Journey 207: Bringers of Joy

I’m writing a brief blog post tonight, as I travel from Arkansas to Joplin. This was day two of journeying with Greg’s dad after he experienced a heart attack early yesterday morning. He’s in the hospital and the future is uncertain. It’s a day by day, moment by moment journey through unfamiliar territory. 

Bob has had a long and full life, rich with relationships and love, laughter and tears. It’s difficult, this part of the journey. Greg’s dad says old age is for the birds. He’s weary and ready to go home. His body fights to stay. Greg and I are present with him, loving on him and listening, talking to him and holding his hand. 

Into this emotional space today came visitors, bringers of joy, bright shining souls. Bob’s grandchildren, my children, arrived, each with their sweetheart: Elissa and Josh, Nathanael and Megan, Adriel and Nate. The energy in the room shifted tremendously. Not only did Bob perk up…Greg and I did as well. 

I’m so grateful for these children, beautiful inside and out. Bob remarked on how grown up they are, how attractive, and expressed delight and pride that these were his grandchildren, his family. It meant so much to him, to have them there. It means so much to me, this time spent with family. 

In typical fashion, because his love compels him, Bob urged us to take this lively group out to lunch…and feed them. We complied, happily. And enjoyed a time of sharing over delicious Mexican food. When we returned to the hospital, with a chocolate shake for Bob, Greg’s cousin Pam and her daughter Charity joined us as well, contributing their joy and love, and a box of chocolate covered raisins. 

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. But I can treasure this day. I hold this time precious, spent with Bob, with Greg, with our children and grandchildren and Greg’s cousins. Love is the banner over all. I was promised long ago that I would be the joyful mother of children. I thought of that promise today, watching my children interact with their grandfather, their dad, and each other. I am joyful, indeed, and blessed. And I am so grateful for them. 

Journey 55: The Maze Runner

maze runner

Post Academy Awards, my new tradition is to watch each of the best picture nominated films. Among the eight top movies this year, I have only previously seen The Grand Budapest Hotel. It is a delightful, quirky, visually appealing movie. I watched this fun film last year for the first time, and watched it again yesterday. My review that I did last year for the movie is here.

Tonight, I viewed The Maze Runner and decided to post about it, before beginning the series of Oscar contenders. This sci-fi adventure film stars Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee and Kaya Scodelario. It was directed by Wes Ball and is based on the book by the same name, written by James Dashner. The PG-13 rating is for intense action and  the movie has a run time of 1 hour and 53 minutes.

Thomas (O’Brien) regains consciousness as he is rising in an elevator, with no memory of who he is or where he has come from. He emerges into a space called The Glade, surrounded by a circle of young men. They too arrived in this place in the same way, without memory. The only knowledge they regain are their names. Thomas runs, in a panic, until he realizes there is no where to go. Spinning in a circle, he sees a very tall wall enclosing The Glade.

The leader of the community, Alby (Ameen) shows Thomas around and explains that this is now home. They survive by working together, each boy assigned a role in the community. The elevator brings fresh supplies and a new boy each month. They have learned to thrive by creating and living by rules. Two runners emerge through an opening in the wall, just as the doors begin to close. Alby explains that they are maze runners whose purpose is to explore the surrounding maze by day, seeking a way out. They must return to The Glade by nightfall, or they will die in the maze, hunted down by mechanical scorpion-like creatures known as Grievers. The runners have been exploring the maze for years, and have not found a way out, partly due to the fact that the maze reconfigures each night.

Thomas is a Greenie (newcomer), but he is curious, questioning, unwilling to accept that life must now be so constrained. He meets second in command, Newt (Brodie-Sangster), and the rule enforcer, Gally (Poulter). Gally and Thomas clash immediately, for it seems that everything is changing since Thomas’ arrival. A runner is attacked during the day. Alby is stung also, and rescued by Thomas, who breaks a rule and goes into the maze after him. A girl shows up by way of the elevator and she seems to know Thomas. Teresa (Scodelario)  brings an antidote to the Griever sting and Alby survives, with some memory returning. He remembers Thomas. But before much info can be shared, it is discovered that the door to the maze did not close when darkness fell, as it should have. Grievers burst into The Glade, dragging boys away. It seems to be a punishment for Thomas’ transgressions.

Gally wants to banish Thomas, however the lead runner, Minho (Lee), had taken Thomas with him into the maze and they discovered a door that opened with a mechanical key that was recovered from a dead Griever.  Knowing they must leave The Glade, before twilight brings the Grievers back, Thomas and a band of Gladers, including the girl Teresa, head into the maze, against the wishes of Gally, who has become the new leader. The band is determined to find the door and a way out, or die trying.

Wow. This was a good movie, intense, powerful, edgy, gritty. There was keen suspense as I tried to figure out what was going on, one step ahead of the unfolding of the story. I literally found myself leaning in toward the TV screen, in fascination, and away from it, alternatively, during intense sequences.

I experienced this movie, viscerally, like a punch in the gut. The high enclosure, the rules, the fear. I’ve lived in a box like that, afraid to break the rules, thinking that abiding by the rules ensured security, swapping safety for freedom. That was the most intense part of the movie for me…I recognized the feeling of being trapped. Gally, the bully-like enforcer of the rules, personifies fear. He chooses life in a box, and perceived safety, over taking the risk of going beyond what he knows, even if it means freedom. Change was seen as a threat, rather than a pathway to a bigger life.

This was a well done film, albeit one without a conclusion. The ending raised more questions than it answered, setting the stage for the next movie in the trilogy. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials releases in theaters later this year. I’m looking forward to it, so much so that I’ll be seeing the next installment at the theater!

maze runner 2

Journey 23: Until I See You Again, Mindy

Mindy and Harry

Today family and friends of Malinda Jo Davidson…otherwise known as Mindy, Mom, Friend, Cousin, Sister, Niece, Coworker, Healer…gathered to share memories of her and comfort each other as we miss her bright presence. As per Mindy’s wishes, as honored and carried out by her son, Harry, the gathering had less the feel of a funeral and more the feel of a reunion, minus an important guest of honor.

This wasn’t a formal sit down and listen to someone speak type of service. Mindy’s friends and family mingled and visited and told stories, each of us attired in brightly colored clothes as Mindy would have preferred. Classic rock songs played through the speakers and the murmur of voices flowed around the room, occasionally punctuated by laughter as another funny Mindy story was shared.

Lest we forget why we were gathered, we only had to glance to the front of the room to see a simple table set up, bracketed by beautiful floral arrangements. Behind the table hung a sampling of Mindy’s wool hooked rugs, a testament to her creativity and skill. Pictures of Mindy adorned the table, along with flowers, a stuffed Pug dog, and mementos of a life lived in joy. A Davidson Clan tartan scarf graced a framed photo, taken in Scotland, both reminders of our recent trip. In the center of these sacred symbols rested a beautiful burgundy urn with bands of pewter encircling it. If I found myself in danger of thinking that that was all that was left of Mindy, I had only to look around the room again, and see her son whom she has raised so well, a tall, handsome young man who is discovering how very capable he is. And her brother Jeff, who dwells richly in the present moment. Mindy’s spirit and life touched and impacted each person present today in that room. We hold memories and stories tucked within our hearts and we will carry her healing work, her creativity, her sense of humor, her kindness forward into the world.

I watched the presentation on the television, Mindy’s life captured in pictures. There she was as an adorable baby, there as a curious toddler. Her school days flipped by, picture by picture, culminating with her nursing school photos, including her pinning ceremony. Then she was getting married, and next glowing in her pregnancy. Beautiful, poignant photos appeared, with Harry, intimate pictures that showed the bond between mother and son. Her joy and her pride in her only child was so evident. Harry aged up as well, as the presentation continued, and there were snapshots of Mindy creating her rugs, a huge smile on her face. A few pictures of the Scotland trip highlighted that delightful vacation. The photo of Mindy and Harry, included with this post, is one of my favorite moments captured in the Highlands and frozen in time. A few more photos and then it was over, too quickly, her life flashing by, on the screen and seemingly, in reality.

And yet, we did not gather today to focus on the brevity or to say good bye. This day was to celebrate a precious life and rejoice over a soul that lives on, free from a failing body. Her glorious spirit was all around us this afternoon, felt as heightened joy and deep abiding love. We joined together, instead, to wish her safe journey, until we meet again.

I will miss lunches with my cousin and talking about everything under the sun, watching movies together and reminiscing about Scotland. I have never known a more peace loving, people accepting, kind hearted person. I am so thankful that she walked beside me on this earthly journey and allowed me to walk with her, until she reached a point where I could no longer follow….for now. I am sad, but I am not bereft of hope. This is not farewell, dear Mindy….this is see you later.

Mindy and Cindy Edinburgh Airport