In a Pair of Red Shoes

“And if God sees fit to hold me
Anyone that’s ever known me
Know I’d walk the gold streets only
In a pair of red shoes.”

My friend, Colleen, loved red shoes. But I didn’t know this about her until her Aunt Bea shared a story at her funeral.

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SoulCollage® card remembering Colleen.

What a silly thing to say at a funeral, but for “some reason” I told Bea that I loved the beautiful red shoes she had on. Sometimes things fly out of my mouth without any consideration to how they might sound—and today was no exception.  But, of course, there was a reason.

Aunt Bea immediately connected the shoes to Colleen.  Just a few months earlier, Colleen had borrowed those red shoes on an evening when she and her sisters were going out dancing, something they loved to do together.  Aunt Bea commented how much Colleen loved to dance; telling us that Colleen believed when you dance you have to wear high-heeled shoes.  It was a nice story of when Colleen was joyful and doing what she loved most—dancing.  There is comfort in storytelling and remembering.

There was lots of storytelling that day. I had only known Colleen a few years, so it was wonderful to hear about the growing-up Colleen. One of Colleen’s former high school classmates shared how Colleen always did the craziest things—that she loved to wear wild hats and she insisted on wearing red shoes with her First Communion dress when she was just a young child.  Seriously, red shoes?!!  

This seemed no coincidence to me that I heard two stories from two different people about Colleen loving red shoes. Of course, my first thought was of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and how it was her red shoes that got her home.  This became a wonderful image for me to remember Colleen by—she was at home now, dancing with joy in her red shoes! It was a special treat, sometime later that our friend, Joyce, and I saw that First Communion photo at her parent’s home—rows of little girls in white dresses and white shoes, and Colleen in red. I love so much that her mother, Charlotte, let her wear those red shoes.

The red shoes stories are little miracles to me—touch points for remembering Colleen.

colleen red shoe
A red shoe: a gift from Joyce to remember Colleen.

Knowing Colleen felt like a miracle from the moment we met (at a silent meditation retreat…but, oh my, could we talk up a storm!) but these divine coincidences continue to happen even 14 years after her passing. They come in dreams or conversations, images or stories—Colleen is ever-present.

Today is Colleen’s birthday.  It’s also the same day as the Feast of St. Scholastica, which is a whole ‘nother story.

colleenEvery year on Colleen’s birthday, I share some of that story in a blog post. My mind, heart, and spirit are especially with Colleen this day, remembering. I get a message from Jeff, her husband, who shares one of the last photos of her when her hair was long. He remembers too. There are happy and sad tears, as music from the Grammy Awards plays in the background. And then…

This song came on.

Red Shoes by Dolly Parton

“I remember as a child / I was absolutely wild / ‘Bout some red shoes that my aunt Lucy wore / She would let me stomp around / In those high heels up and down / ‘Round the house and ’round the wraparound porch

And from that moment on / I’ve had a pair of my own / They make me feel at home and brand new / They build my confidence / As if they’ve been heaven sent / I feel alone, I’m puttin’ on my red shoes

I begged mama, “Pretty please / From the wishbook order me / A pair of red shoes for my feet”, so mama did / Through the years I’ve thought about / Aunt Lucy’s love and think of how / Such little things in life can make or break a kid

I believe that every child
Needs to feel a sense of pride
And someone to love and guide and see them through
So many miles I’ve traveled
Many times they’ve come unraveled
On the road both smooth or gravel
But I’ve made it through, ooh

Hell and half of Georgia / Or walkin’ through New Orleans
Walk the streets of Memphis bowlin’ / Stroll around a block or two
And if God sees fit to hold me / Anyone that’s ever known me
Know I’d walk the gold streets only / In a pair of red shoes

And if I ever get to heaven
And Lord I hope I do
I will walk the streets of glory
I will tell my Lucy story
And walk with her in red shoes

Colleen continues to bring her light in the world through little miracles….and how can I not believe that she is dancing for joy on streets of gold in her red shoes!

Related posts:

Suicide: That Voice In Your Head is a Liar

Circle of Friends: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.

Dear Super Blue Full Moon behind the clouds

Dear Super Blue Full Moon behind the clouds,

Dear Super Blue Full Moon behind the clouds, I know you are there even when I can’t see you, just like my loved ones who have passed on.

On this night of the Super Blue Full Moon (that I am sure is happening behind the clouds), I am reminded of a very special Full Moon experience eight years ago (thanks to Facebook memories…how else would I remember?)

Eight years ago tonight, a six-year vision came full circle when my friend, Joyce, and I facilitated a retreat for some special friends. It was a dream we had from the beginning. We wanted to create a safe place for women to share their spiritual journey—we called it our Circle.  We wanted to reach out to other women, to share our passion for seeking God and experiencing the Divine in our everyday life.

It didn’t happen quite the way we expected. Our friend, Colleen, was a part of our journey as well.  But Colleen had some demons that we were unaware of. When she took her life, we wondered—what kind of spiritual support group are we? How could this happen? How could our spiritual, compassionate, beautiful friend not want to continue this journey?

joyce-colleen-jodi-collage
Joyce, Colleen and me at St. Benedict Center.

This, too, was part of our spiritual journey—the grief, questions, doubt, hurt, anger. But we shared it all together. When we came out the other end of healing (if that is really even possible), we knew we needed to have the retreat that we had all envisioned.

After several years, we did. I am grateful for the women who joined us on the journey— on that first retreat and also as part of our Circle that still meets monthly.

Joyces house 2018
Our Circle–January 2018–we read The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I’ve continued to lead retreats using the name SoulFully You. It’s been such a gift to introduce others to the many ways to pray, especially using creativity and the power of images through the SoulCollage® process.

“When we embrace our creative spirits and learn to express ourselves creatively, we feel inspired and alive.  Creative and passionate expression is essential to the feminine soul.  Sometimes our creative fires get turned down, burn a little low, and even smolder, but the sparks can be rekindled and ignited.”— Moon Mother, Moon Daughter Janet Lucy and Terri Allison

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I thank God for the sparks in my life, my Circle, my friends. My eternal gratitude belongs to Colleen, whose idea it was in the first place to start a Circle. Her spirit lives on. We are a Circle that has no end.

“Friendship is the linking of spirits.  It is a spiritual act, not a social one.  It is the finding of the remainder of the self.  It is knowing a person before you even meet them.  I am not so sure, then, that we so much find a friend as it is that friendship, the deathless search of the soul for itself, finds us.”  The Friendship of Women, Joan Chittister

Dear Super Blue Full Moon behind the clouds, I know you are there even when I can’t see you, just like my loved ones who have passed on.

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Full Moon, January 2010.

The Right Book at the Right Time: A Divine Encounter

“Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth, what a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.”—Annie Lamott

I believe the right book comes along at just the right time.

As both bibliophile and believer in a God of surprises, how could I not? Whether at home or away, SolariumI always have a book, or ten, by my bedside. I like to have choices. I have dozens of books on shelves I want to re-read (and do) (and will). I also have dozens of books that I haven’t read yet. So when I go away, I pack 3 or 4 to choose from depending on my mood.  When I’m at St. Benedict Center, sometimes the books don’t even leave my suitcase; instead I let Serendipity choose for me. I go into the solarium, peruse the book titles and wait for one to speak to me. And the right book always presents itself. There is never a wrong choice. Continue reading “The Right Book at the Right Time: A Divine Encounter”

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