If you click on the photo at left (taken by my daughter, Tia) you will see more clearly an interesting cake-topper. My mother waves triumphant at the first of several celebrations of her 100th birthday. The still-rare three digit number rises from her birthday cake like triple highway signs marking the long road of her life.
She loved her husband of sixty years. She loves her four children, her eight grandchildren, her eight great-grandchildren and the diminishing cadre of her friends, none of whom are her age.
She has led such a quiet and gracious life that I don't know much about her dreams. She has focused, instead, on nurturing her children's hopes. Her life has been, and continues to be a gift to all whose lives she has touched.
"I was wounded early," Adonis wrote in his poem, Celebrating Childhood, "and early I learned/ that wounds made me."
No matter how magical our childhood we are sure to suffer wounds. Will those cuts shape our occupancy of the "parentheses" or will Love inhabit the many rooms of our lives?
Perhaps, wounds are the mothers of our dreams. Maybe we can't love without embracing our scars -including the ones never healed - the ones that yet bleed through the seams in our souls.
During a recent visit to Saint Johns Regional Medical Center in Oxnard I watched caregivers so sensitive they routinely do more than strive to "fix" the wounded. Time after time I encountered the kind of love that brings healing beyond curing.
This kind of love flows through this center and its sister, Pleasant Valley Hospital, because of the guidance of one of the finest leadership teams in the country. CEO Laurie Eberst and her colleagues, that include COO Kim Wilson, Sister Suzanne Krawczyk, Grace Ibe (who heads culture initiatives) and George West are using Radical Loving Care to reshape the mission of their organization into a true Healing Hospital.
On this same trip, I visited my childhood street in Westwood Village. The "Ozzie and Harriet" style neighborhood remains. Our old house is gone, replaced by a modern box of a thing devoid of the Spanish charm of its predecessor.
The only remnant is the eucalyptus tree that soars above the backyard. It was that very tree that nurtured so many of my childhood hopes, its branches the parentheses between which I placed the soul of my young body as it began to discover the world.
Two lines from Adonis, a Syrian poet, sear us, "My wishes are flowers/ staining my body."
Love invites flowers into our lives. Love helps us celebrate their stain.
The fragrance of invited flowers suffuses our souls. The mark of their petals helps us to heal the wounds of our childhood making us carriers of Beauty.