Move on Despite Tragedy

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Move on Despite Tragedy

By Shawn R. Jones

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54

My grandmother held three jobs. She worked fulltime at a nursing home in Atlantic City, part-time as a waitress at a local restaurant, and part-time as a home health aide. Although my grandmother was in her early forties, she had just become fully independent. She had enrolled in evening classes to obtain her G.E.D., got her driver’s license, and purchased a used car. Unfortunately, she and my grandfather were legally separated, and with five older children, she was finally able to concentrate on herself.

My grandmother started dating Jerry, a bellhop who worked at the restaurant’s adjoining hotel. He was twenty years her senior and claimed that he too was separated from his spouse. When my grandmother discovered he was still living with his wife, she ended their relationship. Jerry threatened and stalked my grandmother for days. However, no one took his actions seriously, until my mother received a phone call from the restaurant.

“Jerry just shot your mother up!” It was the voice of the sixteen-year-old waitress who worked at the restaurant with my grandmother. The young waitress later told police that Jerry came in the back door of the establishment and shot my grandmother three times before shooting himself. Later, my mother had to identify her mother’s body at the Atlantic CityMedicalCenter. The residual effects of that tragedy affected our family for a couple generations. When I would complain about small things, my mother would say, “Look, my mother was murdered! Save your energy for the big stuff.” As much as I wanted to ask what that had to do with anything, I knew better, and I later learned that it had a lot to do with everything.

As I got older, some of that “big stuff” came just as my mother had promised. Sometimes I felt like I was hit coming and going, but I knew I had to keep going. “Big stuff” will come your way too, but you have to move past it all just like my grandmother’s five children did. From watching them, I learned that death and tragedy are not excuses to give up on life and certainly not excuses to give up on God. All five of them were survivors, and no matter what comes your way, you have to be a survivor too.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your divine strength that helps me cope in a world that can be frightening and unpredictable. During times of mourning, thank You for reminding me of Your gift of everlasting life. It is this gift that keeps me hopeful in the face of death. Amen.

 

Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)

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The Bellhop

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The Bellhop

Shawn R. Jones

The quiet man,

lover, and friend,

who Grandmother

no longer wanted

to love,

had children

of his own and

a wife at home

shot himself

and Grandmother

to curse

some other

family

hauntingly

parallel

to my own.

The Pancake House 1971

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Pancake House 1971

(in memory of Millicent June King)

Warm syrup trailed

veins of knotted wood,

dim bulbs lit

the bellhop’s sly shadow

on tobacco worn yellow

shades of the backdoor,

grease popped

anxiously from iron pans,

and Grandmother balanced

round trays across the floor

toward three shots

that rang red

in the quietness

of morning.

Shawn R. Jones

Reprinted from Womb Rain

(Finishing Line Press, 2008)

Let Love Be Your Goal

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Let Love Be Your Goal

By Shawn R. Jones

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3

 

When most people think of the word love, a slew of thoughts comes to mind, but most people never come up with their own definition for it. People often say “I love you” too soon, too seldom, or too late. Before you say “I love you,” know what you mean. For me, love was  selfless and unadulterated concern for others. Before I read God’s meaning of love, that was my definition based on more than twenty years’ experience as a wife and mother. I love my husband and children purely, unconditionally, and sacrificially.

 

What do you mean when you say you love someone? Do you love your boss, coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends in the same way? I wish I could say that I do, but only God can love all people so evenly and unreservedly. However, I still welcome you to add love to your list of lifetime goals. To help you in your quest to love, here is the biblical description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

Now that you know God’s meaning of love, read it a few times with a few people in mind and ask yourself if you love each of them according to the above description. If you do not love them as described by this definition, you may want to reassess your feelings.

 

Dear Lord, teach me how to love according to Your description. Please help me truly love others unconditionally, purely, and profoundly. Amen.

 

Reprinted from Pictures in Glass Frames

(Ambassador International, 2011)

 

Mail Me a Thunderstorm

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This is a poem I am going to revise over time.  I would like it to be much longer, but I think I will think a bit more on thunderstorms and tainted love before doing so.  Here it is in the raw.

 

Cupped Hands

 

Mail me a thunderstorm

I must sop rain

sip select memories

digest things we do

slurp profane affections

belch thundering pangs

cough up you

 

By Shawn R. Jones

 

**Mail Me a Thunderstorm may be the title of one of my upcoming poetry books.