Calling All Angels


Angel Photo © Jim Ruppel 2012

I’ve written and rewritten this article a couple of times now trying to find meaning to words in my head and heart with regard to last Friday morning’s shootings in Aurora, Colorado, just a few miles from my daughter’s home.  A lot has been reported and written and I don’t want to rehash it.

It’s almost a full week since the shootings and the media moves on to current news and people begin to pick up the pieces of their lives. Some pick up where it left off and others face life decisions they never thought they would have to make alone.

My heart breaks and soul aches for those touched by this incident and I struggle with how to express words of hope and encouragement.

I don’t pretend to know what people are experiencing or feeling. I only want to share from personal loss and trust it will in some small way bring comfort.

Something has happened snatching us out of our daily routines and we didn’t ask for it.  For the most part, we can get along just fine taking care of business – going to work or school, showering, eating, playing, sleeping – and then something yanks the emergency brake and we tumble and crash.  Everything is upside down and we say, “What the hell?”, if we’re able, trying to make sense of it – only there’s no making sense.

Then something else happens, we try to stand and gain solid ground. We’re suddenly flooded with emotions and can no longer control the tears and pain in our chest. Our body is out of control and we feel like our gut is turned inside out.  Something is going on only I don’t know what.

It’s no wonder in times like these we turn to an unseen force seeking help – something beyond the body and mind because that’s not working the way it used to.  Our hearts cry out – perhaps “calling all angels” – and connect us to our spirit.  Now, this is out of the norm but there’s comfort – a peace and deep rest if only for a couple of hours.

The only problem is when I open my eyes I remember – it isn’t a dream.  It didn’t go away and it starts all over again. This is the beginning of healing – one breath, one moment at a time.  We’re in touch with a part of ourselves we never knew existed, connected to a different dimension and it’s overwhelming.

This is life – all its working parts.  Pain brought us to a depth of our soul, though we don’t want to arrive that way.  Our spirit forces us to feel things we don’t want to feel.  Our senses are opened and introduced to something beyond daily routines. Can we dare to hope again – hope that our loved ones aren’t lost forever?

Can we begin to look through this ache and pain at good things that have come out of this – is there more happening on a bigger scale beyond what I can see?

  1. People genuinely loving, comforting one another with value: young and old women, men and children, professional athletes, business, hospital and medical professionals, military, police and fire men and women, FBI, elected officials, clergy, a president and Batman actor.
  2. Heroes emerged giving their lives for loved ones and fellow human beings.
  3. Hugo Jackson, born to the Medley family, is awaiting his father Caleb’s recovery from critical gunshot wounds.

Life struggles to go on and yet it’s changed. None of this can really be explained to everyone’s satisfaction and debates go on forever. As a victim’s girlfriend put it (paraphrased), “He gave his life for me but I don’t know how to live it.”

We begin to take a step forward and we’ll fall down.  But we’ll get up with more strength and determination with the help of others to make a difference and not take this life for granted.

The real truth can only be found in the depths of our hearts but for now we can rest in the arms of an angeland hold on to the good things remembered.  What are you feeling today?  Please share.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table


(YouTube video – Jane Siberry and KD Lang singing “Calling All Angels”)


Enhanced by Zemanta
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Pat Ruppel

The Picture

picture of my mother

Personal photo of my mother © Pat Ruppel

Isn’t she beautiful?  This is a picture of my mother, Myrtle Mae (Shaw) Collingwood, taken in the 1930’s and is the picture that mysteriously
brought two young lovers together – my mother and father.

As the story goes, my father was in the military and stationed in Norfolk. My mother lived across the Chesapeake Bay in a small Virginian town on the Eastern Shore.  A buddy of my dad’s showed him this picture and since his buddy had lost interest in asking her out gave the picture to my dad.

Love at first sight, my dad carried this picture with him where ever he went.  He had to find this girl and on his weekend leaves traveled across the bay in search of her.

The stories of how my dad found her and their romance have been lost over time but I know they ultimately met, fell in love and were married on this day, July 13, 1939, by a Justice of the Peace some 73 years ago.

Here they were a young couple, Yankee and a Southerner, in love and ready to embark on a new life together facing a new decade.  The 1940’s brought happiness and 2 daughters but also brought the strain and fears of WWII.  My sister was born before the war and I was born after the war.  As my mother received letters from my dad overseas in harm’s way, she cared for her baby girl maintaining the home anxiously awaiting the return of her man.

The war ended and dad was back home and life lovingly picked up where it left off with the addition of a home of their own and me.  Dad went on to a career in welding on ships and bridges wherever staying close to the sea would take him, my mother pursued nursing and we grew.  Life seemed normal and happy at first and then it took a definite turn that would last for the rest of our lives together.

I was too young to remember (toddler years) an event that caused the shift but it seemed to be like day and night.  My sister and I could never figure it out and they would never say.  My mother became obsessively jealous of my dad and with every denial of accusation the struggles and strain continued between them shutting us out and the world around them.

Over the years, I felt I had lost my mother and tried to get them to talk it out – reconcile – to no avail.  I could still see a distant spark of love in their eyes for each other occasionally.  It hadn’t died – it was just buried.

Nowadays couples just split, get divorced and go separate ways.  The children hold onto that hope of reconciliation in their hearts until a parent remarries and moves on and the hope wanes.  I can understand their loss but my parents stayed together and I still held my hope. In that era, wedding vows were taken very seriously and literally when you say to each other, “…for better or worse.” Divorce for them was not an option.

Maybe the reconciliation was more for me than them.  I wanted my mother.  I missed growing up with the birthday parties, primping and fussing over clothes, going shopping and mother and daughter girly talks.

Every time I would go back east to visit, I would say to myself, “It will be different this time. They’re older and surely they would talk things out, I’ll help and they’ll be happy together again.”  But when I would come in town it was as if I had never left.  We’d visit and catch up but then it was as if a cloud crept over.  The back and forth accusations and denials would begin between them and I was shut out as if I wasn’t there.  They were lost again in another world but I still held onto that hope.

More years passed and one day in 1985 I got a call from my sister to come home. Mom had died suddenly and peacefully in her sleep. I flew back in shock, devastated. We helped dad deal with the loss of the love of his life and our mother. It was over and there would be no more chances of reconciliation at least not in this world.

After arrangements were made and my mother was laid to rest, I flew home with a hole in my heart and a feeling like the world had been pulled out from under me.  I truly believed in the end things would turn out differently for them and this blindsided me.  I was a mixed bag of emotions but mostly mad – mad at God.  I thought there was an unspoken understanding between us of reconciliation and I was betrayed.  We humans are so silly in our expectations, narrow views and beliefs.

One night not long after my mother’s death, I was awakened with the memories of a vivid dream. I saw my mother but she was wrapped with coils of steel from top to bottom. I then saw a hand come in with shears snipping one coil at a time until she was totally free of the demons.  I was okay after that and found closure and peace and thankful for the grace of that dream.

My dad almost 15 years later in his early 80’s left just as suddenly and peacefully – and the picture was still with him on the night table in the same plastic frame.  He never forgot the woman he met and fell in love with so many years ago. I never saw the reconciliation but I would like to think they had finally made peace on the other side.

If you have similar reflections, I would love you to share or comment.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Pat Ruppel

Behind Closed Doors

Picture by MSN Clipart Provider

I recently read an Internet article on the Power of Perspective which stirred my thinking from perspective to perception. Perspective (outlook), perception (interpretation) and judgment (response) are all similar in meaning with different results.

I thought of my life and how can I best tell a story through my own writings … but wondered how it would be perceived.  I can only relay what I’ve learned and hope it makes a connection with you.

I believe one of the most important things in life is compassion.  I learned what you see is not always a picture of the truth.  What we see can be rain-colored through our conditioned beliefs and undeveloped mind and senses and we immediately make judgments.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to do so but too many times the conditioning takes over and clouds the perception.  Let me give you more of my history that has brought me to this understanding.

My parents, God bless them, raised my sister and I with their own beliefs and conditioning – they did the best with what they knew and I loved them very much.  My mother was a beautiful, intelligent woman with an LPN and my father handsome and strong, a World War II Veteran.

They were also a little eccentric you could say.  But as a child living in the same household I gained a different perspective and first-hand knowledge of the struggles going on around me.  It’s was a part of my life.  It was like day before WWII when my sister was born and night after WWII when I was born. From what I hear they were so much in love and then something happened, I never knew what.

We lived in a normal suburban neighborhood but apparently not so normal was my family.  My father struggled to make a living and my mother fought her demons of jealousy making the struggles mostly between them with my sister and me almost invisible.  The challenges they created for themselves made them distrustful of the world and everyone around them.

As a result of their struggles, many times we were without food and heat with my father having a hard time holding down a job.  Let me be clear – there was no alcohol, drugs or physical abuse – just the pull and tug between them.  There was no convincing my mother that my father was not cheating on her and over time it became an obsession.

To be fair, I don’t know whether he cheated or not but he’d have to be a miracle worker with her demands – no pocket-money, allotted so much time to get home from work, no phone and she was with him everywhere when he wasn’t working – to name a few.  I had come to the conclusion later that my mother may have possibly had a chemical imbalance or was manic-depressive which was never diagnosed but may have explained some things.

Family life presented some problems for my sister and me as we grew in trying to fit in with the outside world with neighborhood kids and school.  We saw and felt the judgments on what we wore, how our clothes smelled from a portable kerosene heater and how we appeared different.

As years went by my parents aged living in their own isolated world continuing their battles with each other.  We grew up, got married and established normal homes (I’m surprised) though not without our own challenges.  Things got worse for my parents in poverty having not provided properly for themselves in their ‘golden years’.

My sister took on the responsibility of helping them as much as possible with me half-way across the country but they were proud and stayed in their home even if it was severely run down.  It was their home.  My mother passed away in her late 60’s and my dad lived another 15 years coming out of his shell and trying to recover without her. It’s another story, another time in how I found closure on the loss of my mother through a vivid dream.

Having lived behind the same doors with the struggles of my parents I learned compassion for them through the good times and not so good.  I felt their tenderness for each other, my sister and I, heard their political and religious views, made my reconciliation pitches and wept with them when they faced some of their biggest fears.

Later in my dad’s life is when I observed my full awareness of my reaction to a neighbor’s perception who lived across the street from my dad.  Through some bad choices my father had befriended and trusted a neighbor and ended up losing everything he had to the final loss of selling his house for a minimal amount while in the hospital with heart surgery.

I went with him to meet this neighbor out of curiosity to understand his trust in her and was met with another forceful, opinionated neighbor she had asked to join us. He proceeded to ream me up one end and down the other about the kind of daughter I was allowing my father to live in those poverty conditions.  He only had the physical perception of the conditions of the house and what life appeared to be from the outside.

As I watched this neighbor rant and rave, I noticed my father as his head hung down realizing the bad choices he had made and could only love him more.  He finally understood what my sister and I had lived trying to fit in this world of perception and nothing more had to be said.  My only rebuttal to the disgruntled neighbor was, “The only way you would understand is if you had lived behind those closed doors.”

I think so many times of the people you hear stories about on the news and the misfortunes that have fallen on them.  I wonder what life was like behind their closed doors, the pain and their reactions to it that brought them to the life they now live.  I hope they can make some sense of it, find understanding and compassion along the way and pass it along.

We all have our stories, perspectives and perceptions – may we all take more time before we make our judgments.  I hope you will share some of your stories.

Hooking Up – Finding that Connection

If I had to answer the question, “What is your calling?” the closest response I could give – hook up and find that connection. It seems like in our society today we keep trying to find ways to separate, yet through internet access, cell phones, blackberries, etc., we appear to be more in touch with each other than ever before. True, technologically speaking, but can we talk to our children? Do we know how our elderly mother or father is feeling when they’re facing assisted living care? Or, what is going on with me? I can’t seem to be able to connect with my feelings or express myself. I’m too busy. This is complex and I don’t claim to know what’s happening here. I just want to present it to you.

If you’ve ever been around horses, you’ve probably heard the names of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. They are pioneers in horse training and animal communication – horse whisperers – who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and seeing in action. When you watch them work with a horse in a round pen, you’ll see something beautiful happening in the dance between man and animal.

There’s a broken link being reconnected where the horse, in his struggles to trust the human again, slowly yields, stops and turns facing the man. This is what is called “hooking up”. You can see it in the horse’s eyes when he makes that choice and looks to the human for help and guidance. It is the beginning of a relationship of give and take, learning from each other and is beautiful to see.

How can we translate this to us? How can we hook up to our husband or wife, our children, co-workers, friends and be truly present with them, plugged into what they’re saying and doing?

Growing up with my parents and sister in a small town southeast of Philadelphia, I learned early that I was living in a home where there was very little communication.

There was much disharmony and mistrust and arguments to the point I wondered if they knew I even existed. This went on throughout their whole lifetime and somehow I always wanted to find a way to help them reconcile with each other. I never knew the root of their issues only the evidence.

When I married and moved out to Colorado, I kept in touch regularly and went back for visits. Each time I went back, I would think, “Maybe, this is the time I can get them to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk where they would consider each other’s feelings and talk it out.” In 1985, my mother died suddenly in her sleep and I flew back to help my Dad and sister.

The arrangements were in disarray in that they had made no preparations and had no money. Dad was a mess, my sister and I were heart broken losing our mother and the opportunity to help them reconnect lost forever. After the burial, I flew back to Colorado and I can remember sitting on the plane still in shock and emotionally numb. I kept asking, “Why?” “Why did they have such a life of arguing and fighting and poverty?” “Why couldn’t they change or see past it?” I couldn’t get over it. It kept rolling over and over in my mind that it seemed like such a waste.

When I got home and went to bed that evening, I still couldn’t shake this and, when I finally fell asleep, I had a vivid dream. I could see my mother with steel cables coiled around her from head to toe. Off to the side, I could see a hand holding a pair of clippers. The hand moved toward my mother and cut each of the cables until she was totally free. I remembered this dream the next day when I awoke and it helped bring closure and peace.

We often are so stuck in our beliefs and how we think things should be. We’re hurt and can’t get past the pain, like my mother. Her trying to control the situation and acting out the pain only made it worse and ruined what life they could have had together.

Are you holding onto something so tight you’re willing to give up your life for it – unable to yield like the horse and consider another way? I learned a big lesson that day – one of compassion. We don’t know what each other’s feeling or the pain but if we can gently give guidance and help point to healing and trust – like the horse whisperer – what a new world this would be.

Where is the human whisperer? There are people out there for you and me: a close friend, relative or someone in your church, who have gentle compassion and can direct us safely to a place where we can trust again and connect to our relationships and a healthy life. We just need to be willing to yield and hook up.

From the kitchen table – Pat