Beth Lynne Clewley - Miner Claim
The Power of Seven
Standing in the hot sun, squinting from
the gold dust rising up all around my small, unsteady frame one
would never guess the job I had come to do.
I do not wear heavy soled shoes to protect
my feet, but braces to keep them in proper alignment. I have no
flashlight to guide my steps, no walking stick to aid my balance,
only a walker with two wheels in the front, a basket for collecting
pinecones, and a snazzy red horn that glitters in the sun almost
as much as the gold dust.
It is 1984. I am a seven years old.
Born with Cerebral Palsy, my body hardly seems a sturdy enough vessel
to venture deep into a dark mine and chip away tediously at black
ore to reach a place few can imagine, but at seven years old it
is a place I have seen.
I am what many call a trooper. What I
lack in physicality I make up for in spirit and idealism. I may
not have a miner's frame but I have a miner's soul. Born not being
able to sit, stand, or walk, I learned very young that many a rock
must be lifted, the dust sifted, and the earth moved to reap even
the smallest rewards. While other children scored soccer goals and
ran laps in Phys Ed., climbing out of the bathtub unaided was my
Eldorado. Every milestone, no matter how seemingly small was a huge
victory marked by frustration, tears, hard work, resolve and faith.
Yes, at seven years old, I am a trooper.
Amazingly wise beyond my years, yet full of all of the innocence
and hope that lends its strength to children. Our innocence makes
us unafraid and undaunted.
Standing before the dark mine, with its
boards creaking in the wind and the dank smell emanating from its
entrance that is how I feel…unafraid and undaunted…eager to explore
and uncover…not just hoping but completely believing I will unearth
a treasure of great significance. This is the power of unblemished
youth, dreams given free reign, and idealism captured in the hope
of Eldorado. This is the power and beauty of seven.
The Frailty of Twenty Six
Standing in the hot sun, squinting from
the gold dust rising up all around my less than perfect i.e. flabby
body that has been the subject of more than one New Year's Resolution,
one would hardly guess the job I had come to do. I wear Doc Martens
on my feet in the hopes of arriving as well-equipped for the task
ahead as I possibly can.
It is 2005. I am twenty-six years old,
soon to be twenty-seven. My body is still a far cry from the vessel
it should be to venture deep into a dark mine and chip away at all
the baggage I have collected to reach a place I once could imagine
with ease… but my body is now the least of my worries.
Having brought new life into this world,
worked 12 hour days with a grueling commute to come home, having
tackled sight words and show and tell, while concocting something
similar to green bean casserole, packing lunches, folding laundry,
and still remembering to replace the toilet paper roll in my son's
bathroom, I am confident my body though it may be weary, will hold
up just fine.
It is my spirit, once my greatest strength
that concerns me now. At twenty-six I am not a chipped tea cup or
even a badly broken vase, my very being is a mosaic of shattered
and mismatched pieces that don't seem to fit or close the cracks
no matter where they're placed. There is no glue…no brace or orthodic
to repair the heart.
Standing before the dark mine with its
boards creaking in the wind and the dank smell emanating from the
entrance. I am intimidated. I am afraid It's not so much the monsters
that might be lurking waiting to gobble me up from deep beneath
that scare me, but rather the thought of emptiness.
All my life, through every trial I held
to the promise that there was some meaning, some purpose, some divine
reason, and even if it could not be seen by the naked mortal eye,
surely there was to be a divine reward, a heavenly blessing if one
was patient and dedicated.
Now at twenty-six I struggle desperately
to hold on to that hope. Still wise beyond my years, but also older
than I ought to be and not so innocent, Eldorado seems a far away
fairy tale that I sometimes chastise myself for dreaming of, as
surely it's a way to escape reality. My path is so littered with
broken dreams that to look back is so painful I feel I must physically
hold myself together before my mosaic completely flies apart and
disintegrates, and all that is me, was me, the power of seven is
completely and forever lost.
I know I am blessed beyond belief with
a wonderful man in my life and a beautiful son, and even blessed
with beautiful Hawaii; it makes me feel guilty to hurt sometimes.
Just the same sometimes it seems that
all I had hoped for, once believed in, my career, my ability to
make a difference, the sanctity of marriage and the indestructible
bond of devotion, the strength of family, all of this has moved
to Eldorado. The place I can no longer see, the place I cannot reach,
the place I am now afraid to believe in. For fear there is no reason,
no purpose, no divine reward or heavenly blessing…no gold…
The one discovery I dread to make is
the discovery of nothing. Standing outside the mine in my heavy
combat boots, with my tension-ridden shoulders and heavy heart I
wrap my arms around myself to keep in the pieces. I close my eyes
tight as tears fall and I pray. Dear God, Please give me something
to believe in. Let it all mean something. All the sorrow in my life
please let it mean something. As I take the first step this is the
burden I carry. This is the frailty of twenty-six. ***