Rhonda Cagle

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

Dark Waters

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm

It’s the cloudy days I love. Gray, overcast skies with clouds that billow and swirl make me think I’m watching the tides of an eternal ocean from the underneath. If I peer intently enough, I might just catch a glimpse of the toes of a sainted loved one wading and splashing in the tides on the sunny shores that lie just on the other side.

These were the thoughts jumbling in my mind as I set off for a quick walk around Friendship Park on a rather overcast day. Rain was threatening but my need for fresh air outweighed my need of staying dry so off I went.

As I walked I took in the sight of empty sports fields, their grasses withered with our Southwest’s version of winter. Come the weekend, the fields would come alive with the energy of soccer and football leagues, but for now the yellowed grasses were a good fit for their barren condition.

Continuing my stride, I made my way to the pond and I stopped to peer into waters darkened by the weather. Usually the Valley’s endless sunlight skims the surface, throwing sparkling diamonds upon the waters like a benevolent king. But today those waters were dark and brooding, their surface still.

My mind turned to several friends who are facing dark waters in a season of life defined by foreboding gray skies. Cancer has claimed a husband and father. His wife and young children find themselves awash in stormy seas, with grief rolling them over and under in its powerful tides. Another friend, self-employed and self-insured – the only provider in her family – has just been diagnosed with cancer. Surgery and treatment and its staggering costs swirl in the waters as dark, cold wetness laps at her soul. Marriages coming unraveled, RIFs and pink slips causing financial crisis, and sons and daughters facing mental illness and addictions evidence the ominous clouds of this winter season.

A mom and her daughter making their way to the edge of the pond interrupted my thoughts and I stopped to watch their movements. With the delighted abandon known only to a young child, the little girl began throwing breadcrumbs to the ducks and geese living in these dark waters. In an instant, the darkness parted thanks to dozens of webbed feet breaking the surface of the waters and moving frantically toward the direction of the child’s shrieks of happiness. She giggled and laughed, watching the gaggle of life swimming and diving amidst a pond of darkness. Oblivious to the storm, she became my ray of sunshine to a gray day of introspection.

I’m determined to be the emotional equivalent of that little girl in the lives of my friends. I can’t change the seasons or the dark waters. What I can do is stand at the edge of the darkness, throwing breadcrumbs of hope and help to attract to the surface the life that still swims amidst watery midnight. That’s what I can – and will – do. That, and look up; knowing if I peer long enough, I’m likely to see the saints and the sunshine that lie just above the clouds.

She Called My Name

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I really tried to ignore her. Like a petulant child with fingers in ears, I mentally chanted, “La-la-la-la-la I’m not listening to you.” But it didn’t matter. She had already spoken my name.

The evening began with me kvetching and moaning about having to leave the house. To go to an art sale. Outside. For five hours. In.The.Rain. All week I’ve been ill with a head cold that instantaneously turned into bronchitis and a sinus infection. It’s 3 ½ weeks until Christmas, the house is only half-decorated, my clients have had multiple emergency projects, and I don’t yet have a single gift purchased so, of course, this would be the week to contract the creeping crud. To add insult to injury, Lorenzo had committed us to helping with this art sale weeks ago, before illness and the insanity of the holidays had blanketed me in diseased despondency.

So…

I did what all good Christian women raised by good Christian women do: I went. But with a lot of grousing and guilt involved.  Which is how I came to meet the lady in question.

The art sale was of prints and paintings by regional artists – some established, others up-and-coming. Although much of the art is raw and edgy, it moves me; containing an energy and passion – at times an anger – that gives voice to the largely immigrant and indigenous artists whose experiences and lives spill out and onto the canvases they create.

Amidst the Dia de los Muertos depictions and colorful landscapes, she commanded my attention. This elegant lady had a regal air that instantly set her apart from the colorful garishness of the other pieces. Immaculatta en Negro had commanded my attention and called my name.

All night, I reasoned against her voice. It’s the holidays and that money can be used on gifts for family. I don’t collect art – my idea of a good find is what’s on sale at Michael’s craft store. And my sure-fire default, Surely Lorenzo will argue against such a purchase during the holidays.

But apparently the Lady had been speaking to Lorenzo as well. He urged me to take her home and make a place for her. Unwittingly, he reminded me of the Orthodox belief about icons… we don’t find an icon; icons find us. So I said yes and found myself bringing home my Lady.

Me watching as artist Gennaro Garcia signs his creation, Immaculatta en Negro I, for me before I brought his beautiful artwork home.

All day long I’ve looked at her as I walk through the room where she’s temporarily residing until I can get her framed and hung. She is beautiful, but that’s not what intrigues me. She, too, said yes to an unexpected encounter – an unimagined opportunity. One minute she was going about her daily life and obligations; the next she heard a voice and listened as an angel presented her with a choice she never thought possible.

My Lady.

My Lady said yes. Because she did, her life was changed. Mine was too.

Looking at my Lady, there’s much to learn from her. I’m glad she asked to come home with me – glad I listened and said yes.

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