When will this end?
Wake me up when it’s over.
I give up.
In one such moment of despair, I sought out the words of Krystle Cobran. She is another ‘little miracle' in my life.
Her latest Listening Letter was in my inbox waiting for me. There, I found these words:
“There is a shift that happens as we begin to have more open conversations rooted in painful life realities. What seemed fleeting, becomes a delicate tug on the thread, that grows into a constant pull, and quickly escalates into a full unraveling of the way we thought things were. And as we begin to see, the pieces of what is real, separate from what is not and it all begins to fall.
If you find yourself in the middle of the fall, be gentle. We aren’t compelled to pretend that it all remains as it was, but we do need to be intentional. Because if we treat this process of opening up and becoming grounded in reality flippantly, we will miss our opportunities to connect-the-dots so that we can continue to unravel, emerge, and consciously make different choices.
Don’t attack yourself for the words you haven’t yet found to say. Be present in it. Stay connected to it. Know that you belong in it. You are capable of journeying through.”
After wiping away tears of awe, I printed out Krystle’s newsletter and marked that section in yellow highlighter. I taped it to my kitchen cabinet, so I could read it frequently.
The next day, I called her.
“How did you know?” I asked in disbelief. “How did you know that I find myself in the middle of the fall, where efforts seem futile… where it all feels like too much… where people feel too far apart to repair the damage. And, yet you managed to locate me here, in this place words cannot describe.”
“Let me tell you something,” Krystle responded, her voice getting feisty. “The other night I was hired to do a coaching call. You know what the woman said? She said, ‘I read Rachel. That is how I found you.’”
After a collective pause, Krystle passionately declared, “This is the stuff! This is the stuff! We can build on this.”
A jolt of electricity ran throughout my body and tears filled my eyes.
Here we are in this time of socially distanced, polarized positions. We are covered up, hunkered down, overloaded with information and starved for connection… and yet, it is still possible to hold hands, hold healing, and hold hope in order to build a better world, a better way of life.
The trees are down.
That’s a fact.
We can see them as obstacles…
OR we can see them as a clearing—
To see paths never taken
To see routes we must abandon
To see places we no longer want to go
To see baggage, beliefs, and truths better left behind
To see signs pointing towards hope and healing
To see leaders inviting us to vital work that must be done together.
I will come to you.
On good days, those words are my directive, my commandment. On the hard days and in the middle of the night, those words are my prayer.
One morning at 3am, I woke up on the floor.
I was curled up on bended knee in front of my open window.
The same tall trees I feared would fall on our house during the tropical storm now look like angels lifting their hands toward the sky.
I sat up, disoriented. I touch my hand to my face. There are carpet marks, like footprints in the sand. I am not alone.
I’d been praying about the next step to help my beloved child. The commandment is still not clear, but it is ok. I am not alone.
I will come to you.
Ah ha. I see now. It is not just a commandment for me to actively live out in this moment; it is an offering for me to accept when I am weary and lost, and the path is unclear.
I place my head back down on the carpet. I think of the poem Clearing by Marth Postlewaite. I stumbled upon it a few days ago, and I nearly have it memorized.
“Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.”
Dear ones, if today finds you in the middle of the fall, know that you are not alone. You have found me. I have found you. At this very moment, we hold hands; we hold healing; we hold hope for a better world, a better way.
We will not abandon this work when it feels too hard; we will simply lie down in the clearing, so we might be located.
And just when it feels impossible to reach each other, our dots will connect.
We’ll call it our ‘little miracle.'
This is the stuff we can build on.
Dear ones, if you are craving support that makes inclusion, diversity, and equity work real, breaks it down into actionable steps, and meets you right where you are, please subscribe to Krystle's weekly Listening Letter or join her transformative journey through one of her supportive services. The tools and products Krystle creates for small businesses, local governments, friends & family, and empathetic introverts are built from her heart. Everything she offers is designed to help human beings feel supported as we learn, grow, and take action. By clicking here, you can select the product or service that fits your needs. If you feel overwhelmed, simply head to the bottom of that page and book The Clarity Experience with Krystle. She will help you cut through the stuff and find a doable place to begin.
Many have asked when I will be leading a session of Soul Shift, my shame-free, hope-filled supportive online course. The next journey begins on 2-1-21. You can click here to be notified when registration opens at a discounted rate in January. I look forward to personally connecting with you during a time when we need each other's hands to hold. My hand in yours.
B Buice says
Beautifully written dear friend. Holding you and yours in our hearts today and always and pray sweet A has the continual and sustained energy to play and sing again for you soon.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, sweet friend. I am so grateful for your prayers and love. This is me hugging you (( )).
Alisa Russell says
And once more your beautiful words have found me, Rachel! I wish there were a million of you because this world would be a much better place if there were. But, God only created one of you so the rest of us need to do our job of sharing them. Thank you does not seem adequate, but it’s all I have. I am almost finished with the first draft of my novel, and the theme is learning how to accept differences. The energy of yours and the Soul Shift class’s acceptance has given me the energy to write this story. I send you many blessings and hugs as we all continue to navigate this time. Lots and lots of hugs!
Rachel Stafford says
Oh Alisa, I feel such hope when I read your words. Knowing that our hands are linked, and this connection makes us stronger to do the work we are designed to do! I can’t wait until your book is finished and look forward to reading it. The topic is near and dear to my heart! Thank you for walking alongside me on this journey. I love you.