Category: Child

Children…Our Hope

Children…Our Hope

simonelipscomb (11)Tonight I spoke to my local community’s cub scout group. We gathered at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel in Magnolia Springs and I shared a video presentation I produced on endangered species of the Alabama coast…specifically sea turtles and manatees.

The boys and parent/leaders were attentive and asked questions and showed a genuine and engaged interest in the message I brought them. It always makes my heart sing to participate in these programs. But it was the closing of their meeting that deeply touched me.

simonelipscomb (14)One of the boys was asked to close with reverence and he offered a prayer. First, he expressed gratitude for the sea turtles and manatees and other animals. Then he spoke of gratitude for our beautiful world. He was thankful for me being able to come and share with them. And finally…well, admittedly I was so deeply touched by his prayerful expression of love and gratitude for nature and our planet and animals that I lost the last bit of what he was saying.

turtle bwVolunteering doesn’t offer financial rewards but having the opportunity to share video footage, still photographs and personal stories of encounters with sea turtles and manatees with children eager to learn and willing to engage with awe of our planet gives me hope. Honestly there are days when I read the news and see the horrible ways humans treat each other, animals, land, plants, the ocean and other water and I feel despair. But this night, I came away with profound hope and that is pure gold to me.

swimmingOn days when we experience sadness, grief, despair and even anger over what’s happening to our beloved planet and all life here, I think the best way to balance those feelings is to pass along our love for the planet to those willing to listen…and especially to children, our hope.

A Child’s Fear

A Child’s Fear

SimoneLipscomb (53)The floats were slowly moving past with beads and moon pies and other Mardi Gras bounty being thrown from their decks. Music filled the air along with a general happy vibe. Then a loud shot rang out and the little boy in front if me dropped to the street and covered his ears. It was only the pirate float’s mini-cannon firing blanks but to the little boy it was gun fire.

SimoneLipscomb (2)Photographing Mardi Gras is great fun. Capturing different faces and costumes is quite a diversion from the nature photography that is my focus. But on this day my attention kept being drawn to the little boy who repeatedly dropped to his knees and flinched whenever there was the sound of a gun during the parade. Admittedly, I was unnerved a bit at first because the crowd was quite large and we all know anything can happen. But once I knew the source of the blasts it was simply an annoyance. For the child, it was anything but that.

SimoneLipscomb (4)Until reaching ten to twelve years of age, a child is in a concrete stage of learning without the ability to conceptualize and gain understanding of what is real and what is not real. So for the little boy yesterday, the shotgun blanks in the cannons were real gun fire. He couldn’t see over the crowd so could not locate the source of the blasts.

SimoneLipscomb (54)Fear was evident in his eyes and face, in his body movements. I finally knelt down and said, “Those sounds are scary aren’t they?” He nodded and his face relaxed. He went back to waving to floats and gathering beads and moon pies.

I can’t stop thinking about him…and all children who live in fear because of an increasingly violent society. What have we done to create a more gentle world? How have our actions or perhaps our non-actions contributed to the anxiety and fear of our children? How can we help make our communities kinder, more nurturing for our youth?

SimoneLipscomb (20)A quote from A Course in Miracles comes to mind: “What is not love is fear.” Lately I have asked some tough questions and with every hard question I ask the answer always points to love.

So…may we collectively find that which keeps us from loving fully and clear it from our hearts and minds. May love continue to grow and blanket our precious young ones. May the example we set teach our children of love instead of hate, of love instead of fear.

A Precious Gift

A Precious Gift

1985....Emily loved the water from the beginning. Wonder why....ha!
1985….Emily loved the water from the beginning. Wonder why….ha!

In less than a week now my daughter will be married.

I have to give that sentence room to breathe. She and Kevin have been together for years but very soon we will be coming together to celebrate their lives and their decision to create a life together. I couldn’t be happier that Kevin is her chosen life partner.

simonelipscombEmily was born at noon on a Monday after twelve hours of labor. As I held her, moments after she was born, I recognized the strong feeling of love that poured through me. Life that had grown within my body was now present and about to be disconnected when the cord that joined us was severed.

But is a mother ever really separated from her child?

When I was pregnant I played piano to Emily and she would kick. I continued the practice after she arrived....
When I was pregnant I played piano to Emily and she would kick. I continued the practice after she arrived….

Whispers of each other’s heartbeat reverberates through the soul as mother and child journey through life. Sometimes apart physically, yet forever joined by blood….and something more. I remember hearing Billy Ocean’s song, Suddenly, while I was in the hospital. “This love is everlastingLife has new meaning to me, there is beauty up above and things we never take notice of. You wake up and suddenly you’re in love.” Holding her in my arms for the first time I knew that I had never really felt love before meeting her.

Emily meeting my Appaloosa pal, Tommy.
Emily meeting my Appaloosa pal, Tommy.

The birth of my daughter catapulted me onto a path of growth. It wasn’t pretty–this clawing and sweating journey to wholeness. No. Not pretty at all. I screwed up as a mother, as a wife and made more mistakes than I ever want to admit to myself, much less publicly confess to, yet my love for Emily never wavered. I credit my precious baby girl as being the catalyst that directed me to my spiritual path.

simonelipscomb (7)Never the smothering mother type, I was able to give my daughter space in which to grow into her potential without undue, un-requested influence from me. I laughingly say I studied counseling in graduate school so I could help her grow up without squashing her spirit.

simonelipscomb (3)She was a strong-willed, precocious kid but in a most charming way. Adventuresome, self-disciplined, driven to do whatever it took to achieve her goals from two to twenty-eight….this is my daughter. Not once did I have to nag her about her school work. The kindergarten teacher’s only complaint was that Emily completed her work too quickly. And maybe that she talked too much. Boredom was her biggest challenge. (Note to Kevin…boredom was her biggest challenge).

Graduation from Auburn University
Graduation from Auburn University

When we went wedding dress shopping in November with Kevin’s mom, my mom, and my niece (her maid of honor) I was totally shocked that I started crying when we walked into the bridal shop. Me? Cry about Emily getting married? I excused myself to the restroom and gathered my emotions into a tidy basket of surprise and the rest of the day went wonderfully. So even though she has been on her own for several years and she and Kevin have already established a loving home together, there is still something about the celebration with 130 of their closest relatives and friends that makes this a big deal…besides the crowd of well-wishers.

simonelipscomb (19)In a couple days I fly to their home to help in the last minute preparations. I have the dress and high-heels, my camera and yes, I purchased waterproof mascara.

simonelipscomb (9)A child is a most precious gift. Thank you Emily for being my daughter. You taught me how to love.

Kevin and Emily
Kevin and Emily