The Balm

As I’ve mentioned before, my subconscious doesn’t trust me to get the meaning of dreams. So my dreams are usually ‘hit-me-over-the-head’ obvious.

Here’s a prime example from a couple nights ago.

I was in an old car with a friend and she was driving. We were in the middle of a nasty swamp, with deep dark water flooding into the car. I knew we were going to sink, but she said we would be fine, even as we were going under. She kept her foot on the gas and the car continued moving, but when we got to the edge of the swamp, there was a high fence trapping us. She didn’t stop, and drove right through the wall, breaking it down and allowing us to get out to the other side.

Yeah, nothing subtle about my subconscious.

I’m going to see that friend in a couple days.

She is dealing with the two-year anniversary of the loss of her son.

My sister passed away in January.

I’m sure we’re going to share grief and probably tears. But knowing her, there will also be laughter and stories, and I’ll leave, having come out on the other side, at least temporarily.

She’s amazing that way.

I’m bringing her a couple jars of Balm of Gilead that I made this past weekend. It’s a salve made from cottonwood buds steeped for a long time in a carrier oil. Beeswax is then melted into it to the consistency you want for the salve.

Last year on a damp day in late fall/early spring, this friend and I went out into the trees and collected cottonwood buds. Being, at the time, the first-year anniversary of the loss of her son, we shared tears and laughter and stories out there in the woods. Those buds went into the salve I’m bringing her.

It’s almost time to go back for more buds to start the process for next year’s balm.

The dictionary defines ‘balm’ as something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect. ‘Balm’ is also defined as a fragrant ointment used to heal or soothe.

I see both definitions at play in my world at the moment.

The balm of a fragrant ointment sitting jars like little pots of spring sunshine.

The balm of friendship, also like little spots of sunshine in that dark swamp of grief.

Breaking down the wall and coming out the other side.

That’s us.

With the help of those who love us.


Blurry little pots of sunshine.

6 thoughts on “The Balm

  1. You lost your sister this past January? I am so sorry, I noted a heaviness in your words. But did not say anything. Much love to you and your family. My husband has mentioned the cotton wood buds but do not know where they are on this large property! I guess he is going to have to show me, because i really want to make this!


    • Thank you. And you’ll be glad you gathered the buds because it’s super easy to make. The longest part is waiting as the longer the buds are in the oil the more time the resin has to infuse it.


  2. I love this piece so much.
    The day we spent talking was wide ranging and healing like the balm of gilead.
    Grateful for this friendship


  3. Wow that dream was about as subtle as a sledgehammer. I love seeing the fruits of your labor, I remember that post about collecting the cottonwood buds. I just learned of your sister’s passing on the last post I read (a future post as I’m working backwards) but again, my heart is with you even now.


    • Thank you. We knew her death was near and we had time to say our goodbyes, but it hit me harder than I expected. Thought I was prepared but I have since learned that it doesn’t really matter if you are prepared or not, to grief. Plus I think each new loss reopens past loss so it becomes a layered grieving.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s