This Moment

The quiet all around was loud inside my head. I felt a sense of expectancy in the air.
The breeze off the lake contained a chill but was bearable after the heat of the day. The small waves pushed by the breeze lapped against the gravel-laden shoreline. The boardwalk was empty this early evening. The boards running vertically beneath our feet showed the signs of the many footsteps of those who had walked along this path and were well worn.
The diffused evening light cast an ethereal glow settled over the landscape as the sun touched the horizon. The ground to both sides of the wooden boardwalk was stark white bleached white from the powerful desert sun. The winds that blew over that had stripped the earth bare leaving it barren and void of life except for a few sparse trees that struggled for survival in the dry parched dirt.
We walked silently, me with my hands pushed deep into my pockets and her pushing her bike forward hands firmly on the grips and face a mask devoid of emotion. The sleeves of my white shirt rolled up to my elbows and I could feel the flapping of the shirttails in the wind as we walked. Her white summer dress hung loosely on her young body a stark contrast to her brown olive skin. The lack of color in our clothes matched the landscape as if we were a part of it.
Looking inland away from the lake, I could see the far distance parking lot where the last stragglers of the day were returning to their vehicles. Headed where I had no idea, I only knew that they had somewhere to go. The loneliness settled over me like a shroud as my steps faltered and the sun sank its lower half now hidden below the horizon.
Catching my stumble out of the corner of her eye, she knew better than to ask how I was. Instead, she simply stated,
“I am tired.”
“I know sweetie.”
I replied as I quickly regained my balance and told myself she had not seen my misstep, nor knew the reason why. However, deep down I knew that she knew. She always seemed to know. Her understanding empathy, the ability that came so naturally to her and guided her actions was far beyond her young years. As we continued to walk, she said.
“I just want to sleep, all the time.”
“It’s okay. I get it. If that’s what you need then that’s okay.”
The silence then settled around us again as we moved forward. We strode onward as if drawn by some invisible force that neither of us could deny. I knew she was tired and worn out, even without her earlier comment still echoing in my head. My heart ached knowing I was powerless to stop the pain. I still found it hard to admit, even to myself, the conclusion I knew was inevitable and unavoidable.
Life is hard and for her to learn this at such a young age seemed so unfair. My anger over the injustice I perceived burned however; the sadness and longing overshadowed it like the darkness. I looked across the lake at the exact moment the last of the huge golden orb of the sun sank beyond the horizon into the undiscovered. Melodies of grace erupted in my head in songs of redemption and a belief in a light that will one day overcome the darkness. As quickly as the feelings rose, they disappeared as the despair again wrapped its arms around me choking off my breath.
I felt so helpless and alone. My life slipping from my grasp and everything I held dear. We continued to walk in silence, comfortable together in our solitude. Over the past few days, I had watched, as she grew weaker and I hated the fact that my little girl’s strength was quickly fading and I knew the end was near.
The words came from where I do not know and spilled out of my mouth in a cry of anguish.
“I miss her.”
“I do too daddy.”
“God, I miss your momma.”
We stopped walking and the bike lay on its side where she had let if fall. Picking her up I held her close feeling her wet check against mine our tears mingled together as they ran down our faces. Her arms tightly squeezed my neck in defiance of tomorrow and yesterday, for this moment was all we had.

©Mark W. Schutter 2018

Often this moment is all we really have, don’t miss it. ~M

#JustBelieve #HopeLives #LoveChangesPeople

This Moment

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Searching… it’s all shit!

Warning: Honesty Post!

*All my posts are honest, but this one is a clearer look behind my curtain and who I am. If you are not ready, or willing to hear, my truth (and just possibly the truth others cannot voice, although I would never presume to speak for anyone else) please stop reading now. I do not wish to offend anyone in this time of overwhelming political correctness and safe places, well time to get over it.

I sit here on a quiet Sunday morning; only a week removed from our two week adventure to Yellowstone National Park and it all seems like shit! I told you honesty and that’s the word that fits – shit!

I am blessed, I know that.

A family that loves me, friends that care and so much more. I’ve been granted opportunities and worked my ass off at times sacrificing to accomplish what I have. Looking in one might say I have been and am pretty successful.

So why, as I sit here on the other side of my life’s mountain with less time before me than behind me do I feel this way, and not just this day but on most days?

Stuck! Marginalized! Lost! Uninspired! Disconnected! Lonely! Fatigued! Discontented! Overwhelmed! Anxious! Uncertain! Afraid!

I have dreams. We all do. They taunt me and haunt me. So, what good is a life that leaves nothing behind? To let go of the expectations of others. The responsibilities of who they think and want me to be.

It is all so exhausting.

I feel I have lost myself. Oh, there are moments, real and true, that speak of a greater reality, and they are just far too few. I often wonder who I am, or was meant to be but also there is a melody woven through my life that sings if only I would stop and acknowledge that truth.

My dreams of passion and purpose dance at the edges of my days before quickly fading into the duty and obligations that chain me. To make a difference in the lives of others. Yes, shining a light into the darkness.

My self-imposed obligations and responsibilities weigh me down. Drowning out that still small voice inside that would inspire and lead me higher. I am grounded with useless wings.

My search, for what I often am not sure, seems so fruitless and empty. I do not hear from God, a voice crying out in the wilderness. The silence of the unending heavens as I stare at the night sky.

I spent two weeks traveling and camping, visiting some of the most awe inspiring animals and natural wonders ever created and yet…

Is it the simple things?

Those fleeting moments that leave a lingering feeling as they are too quickly gone. And then we crash back to reality wondering, hoping to recapture those moments of magic.

That is where the bullshit often lies!

I stare into the darkness of my heart, knowing that I cannot change the world. But maybe, just maybe I can help one person who can then help another. Ripples you know?

Is that what life is about, each person uniquely created to fill a certain destiny that only they can fill. Why does it never seen to be enough? My doubts and fears, my insecurities of letting others down and not being good enough. Not being perfect.

Can good enough be good enough?

I feel my rambling coming to a close and I realize there are more questions here than answers. Oh well…. It is time to get my ass up, put on my jeans and dusty cowboy boots, carry a flame and bang that drum for myself and others. Cause God is not done with me and I will trust in my time of uncertainty and silence.

One small, seemingly insignificant pebble can start a landslide or send out ripples, even as it silently falls through the dark depths of anxiety.

So, these are words I would most likely never say out loud, so thank you for reading and carpe diem my friends!

Dreams...

“A Dream” Photograph of a Montana ranch tucked away in a little valley hidden high up in the mountains that we stumbled on while driving dusty back roads. Mark W. Schutter ©2017

The Ripple Effect

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I have been silent for awhile now. Here on my blog and all other forms of social media. Just dealing with stuff, you know life. Trying to figure it all out, when  I finally realized there are no clear answers. This was the first post I shared on Twitter just a little over a week ago. Then onto Instagram and my Facebook page.
(PS – I would love to meet and get to know each one of you on those media platforms also. Follow me and I promise to follow back!)
Anyway, I got tired of pretending. Pretending and hiding behind the smiles and the words that never seemed to mean anything to me. Even if they may have meant something to others, so I stopped sharing. But I never stopped writing and those closest to me have stood by me, letting my silence linger and for that I am grateful. They make me stronger. You all make me stronger and I hope you will forgive me for dropping out for a while to find my way.
I now want to send out ripples, to reengage if you will, although I don’t yet know to what level. I realize that maybe if my posts, my words, my images, or just my presence touches one heart, … well it’s all worth it. That may spark them touching someone else and so on and so forth. That is the ‘ripple effect’. So, rise up mighty warriors it is time to seize the day!

The Truth About Death, It Matters!

There is death. And whatever is matters.
And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say birth does not matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch?
She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn? 

~C.S. Lewis  ‘A Grief Observed’

remeber069The passage above from the C.S. Lewis book ‘A Grief Observed’ is haunting and oh, so true. There is death and it matters. I have read this book many times, losing count since reading it for the first time in 1993, shortly after the death of my first wife. This small book has given me comfort and assuaged my grief in entirely different ways each time. Every reading has found me at a different stage in the grieving process and my life. Much of my poetry deals with life, death, dark, light, faith and belief and I have also written about this subject over the years, here are a few.

So if you are ready, I invite you to plunge down the rabbit hole with me. 🙂 Take a deep breath for there is nothing to fear.

April of this year, 2016, will  mark 23 years since she died at the age of 27. I was left alone as a young man with a suitcase full of dreams which I believed that most would never come true. It was and still is time to create and pursue new dreams, which I have attempted to do over the past 23 years. With many setbacks and failures but also a lot of successes.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~C.S. Lewis

I am very happily married to a wonderful and beautiful woman (Carri, who I urge you to follow at Grace For My Journey) who loves me in spite of me and we have an amazing young daughter.  You may have seen some of the horse riding videos of my daughter that I have posted here or on Facebook and Instagram. If not, then I would be honored to have you follow me on both of those accounts and Twitter too! 

Ok, end of the shameless self-promotion! Further up and further into the rabbit hole!

I am doing things I never thought I would, but sometimes I cannot help but wonder; is it better than it could have been?  Nonsense questions, maybe, but I don’t know.

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. ~C.S. Lewis

I was there to the end when she took her last breath and I live with the hard truth that there was nothing I could have done that would have saved her. My life now is different and very amazingly good most days. I am happy and realizing despite some lingering survivors guilt; that life, this life, my life is okay and that is simply life and it goes on. Does that make any sense?

Anyway back to the passage above.  C.S. Lewis is right; death matters, to all of us.  Our own and others death,  is inevitable no matter how much we may choose to ignore it. We are all touched by this for if we chose life we will also chose death at some point. It is not an option to have one without the other. We ignore death and its consequences, remaining in our ignorance seemingly unaffected or touched by it until one day it will come up and smack us painfully in the ass!

I have never had an encounter where I could say without a doubt that I was visited by a spirit, ghost, apparition, angel, demon or whatever you want to call it of my dead wife. I have had few dreams and prayed hard for some small assurance that she is okay, nothing just silence from God and the simple phrase ‘trust me.’  Which I still struggle to do and yet my faith encourages me to have hope and just believe.

I have those moments where I stand at the abyss of what is and what was and what could be or have been, it seems easy to make a choice to throw it all away and to search for her in all the ‘vast times and spaces’ of the night-time sky if only to selfishly comfort myself in this world. But as CS Lewis says, ‘I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch. She died. She is dead.’ Not passed away or sleeping but dead. See the words are not that hard to say.

I distrust all those who say they have been visited by loved ones who have died. Really? How can you prove that? How can you prove love, we know it when we experience it but …? So I live with my desires both for this world and the next.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. ~C.S. Lewis

Maybe we cannot find the dead nor can they find us? We remain separated by the unknown, a vast undiscovered. We drift here in the physical realm easily disconnected from the spiritual realm. Maybe when we die physically and enter into the undiscovered that is when the beloved dead who preceded us will then find us?  A glorious reunion I choose to believe, what do you think?

If you could have seen the end from the beginning would you have chosen a different path? I leave you with this, yes, another C.S. Lewis quote; now go forth seize the day, live intentionally and remember you matter!Triggers