Filing Cabinet Finds: Part 1

In my garage stands a filing cabinet that has remained closed for over three years, but a few weeks ago on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, I opened the drawers, one at a time to inspect the contents– to sort the items to keep from those to recycle or donate.

Three years ago every item I shoved into this cabinet carried something sacred that would scream betrayal or spray guilt if I did not keep it. Yet, I’ve learned that when you allow yourself time to process, to heal, to seek God’s guidance and counsel, you discover that items in a filing cabinet won’t mend the shattered soul or honor his memory.

With a quick prayer for focus and rationale thought, I delved into the dusty cabinet drawers that now forever contain my Daddy’s scent and sense. From old work boots and t-shirts, birthday cards, Bible study notes, notebooks and folders and more, I exhumed all of it.

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Consequently, this sunny Saturday afternoon project moved me a few rungs higher on the ladder of healing, and by God’s grace and perfect timing, I found treasures of wisdom and creativity from my Daddy.

 

Part 1 of the treasures and wisdom found in the cabinet consisted of a draft titled “Food for Thought” and a final copy without a title. My Daddy wrote this during his time in prison–a short but transformative period in his life when he earned his GED, learned hard lessons about family, friends, and foes and found Jesus Christ. The first draft of this piece read like a fill-in-the-blank and may have been an exercise he did in “class.” No matter how the sentences and phrases came to life on my Daddy’s notebook paper, the inspirational and chilling words remain filing cabinet items to keep.

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by Gene Drennan circa 1978-1980

the most expensive indulgence:  hate

the greatest trouble maker:  one who takes too much

the cheapest, stupidest and easiest thing to do:  find fault

the greatest stumbling block:  egotism

the most ridiculous asset:  pride

the worst bankrupt:  the soul that has lost its enthusiasm

the cleverest man:  one who always does what he thinks is right

the most dangerous person:  liar

the most disagreeable person:  the complainer

the best teacher:  one who makes you want to learn

the meanest feeling of which any human being is capable:  feeling bad at another’s success

the greatest need:  Common Sense

the greatest puzzle:  Life

the greatest mystery:  Death

the greatest thought:  God

the greatest thing, bar none, in all the world:  Love

the greatest sin:  Fear

the biggest fool:  the boy who will not go to school

the most agreeable companion:  one who would not have you any different from what you are

the best town:  where you succeed

the greatest bore:  one who will not come to the point

a still greater bore:  one who keeps talking after he has made his point

the great deceiver:  one who deceives himself

the greatest invention of the devil:  war

the greatest secret of production:  saving waste

the best work:  what you like

the best play:  work

the greatest comfort:  the knowledge that you have done your work well

the greatest mistake:  giving up

 

 

 

One-hour Delay

It’s a one-hour delay for students

A meeting time for teachers

topic unknown. acronym foreign

THEN

She speaks

in a weighted tone filled with cold examples and questioning statistics

BLIND SIGHTED.

I’m stuck

in this room. surrounded on all sides.

It’s my job so I must stay.

Yet, that hole in my heart widens while my lungs tighten.

the Topic of the Year–speakers, faculty meetings, news stories

the buzz word for a few

a piecing memory for my tattered mind and healing heart

As the clamp on my soul tightens, she says I’m a victim.

I prefer Victor. Child of God. Redeemed.

Breathe.

Don’t make eye contact.

Focus.

Tune her out.

Stay. This is a test.

Role Play she says. Seriously?

No. I will not. I can not.

I did this. I tried that.

He’s still gone.

8 a.m. and the test, the torture concludes

under a cloud of anxiety

Quietly. Quickly. I escape.

to my room where his picture greets me and His Word soothes me

Breathe.

Dear God, help me.

Friends robed in compassion enter

1, 2, 3

They embrace me and grant me my release, my sobs

THEN

it’s time to teach

to pull myself up, wrap myself in His strength and do what He’s called me to do

and so I taught

and when the work day ended, I drove home

exhausted by the incarcerated emotion and surrender

After three years, I still feel the weight and brokenness of his absence

but I choose to exchange it for peace and growth and wisdom

For it is only by His grace,

that my shattered soul shines through the scar tissue of my healing heart

 

 

 

 

 

How about we all take two knees tonight?

imageHow about the athletes and actors who earn millions each year switch experiences and pay checks with our veterans! I challenge these talented people to stop using their “stage” for politics.

I don’t care what you think of President Trump. I care that you are kind and that you use your platform for good. Taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest the President or giving a hate rant instead of an acceptance speech, does nothing to move us forward.

How about we all, including the President, take two knees before bed tonight and ask how we individually and collectively can be a light in this world.

A big special thank you to all military men and women for protecting and fighting for our country, for losing limbs for our freedoms, for battling hellish nightmares so we can sleep, and for dying so that we may continue to live. I apologize to all of you, past and present, who serve this great land, for the ignorance that has clouded your sacrifice.

May God bless all of you, and may all of us find our platforms to uplift and unite.

Buy a t-shirt and re-post.

So I bought the shirt because I knew I should, would feel guilty if I didn’t. Then, I logged onto FB and saw all these posts asking me to re-post so people know I’m listening.

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Apparently, Sept. 22 is the one day we humans are to stop and show awareness for this act that creates a tornado of despair, shock, and complete and utter disruption of the soul. On this day, Sept. 22, we are to stop and buy t-shirts and re-post messages to let people know we are here, we are listening, and there’s an 800 number to call.

I truly don’t mean to sound cynical, but I did listen. I listened almost every single day. I called almost every single day. I visited as often as I could. I loved. I prayed. I wept. And I did all these things over and over, and it wasn’t enough.

He pulled the trigger despite my efforts. Despite my love. Despite my prayers. Despite my calls and visits. Despite my listening. He soaked in physical pain and mental anguish everyday, despite my efforts.

He slowly, unknowingly fell in love with Depression, and she had Her way. She robbed him of peace, of all he knew to be true. She robbed him of direction, of purpose, and he got lost in the rabbit hole, and I say to you today, on Sept 22, my listening, my loving, my talking and visiting and doing, served as a futile match to Her.

So today, I continue to honor my Daddy and continue to stay in the Word so as not to get lost in unfounded guilt and anger, because I do not blame my Daddy. For in my mind, Depression pulled the trigger, and I will continue on this journey of healing and will practice not blaming myself, for by the grace of God, all will be well.

All will be well, and I will continue to listen and to love for all those who need it and for all those who can still see the light from the bottom of the rabbit hole. For these people and for my Daddy, my best friend, I will continue to listen.

a Journey interrupted

by Angela St.Clair

exhaustion envelops inspiration

motivates escape

wheezing interrupts prophetic, comforting lyrics of vinyl

stale air saturated with Pain hangs in the room

foreshadowing the end of choice

loss and brokenness fight to choke anger and confusion

just as gratitude invades and a longing for peace promises to conquer

“7649 Linton Road”

by Angela St.Clair

Beauty beckons
the dirt road
lost in towering trees
Cobwebs and dust decorate
displaying the intricate art
of the mansion from a dream
Birds talk. Leaves whistle.
Wasps warn.
as the music distracts
Musty dampness lingers
while the day’s sweat ignites comfort
PEACE befalls
the anxiety-laden longing
Why
How
What If
only sadness knows
but JOY conquers

Today

by Angela St.Clair. May 24, 2017

Today, I will go to my Daddy’s land

to honor him, to mourn him

to be still and feel God’s embrace

Today marks three years since he left me and

shattered my heart, my soul

By God’s grace, I am not lost in my grief

but I am growing

just as Daddy taught me to do

Today and every day, I miss my Daddy

and some days the sadness hits harder than others

Yet I know, I believe, God’s love endures

and so does a daughter’s, a Daddy’s girl through and through

Today, I celebrate Gene Drennan

Son, Brother, Dad, Grandpa, and Friend

a man SAVED by GRACE

a man WASHED in the BLOOD

a man REDEEMED.

The Last Simple Sentence

In her script that he would so often say he couldn’t read, she writes the words that hopefully he will understand. Determined to make the last simple sentence be the first verbal sentence she speaks to her husband tonight, Melissa closes the book, gently places it on the table, and walks through the door with resolve and trepidation.

As she drops the match on the soaked charcoal, she stares as the bricks ignite and wonders how hot it will get tonight and shakes her head at the insanity of grilling steaks on a night like tonight. While the coals work toward a calm white, she sits and sips her glass of Cabernet, hoping it will calm the warring butterflies within her troubled soul.

It seems it’s not only her nerves that have been warring this unseasonably, warm March in 2012. The good people of the midwest have taken shelter at least three times this month from what seems Armageddon style tornadoes that have already killed 33 people.

The screen door slams–as it has for the past two years–and even though she should be use to it by now, she is robbed of any sense of calm. After 10 years of slowly, subtly suppressing the big things, the little things mount and bother her the most now.

In an effort to greet him, she stands and turns toward the patio screen door which leads into the light blue kitchen adorned with welcoming bursts of color and a shelf of Willow Tree Angels, and her eyes fall on the angel with its arms stretched high and wide creating an internal smile of freedom of the faceless wood.

Be strong, she whispers to herself as she slowly breathes in and exhales.

“Hey, What’s up?” he says as he slides open the patio screen.

Silence

“You okay?”

As she looks at him, she answers to herself, No, I’m not, but I desperately want to be.

            “Melissa. Hello?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, was in a daze.” Guess it won’t be my first sentence after all, she thinks to herself as she swallows yet another defeat. “How was golf?”

“It was good! I kicked ass!”

“That’s great. You sure had great weather for it.”

“Yup. Hey I’ll season the steaks and then jump in the shower.”

“Okay.”

As he showers, she pours her second glass of warm courage and sends up a another prayer, a prayer which she questions how God hears. Spanning the wooded back yard with its tire swing and dilapidating trampoline and shed, she intentionally and slowly breathes in and exhales, just as her Daddy taught her to when needing to relax.

It should have been said a long time ago, and at 40, Melissa can’t imagine another decade of loneliness.

            “Man, that felt good.”

She turns toward him and takes in his chiseled features, sun-soaked skin and wavy brown hair. She still wants him.

“You got a lot of sun today.”

“I know. How was your day?” he asks as he pours his glass of cab, walks over to her and kisses her on the cheek.

The kiss shocks her to a response, “Oh, uh well thanks, my day was pretty uneventful.”

“Where’s Emily?”

“She’s at the Carter’s for Tiffany’s birthday sleepover.”

“That’s right.”

As the steaks sizzle and the wine warms, the two exchange surface conversation, and she longs for a cigarette.

“Craig, I, uh, I don’t want to . . .”

“You don’t wanna what?”

“Just a minute. I’ll be right back.” She opens the door to her home-office, walks to her journal, opens to the last sentence of the last paragraph and absorbs the sentence written in ink.

She closes the book, closes the door, and walks back to the deck.

He’s texting and doesn’t look up.

“So what were saying? You don’t want to what?”

“Craig, exhale, I don’t want to be married anymore.”

His fingers stop moving, and he looks up into her eyes for the first time in years.

fictional short story written by Angela St.Clair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Our Dads”

It doesn’t have to be a national day in June to remember Our Dads.

“Our Dads”

by Angela St.Clair

Family by marriage, yet acquaintances

Born two decades apart

and neither saw sameness in their journeys

Yet, now, after they’re gone

I see

I see farm boys

raised to work

to respect

to value

I see athletes

determined to win

to unite

to support

I see devoted men

to God and family

I see compassionate men

to all they encountered, from neighbors to strangers

I see Our Dads

two lives worlds apart

yet connected by our “I Do”

I see Our Dads

Men who valued handshakes over signatures

Who taught us right from wrong

Honor from disgrace

Love from hate

I see our Dads, brothers now in Heaven

and I feel their presence, their embrace

We ache, yet celebrate

today and everyday

Our Dads