We began our yoga class backwards to what we normally do. At least that’s how I felt with a new teacher who began the class differently. We began lying down and then went to poses on our backs. Our instructor said given the clouds and darkness of the Northwest morning that it would be good to start this way. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. Usually, we begin with more rigorous upright poses and movements and then we lie down at the end after having “earned” that right with great amounts of sweat. That made sense to me. But today, we went a different way. Much of my life seems to be starting backwards first these days.
This week I took out the remaining Halloween crafts from our one hundred year old maple “hutch” we purchased in Indiana over three decades ago. Orange paper jack-o’lanterns and black paper crows which hang from beeswaxed string are carefully taken from the smooth interior shelf and displayed around our home. Oddly enough, Halloween is a holiday I am able to remember more clearly than others.
Our first Halloween as newlyweds was a shocking eye opener! Who in the world had I married?! It was Dan’s fourth year of his Master’s of Divinity in Philadelphia and I had left him home alone to go to a quilting class. I returned home and asked him if he had handed out all of the candy to the trick-or-treaters. He answered he had given nothing away because he studied the whole evening and never came down from the third floor attic to answer the doorbell. I was horrified that I had married such a man. That never happened again.
The following Halloweens brought various weather and circumstances. I remember Dan taking Annie out in a blustery Michigan evening. I can see her wearing a pink hand stitched cape over a thrift store jacket and a cardboard crown covered with tin foil. We were poor as Dan worked on his third post-graduate degree. I stayed home passing out candy to the neighbors and was glad for the father-daughter time they were having. In Indiana, Dan stayed home, lying down by the door, to pass out the candy. He was awaiting back surgery. I pushed a stroller with young Amanda and alongside a first grader, Annie. I was exhausted and tried to be strong in all ways. The next year was the same, Dan lying down by the front door. This time, he was recovering from back surgery while I took our two daughters and infant son trick-or-treating.
Many of the years Dan was traveling and other fathers or teenage children of friends stepped in to shepherd our children so I could stay at home and pass out candy. One Colorado snowy Halloween Dan and Dave, a fellow neighbor, took the children and trick or treated for beer (well, the beer cans came home and were enjoyed with neighboring parents at a later date). My heart was light that Halloween. There was much to be thankful for and laughter was easier that year.
As I prepare for Annie and the boys to come this weekend Dan is gone. He is doing a fundraiser for the very first home for trafficked boys in our country! There are an estimated 150,000 sex trafficked minor girls in our country. And there are, to my amazement, 150,000 sex trafficked minor boys in our country as well! This is a new statistic I cannot wrap my mind around. We are supposedly the richest country in the world and we have a totaI of 44 beds for trafficked minors in this country! And as of now, not a single bed available for a trafficked boy! So, as I prepare for my grandsons to come I pray. I pray and I am grateful that Dan is away helping to raise awareness of this horrific reality. I pray and the sorrow of what I just wrote intensifies in my heart.
I set out pumpkins and artificial bittersweet bouquets in pottery crocks. I place buckeyes from my great uncle’s home in a smooth wooden bowl in our foyer. Each year I do this in October and remember. Remembering helps validate that I am here, I am living and I have lived. It seems a luxury of thought as I have committed myself to pray for those thousands of trafficked children in our country and worldwide. They do not get to go trick-or-treating.
And that takes us back to yoga class, which began backwards. I didn’t want to begin lying down and working towards standing and balancing poses. I wanted to do the hard things first so I could rest at the end. Isn’t that how our lives have been? We have done the hard things first. Like, the disappointments of our childhood and adolescence and then the agony of watching our children having to live through their own journeys. I know, I know. There was so much joy for us and for our children, but let’s be real, much of it was lonely and hard. And that is nothing like the hell many children of this world live in.
I hold these realities together, the good and the bad. And I want the hardship to be over—difficult yoga poses, lonely Halloweens, the lack of beds and the death of innocence for so many children. I go about the calling I have to pray for others and wrestle with the reality of who I am called to pray for. We really do live in a world turned all backwards.
Still there is a belief to which I hold: There is a new day ahead. There is a day when wrong will be righted. A new day when the lion will lie down with the lamb. The day my grandson loves to hear about, when sickness will be no more. When evil will not prowl endlessly on this earth. I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I believe in the resurrection of the dead. I say this out loud. I read the passages that give me hope to see the good and not to forget the bad. And to do this, I have to begin backwards to get to what will some day be.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!