Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16, 2015

9 AM.  Light filled the silent room. Three children still asleep after a couple late nights filled with friends, swimming, and treats. Soft white curtains frame the three windows and the ties hang unevenly against the window that is without question set in the sunken wall.  The bricks on the sealed fireplace stand in an understated charm.  Resting below them, a small basket is filled with toys for the baby, but she’s happy to get into anything at all.

Six weeks left.  This house has been a wonderful home with its sweeping porch and enormous second bathroom.  The fenced, mostly private yard for the kids to play.  Our rectangular haven in the middle of the city.  The crepe myrtles that line the street haven’t bloomed yet.  I desperately hope their radiant pink blossoms with bid us farewell before we go.

The neighborhood is as eclectic as ever, noisy, unusual, splashed with quirks and questionable activity. And yet, it’s been a safe and pleasant place to be.  I’m sure Rose and her cats will continue to lurk the streets for many years. Certain residents will always grumble about the neighborhood falling into shambles because of the drug culture.  Ambitious mavericks will come and stake their claim in the up and coming scene.  The family next door will never leave and remain in their chaotic dysfunction.  Who will enjoy the abundant harvest of Warren's tomato garden?  That was a lovely surprise.  And will the debate ever be settled over whose fence is really falling to pieces between this house and Ophelia’s? 

The church bells ring at eleven on Sunday mornings, beckoning all who will come. In the winter, when the trees are bare, the steeple stands tall in the tree line. I think my husband will always suggest we should have attended that old church down the street.  We didn’t.   When we moved to North Carolina, we debated between two cities and the other day as we drove home from seeing friends, he questioned what would it be like if we had moved there instead.  We didn’t, but how can you know such a thing?   It’s not with regret, but pondering as we prepare to march bravely onward to the next chapter. All the things that didn’t happen.  All the decisions that we did or didn’t do.  You can’t change them. There’s no ability to know how these years would have unfolded when loaded with if scenarios. 

So, what has it been?  Important.  Every season is.  Kierkegaard said, Life is lived forward, but understood backward.  Special. For the time and memories made.  Crucial in the pursuit of God and dreams.  Crucial in the formation of who we strive to be. And finally, unexpected, because life always is. 

I’m particularly fond of understanding meaning.  With each move and each new state, I get lost in the wild madness of its significance.  What did we learn?  What did we lose? What did we gain?  What did we become? How do we go forward?

There are things to miss about everywhere.  I miss gathering around Ma Bell’s kitchen in Tennessee. I miss California sunsets and its coast line and all the “carnicerias,” because I love to say the word “carniceria.”  I miss the great lakes and the ten thousand lakes of Minnesota.  The culture of Minneapolis.  Those particularly divine pulled pork tacos at the farmer’s market. The wild winds on Lake Superior’s rocky shore.  And now adding to the list, North Carolina’s finest.  The coast, the mountain vistas, the barbeque, the beer, and most of all the handful of people who will be the hardest to leave. 

I don’t pretend to know everything and  I admit it is not always easy to be the ones who have not settled in and found home.  You don’t hear the wild beckoning that roars inside us, the whispers that call us to follow this winding trail for reasons we don’t always see.  And that’s just fine.  It’s a complex and mysterious world. 

My six year old tells a lot of stories.  I started to write one of them down, and this is how it went.

Chapter One- The Beginning.

It starts with a little ending. 

This is a story about a clown dinosaur who meets a cow with horns.  He can protect himself from predators.

He told me that it was going to have lots of chapters.

And that’s kind of genius and true.

 

 

Friday, June 5, 2015

June 5, 2015: all the things

I found my sunglasses in the folds of the stroller, the very last place they could be.  The world was extra bright for those two days, the sun blinding my light eyes. The only sunglasses I could find were a pair with golden glittered rims, a sweet gift from a friend, when we gathered with our families over brunch for dinner and celebrated motherhood with mimosas, donuts, and sparkly glasses.  I put them on and they turned the world three shades brighter on an already dazzling day.  That wouldn’t work.  I gave them to the kids.  When a person walks in a room wearing glitter rimmed sunglasses, a smile is certain.

This Friday afternoon is still, the girls nap and their brother is enjoying his hard earned reward of video games, his favorite time of the week.  My four year old  eagerly agreed to pull the large weeds in the yard for two dollars.  She pulled the wagon around, wearing blue gardening gloves, plucking every last one from the ground.  Finally, she’s acquired the money she needs for that Dora book, she’s been wanting it for months.

The baby is afraid of the grass, so she plays contented on the blanket in the shade.  I know that season won’t last forever, so as she is increasingly mobile, I celebrate that little fact.

I think the big things in life are always suddenly.  Perhaps all the things are gradually coming and going, but there is one defining moment when you vocalize the words. There it is.  Yes, that’s it.

I remember when we lived on Maple street in Tennessee.  Standing in the hallway  of an old house turned apartments, full of character and surely mold.  It had been a long season of job loss, unemployment, endless provisions, and searching.  In that instant, we faced each other, looking deeply for peace, looking deeply for any clues at all.  Let’s go to Minnesota, he said.  Our one year old son slept in his room with floor to ceiling faux wood paneling of the most hideous variety.  We didn’t move and didn’t speak.  The words saturated the air and then peace.  Our searching eyes locked and still, only peace.  Okay, I said.  Okay, he said.  Just a month later, we left the first place that was truly our home, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was time to go and yet, it will always feel more like home than everywhere we’ve been since.  Minnesota for three years.  Next, North Carolina with its own moment, less simple and more ambitious.  Let’s go.  Two years and three months later, it was time for another defining moment. 

For all the things we hoped this place would become and didn’t, it’s alright.  For all the things it has been, they are important too.  I will never regret these years of living near some of my dearest friends, helping in times of need, celebrating life, and gathering for no reason at all. Hands down, that will always be my favorite part of this place. 

And so, it happened in a similar way, when we heard the news that no one wants to hear, we knew then too, we would go.  We would not regret the decision to be near his family as they faced this unforeseen season of sickness.  No one seems to have words to say how they feel or what to do, so I won’t waste any trying.  Life doesn’t always have to be told in words.  Sometimes, life is in the silence or exchanged glances in empty halls. Follow the peace, my friend Stacey says.  I feel peace best in the silence.  Follow the peace.  I think that’s a good story to live.

Life is suddenly.  Suddenly understanding the things you’ll miss: the medical clinic with the nicest people, the grocery store you look forward to visiting, dinner with friends on Thursday night because someone you all love is in town from across the country, and more.  But, they are the sweetness which paints your memories of each place.  There is always something to miss about everywhere and there are always new possibilities.  New coffee shops to love.  New places with amazing pastries.   New connections that will encourage and inspire.  This collected life is a rich one with unending opportunities.

On this Friday afternoon, I set out to read my book.  I read two beautiful paragraphs and then set it down.  I reached for my computer to write.  Not because I knew what to say, but because I could feel all the things that wanted to be said.  And here they are. 

Life is never without a transition, is it? At least, it’s true for me. All the things gradually coming and going until suddenly.  So, here we are again, another move.  Clean out the excess.  Take down the pictures.  Fill the holes in the walls. Survey that which you want to keep.  Realize what you’ll miss. Let go of what you no longer need.  Feel all that this place has been.  Decide that is has been good.  Begin the process of detaching from another set of rooms and walls that has been home.  Linger in the here and now, in the way the light stretches down the hall.  Look forward with a brave abandon to keep living this beautiful story.

 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Anthem for an Army

 

On the evening of my 31st birthday.

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To the artist, the poet, the writer, the dancer, the singer of songs, the one who molds clay, the crafter, and the storyteller, and you with your beautiful trade. 

To the ones who dare to create, to the ones who are almost brave enough to try, and the ones who still seek. 

I write this for you, but also for me.  Today, I almost gave in to the corruption of comparison.  I nearly set foot down the dark path of self-pity, the one that robs us of our spark.  It happens, you know this too?  The creative life is like walking a tight rope, so many tricky steps and such awareness of the risks.  It is terrifying and empowering. And perhaps more than being the path not taken, it’s one greatly misunderstood.

Do not let your scream be silenced.  Your voice is authentic and rare, not to be lost in the chorus of another’s song.  Your words, your dreams, the light in which you see this dazzling world, shine it in the darkness.

The opposition is strong and often deafening. Stand tall with the tools of your trade in hand and fight valiantly the battle against the mundane, the fraudulent, and the ordinary.  Forge ahead knowing that you do not stand alone, but belong to a an army of minds who have dared to change the world.  Among them, the ones we admire today who were so overlooked and unknown in their own time.  Yet, did they not leave their mark?  In song, in colors, in words, in thought.  Carry on.  Climb to the top of the steps they’ve built and keep going.  For together, we are bright.  We dare to believe that we have something to say. Let us illuminate the earth with the gifts we’ve been given.

The rippling fields, the roaring waves, the towering mountains, and more await our noticing eyes.  The souls that live and breathe are our characters. The earth is our scene.  The days are our stage.  Let us splash our hearts across them without fear.  Let us chant our songs and send them riding on the winds that sweep over the land.  Let us fill the empty spaces with colors and stories that tell of hope, truth, beauty and goodness.  Ask your questions. Scream your fears into the thunder. 

When you are empty, stop and be refilled.  When you are lost, close your eyes to see the way.  In confusion, stand under the stars.  In fear, dance to a really good  song.  If your dream is too big, write it down anyway.  And when you are full and spilling over, create, oh please create.

Bring who you are and what you have.  Dare and dream.  Cry and pray.  Mold. Scrap. Sketch. Write. Imagine.  Create, yes please, create!  For we are given these days and we are entrusted these tools.

This place is our cathedral.  Let it burst with light.