The Promise

The sun seemed to kiss her face and shoulders as she walked along the street.  With her bronzed skin and long blonde hair parted straight down the middle, she looked like any other 15 year old in 1974.

What made her different was the fact that she had been “on her own” now for several months.  Technically, I suppose, she was a runaway.  But one might argue, “Are you a runaway if no one is looking for you?”  Abandoned by her divorced mother, she didn’t know her biological father.  Her mom’s fourth husband had adopted her when her mother was diagnosed with melanoma, and she wasn’t expected to live.  Her mom did live and her parents divorced, making this her mother’s fourth divorce. 

With her mother out of the picture, her father and his new wife did not want the responsibility of four extra kids.  The discussion was foster care.  As they tried to find homes for four kids (they were to be split up), her father was asked to keep them until appropriate homes could be found.

This did not create a harmonious family life in the new home.  She awoke one morning to find the police standing over her.  Her father and stepmother had been fighting upstairs.  She had been sleeping on the couch downstairs.  Somehow, a gun was fired.  They found the bullet inches from her head on the couch.  She decided to leave.    

To survive, after high school each day, she sold flowers on the street corner in order to make some money, and at night crashed with friends.  Right now she was staying with a police officer and his family that she met after getting robbed two nights in a row while selling flowers.  The first night two guys from the drug joint bar across the street approached, one distracted her by asking questions about flowers and, while her back was turned, the other guy grabbed her money.  She was so naïve, she had her purse with her money sitting on the ground between the buckets of flowers.  After the policeman arrived, the owner of the gas station on “her corner” agreed that she should keep her purse inside the station.  And that is why when the gas station was robbed the very next night, the bad guys also took her purse.  This prompted the police officer to come by every night and “check up” on her.  Each night, when his shift was slow and there was no crime to fight, he would stop by, letting his police car and police presence be known to any would-be bad guys.  When she had to leave her friend’s home because her friend’s father thought he could climb into bed with her, the police officer said she could stay with his family. 

And so it came to be that she found herself living about ten miles away from her high school and her friends.  With no driver’s license and no car, she walked almost everywhere.  This day was beautiful, and the sun felt so warm on her skin and face.  Although the sidewalk was dirty and the road was strewn with trash as she walked along, she was overcome with a sense of peace, a sense of joy, a sense of love.  She knew in the depth of her very soul that, although she had nothing she possessed except the clothes on her back, she was going to be okay.  She was so filled with peace,  joy and love that she wrote these words that day: 

When Mother Earth tucks the sun into bed,

And pulls a blanket of stars over his head,

When Mister Moon comes out to play,

And when I wish forever was today,

This is the time when I long to say,

I love you.

 

When the orchestral crickets play to the world,

When it’s quiet outside and nothing is heard,

When we’re together and we speak with speaking,

Living and laughing and wishing and thinking,

This is the time when I long to say,

I love you.

 

When the heavens weep for the sins of man,

And God cleanses the earth with pure white snow and a gentle hand,

When the sandman comes and takes me away

To a candy sweet dream world where I long to stay,

This is the time when I long to say,

I love you.

 

When eternity began and again when it ends,

And while it weaves its silver silken thread

Through the old gray hair on Father Time’s head,

These three words will always be

Etched in my mind like initials on a tree,

I love you.

Longing for love and not trusting adults, all her hope was in a young man named Don and so she titled the poem “For Don.”

That was 38 years ago.

Looking back now, the joy of that day, the warmth and the beauty she saw in the dismal surroundings, the promise she knew in her soul, there is no doubt this was of God and from God.  God’s love was given to her when she could not yet hear God’s voice.  But God was with her all the same.  The events frozen in time, the words that she wrote that day, a soul’s response to Love offered, all were still etched in her mind.  God’s promise was conveyed to a lost young girl.  How beautiful you are, My Lord. 

It may seem to be incomprehensible that one can find joy in the worst of circumstances.  And yet, in the passion of Christ, we find uncontainable joy.  As we see God move in our world, we see the joy of God in all things. 

This Lent, experience the joy of God in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kim Bray
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 17:15:16

    Jean, once again you leave me speechless with one of your blogs. There is such sadness and pain in many of your writings, and I think your past. Yet you have an undeniable faith and love for the Lord, which has and continues to make you a very special person. Your trust in the Lord is truly inspiring! God bless and thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  2. jeanbriese
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 18:19:33

    Oh Kim, thanks so much for your kind words. I am just an ordinary woman. Albeit, maybe I have experienced some extreme circumstances, but they are all in my long ago past. I hope they don’t make folks sad, because I am not sad. The Lord has done great things for me! In His greatness, I am so blessed! I have faith. I have hope. And I have love. How awesome is that?

    Reply

  3. Kelly Hartlen
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 07:44:48

    Jean, did that really happen to you? I’d have never guessed. You are so full of the spirit and truly an inspiration to us all. It is great to see the love of God shine through the ugliness of this world. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. I always look forward to your blogs.

    Reply

    • jeanbriese
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 03:08:32

      Kelly, yes, all true. Including the words of the poem, written when I was fifteen, and yet I can still recall them, even though I no longer have them written (until I wrote this.) I am so happy to know you enjoy the blogs! Thanks for the words, it encourages me to keep writing.

      Reply

  4. Mary Westwood
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 08:52:38

    God is truly in your life…HE wants all his children to be happy, joyous and free!!
    Please continue your beautiful writings…..in other words….”Keep on keeping on”!!

    Reply

  5. Mary Caffarella
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 12:55:36

    Jean I’m speachless once again even though we shared that 3 day retreat together years ago, God is truly with you and in you. It’s amazing how you lived through all
    this and was able to rise above it all. I know I shouldnt feel sad because your not sad. I should and will be happy for you because you are who you are today. God’s Blessed Child. You are truly an inspiration to all of us. Wishing you a Joyous Lent and a Blessed Easter. Love Mary Caffarella

    Reply

    • jeanbriese
      Mar 30, 2012 @ 05:20:58

      Thanks Mary! It is true we are all God’s Blessed Children, and I thank you for reminding me of that! Your encouragement and kind words continue to lift me up! Many blessings to you, my friend.

      Reply

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