Saturday, December 25, 2010

THE INNKEEPER

It was September 1992.  Mom was in trouble.  Big trouble.  She had often faced significant challenges throughout the years, and just as often, called out for help from family for some sort of financial salvation.  Even as a child myself (Mom’s only child), I had been repeatedly pressed to do my part to bail her out from her most current circumstances.  These events always strained me—financially, physically, emotionally—and eroded my abilities and even my desire to provide support, though duty held me to the course.

Now age 64 and partially-disabled, Mom was in Sacramento, California, living on her early Social Security retirement income.  She was without a car and used one of those battery-powered scooters to help her travel most distances, and while traversing through fair grounds one night, she unwittingly ran her lower leg into a protruding piece of rebar and gashed it wide open.  Infection set in and she became further disabled.  At the time, she shared the expense of apartment living with a roommate—one whom she came to trust and revere as a friend in relatively short order.  After attaining a measurable level of recuperation, she agreed that the roommate should feel comfortable to leave for a desired two-week visit with a family member. 

Those two weeks, however, turned into a month, then longer, before Mom reluctantly and sadly gave into her fears that the roommate had left entirely.  The so-called visit had been a fa├žade; realizing the shelled appearance of an intended return cut her to the marrow.  Mom was abandoned.  What’s more, having already endorsed her Social Security check over to her roommate to pay her share of the rent, she learned that the rent went unpaid.  An uncompassionate landlord presented an eviction order and threatened, most severely, a lock-out by the Sheriff.  Sadly, Mom returned to alcohol for release, which she had successfully quit a few years before, following a lifetime of addiction. 

In her soulfully-injured condition, she called and begged me to turn chaos into order.  So uncertain of what immediate recourse I might take, especially being 900 miles away, I took inventory of my financial condition once more.  It didn't have to take long.  I already knew.  In just three month’s time, it was my plan to return to the University of Arizona full-time and complete my degree.  I was 31 years old and had grown weary of the meager salary that my technical vocation had afforded me.  According to plan, then, I would soon be without an income at all, dependent almost fully on school loans to see me through.  Now, given our history together, I was expected to also find a way to support my mother once her predicament was revealed.  I labored to sustain Mom emotionally, and objectively researched her situation in Sacramento, calling upon a few key people for understanding and guidance.  And, I prayed—much.  Still, the biggest part of me desperately wanted to run.

One Sunday evening in mid-September, I attended a satellite broadcast of a fireside at my Church, that I might find spiritual relief for my own self and temporarily escape the pressures of my mother’s situation.  During that fireside, the story of The Good Samaritan was presented.  I had heard it and read it many times before:
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
(Luke 10:30-35)

Suddenly, I was profoundly and undeniably struck with a realization and a spiritual witness.  Samaritans are known to have been most despised in the region.  Similarly, Jesus was “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).  Having understanding, I saw that the Savior was, himself, The Good Samaritan.  And, though my mother had been stripped of her money and abandoned by her supposed friend (yet, a thief); though she was wounded without and within; though her landlord had not compassion on her; though even her only child had considered passing by on the other side; even then, the Savior readily sought to bind up her wounds and carry her to a place of safety, where she might be nursed to health again.

 
And so it was that I was called to act in another role in this story—
the Innkeeper. 

My heart and throat swelled, my cheeks flushed, and tears intensely poured down my face and neck.  It was such an astonishing and singular spiritual event that all attempts to describe it in mere words are defied.  Fear not was the Lord’s word to me.  My mother would be delivered to me for care and healing.  I would be sustained in all ways, financially and otherwise.  Then and there, the Lord promised me that if I were found lacking at the end of the day, I would be repayed.  And so he did. And so he has. And so he will.

I was the Innkeeper.  Me.  That great privilege and honor was bestowed upon me!

It should not take long to discern what any of us might have wished to have done differently if called to fulfill the role of a certain Innkeeper—some 2,000 Christmases ago at a little town called Bethlehem—when Our Savior’s birth was imminently at hand. 

Take a moment.  Reflect upon your senses.  It may transform your life’s direction, interactions and relationships with others, and personal reservoirs, as it did for me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Skinhorse Poetry: "Written"

She knew what she wanted to say
And she said it.

She wrote it in words for all to see.
But, dull, passing glances
Observe only the obvious.
And few know well how to attune
Soulful, comprehending eyes
Between the lines of what is written.

Written on her face
Was a longing for more—
More understanding and empathy.
More sharing of hearts.
More long hugs to help her feel
Connected.
Even short ones might do.

Written on her frame
Was the peculiar personal pattern
Of weathering
That which all must bear:
Heat.  Cold.  Storm.  Wind.
Urging, ever-urging, change.

Written on her sleeve
Was the pain that had taken its toll
After all those many years
When she was at once convinced
That everyone loved the idea of her,
And yet, no one loved her—really.

Written on her hands
Was the traced evidence of strength
From planting and lifting and building and such.
Unpreserved, weakened, from holding on
To so much that could have been let go,
Should have been let go,
So very long ago,
And Forgiven.

Written in her heart
Was the desire to become
Better than she had been—
A follower, a bearer of light and compassion.
Sounding a resonance of past days,
Understanding, finally, the meaning
Of all that had been, and is being,

Written.

- Jacqueline J. Hancock

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Forgiveness: The Personal Journey of Two Families

After all of the silence, this is what finally moved me to make a post.

 

Monday, June 14, 2010

After the Murmuring

In 1993, and while living in Tucson, Arizona, I was asked to work with the Young Women of the Church for the first time; specifically, the Laurels (ages 16-18).  It floors me now to have even considered it, but at the time, I really did not want that assignment!  In retrospect, I can't help but laugh and become a little misty-eyed, too, as I skate along my memory banks, reliving some of my experiences with this blessed group of girls.  As it turned out, this period of my life was to become one of my most favored, cherished, and sustainingly joyful seasons.  Funny, isn't it, that our views of so-called uninspired "mistakes" that leaders make at times culminate to land for our souls our grandest blessings?

My girls during this initial introductory time to the Young Women's program included: Andrea Greenwood, Michele Anglin, Heidi Luke, Heidi Martin, Sara Offen, Jaime Smith, Susannah Rexroat, Marisa Henderson, Jennifer Clark, Cassie Meadows, Joanna White, Julianna Smith, and Melanie Raehl.  Did I get everyone?  Well, one of these gals will remind me if I left out someone.

I'm laughing again.  I just wish I could recapture, for example, the craziness of Sara and Jaime, acting like foreign exchange students (or as a blind student) on the public bus.  We sure had some tender and tough times, too.   All in all, though, our shared experiences brought us about as close as a leader can be to any one group of girls.  I owe it all to them, too. 

Well, with that introduction, the following is a journal entry of mine that illustrates the struggle I experienced in letting go of one church calling to assume the responsibilities of another.  Perhaps only my former Young Women will be interested enough to read these pages.  I'm fine with that.  Not everyone can handle my verbosity.

CLICK EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE.






To the Young Women mentioned above, and others whom I haven't mentioned, I offer an extreme debt of gratitude.  Oft-times, when I have trembled with certain doubts that have weighed upon my heart, I have been brought back to the relationships we enjoy, one with another.  Truly, I have been unalterably changed and repeatedly sustained because of my bond to each of you.  And to think that, in the beginning, I murmured.  Now, all I can seem to do is cry out in gratitude.

God bless your lives for the ways that you changed mine.  I love you all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two New Polls!

Please check out the two polls on the right-hand side of my blog.  Help me out here.  First, please respond to the poll.  Second, if you want to know anything specific, please leave a  comment.

Thanks, friends (and family reading on the sly)!