There is a phrase I've carried with me for years, a simple few words of Latin that sit in my mind and my heart as a reminder to never give up, to push forward and live with purpose.
Hic Sunt Leones
"Here there be lions." I have looked to these words during every trial, every tribulation in my life. At times when I believed myself at rock bottom they were the words I whispered like a magic spell, the words I whispered to God even when I didn't call it that. Over the years I have found a lot of comfort in that phrase; a solace from the brokenness I have so often felt within myself.
Lindsay Roberts is a friend of Mary Ann's, someone very important to her whom I have been dying to meet. While she was in Charleston on a birthday celebration/visit, we had the chance to spend some time together, to share stories and to learn what piece of our reflections were held by each other. It seems like such a simple thing, like any other connection, but this one is different.
This is usually the place where you wait for me to start talking about what we discussed, to lay the groundwork for the scene of our conversation and bring your mind's eye firmly into the vision I am creating. Truth is, Lindsay has a beauty that radiates deeply from within her heart, from the deepest places in her soul, and radiates around the room. Few people will make you feel so loved in their presence. Fewer still have eyes that cast no judgement on you, or the smile that welcomes you whether in the car, on the sidewalk, the diner or the church.
You haven't gone to a church service, felt that real devotion, until you've sat by Lindsay and heard her call "Come on" to the preacher as he speaks the message. Lindsay lives without fear, but full of love. As we walk down Market Street, she stops a random person who is anything but random to her. She recognizes the woman from Facebook, someone from West Virginia who has resettled here in South Carolina. We spend the next several minutes meeting her and her family. The woman's husband, also a brilliant bald man named Matthew, and I talk about what it's like to live here and when we both resettled.
We all talk about who we want to be when we grow up; well, Lindsay Roberts' heart is the one I want mine to be like when I do and forever thereafter.
Lindsay knows struggle, having lived a life where she has shed far more tears than she has collected smiles and yet she hands those rare treasure out to everyone, because that is the heart of love. Her story is incredible, it brought me to tears. Lindsay has struggled in ways few will ever understand, but she still knows that others suffer and never looks down on the hurt of another, no matter how trivial you or I might find it. Whether you are preaching to others from a prison cell, writing a blog, building a business or just trying to get by one more day on this mud ball we call Earth, Lindsay has you in her prayers, in her heart. That's just who she is, someone who walked through darkness, found the light and wants everyone there.
Lindsay, Mary Ann and I spend a couple of days talking about life, God, love, smiles, cries and a million other topics under the sun. Sitting at the dinner table we form a family because we have chosen to be one. This table is full of unconditional love, we don't spend our time judging each other, don't worry about the roads we used to walk, but instead move forward and live life together for the time we have on this visit. I watch her eyes light up as she drinks in Charleston, from the sights of the harbor to the Angel Oak. We walk and talk for miles, break bread together and craft memories in the first story of this new chapter in all of our lives.
The true beauty of my time with Lindsay is being seen from the eyes of a person who not only knows that they aren't broken, they know that you aren't either. So many of us, human beings you see walking down the street or through the window of a passing car, are really sitting there in spirit, hurting and wanting, reaching our hand out begging for some hope from another. It would be easy for someone like Lindsay to pass by, to hoard the hope she has for herself, to whisper her prayers to the heavens and thank the forces that have delivered her from so much.
It would be easy, but she can't do it.
She can't because her hope is not hers. It's a blessing she shares with the world, without question or downward cast glance, just with an open hand, a loving word and the most genuine smile.
As I write this I think of a world where we adopt one thing from Lindsay Roberts; be it the smile, the kind word, the joy in the spirit of others or any other part of her spirit. I don't wonder what it would be like, not even for a moment. I know exactly what that world looks like, the sounds and the smells of it. It's, simply put, a better world and one we can easily have.
Just ask Lindsay, she knows.
Favorite Dinosaur: Littlefoot from the Land Before Time
Why: He was a gentle giant, the peacekeeper.