Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding Your Voice ... Day 19

The last time I saw you I was working in Vancouver and you gave me an evening of your time where we could hang out together.

We spent a delightful couple of hours eating Ethiopian food and catching up with each other's lives.

Just when I thought we could eat no more, you introduced me to your favourite gelato place for a little late night sampling and dessert.

The whole time we were together I felt like bursting with pride that you are one of "my" girls.

I almost burst into tears a couple of times, too, listening to you uncover some of the excru-ciating events that have shaped and moulded you in ways hitherto unsuspected by me.

It made me think back to the TH days when you started working with me. You were always efficient; you learnt quickly and cleaned up after yourself without having to be told. But there was a slight wall, an elusive remoteness, in our communication. It was like you were searching for the right words and the opportune moment and the lead-in to whatever was on your heart.

I couldn't get you there, I realized in some dismay. My beautiful, brittle girl with the dark eyes that would grow two impossible shades darker in unguarded moments.

All I could do was wait, and pray.

And one Saturday it happened. It was an evening and no one was really in the TH and we were both hanging in the kitchen. It was already spotless (thank you!) and so I sat on one of the little kid's stools that we continually stumble over to this day, and you sat on the counter in the corner above the Lazy Susan.

"What do you want to do next?" I asked you. 

Haltingly you began: "I want to study English - I want to write ..." That last part came out in a little rush of air. You paused and then the torrent of words started to tumble out, jostling to be heard, to be identified, filling the suddenly much smaller space between us. You told me of your reading group, ably facilitated by Douglas, he of the old-school gallantry and the unexpected, exuberant shout of laughter that naturally makes everyone around him smile in an instant. Your face was alight with enthusiasm and your hands sketched patterns in the air in front of you as if that would help somehow to direct your thoughts into some sort of order.

I had never seen you like this - all I had to do was ask a couple of questions here and there in order for you to tell me more.

We've never stopped talking since, every chance we've had.

Some chats were more sobering, of course - the most sheltered of lives and the most caring of parents can't shield a heart from every blow. There were times when your thoughts turned deeply inward, trying to make sense of pain that you attempted so valiantly to subdue. You never wanted to be a burden to anyone. You chipped away patiently until you could uncover the fault line of the issue; and then you worked on methodical reconstruction until you emerged stronger, wiser, with more insight and a broader understanding of yourself, other people involved in the given situation, God, life in general.

You were ready to start spreading your wings. I have email subject lines in my "Heather" folder:

- Hola from Guatemala!

- Hola, mi amiga!!!

- Hi from Moldova

- Hello from Belgium

And then it was talk of The Boy, the one who made your cheeks flush and your eyes shine like agates. How careful you were to be true to yourself, to be respectful of him, to grow together into love and affection and One.

You were an exquisite bride.

Another part of your dream started to take shape as well. The now-Man stood behind you and beside you and led you to Vancouver, to Trinity Western, to the formal start of the unlocking of the inner sanctum of your soul.

The Man handed you the gift of passage through the years of silence, of yearning to be heard as you had heard yourself.

All you had to do was take it.

And because of all the work you had accomplished in discovering who you are, where you've come from, and where you wanted to go, you were ready - you seized the opportunity and plunged in unhesitatingly.

It hasn't been easy, you confided to me as we met in the purple chairs for hot drinks and a chat over the Christmas holidays ("Let me make you a special drink this time, Karyn - you just sit ..."). Sometimes you felt that the waves were pulling you down for the third time. Classes, homework, writer's block, and all-nighters where you couldn't stop writing; learning to step out of your comfort zone and into the lives of people the likes of which you had never encountered before; creating a first home with this person you had promised to keep till death you did part and - just occasionally! - hoping it wasn't one of you who was going to part the other (but not from, never from ...); finding a summer job and balancing it with your need to rest, to recover from the mad pace you had set for yourself during the school year.

Because of your discipline, because of your dedication, perhaps because you were so desperately in need of it and it was time, you found your voice.

And what a voice! You sent me four pieces in January. One was about something given to you at your birth; another was about one of the most sacred of sacraments; the third was a story you had created around one of my all-time favourite vignettes in the Bible, although of course you had no idea of that; and the fourth was where you acknowledge your voice and it is a prayer.

Each piece fills me with awe, and excitement. That such beauty has found its way to the light thrills me and makes me want to read more. Salty tears rained down my face on first reading as I saw how my "astringent one" had been honed and burnished and tempered until the passion that had been lurking dormant inside her for so many years was ready to be released.

Hand in hand with this revelation strides a new self-confidence, a greater ability to speak up - for yourself, for others, for what's right. 

On your birthday, my Heather, I want to say thank you for the privilege of knowing you and of being your friend. Thank you for trusting me enough to allow me glimpses into your vulnerability as well as your core strength. 

Thank you for never giving up.

Thank you for the words.

Thank you.

I am so very proud of you.


  1. The disciple can only become what the mentor has already attained (Matthew 10:24). And how great to be reminded of how God, Who mentors us all, puts people together for growth in grace and knowledge.
    Lovely to hear how well Heather's doing! Happy Birthday!

  2. Dear Karyn! You have me in tears and missing you immensely! Thank you Thank you Thank you for your insight, love and kindness!


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