Ah, the tattoo!

When I was dealing with the trauma of finding out that a little boy I had taken in as a toddler had grown up to become a terrible person I

Had three things

I decided to use as grief-points:

Get a nose ring

Shave my head

Get a tattoo.

This week I have had to face that sometimes “a tattoo” is a luxury item

In a pandemic

In the way grief

Can worm its way into the fabric of who a person is

I am losing something else

Like a tattoo, a marker of the grief

And I found what I would put on that tattoo–

Love is

Unmistakable

The Feast of Thorns

Long before our terrible story your birthday was already

the feast of Servites pruning winter roses. I cling to that now, all the other days this day could be:

Obstinate mountains lumber into obeisant seas

Lame men whole, blind men see

Dead men rise and shake off their shroudy bindings

impossible things all around ya

If only you will

See

The Real Quiet Place

In the stories of Jesus’ public ministry there are accounts of people who have been healed of skin diseases which would have set them apart from their communities due to infection prevention measures codified by the Mosaic law.

In some of these stories, Jesus heals them and gives them permission to not tell people they were ever infected with these diseases.

I think this injunction was made (at least in part) to allow them to have a new life, unencumbered by prejudice.

When my family moved to a new place a few years after we found out that our adopted son had sexually assaulted some of our children, I realized that this was our chance to “start anew.”

We had pushed for legal consequences for Charles. We had a good counselor in the aftermath. We moved to protect the children. We were open with everyone in our previous community.

But we chose to continue

To tell our story.

The result has been fascinating and lonely.

There is a lot of prejudice about victims of sexual abuse and their families, maybe especially in churches.

We could be contagious?

Maybe

Or maybe it is our openness that scares them.

Either way, we call it “the island.” We live on an island

An island made of truth and pain and loneliness

With a single, unwavering resident

The one who heals us.

The one who knows this quiet place.

The one who tells us the truth will set us free.

My family is healthy, happy, and stable because we have never tried to hide

The story of our grief

But it can be quiet

On the island.

lighthouse

I started this blog eight years ago, when it became clear that no one was going to come to our rescue.

At that time the issue was my adopted son, who had sexually assaulted some of my children and some of the other children we knew, was being released from the Texas juvenile system. He would not have to register. His crimes had been lessened in a plea bargain, and then they were to be sealed.

We lived in the house where he had lived, where he had hurt the children.

I started the blog because I didn’t own a gun. I started the blog so there would be a record.

It has become more than all of that, and (at least so far) we have survived.

I believe in writing. I believe words can stand where people have walked away. So that is what lighthouse is about–a blog about fosters

Wherever you may find us.

The Last Normal Day

We are eternal, they are eternal, I tell her, but I know that there is something else, the purest kind of paradox, or is it tautology? Etiology? The woman in the park, on the streets, flagging down motorists, in the parking lots of churches, where people congregate like flocks of birds, always, always asking this uncomfortable question–

When was your last normal day? When was your last normal day?

When? When the truth

Stalks in

Wide awake

Solomon

Ecclesiastes 4:1-2 KJV

[1] So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. [2] Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

I generally chafe at the wisdom of Solomon. I want to measure my “wise guys” by their lives–faithfulness, sobriety, compassion. S-man seems to fall abysmally short on all categories.

When I read this verse from Ecclesiastes it resonates with my own sense of the fragility and tenuousness of life, but then I cannot help that Solomon had so many powers the ordinary dude did not have to:

Stop oppression

Comfort the bereaved

And use his power as a monarch to generally improve his culture

He had the power to live a different life, to show a different way. I am no king, but I will be judged by how much better or worse I use my power

To change things.

Contemplating Hell

He says that I have lost my chance with him, as though he is a lottery ticket torn from my grasp by a strong wind in a storm, fluttering away with its winning numbers and it promise of untold riches.

I have lost my chance with him.

A week ago I stood in the Salvation Army and showed my youngest daughter a tee shirt–got love? Become a foster parent.

Her face clouds. Her life was radically altered by my decision to foster parent.

You had your chance with me…

He was small and scratched his face into bloody tiger stripes, he did not speak at almost two years of age. He did not potty train until just before kindergarten. He once desecrated a couch in a strange feral way.

The stories of my chances with him could fill terrible books.

I get it kid, you have a new god now.

But I am haunted by what will happen to you if you don’t have the guts to contemplate

The hell you unleashed on all of us and all it’s damning consequences.

Rules for Prodigals

I once knew a man who said it should be the parable of the prodigal father, which, of course, is true. We are not very prodigal with much but our father’s treasure.

I have been the younger son. I have been the older son. Jesus knows that we are all really not great sons–judge-y or profligate or both, so he gives a story where the two great characters are an old man and a fatted calf.

The man who saves the world makes himself the main course at a feast thrown for a loser.

I am that loser. The shining moment of clarity in any human life is when we realize we are all the prodigal child.

And so we should know the rules for prodigals–

I have done nothing to deserve this inheritance I have squandered

I have made little account for the days my Father has grieved on my behalf

But he never stops hoping I will come home.

What pride, what fear, what foolishness can withstand the power of love?

Luke 15:17-20 KJV

[17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, [19] And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. [20] And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

The parable of the retold

I remember you

I remember when you ran into the waiting room with your sister

I remember all the warnings and admonitions I got from Martha-the-caseworker and your recently relieved first foster mom

And your blue-as-the-sea implacable gaze across a very misguided table

I remember your speech therapist and her fairy godmother-like delight in seeing you make eye contact and in watching your self-inflicted facial wounds

Heal and not return

Storms all over the place

Storms in you swirled all around us, even when I tried to contain them.