When Dots are Wrens

Last week Mary Kay wrote about connecting the dots, an important awareness for living a fuller, richer life, in my experience. Sometimes dots connect quickly and sometimes it can take years. In my case it has taken me 50 years to connect one of my first dots. ​This early dot came in the form of Marie Killiea’s book, Wren. I discovered this book on my school’s library shelf, and I was initially attracted to its cover: a sweet little wren tenderly held by a little girls with a golden retriever looking on. I felt an immediate connection as I began to read the story of a family anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new baby. As an eight year old, I already had 4 younger siblings. If you asked me what my favorite childhood memories were, it would be the days my mom and dad brought a new baby home from the hospital–and I was lucky enough to experience this eight times. I truly love babies and I can still feel the joy of the days my parents brought home my siblings or the days I brought home my own children. In this story, the baby was born early and had to stay in the hospital for several months. The story is told from the older sister’s perspective, and I could relate to her yearning to meet and hold her sweet baby sister. The family nicknamed the baby Wren, as she was tiny and was born with cerebral palsy, and seemed fragile like the bird. Despite her size and fragility, Wren was courageous, friendly and listened with her bright eyes and whole body. As the older sister Marie, was happiest when she was helping Wren. She helped with Wren’s daily therapy, taught her to sit up and finally, when Wren was five; Marie helped Wren learn to walk with her leg braces. With each new accomplishment, Wren’s joy became Marie's joy. The story also portrayed supportive parents who worked well as a team. The father prayed for perseverance and personal strength to help Wren and his family. The mother was devoted to her family and sang to Wren during her physical therapy sessions. I also loved the mother’s willingness to allow a menagerie of pets in the house ​Wren was the first book I could not out down. When my teacher asked the class to put away our library books to go to lunch, I couldn’t. I skipped lunch that day to spend more time with my new friends found in the pages of this book. I connected to this story in a deep way. As I began my journey to rediscovery, I started to journal and began to revisit old memories and jot them down. This book was one of my first memories that surfaced. I wondered what was it about the story that remained so clear after 50 years. What was it about that book that struck me so deeply? Did this story offer me a mirror to show me who I was, or a looking glass to show me who I could become --or both? For the past two years as I have began to look within and pay attention, wrens show up frequently. I believe they are there to show me I am on the right path—the path I started on at eight. For example, my friend Jodi Peltier shared her dream of building a health and wellness retreat center. We share this dream, but Jodi has thought about it for years; in fact, she has even named it. I asked her for the name, and she said “Wren”! The synchronicity or dot connections do not stop there. As I was looking for an illustrator for my book Address to Your Heart, my daughter in law Ellen lead me to the beautiful paintings done by Ara Elizabeth. I fell in love with her work immediately, but we sealed the deal when I discovered Ara has an eight-year-old daughter named Wren. To honor my trust in following where wrens lead me, you will see a wren on my book’s cover and throughout the book. As I continue to connect the dots in my life, I see the connections create an illustration --an illustration I could only dream about when I was 8 years old--but it is my self portrait. For more thoughts and reading on connecting the dots from your childhood you may want to read Stephen Cope’s book, The Great Works of Your Life. He helps readers unlock their purpose to lead a more fulfilling life.

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