It wasn’t Ruby Red Slippers like Dorothy wore in Wizard of Oz that did it, though in some ways it feels as if they had the same effect, as if I was returning at least part way home from a land that was strange, and frightening yet with shimmering realities that I have only just begun to explore. I had no wicked witches, and those horrible flying monkeys appeared only in a few nightmares. It sometimes felt as if the yellow brick road wasn’t leading much of anywhere. Still the companions who were with me, my friends who replaced my empty heart, who provided wisdom to a scatterbrain and who had the courage to walk with me assured me that, indeed, I would come to a more comfortable place.
It wasn’t Ruby Red Slippers that began my journey back from the sorrow of my husband’s death and that valley of shadows. Nope. I didn’t just tap my red slippers together and end up home in Kansas.
But a week ago I did find something to wear that brought me home to a world that once again seemed as if there might be some light and promise ahead.
I was going to visit my friends near San Francisco. And frankly my workout clothes are old and totally out of style. It seemed like a good time to replace them. So I bought some exercise stretchy pants things and a jacket and stuck them in my suitcase, knowing they weren’t the brand that everybody was recommending. Who would spend that much on something to wear to the gym, I asked myself?
But once I got with my friend and told her about my clothes and the ones I didn’t buy her eyes widened. “OMG” she said. “They have a store right in town. And believe me, they last forever and you will never wear anything more comfortable.” I snorted a little out loud, but was silently counting the exits til we got there.
So I found my size in the long kind. And I found my size in the cropped kind. And I tried them on. And suddenly, I started to move. I started to smile. I danced around the dressing room feeling good, and in shape and ready to rock and roll. I started planning which exercise class I might add to my schedule. I imagined myself working out and making friends and feeling even better. And so, despite the cost I bought them. Both kinds. And a jacket on sale.
And I am a different woman, sort of. I smile a little more. When I go to the gym I move really well in my pants and I imagine that the people there are nodding their heads knowing that just this once, for a little while, Beth is cool.
So you see, I came home from my short vacation both calmed and energized, my soul invigorated and my heart healing.
Truth to tell, I am sure that much of what happened was because I was staying with friends who know me and love me and welcomed me just as I was. I am sure it isn’t a coincidence that we went to someone’s birthday party and learned how to curl and for a few hours all I thought about was whether once I got down to move the stone or sweep the stone whether I would ever be able to get up again. It was almost fated that we watched my friend’s tennis partner on a new public television program up there. Called “Reinventing Yourself” the show is about people who have come to critical moments in their lives and have found new ways of expressing themselves. Her friend became, as it happened, an Episcopal priest.
And by the way? All of this happened just after Easter when we celebrate Jesus emerging from death to life again. A coincidence? I doubt it. Because, after all,there is new life in Christ.
Praise be to God!