POETRY/ESSAYS/SHORT STORIES

I was honored to have my story included in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable, released on September 26, 2017.  This true story is a reminder that, though our loved ones may move on from this planet, they’re still very much with us.

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Reaching Out

I started volunteering for hospice because I wanted to give back. When my dad was sick, hospice helped him and my family through it. Nearly ten years after he passed away, living in a new city, I found myself searching for something to feed my soul. The local hospice residence was only five blocks from where I worked, so I signed up as a volunteer. A couple of times a week, I’d leave the office at the end of the day and head over there, never knowing what to expect from my visits with the dying patients. Talking with a dying person has always come easy to me, and it’s an honor to be a part of something so sacred.

Making my rounds, I’d stop into six or eight rooms per shift. If the patients felt like talking, I’d pull up a chair and chat a while. If they needed help with a meal, adjusting their bed, or making it to the bathroom, I’d do what I could for them. And if they wanted to just sit in the quiet, I did that, too. Some people aren’t comfortable in the quiet, but I spent many evenings simply “being there” for several hospice patients. Sometimes, there’s no need to talk. Sometimes, there are no words.

In high school, I cared for several children as a way to earn spending money. I grew really attached to Kimberly, a ten-year-old with muscular dystrophy, who had to have several surgeries and was often wheelchair bound. And, in recent years, I’ve helped raise a boy who has Down syndrome and is autistic. He’s non-verbal, but he has no problem communicating. He has his own language.

I’ve always felt comfortable providing care for others, and I enjoy it. And that’s why I came to a crossroads in my life. I was wondering if I should pursue a new job working in suicide prevention training. It would pay much less than my current office manager position, but I would be doing worthwhile work. And I was wondering if I should continue my hospice work, because I found myself spending more and more time there.

I’d been praying for a sign for weeks, looking for guidance for the next step in my life. And then one Saturday morning, I awoke from a dream about my dad.

He was lying on the couch where I’d seen him so many times during his illness. His hand was outstretched, reaching for me. As I drew closer, he said, “I want you to continue to reach out…”

I tried to pull myself together after that emotional dream. That day, I was scheduled to go to the home of a weekend client, Patricia, to work on some financial reports. Working with numbers would be a welcome distraction.

Knowing that Patricia is an empath and highly sensitive to others, I purposely avoided her when I got there. I knew she would feel my sadness. So I spoke to her briefly, and then headed straight into the office. The desk faced the corner of the far end of the room. When she stood in the doorway to tell me she had to go shower and then go to a meeting, I was relieved. I wasn’t in the mood to make small talk. Never turning around to face her, I simply said, “Okay.”

I tried to get lost in my work, but in what seemed like only moments later, she was in the doorway again. Still facing the computer, I was confused when she said, “I think I got a message for you last night.”

I couldn’t imagine who would call her house, looking for me. Without turning around, I simply asked, “What?”

She came into the office and sat in the other chair. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that her hair was wet. She apparently had taken her shower and come right back downstairs. She said, “I got a message for you, and I think it was your dad.”

Instantly, I turned around, and facing her, again I asked, “What?”

She explained that as she was lying in bed the night before, she sensed a male energy in the room, and she knew that it was attached to me somehow.

My head was spinning as I tried to wrap my mind around what she was saying.

She explained further. “I sensed that it was your dad, and he wanted me to give you a message. He said that you are to continue to reach out.”

I was stunned. Her words took my breath away. Tears filled my eyes at the thought that my daddy could reach out to me through others, and that the message was identical to what he’d told me in my dream that very morning. The answer to my questions about my life and career came through loud and clear, from my dad, twice in the same day!

© Sunny Stephens

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Whether We Walk or Crawl
———————————————–
b I r t h

Your spirit awakens
. . . as a newborn child
and waits timidly for the chance
. . . . . to unfold its wings and emerge
. . . . . . . . a new creation from the potter’s wheel

The days go by and then the years
. . . each moment coming closer to the reason
. . . . . for being

Your spirit calls out to another
. . . and with hands outstretched
. . . . . two souls take flight
eager to make the journey as one

Your starpath guides you
. . .  as you make your way through
. . . . . the valleys and the mountains
. . . . . . . . and eternal moments of rain and sun

As time stretches onward
. . . your burden becomes heavy
. . . . . your wings struggle to carry
. . . . . . . . all that you have learned
. . . . . . . . . . . and all you have become

Fragile moments bring life’s last breath
. . . sending you on to your next journey
As you soar through the heavens
. . . another spirit weeps and can only wait
Till the next chapter begins

Your spirit awakens
. . . as a newborn child
and waits timidly for the chance
. . . . . to unfold its wings and emerge
. . . . . . . . a new creation from the potter’s wheel

©Sunny Stephens / 03-26-95
(posted on 02-18-14)

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GRATITUDE

There is a day in this country set aside for giving thanks, yet every day I try to express my
appreciation for life and love and all that comes with it

My heart is full of gratitude for the friends who see me for who I am,
know my heart,      and stand by me as I stand in my truth

And I am grateful for the lessons learned from the disillusionment of
relationships that no longer serve me
and for each step of the unabashed movement toward my    higher purpose

I am grateful for the realizations in the aftermath that
nothing is as it seems
and that sometimes reality is merely an illusion

I am thankful for the liberation that comes with letting go, with no ill will
only appreciation for the time spent on that particular path
remembering that without honest and sincere communication –
the foundation upon which relationships are built        and maintained –
there is no real relationship

I am thankful for a year of dreams realized, of unimagined spiritual moments
shared with those to whom I don’t feel the need to explain

I am thankful for the journey to the mountaintop
for the extraordinarily breathtaking display of fall colors in Vermont
reminders of the beauty that is in and around us
humble reminders to keep open our eyes and our hearts

I give thanks for the compassion felt for those who don’t have the capacity
for those who can’t or won’t open themselves enough to truly love
and for the understanding that no one can love us until they truly love themselves

I am grateful for the true friends who love unconditionally
who love through it all and give of themselves expecting nothing in return

I am beholden to the men in my life who have caused my heart to flutter
and those who mangled it and left it for dead
for either way, they cause me to stop to remember the divine feminine in each of us

And I’m glad for the time I had with the most difficult of men
the ones whose anger and rage taught me what I will and will not tolerate

I thank humankind for the daily doses of pain and heartache that come,
sometimes relentlessly
teaching me, again,
that we all have an unlimited supply of patience, tolerance and love

I am thankful for the growth that comes from leaving behind old hurts
and frustrations and fears
old scars from childhood or wounds from recent battles
because it is in the tearing down that we are built back up

I am thankful for the voices of all humanity, and of those on the other side
who talk to me, in the daylight and in my dreams
whispering the secrets of the universe to me,
knowing I will carry them close to my heart

I am grateful for strangers, who upon approaching, aren’t afraid to make eye contact
who acknowledge the divine in me, as I do in them

I am grateful for the children, the tiny messengers of hope,
who reach inside me and touch my heart and awaken my soul in ways that
bring  me  to  my   knees

I am thankful for the memories of all my friends and enemies, here and on the other
side,
because the time they gave me and the lessons they taught me
will forever be part of me, part of who I am to be

I am thankful for the dark times and the tears that have come in the night
silently slipping out of their bottomless well, reminding me that I’m human

I can’t express enough gratitude for my family, who, though I don’t see them often
remind me of where this journey began, who recognize themselves in me,
as I do in them,
and who remind me of the innate potential in every moment, in every breath

I am grateful that I am never lonely, for there are always words to keep me company
words – the gifts given to us to aid in expressing our truest selves
and I’m grateful for the gift of freedom we have in this country to use those words

I am grateful for music, that sweet universal language that often speaks without words,
in times of intense emotion, reaching in and touching the very core of who we are

I thank the universe for the still, quiet moments
those fragments of time that allow communion with all that is and all that will be

And above all, I am thankful for
trust
and faith
and love
and knowing
for these are the things that sustain me
when all else
. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .  . . f a l l s
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . a w a y

©Sunny Stephens  /  11-22-07
(posted on 02-17-14)
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All material contained within this site is ©2014-2018 Sunny Stephens, with the exception of the cited quotes and dictionary definitions. No part of this site may be printed, copied or otherwise reproduced without written consent.

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