Sure was a tough time in my life when transitioning from married life to single life. The refining fire was intense, laden with more trauma than I ever thought I would endure in such a short period of time. Separation, divorce, 5 moves, 4 jobs, 2 injuries, a condo fire, death of 3 family members, and my mother’s cancer story contributed to over-the-top stress. I have so much to be grateful for these days, that’s for sure!
So how did I cope? First my faith in the Lord grew stronger. Second, I needed counsel and found it through a few remaining close friends and a professional or two. Three different support groups related to grief and divorce convinced me that it was not me who was going crazy: my life circumstances were crazy! I began journaling more regularly too. Perhaps if blogging was in vogue in 2004 I would have started mine back then as well. But one of the most useful tools was the smallest: a little spiral notebook in the console of my car . . .
I’m not quite sure where the idea came from to journal in my car. I found a small pocket-sized steno book called the “fat lil’ notebook” and kept it with me for making notes to myself. One day it hit me when I felt completely lost that maybe I needed to write a little something more to clear my head, right there in the parking lot on June 10, 2004. The first entry that I can find went like this:
It’s another parking lot poem this noon
Alas a month later in the rainy part of June.
My new job must end to save my integrity
And the work ethic I’ve carried with me for decades.
So now which way to turn, oh Lord
The great authority and provider of my life?
This makes no sense and yet it does:
To trust you no matter the chaos my days do bring.
For in the end or looking back when down the road,
I’ll see this day as one leaned on faith
And be glad I knew you when and where
I napped in the parking lot before a great swim once again.
Years later it all made sense to me why the parking lot poems were so meaningful to me. When we take a drive somewhere, we park our cars and go into a business or residence of some sort and leave our vehicle for a time. We return later, put our belongings somewhere near us, turn the key in the ignition, and take off for our next destination. The time in the parking lot or driveway is a point of transition from one destination to another. We have completed one activity, gathered our things, and prepared to make our way to the next location. During the short time when we are sitting and stationary, we might have a quick thought about what has transpired (did we accomplish something or did we encounter difficulties?) and think about where we are headed next (how do I get there and who will I see/what will I do there?). The brief moment allows us to re-group, re-gather, re-launch until it’s time to go back home again. This time goes quickly for most folks, I reckon.
That time did not go quickly for me at all. I often got stuck in the parking lot when I was trying to move from one activity to the next. I cannot explain it exactly. I just know that the overwhelming burden of my life at that time made it nearly impossible at times to make transitions, change activities, or gear up for the next item on my “to do” list. Have you ever experienced this Gentle Reader? I just could not move on. I couldn’t even tolerate music or news on my radio as it became like noise in a crowded bus terminal laden with diesel fumes. I would often sit there in my little black race car (aka Honda Civic) in silence for what felt like a long time before I organized my thoughts and initiated the steps to get going again. This is where the Parking Lot Poems changed everything.
Poetry is a looser form of communication than prose. There aren’t as many rules in free form poetry, you can stop and start at any point, and emotions can blurt themselves onto the page in incomplete sentences. It gets the words out quicker, eh? Do you want to hear something else crazy? After that 3-year period of time when writing poetry was such an instrumental tool in coping and healing, I stopped writing poetry. I guess I didn’t need it anymore. Oh I tried a few times but the words simply did not flow freely. No more parking lot poems for me! My favorite poem that was initially written in a parking lot became part of a 9-foot mural on a wall in my home, the one with the custom window treatments I wrote about earlier this past week. I’ll save the story about “The Wall” for another time.
For this early morning writing, I’m just using my newer friend of blogging instead. I am having trouble sleeping this day due to some noxious events. Sure got some good thinking done tonight though and for that I am grateful. Better go park myself back in bed before the sun comes up and try to make a go of sleeping again.
Thank you Lord for your gift of words. Your Word is how we know you and fall in love with you. Hmmmm. Reminds me of a song. May I sing it in my heart to you Lord?