Sailor on the Rainpool Sea

That is a line from a poem Zoe and I read every night before bed. We read it last night after a full day. She with my brother playing at the park, meeting friends… Her father at the hospital with Willi’s mom, uncle, stepdad, my mom, his other grandparents… on the street I see beautiful teenagers just like my son riding their bikes and skateboards without helmets. They can’t imagine that anything will ever happen. I see the pain on the faces of his friends who cluster around the ICU waiting room. A girl brings a collage of him smiling, beautiful, so full of life.

Last night strange thing happened. Zoe and I went to the park which I don’t normally do so late. The sun was nearly down there was a young girl, 11-year-old girl reading on a bench with the dog her father and younger sister playing. The man started talking to me immediately. I noted to myself how chatty he was. About how nice the lawns here were. About how he’d read about the plight of the bees everyone should stop using that crap on their lawns. That led to a conversation about our gardening, both of us organic, about trying to turn our yards into edible spaces. Turns out he had chickens too. He lived in Northeast, part of the city we used to live in. A little voice in my head said you have to tell this stranger about Willi.

I did.

When he was 17 he was in a motorcycle accident. He was in a coma. And now here is. He then went on to tell me about a community that he’s involved in. Church. And I thought to myself this is how to get you. You’re vulnerable — in need of support — but it wasn’t like the interactions I have had before — He talked about this community of questioners, Buddhists, atheists, all coming together in community. I have been looking for a place for sometime. Someplace to find community.

And then he asked me if he could sing a song. I smiled wryly and said of course thinking to myself I oh no, a song.

Holy Now (peter Mayer)
When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now

And I find myself sobbing. And Zoe played in the sunset with these beautiful girls and a stranger suddenly appeared in my life. I’ve only had a few moments like this in my lifetime where a moment felt engineered by something larger than me. One was right after college when I was sunk into deep depression, still drinking too much still grieving for a lost love. A man was in the hotel where I was waiting tables. He was from Montana. A notable member of the Blackfeet nation he stopped to talk to me. He basically told me that I needed to go to the graduate writing program in Montana a place I’ve never heard about before. He changed my life. And when I sent my one short story to this incredibly difficult program? I got in. And when A Western writer, a kind of kingmaker for young writers talked to me one night about how I could do it I just have to believe I could walk on Water… I told him how a chance meeting in a hotel really brought me there. He told me that the last time he saw Curly Bear Wagner — it was at the White House.

I was young then. So young. I believed in the universe. Had some sort of direction for me. Despite the awful things that happened in my life, my father’s murder chief among them. I had to believe there was purpose of some kind. Almost 20 years ago now. I would tell the story years later. To my students and I was teaching. Miracles exist I would say. People are there waiting to be found. If you’re paying attention. The messages are there in it for you somewhere.

And before they left the park in the dusk under an almost full moon he sang one more song. This time he called his 11-year-old girl to him. He asked her to sing that I was in need of some spiritual solace. She looked at her father with such complete love looking into his eyes following his lead with the songs.

Blue Boat Home
Though below me, I feel no motion
Standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean
Still my dry land heart can say
I’ve been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home

Sun, my sail and moon, my rudder
As I ply the starry sea
Leaning over the edge in wonder
Casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship’s companions
All we kindred pilgrim souls
Making our way by the lights of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home

I give thanks to the waves upholding me
Hail the great winds urging me on
Greet the infinite sea before me
Sing the sky my sailor’s song
I was born upon the fathoms
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home

He slowed the car and I could hear the father whispering to the young girls… And three choice voices sang joyfully out into the clear night “good night Pam and Zoe”

And for the first night sleep I laid my head down not thinking the worst. I laid my head down thinking just maybe things will be okay.


12 responses

  1. What an incredible experience, Pam. I’m so glad you went to the park and met that wonderful stranger! I love this: “So the challenging thing becomes not to look for miracles but finding where there isn’t one.” You are in my thoughts constantly, my friend. xo

  2. Though I hadn’t yet managed to comment, you and W have been at the forefront of my thoughts since I saw your post. I’m so sorry that this happened. I keep find myself thinking that you’ve “had your share” already.
    This is the dark side of parenting. This is the part that we all push away every single day in order to go on because otherwise it’s impossible to live in the awareness that it can happen any damn time to any of us.

    Since being a parent I have thought of my own parents over and over when they were brought to the hospital many years ago to see their son who had just been in a car accident. He was 15 with no license and he took their car while they were out and we were asleep and went to impress his girlfriend. The first thing they were asked when they arrived was whether they had a priest that could be called. The belief was that he would never make it. I still don’t know all the details but he was in the ICU for many weeks and didn’t come back home for months. But now he bikes to work every day. After he began turning around the doctors all talked about the incredible healing power of youth. It’s real.


  3. This is a beautiful, beautiful post. Beautiful is not enough of a word to describe it. Thank you for sharing this.

    I didn’t want to write it before, because I feared it would sound trite or be inappropriate because obviously every situation is different but after reading this I thought, maybe it would bring you some hope or peace. My cousin fell from a roof (to a concrete driveway) when he was 15. He was also sedated and eventually they removed a horseshoe shaped piece of his skull to relieve the pressure in his brain. He was in the hospital for a while but he made a full recovery and now he’s 36, expecting his second child in a month. I have so much hope that Willi will make a full recovery because I know it is possible. Human being are incredibly resilient creatures. I have all the hope in the world that Willi will be okay.

    Abiding with you.

  4. I don’t know if it helps, but something similar happened to the son of a high school classmate of mine. A closed head injury followed by a coma…followed eventually by a full recovery. I hope your Willi follows that path too. Much luck to your whole family…

    Here from Eden’s blog…

  5. Pam I hardly have any words to say. They’re all so deep in my heart.

    I think of you CONSTANTLY, all the time every day every night. I have this big feeling that Willi is going to be ok. He’s such a fighter, probably deep in his sleep but also thinking, “What the HELL you guys just let me wake up already!”

    So heartened and blown away by the love and hope that people have left here for you … how wonderful people can be, so generous with words and hope and thoughtfulness.

    Love you more than I can say. And tell G I will be donating $$ to every Ronald McDonald charity box I ever see in my life again and I HATE Maccas but we always end up there on roadtrips. And give him a kiss from me – a big fierce Aussie one.


  6. Pam, I used to read your blog years ago and loved your writing. Somehow I lost your blog link when google reader went under and am just now following a link over. I am so, so sorry that W was hurt. Praying and hoping that you are receiving the support you need right now and that W makes a full recovery.

  7. Community is powerful. I know that, you know that. When a group of like minded people get together, amazing (or terrible) things can happen. You have to be open and be vulnerable in order to transform your life, don’t you think? That”s really when most of us pay any attention anyway. So grateful for that man who was like the sun in your darkness.

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