[Generally I try to write these articles out of something I’m hearing from our Father and toward some take-away value for someone who might pause to read. Once in a great while, it is just for me… something I simply have to do. This is one of those times.]
If it wasn’t for sci-fi, I may never have stumbled across the word anomaly. I bet at least one anomaly showed up in every, single episode of Star Trek.
Anomaly comes from the Latin, has roots in the Greek, and is roughly translated “inequality”. Broken down, anomaly is built by an (not) and homalos (even). So, at the most basic level, an anomaly is something that is uneven or irregular. [Online Etymology Dictionary]
Dictionary.com provides more than a few definitions for anomaly, including:
- a deviation from the common
- an odd, peculiar, or strange condition
- an incongruity or inconsistency
Their synonym list included: exception
In Wikipedia an anomaly is described, in part, as ‘a failure of a… theory’s classical action.’
There is the classical way something should respond… then there is an anomaly – a response which is just plain different; unlike; an exception.
Forrest Gump was a great example of life as an anomaly. He was a simple guy who found himself in places, making choices, adjusting to realities in such a way that he launched movements, started companies, saved lives, embraced the joy and pain of unexpected friendships… there was the way the world around him responded to the circumstances (classic), then there was his response… an anomaly.
In my research I found this example of anomaly used in a sentence: “If it happens once, it’s an anomaly.”
My mom “happened once.”
If you follow facebook.com/simplymillwood, you know that my mom stepped out of this 3-dimensional world into the mysteries of God’s multi-dimensional-world on August 26th. She did so after a 3-week illness on the heels of a 6 month decline that came after a 3 year disease to which she was vulnerable because of a nearly-four-decade frailty.
Over the years my brother, Mike, and I – our whole family, really, came to expect a lot of “happened once” anomalies with mom. So much so that in the last few months I coined a word to describe her story: an aMOMaly… there was the classic way something should respond… then there was mom.
Americans, including American Church-people, tend to associate smallness with weakness and bigness with good or great (classic).
Mom was always petite, but, in the end, she was tiny. After dad died, Mike and I sat with mom’s primary care physician to try to get our arms around her disease, treatment, medications, and prognosis. He looked across the desk and rather coldly said, “You boys best say ‘good-bye’ to your mom because she won’t live 6 months without your dad.”
That was 13 ½ years ago. Mom was tiny, but she was also tough. Her strength was something otherly.
At each stop on a near-40-year journey mom responded contrary to classic logic – thus, an aMOMaly.
She adapted and adjusted. She did not let failing health and the limitations of residing in a health care center rob her of the potential for growth. In fact, she grew exponentially.
Mom never finished school. But, she grew to converse in an informed manner with anyone about anything from contemporary politics to the space program to Braves baseball to all sorts of meteorological conditions. She had an interest in varieties of birds, plants of all kinds, the peculiarities of squirrels and the cumulative experiences of her expanding family.
Some people around her decided to dwell on the past – live there, really (classic). Not mom. She was an aMOMaly.
To say mom was reserved and shy is an understatement – all the windows in the house where I grew up had pulled-down shades covered by lined curtains. The front door had 3 little rectangular decorative windows. The day we moved into the house she covered them with aluminum foil and left them covered for the nearly 40 years she lived there!
Yet, she started attending concerts; special events; 3 Church services plus a Bible study each week; presentations; programs; partnerships (e.g., with a Girl Scout troupe). It was not unusual for Mike and I to try to reach her by phone for days before finding her schedule slowed enough to make time for the call!
In a place where others retreated to their rooms (classic), she met the world head-on… an aMOMaly.
Mom grew up in Church, was raised by Christian parents, and chose faith in Christ as a young teen. But, by her own testimony, was never really discipled in her faith. In the last decade of her life she started asking questions – really good questions (a sure, fire route to spiritual growth).
She asked her pastor; she asked others who taught at the center; she asked her friends – volunteers, residents, and employees; she asked Mike; she even asked me.
She asked the same questions of many people, listening for the increasingly unmistakable Voice of God through the common threads of responses. She sought clarification when necessary. She contemplated implications. And, empowered by God’s Spirit, she changed her life.
At a time when many around her rested in the religious experiences of their past (classic), she sought face-time with God, here and now. An aMOMaly.
In one of the letters of Paul to believers in Corinth, he described his own anomaly-filled journey, writing, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” [II Cor 4:16, NIV]
That is an anomaly by contemporary standards. Mom kicked it up a notch – an aMOMaly.
While her outside, physical self was wasting away, the inside person – her soul and spirit – was being renewed day by day.
Early in the movie you meet Forrest Gump as a little boy, wearing braces on his legs. He was picked on by other kids for that and other reasons. Once, while escaping a bunch of bullies, Forrest broke free of those binding braces and ran like the wind… the anomaly Forrest showed up. Jenny’s voice echoed through the theater, pulling for him, yelling, “Run, Forrest, run!”
Mom was completely or relatively immobile for very many years. She was in pain every day of her life from the late 1970’s until August 26, 2011. On that day, a little before 7 AM, she broke out of that prison – stood up, stretched, and took off to spend time with Jesus, dad, and a host of others.
Run, mom, run. I’ll catch up later.