I will always remember this day, October 26, because it’s the day Rose disappeared.
Last year, Joanie, Dad and I had just returned from a weekend to the Island. As I was walking in the door, Rose scooted outside past my feet. Rosie. Hi, rascal cat. Nice welcome. Love your independence. Wish I could hold you. Have fun, I thought as she disappeared around the corner. It was the last time I saw her. We couldn’t keep her in. She often stayed out all night and would be sitting outside the front window in the morning, staring in with a big, wide opened, “Meow. Let me in!” as we walked down the steps.
I heard Todd open the door the next morning and call her name, and when I could tell she wasn’t there, I had that sick feeling, she was gone. I knew it. Loss, multiplied times three. It was the same time of year my mom and brother had died. Little did I know that Rose’s disappearance would mark the beginning of a year that would push me inside, to stop looking outside myself to others for answers.
Rosie went out and I would go in—deeper inside myself.
When things cave in, you can either blame what’s going on outside around you or take a look within. It’s hard. I began to realize how difficult it can be to be honest with someone, but even more than that, how difficult it is to be honest with yourself. What goes on behind the windows of one’s eyes is hidden—the seen and unseen are often in direct opposition.
The smart Scandinavians were able explain it through design, as I understand it. The exterior walls of a dwelling place would match up with the interior. Dad used it when he renovated our house. He would tell people as he showed them around, “The wood on the exterior lines up with the wood on the interior, representing that what you see on the outside of a person should match up with what’s inside.”
In the inevitability of having to go deeper inward, beginning on January 1, 2013, I started to follow an approach Dad taught me to reading the Bible. He read a section from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels and the New Testament each day. Just today, I finally finished the Old Testament, almost four years later, having read through the other sections four or more times each–Leviticus, Numbers and Chronicles tripped me up a bit. I’m no way a Bible scholar and more than for the historical, theological study—I read the Bible to hear God’s Voice. I was amazed to discover the flow from section to section as I’d turn randomly each day, reading until my “thirst” had been quenched from one section before moving on to the next. Word became Voice and I wrote down all that I “heard” and slowly began to develop a new discipline—the discipline of learning to be still—inwardly and outwardly—in the presence of God.
It was discipline that had given me technique as a dancer. It was dance that gave my life structure for decades and so, like taking class every morning, I read my Bible and began to understand what David wrote about in Psalm 42—”As the deer pants for steams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” There was a longing so deep that I couldn’t move into my day without first meeting with God.
After a year of health issues and missing his wife of 61 years, on December 30, 2012, I wrote in my journal that Dad had said, “I really think I’m going to be around for a while, Debbie, for all the reasons I told you—to share Jesus and the Truth of Eternal Life with the people God puts in my path. I am ready to go, but I really think I’m going to be around. But then, maybe not, that would be great. I’m really excited to go, to be with Jesus, and Mom, and Ed. But whatever God has for me, it’s just fine.”
I think of him now telling me, “Debbie, physical health is important but so is spiritual,” as I would be heading out the door for class or a run or a long bike ride. Dad was trying to teach me that the closer we grow to Jesus, the more we become our true selves—the more our interior life begins to match up with our exterior. The river runs deep within us. Deep calls to deep, David wrote in Psalm 42:7.
Dad and I had three and a half more years of time together—it was a time for aligning my inside and outside. Maybe it was for Dad too. XO