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(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Sometimes it is too much, being able to know about so many people’s sorrows and needs in real-time. Whether the news is about a baby with a life-threatening condition or someone in great pain or a terminal diagnosis or the loss of someone’s dog, with our social media networks we keep in touch with so many people that our awareness of loss and difficulties is heightened.

All these life events have always happened and perhaps we learned of them from a distance and after time passed. Of course, we ached for people, but often we had lost contact with those we knew in different phases of our lives. Their news was more some vague sort of “circle of life” thing that did not touch us in the same way news touches us when someone is currently in our lives.

And, yet, the benefit of remaining connected is gaining the understanding that what any of us goes through individually is part of some larger human condition. We are not alone in our paths—there really is someone out there who does know what we are going through, even if those closest in our everyday lives have never experienced what we are experiencing. Sometimes walking on a similar journey takes strangers or near-strangers and makes them into lifelong friends, whether or not they ever meet in “real” life.

Who is to say how the prayers of random people we may know just a little or not at all make a difference? Just God, I guess.

So, though our awareness of others’ burdens is increased, so also is our ability to lift up those in need.

For that reason alone, for me, the scales weigh in the favor of extending my contacts versus reducing them. Some days I may need to circle my wagons against the weight of the world, but that doesn’t take away the world’s great needs.

As much as others–including those who do not know me well–have given me support, I know the only way to live my gratitude is to pass on that support to others. Whenever I can, I open that circle—and pray.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

Most of us have things we fear more than others. Sometimes those fears are common occurrences and sometimes they are not. I had one friend who was afraid of finding shards of glass while drinking. As far as I know, he’d never experienced anything like that, but there you have it.

One thing that holds no attraction for me is fire—which isn’t quite the same as a phobia, but maybe only because I try hard not to be around it so I don’t have to think about it. Or maybe I just haven’t admitted it’s a phobia until now . . . when so much of my state is burning.

My brother Scott was just the opposite. He was always fascinated by fire, although I’m sure his opinion changed somewhat in past years after experiencing a raging old-style prairie fire (other than all the modern suburban structures in the way) that ended about 300 yards from his home in Oklahoma.

Still, the 60s were more innocent times—kids weren’t nearly so protected from dangers in their homes, but if my dad, a smoker, left out his lighter or matches, Scott couldn’t stay away from them. I remember countless times his tricycle (that says something about his age) got put up in punishment for his playing with fire. I even remember that once he and my mild-mannered cousin almost started a fire in my parents’ bedroom—otherwise they weren’t rebellious kids at all—does being a fire sign really make that much of a difference?

And legal firework season? That kid was in heaven. When we were really young we lived in a neighborhood surrounded by retired people while most of our school friends lived on farms. Scott really had a hard time amusing himself, except for when he had firecrackers. Yes, in the 60s grade-school-aged kids often used fireworks unsupervised. I remember him running around with a lit punk in his hand, lighting strings of firecrackers in various places in our yard and sidewalk. Nothing bad happened either.

But I could never even get beyond feeling scared of that moment when the tip on the matchstick ignited in flames.

Later we moved to a newer neighborhood, which on the prairie means there wouldn’t be good-sized trees for decades. One time warring pop bottle rockets started a small grass fire—once again, not that unusual for the 70s either.

If I’m really honest, I can tell you that all that fire safety information I learned in 5th grade scared me even more. I kept my door shut and felt to see if it was hot before I left my bedroom. A constant insomniac while I lived in that newer ranch-styled house on the prairie, I used to worry about flames licking through the house, trapping us all in our bedrooms where I would probably be the first to break through the screens because I had been waiting all those years for fire.

My asthma was misdiagnosed for years, so maybe all these weird childhood fears come down to the fact that fire is especially bad for people with underlying breathing problems. But at the end of the day, smoke and pollution (which all housing-related smoke is filled with due to all the chemicals in our building products and our possessions) are my biggest breathing triggers.

All these fires burning in my adopted state are pretty far from me, even if I can see the smoke and our air quality is affected slightly by them, depending on which direction the wind blows. But the pictures of what these people near the fires are experiencing are terrifying. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see my house flame up and disappear while knowing that if I don’t leave, I, too, will disappear. These fires are so intense right now that I doubt anyone has time to worry about how the scenery around them is changing for our lifetimes. Right now what’s happening is like something from a horror movie, only the smoke and flames are real, as are the fears, unlike in my past experiences.

The feeling when we visited Fort Collins earlier this month, with its orange sky and the falling ashes, seemed post-apocalyptic, but these scenes playing out on the west side of Colorado Springs seem apocalyptic with no “post” in sight.

And, then I have to think how my friend in the Woodland Park area asked others not to spread rumors and to stay calm and to work through all this together. My response, “And carry a towel?” (It’s true, though I can’t stay awake through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, my family has taught me enough of the catch phrases to remember the humor.)

Just because I have an irrational phobia and others have very rational phobias developed by what they are experiencing doesn’t mean it does anyone any good to panic.

In times like these, we do need to keep calm—as well as maintain our humor, help one another, and follow fire bans.

While I don’t think it will harm us any to carry a towel, especially a wet one, I think carrying prayers with us is an even better idea. So, don’t panic, carry a towel, and pray—without ceasing.

(Christian Science Monitor June 27, 2012 article link re: Waldo Canyon fire)

I’ve given up on easy sleep tonight, but still hope that a little keyboard time can reduce my impressions of my woes enough to bring about some sweeter dreams. You see, I’ve just had a bit of a revelation about my Wednesdays—something about them turns me into a Wednesday’s child, full of woe—woe and/or worry. Whatever is wrong in my life seems more powerful on Wednesdays lately.

The irony is that I start my Wednesdays in prayer with my fellow prayer partners in Moms in Prayer. The women and their prayers soothe me and yet some time later I become agitated. Perhaps just praying for my kids sets off my own self-reflection. I know my kids feel a little mystified as to why I continue to pray for them and why it would matter to me to join with others in prayer for them—and that alone makes me feel sad.

And maybe such prayers just point out to me how little faith I seem to have in the power of my prayers these days. Same prayers, different weeks—still my heart breaks over what doesn’t seem to change. Intellectually I get that answered prayers don’t often happen when I choose—and that in time all may be well. Such is the human condition, right?

But my heart has frozen and doesn’t seem to have a lot of room for hope these days—especially not on Wednesdays. Oh, I go through the motions, find peace in small moments during Moms in Prayer and yoga class, yet when faced with my afternoon, I do not do a great job of fending off those woeful thoughts. Later, when the clock says it is time to leave for choir practice, I am not sure I can bear to sit so close to other people, nor muster enough focus to leave my thoughts behind so I can sing the words of faith. Yet go I do and, again, I find moments of peace even if they do not last see me through to sleep.

So the question is what can I do to resist becoming a Wednesday’s child? Just one more week and MIP breaks for summer. Will that alone make a difference? If so, does that mean such agitating prayers are really bad for me—or just something I need to experience on the way back to hope? Or should I change-up the rest of my routine so I am not home alone where I am too easily drawn into melancholic thoughts?

All I know is by the time I have “far to go” as Thursday’s child, I seem to have regained enough faith to go and go and go, which means something about Wednesday is driving me to woe. Just understanding that may be enough to help me to figure out how to change the pattern enough so that next time I become Wednesday’s child, instead of full of woe, I may be full of faith.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

You know my messy table isn’t really the problem—it’s just an obvious sign that deep down all is not well with my soul.

This is one of those years when I can’t talk myself into seeing the happy endings—or at least the unhappy endings that lead to deeper understanding and long-term happier endings. No matter what I said about wanting to be done with talking about unhappy topics, I am not. I can’t will myself to come up with the neat and happy moral of the story that will tie up a less-than-hope-filled post.

Although I’m feeling a bit like George Bailey on the bridge, I’m not looking to jump into the river. No, I just want to take that suitcase I bought with happy travels in mind—and run—anywhere that isn’t where I’ve been.

You see, I know God is hearing my prayers, but I’m having a hard time saying them. The good thing about God is He hears the prayers that have sunk so deep within us that we can’t even use our voices to speak them—they become so much a part of us that they rise from our very pores.

If nothing else, perhaps He’ll send me a bumbling Clarence to show me a better path than the one I am on.

Sometimes no amount of research or any continued pursuit for new solutions can fix a problem. And you especially can’t make someone else choose to see the hope in their situation if they prefer to see only loss.

You’re probably thinking I must be talking about myself, right? See, that’s the irony, isn’t it? So easy to see how to solve someone else’s problem, but then you look in the mirror and realize that maybe you’re so busy trying to solve someone else’s problem because it makes it easy not to be responsible for solving your own problems.

The years of trying to help others with celiac disease, dementia, depression, and ADD have taken their toll on me. I’m fresh out of perky solutions that are always met with a big “but”—because after all I have no idea how bad it is for someone else.

Well, the truth is they don’t know how bad it has been for me to watch them suffer. If I could, I would wave a magic wand and remove the problem. Would be much better than searching for other possible solutions that will never be good enough because the only solution the person really wants is to wake up completely healed.

They also don’t know how much I’ve suffered watching them refuse to consider anything but Plan A when I would fight to find them Plan B through Plan Infinity to aid in their movements forward. This week I realize I’m done being the pep squad. All that energy spent helping those who at this point won’t help themselves is making me feel like a failure. I know I am not—I tried, as God is my witness, I tried. Maybe I tried so hard that they didn’t think they needed to do so. But in the end all any of us really can do is help ourselves.

And during all those times of caregiving, I did not help myself. In some ways it’s just not possible to take care of yourself in the midst of others’ crises, but in other ways you have to be careful not to see any results as the only proof that what you did mattered. Some problems can’t be fixed despite anyone’s best efforts.

And so, I need a Clarence to come show me how I helped even if I could not beat back the demons of the diseases. I need to know that without me this place would have become a Potterville. Maybe I have a bit of a savior complex, but, by God, I’d like to know that sacrificing my potential trips around the world made some difference to others.

But short of that, the only thing I can control is the direction of my own footsteps in the future. A future where I stop trying to find solutions for everyone else and start looking for my own regardless of who is coming along with me on the trip.

Clarence, are you ready to earn your wings? Then help me climb down from this bridge so I can pack my suitcase for the trip of my lifetime.

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