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Catch and Release Picture


Some time ago, I had surgery to correct an eye condition called “macular hole.” The other day, I got myself worked up into a lather about it, wishing I’d never had it done. Sure, there had been a big black hole in my vision, but it was in the upper left part, so I could see under it. It was distracting, and I wanted it gone, but there’s no way I would have had the surgery if I thought it would take away my ability to see the world at all with that eye.

For years, I accepted the surgeon’s explanation that my eye just didn’t heal properly. So the onus, in a way, was on me. Not the doctor’s fault. Just bad luck, is all!

But on this day, I re-hashed this bad experience in my mind and couldn’t stop the re-wind button. Then I thought of some words… something I remembered vaguely, in the back of my brain. Some poet had written it…

“Nothing happens but that which God allows….”

Oh! It was me. I wrote that poem a few years ago. I had to look it up on my own blog to get the words right. And then I read it and thought, is this true? Why don’t I feel it in this case? Why do I get so worked up about this and why I can’t get any peace around it?

Nothing happens to you but that which God allows. And if God allows it, there must be a reason for it. And if there’s a reason for it, it must mean you’ll learn something from it.

PS God does send you more than you can bear. That’s how you learn to bear more.

There are some things that just have to live in the limbo of your psyche. That place you label “unresolved.” Things that don’t end with “and they all lived happily ever after.” More like, “happily never after.”

When you let yourself dwell on it for too long, you really steal from yourself. You snatch away time that might be filled with joy. With moments of repose. With sitting, knitting, next to a kitten. With blessings and beignets. With tea and scones with a true-blue friend. With peace and prayer, stillness and serenity.

You might find yourself thinking, this has really got hold of me. But actually… you’ve got hold of it. You’re gripping it, griping about it, letting it seep into your soul.

The answer – even though nobody likes to hear it – is: there is no answer. I know it’s not the spiritually satisfying solution you want to hear. But no matter how much it irks you, works you, sticks you or pricks you…. The only way to live in the present tense is to catch and release. As hard as it is to do, it’s a critical key to being finally free.

Just like the song says. Let it go.


My teen-age son has really struggled with exhaustion and health issues that have led him to be late for school quite a bit, even missing some days altogether. As you can imagine, mornings in our house can become rather, well… heated.

I ask him to wake up and he tries, but falls back to sleep. I come in again and again, each time with the same result. The bus goes by and I silently seethe. Late again. Yesterday, I blew my top and started yelling. The cat high-tailed it down the hall, ready to flee the danger zone.

Still tight, I went to another room to pray, hoping it would calm me down. I asked for Cole’s Yes Life to begin. Each morning, when I’d go in to wake him, it felt like I was part of the No Life.

Getting stressed, waking him up and being tense at him.

I prayed directly to God. “Lord, I can’t take these mornings anymore,” and I felt in my mind, No More! But on my heart, I saw the words Know More.

And it came to me, clearly.

Know that you can’t “No” your way to “Yes.” You can’t come in and rant to wake up your son and hope he has a good day. This is where the good day has to begin.

I prayed for him to have his Yes Life now: his music and friends and blessings. A life of his choosing. His own path. Every good thing.

And I wondered how long it would be my responsibility to make life work for him. I prayed, “When does a child’s life transition to him? When do they get to decide things for themselves and blaze their own trail using a map of their own making?”

I assume it is when they have the life-skills and work-ethic they need to get a job, pay the bills. Just generally take care of it all. But there’s also something else. Something that lights you up from the inside. Makes life meaningful. Connects you to your community (of musicians, or Christians, or people who like Lego) and lifts your spirits.

For me, it’s my faith and perpetual prayer. For you, it’s the zhoozh that sparks your soul. It’s something everyone must find for themselves.

So for now, I pray for answers and trust the God who posed the question. When there isn’t a clear-cut solution to an ongoing problem, bring as much “yes” as you can to the “no” in your life. Keep pushing on, and you’ll get through it.

Last week I decided to take my son’s bed apart and vacuum out all the dust underneath it.  Apparently, too many appliances were on at the same time, and the power cut out.

So in the pitch black, I worked my way down the hall to the flashlight on the fridge, muttering to myself.  The power supply is in the garage, and there were boxes and rakes in front of it, as well as a random pile of bricks stacked neatly into a pyramid.  Some boy-types must have been mighty bored one day not too long ago.

When I finally cleared the way to the power supply, the writing was faded from the years and I couldn’t figure out which switch to flip.

I sighed.

Did I mention I’m blind in one eye?

It was a moment of intense frustration.

My son was standing nearby and he tried to offer words of encouragement.  “We got this, Ma.  Don’t worry; we’ll figure it out.”

But for some reason, I refused this care package.

“Well, obviously, I can’t figure it out!”  I said.  “I can’t see what I’m doing and the writing is too small on this board and there’s just no way to do this ….”

My son went silent.

I stomped around for a while until I finally flipped each switch one at a time and my son signaled that the lights were back on.

We went back into the house and my son was subdued.  Later, we talked about my momentary lapse of reason.  We worked it out, but he felt sad for hours because he had tried to help me and I wouldn’t take the help.

Not only had I unplugged myself from my son as he reached out to me, I had also unplugged myself from the source of my own strength.  Not once do I recall sending up a prayer.  Something as simple as, “Now what do I do, Lord?” would have sufficed.

In the overall scheme of life, a power outage is minor, but it’s a metaphor for losing touch with the sources of power that keep us going – the love of our family, the faith that shores us up, the sense that this too shall pass.

So I learned that whatever the situation, the moment of impact is like an earthquake.  Sometimes you have to just hold on to what’s important (your son, your cat, the good china) and just get through it.  Remind yourself that life will continue when the aftershocks are done.  Get back to your source and back to your senses, and you’ll see the light before long.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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