Sunday, April 21, 2013

Love is the Journey

There are times, people and places along our journey that stick with us and gnaw at our souls, challenging us to move forward or change the way we think. Yesterday was one of those times for me.

I was hired by the Carolinas Writers Conference to share stories at the evening event and given the opportunity to attend any of the offered workshops and presentations of the conference earlier in the day. Two things in particular have stuck with me and kept me up most of the night.

The first was a line from a story-song performed by Michael Reno Harrell during the evening story performance:  “The journey is where you’re going but it’s also where you’ve been.”

The second was a writing prompt given by Marjorie Hudson during her workshop on writing about life experiences. The workshop brochure had indicated that we were supposed to bring a small object with us that we valued. Being the scatter-brain that I am, I of course arrived with no object. As she gave us the prompt to write about what it would be like to lose our valued object, I looked down at my paper and pen and thought, “what the heck am I gonna write . . . I forgot to bring anything” but then as I looked at the pen in my right hand, I noticed the small silver band on my ring finger.

That little ring has been on my right hand since my wedding day in 1989. I was married on my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. Before I walked down the aisle my grandmother gave me her wedding band and whispered in my ear, “Always remember the love you come from.”

The gold band placed on my left hand that day has been gone for awhile, along with the husband. But my grandmother’s ring remains. I cannot imagine it not there.  It is what I fiddle with when I am feeling lonely, afraid, or far from home. The simple band grounds me and reminds me of who I am, where I fit in the world and where I am going. It reminds me of my grandmother’s voice on the phone after the birth of my first son, “what a blessing child.” Or her voice after the birth of my second son, “two boys . . . bless you child . . . let the games begin”.  It reminds me of the ugly, frilly Christmas dresses she always gave my sister and me. We hated those dresses, but we loved her. It reminds me of my father, the son she raised. As I twirl that ring I am surrounded by the love, laughter and craziness that has always been my family. It is who I am, part of something much bigger and long lasting than me.

But what would happen if I lost that ring? Nothing I suppose. The stories are deeper in my soul than the small band on my finger. It really is the stories that hold us together, not the objects. It is the stories along our journey that form us, heal us and change us.

Michael Reno Harrell said it right, “The journey is where we’re going but it’s also where we’ve been.” My grandmother got it right too, “Always remember the love you come from.”  Love makes our storied journey a little easier.

 Love is the journey – stories the thread that weaves where we’ve been with where we’re going.