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Meditations for the Widowed
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ALWAYS WITH WINGS

Some days I am a butterfly
bright and high against the blue  -
and some days a moth
drab brown, touching down -
but always …
I am with wings.
                 —L. Westcott

It was an important day: the first day of summer, and Father's Day. My husband, Garth, our 9-year-old son, Heath, and I had camped the night before at the base of Mt. Hood with the rest of the climbing party. Now in the earliest bite of the pre-dawn morning, while the climbers readied for their ascent, Heath and I huddled sleepily together and in a whispered conspiracy made plans for the day.

Later, while Heath and I contentedly hiked a lower mountain trail, the climbers struggled toward the summit in deteriorating weather.  The conditions on the mountain steadily worsened, and late in the afternoon Garth and four others were killed in a tragic fall.

Since then I have been asked many times if I, too, am a climber.  The only mountain I've attempted is this one called "Grief," a treacherous, unpredictable peak which has drained my mental and spiritual resources, as well as my physical strength.  Many times, when I thought I had reached the summit, I discovered I still had some distance to go.

During that time of struggle, my first act each morning was to "count my blessings."  Yet despite the fact the list was long, I found it difficult to tell God "thank you" for them because I knew he was aware only part of me was grateful.

Then why did I put myself through that each day?  Because I was frightened by my own diminishing love of life and I didn't want my son to lose his.  My objective became showing Heath the need to appreciate all of life's experiences, holding them close and acknowledging in a positive way the beauty and the brittleness of life.

In an attempt to accomplish that I came up with a small but powerful prayer which we said each day:  "Thank you, Lord, for your gift of life and all the experiences it offers."  And out of that struggle came the victory of the summit, for eventually I meant those words.

Again and again, I thank you, Lord, for your gift of life and all the experiences it offers.

Lynda Westcott

 
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