Sunday, April 25, 2010

More like Jesus

I was in the living room at my parent's house in Houston when my mother handed me the blue Tiffany box. Though it was over twenty years ago, I still remember standing with her and accepting the gift. The red chair with well-worn cushions where my dad always sat was beside me but he wasn't sitting. Dad was standing behind my mother, looking over her shoulder, watching me open the box. Past the white ribbon, under cover and nestled in a blue pouch was a solid silver dolphin, body perfectly formed back to front, arched with tail swish and nosed through a gold ring. The ring was solid gold and perfectly formed as if one could remove the ring and put it on a finger as a bride but the dolphin is the one who had the prize and the ring could not loose.
Of course, I must have said thank you, possibly cried. Instantly, I recognized the pose of achievement. Why wouldn't I see it? I was paddling from the Arctic Ocean to Cape Horn headed for the golden ring. I don't remember other details of the gifting but I do remember a gentle tussle with my mother. "I'm wearing it," I announced. "But it might get hurt," she admonished. "Mom, I'm paddling to Cape Horn," I reminded. "If the dolphin is ruined, so am I."
I paddled the South Atlantic, into Terra del Fuegro, the Beagle Channel with the Tiffany dolphin pinned to my coat. Did my mother know what I only learned today? The dolphin is the totem mammal for the healing professions and ministry. A mother's anointing and confirmation of my call to ministry. At the time, I did not know the spiritual significance of the image. I only saw the dolphin making it look easy while striving, straining, reaching and achieving the golden ring.
So, twenty plus years pass and I have six adopted children. The dolphin rests in my top drawer. One day, I come into my bedroom on the second floor and find a 1/4 inch post of yellow metal on the floor. There were several bits of goldish junk on the carpet and another small piece caught between two floor boards beneath the door. "Someone could hurt a bare foot," I thought as I carefully picked up the debris and threw it away. A few weeks later, I found the dolphin without the ring. There was no doubt in my mind that the pieces and bits had been the ring. One of our children vandalized the gift. I wondered which one of the bunch took my husband's tools ripped and pry ed apart the dolphin's prize and mine.
Working through cancer, it seems to me that the child -- the one never named, the one who would not admit nor accept responsibility set the dolphin free. No longer would the dolphin seek to perform. The dolphin is without necklace, naked, wild and free.

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