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Posted Friday, June 29, 2012, at 4:55 PM

Her mind was so jumbled with thoughts that no one could take hold. It was supposed to be scorching hot, so she kept worrying about the animals outside . . . will they have enough water . . . could there be rain . . . if they take a few days off who will keep an eye on the herd . . . should they really spend money now . . . no one will miss her if they don't go . . . travel logistics are a pain . . . the price of fuel is going crazy . . . it's too hot to travel . . . and on her thoughts spiral.

She knows she needs to take the trip. It is the emotions she is trying to avoid. Feelings always jumble, collide, mix, and the ones she tries to avoid are those that seem to surface when she is least prepared for them. Maybe that is the point. She wants to avoid acknowledging the life altering changes that have already taken place. Going . . . being in that place, makes it real.

There is no changing reality. People she loves are gone--she will never see them again on this earth. New memories will not be made. There will never be more celebrations together . . . no more arms to hold the world at bay . . . no answer of the telephone . . . nor voice; that no matter how hard you try to be brave, draws all your tears at "hello" . . . life will never be the same.

Avoidance . . . we all do it. She just doesn't want the reality that those she loved, who guided her, protected her, motivated her, and let her walk her own path are gone, to be true. So, she packs her bags; double checks the plans for care while she is gone; snaps at those around her, apologizes only to snap again; and travels the road she doesn't want to take.

When she can draw still and quiet she thinks she might understand why her animals snap, nip, or growl at her when she is clipping a broken nail, tending a wound, or removing an especially stuck burr from their fur. It isn't her that they want to hurt--they want to avoid the pain. She really isn't different from them in that way. She too wants to avoid . . . .

God, instead of avoiding pain and separation, you found a way to bear it for us. Help us to lean upon you. Guide us through that which we want to avoid. Remind us that we are never alone--you are always with us. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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