Deb’s Journey…

October 29, 2012

Hutchmoot 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:18 pm

Stories…we all have them.  Our stories help us better understand other people’s stories.  Frederick Buechner says, “…the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.

On our way to a gathering of storytellers in Nashville a few weeks ago I wrote in my journal… “We’re on our way back to Hutchmoot for a second year.  Knowing more what to expect has helped a little, still I’m really anxious about interacting with others, even though this is the most gracious group of others I’ve ever met. I’ve remained purposefully on the fringes - absorbing the delightful things they offer, but not really offering anything in return.  Perhaps now that I’ve had my back surgery and am working again…perhaps I’m less pathetic this year?  I must remember to stand up straight…keep good posture and smile…try to relax and be honest but don’t bleed on everyone!  But how can I tell my story well until God has redeemed it?  I must know how it ends…how He restores it and brings healing after the train wreck!  Ugh!  Is it enough that I have the hope of a happy ending? Is there any value to telling my story while I’m stuck in the middle?”

Chit chat isn’t something I enjoy or do well generally speaking.  Shoes and wallpaper discussions aren’t for me.  Large groups aren’t for me either unless I have a task to perform that keeps me occupied so I don’t have to have shoe and wallpaper discussions.

I love one on one conversation about the intersections of truth and grace.  Love to hear about people’s journeys and how God has showed up along the way.  Love to hear their honest struggles & fears and about how they are working & growing through them.  Love to hear where they have mined and I am so grateful when they share their gold.

Somehow I just struggle to return the favor because I’m afraid that the listener will run screaming as soon as they hear the words “only child” and “terminal cancer” in the same sentence.  It kind of freaks people out and scares them.  I feel like I have this terrible disfiguring scar and if I can just hide it then perhaps I won’t make people uncomfortable and in turn they won’t make me more uncomfortable.

Few things are more awkward for me than meeting new people and having them ask the basic getting to know you question…”So, do you have any children?”  Three and a half years into my grief and I still don’t have a “good” answer to that basic inquiry.

Generally I feel truly sorry for the one standing there expectantly, with raised eyebrows kindly asking such a seemingly innocent question because they are about to wish they hadn’t.  I’m not sure how to shelter us both from that -I long for a gracious, truthful answer to set us both at ease.  At those times I think that perhaps I shouldn’t tell my story at all as it is painful to both the speaker and the listener, and I wonder again where the line is between being honest and bleeding on others?   Do I lie and say “no”?  Do I simply say “yes” and then change the subject?  How do I best honor my sweet son…and will they do the same?

On the first night at Hutchmoot, we were heading down the stairs to have dinner and I found myself beside a lovely and gracious young woman that I’ve enjoyed so much through reading her writings.  I’ve often laughed aloud at her witty, worthy comments and was truly delighted to meet her and excited to have the opportunity to talk with her over dinner.  I was thinking how fun it would be to sit and listen to her share and then out pops the dreaded question…ugh!  I froze…wanting to lie…wanting to change the subject and not talk about me…wanting to laugh instead and not go “there”.  So, I bumbled through the story and then tried to change the subject.  She was kind and generous and I was uncomfortably awkward and wanted to run away and hide in a corner.  But no hiding place ever kept me safe so I hid inside myself wishing yet again for a different story that wasn’t so painful, one with a happy ending.

After dinner was a concert where each of the musical artists took turns sharing stories through song.  Andy Gullahorn sang one he had written for friends who are walking through grief following the loss of twins, called “Grand Canyon”.  The hook stuck in my head and sang over and over through my soul (as every great hook should) “THE STORY ISN’T OVER YET”.  I sat sobbing as he sang out the cry of my heart…

The next morning the first session I attended was “Recovery through Song” led by Jason Gray, Eric Peters and Andrew Osenga.   Jason Gray lives about 40 minutes south of us. About 6 months after Ian passed, we were introduced to Jason’s music - we saw him perform at a worship conference. He was so funny and genuine and there was such truth and grace in his lyrics - he really ministered to us in the midst of our grief.

We began talking about his songs and lyrics and learned that one of my dear friends grew up with him - even went to prom with him. She gave me my first Jason Gray cd “All the Lovely Losers”. Yep, the first one was free and I got hooked - I became an addict, couldn’t get enough…we began going to all his shows in the area. We purchased “Acoustic Storytime” and laughed at the stories and wept through the songs…so healing.

About that time he released his cd called “Everything Sad is Coming Untrue” and we were captured by the redemptive messages of hope we found there. We asked him if he’d come and do a house concert for us.  We told him our story, and he agreed to come to mark the year anniversary of Ian’s Homegoing.

In preparation for that house concert we were also trying to get through our first Christmas without Ian and we felt led to raise money for fresh water wells through World Vision. So February 19th, 2010 Jason came and did a house concert for us and 68 of our friends. Standing in the living room where Ian had passed on a year before, Jason sang about how God makes sad things come untrue. He spoke light into our darkness and sung hope into our broken hearts. We also learned that night that together with everyone there+ others, 3 wells would be dug in Ian’s memory…
Our relationship with Jason has continued and he has ministered to us so much over the past 4 years! He looks for us at his concerts, wraps his arms around us and graciously introduces us to his friends…we’re so honored.  It’s Jason that encouraged us to read the Rabbit Room in the first place…and told us about Hutchmoot.

One of my favorite moments at last year’s moot was Jason’s release concert for his most recent album “A Way to See in the Dark” Jason sang a song he wrote with us in mind called “Nothing is Wasted”.  I still cannot listen to it without weeping.  I’ve leaned on him a lot and he’s been so gracious and kind to me…I had a season of such darkness that I couldn’t believe that God would redeem this…Jason let me lean on his faith during that season and promised that in time I’d believe it too.  I’m climbing back out of the pit of despair, but I have a long way still to go.  I’m praying Jason’s right and am waiting and watching for what God will do next.

“Recovery through Song” talked about depression, despair, spiritual warfare, suicidal thoughts, denial as well as love, hope, joy, healing and overcoming.  Everyone agreed - it’s a journey and each stage is necessary.  We must be willing to go into the dark places to discover who we truly are.  Writing helps us sort through things and helps us come to the truth bringing light from darkness into our own lives and hopefully into the lives of others as well.  This wonderful session is available here as a podcast.

That night at dinner I was sought out by a man who asked if I was Debra Henderson.  When I admitted that I was, he said he’d been searching for me to thank me for praying for his son who had undergone heart surgery the week before.  He said my comment on his Facebook post was encouraging to him and his family and he just wanted to say thank you.  I was deeply honored when he introduced me to his wife and their beautiful boy, Brendan whose name means “prince - son of the king”.

I was surrounded by royalty…eating the richest of fare for both body and soul.  And though I so often feel like a pauper in rags, I was given a seat at the table and encouraged to feast on sweet morsels in a beautifully prepared place.  It was a wonderful glimpse of another prepared Place…Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you…I will come again and receive you unto myself so that where I am there you will be also”…

Come Lord Jesus!!  But in the meantime, thank You for such times as these that bring tastes of Home making us long for more and remind us that in The Story we all live happily ever after!

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