Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014: a love letter

Soft white curtains hang at the windows and through them, light shines.  Today, the air wafts in too, because we’ve been given a break from the oppression of humidity and extreme heat.  And just beyond the front porch, crepe myrtles are in full bloom.  Hot pink blossoms are doing a slow dance in the breeze and I revel at the way the window is filled with light and color.  I call them myrtles, like they are dear old friends who gather for brunch on a Tuesday morning, wearing gaudy hats and one too many spritzes of perfume. 

Last night, after we said good night to the children, we caught the end of the sunset from the porch swing.  It’s my belief that if the sun is going to set each night with a grand display of artistry, then it should be acknowledged if only for a moment.  Our street is bordered with large trees and uninspiring power lines interfere with the view.  We are given but a portion of the sky, where the trees part, so a portion we will take. 

We rocked slowly with the sleepy street below, where its people full of oddities and issues, linger behind walls and windows.  We once thought it would be something of a circus, when we met our quirky neighbors who played the roles of cat ladies, drug dealers, and the rough-around-the-edges-and-everywhere-else-too resident grumblers.  As it turns out, we’re the only ones they like and thus, reap the benefits in bags overflowing with garden harvests.   An occasional firefly pierces the dusk and we are at ease together, in the real and transparent place of knowing and being known. Laughter is sweet, deep, and rich, ripe with exhaustion and appreciation for all the blessings and responsibilities of this life.  And something finds us in the quiet, in the closeness, the questions we still ask, the dreams we dare to dream that have not yet been birthed or eroded with time and its practicality.  The ones we’ve asked from the beginning and perhaps until the end.  The life we’ve collected is woven into the words and pauses, our matching heartbeat of adventure sounding in unison echoes in the silence. 

A tall, five-year-old boy wearing pajamas and a hat cracks appears at the front door with a stuffed crocodile in hand, to let us know that he was just telling his crocodile that they were going on a trip to the moon, in outer space, which is where the aliens live, but he didn’t know the names of the planets with aliens and so he needed us to tell him.  Is that okay that I came out of my room to ask you, he says, and surely, it must be, so we mention a few planet names and satisfied, he returns to bed.  Again, laughter lingers in the warm summer air. 

Another little one stretches and contorts my abdomen, there is little comfort to be found in these last days and weeks before her arrival, save hot fudge sundaes and nightly foot rubs.  What have we gotten ourselves into, we ask.  It’s a question that needs no answer, but we respond in playful blame and banter as we consider the days ahead. 

It’s a beautiful madness, our wandering tale.  Our hearts beat strong with love and bold dreams and unwavering adventure.  Our minds and bodies are tired with its responsibilities and realities.  But, it’s ours, together and that’s the thing.

Oh, let us acknowledge the adventures of today and ponder those of tomorrow.  Let us face life with courage and hope, knowing we never desired easy and dull.  May we always ask questions and never stop.  May we laugh in the dusk of summer and winter snow— even when our laughter betrays our exhaustion (and that fact that we have no idea what we’re doing).  And in that comfortable space of being known by each other, let us dream, always.

Another day ends as the lights of our sleepy street flicker on to keep watch.  We move about, filling water glasses, closing blinds, and re-covering little ones with blankets that have fallen to the floor. 

And again, tomorrow.

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

where a soul can breathe

I am weary and want to collapse in defeat, of lost sleep and timing beyond my control, and the responsibilities that come with these gifts I’ve been given.  Wanderlust and my restless self are met by the last weeks of pregnancy and the blazing inferno of a southern summer.  It’s a combination big enough to make me tremble, but I try to solider on, until the dark hours when I toss and turn, wanting to scream for relief to fall upon my aching body. 

Tired.

Of waiting.

Of losing sleep before I will lose more in the months to come.

Of carrying these dreams that roar into spaces too small.

Of not knowing the why and how of today.

Of waiting.

So, I pour all these words into the pages of my journal, where thoughts are prayers, most earnest prayers.

The wanderlust begs for going and doing and seeing. Life requires that for today, we stay and be and wait.  My every part aches with the promise of new life.  I must wait in expectation for the day, beyond all my control, beyond all my ways.  It will come, yes, and all the speakers of clich├ęs will throw their words around and they do nothing for me, but stir the fight inside. 

And after a tragic night of sleep lost, I want to weep under the weight of it all and I do, then a few hours of respite come and two gracious children allow me to ease into mothering on this Monday.  I see no other option, but gather supplies and paint.  If I will not stand before the crashing waves, if I cannot bring my restless before the restless of the sea and there be still, I must. I must meet him today. I cannot do this day without, because my soul longs to breathe, and it needs a space to roar and be held by the one who knows. 

Before the canvas, I watch the paint run in thick, watery streams, falling down, down, collecting on the drop cloth.  I sweep in passionate strokes, honest of prayers and in doing so, the heaviness is lifting. Restless finds shelter in the words of the song I hear, as the colors grow.

My life is yours/ My hope is in you only/ My heart you hold/ For you made this sinner holy/ Your glory is so beautiful/ I fall onto my knees in awe/ And the heartbeat of my life is to worship in your light/ Your glory is so beautiful. (Your Glory- All Sons & Daughters)

He says, come who are weary, so I splash my weary on the canvas and watch the greens, yellows, and blues come alive.  And I remember that these restless ways have been entrusted to me, by him alone.  I remember that the roaring dreams and wild questions, the insatiable search to look deeper, to know, to seek—this is who I am.  And who I am… is weary.  Weary of the responsibility of these gifts. Weary of the waiting.  Weary of the way they don’t always mesh with the routines and rhythms of each day, of each season… this one, especially. 

These most beautiful lives, full of potential, requiring such attention to growth, encouragement, and understanding. Daily, we pour into who they are and who they will be, vessels waiting to be filled with whatever we offer.  And I long for them to know a world, so rich in meaning, beauty, and truth.  I roar my prayers for them, for all of us, into the silent spaces of dinners, play, discipline, and time.  How do I show them, that life is beyond a simple existence, bigger and more beautiful than gathering and striving on this covered earth, things and status and security.   And how I long to collect my little tribe and say, darlings, let’s away, the big world awaits and we must tell our story.  But, sometimes, my soul doesn’t find space to breathe in the now and the waiting and I feel heavy under its weight. 

Today, I cannot carry it.  Come all who are weary,  and I do.  Covered in paint, shifting in discomfort in the hard chair, I continue. And from the kitchen, I hear my children happily play together in imaginary lands, a gift, indeed.  I am weary, meet me here, I say.  My soul longs for space to breathe, I can not carry the roaring inside, I say.

Come all who are weary, he says.

The painting evolves. I am emptied out and held by the one who knows.  In a moment, I attempt to paint in a style I don’t do well.  Realism is not my strength, I know. I admire the skills of those who can, but I know my strength lies in a representation, an impression of what is.  And I fear that all my hard work has been lost to a rather awful looking mountain, an actual mountain in the way of what was a beautiful color-washed sky. 

But, in the nature of watercolors and I’m sure the nature of God, I take a cloth, dabbed in water and begin to wipe away the strokes. This could be another mistake, but little by little, the mistake disappears and what remains is something I never set out to create.   I continue to smear and wipe away so many of my deliberate strokes, finding that under the layers of all my hours and intentions, is a work of art that tells our story.

I am humbled and breathless.

I know it’s done, because the artist knows.

And he says, oh my darling restless one, look, there’s room to breathe here.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

on a tuesday and something about curry

The setting was the dinner table, where evening meals are entirely blissful and quality moments of happiness.  A place where young children always eat their dinners without resistance.  It’s downright magical, these things called family dinner, it’s nearly enough to make adults cry warm, beautiful tears of joy. 

Or… uh, no.

Allow me to introduce the cast of characters for our story of the hour.  There is a daughter, lover of all foods, especially tomatoes, ketchup, and pickles.  There is no food that can’t be dipped into a nearby condiment. Apples in ranch.  Apples in hummus. She’s a mess, eating is a whole body experience and she spills her drink 80% of the time.   And the boy, he’s older, months away from turning six.  When he was a baby, he refused applesauce and all green vegetables; to this day, the same applies.  There is, under no circumstance, a good reason for a food to by covered in a sauce-like-substance, and any sort of combination dish is out of the question. Ketchup has recently become acceptable, but only when dipping. Never squirt it on a hot dog.  And as of Saturday, yes, this past Saturday, June 21, 2014, he has decided to eat his cereal with milk.  Cereal with milk. 

For a long time, we’d allow him to eat something different, because if parenthood is about picking your battles, we picked other ones.  Then, we tried the whole, “you aren’t getting up from this table until you eat at least one bite of _________.”  And that obviously turned into a battle of wills and in the end, is it really about nutrition if he finally surrenders and eats one black bean?  Who wins here? No stomach is filled, no energy remains. Everyone hates the black bean.  And the dear boy with his gentle spirit also has the stubborn will of one thousand angry horses.   Oh, parenthood, so rich with opportunities for life lessons.

Well, I don’t know what changed, maybe being a million weeks pregnant, maybe running out of fruit and yogurt faster than any family should, we decided it was time.  He was getting older and with great freedom comes great responsibility…or it was time to learn that he couldn’t always eat what he liked and he couldn’t starve AND he had to learn to try new things. THE END. 

We started seeing progress, admittedly, there was bribery.  But, hell, PROGRESS PEOPLE!  And then, we quickly found ourselves playing a numbers game,  it always went like this…

”You have to try this many bites.”

“Is this three bites?”

“No. It’s one.”

A bite.  “Was that enough bites?”

So many opportunities for math lessons here.  (No one likes math.)

And on and on and on…

That game got old, faster than fast.

There was tweaking. 

Which brings us tonight. When that boy sat down at the table and asked what was in the bowl. It was a vegetable curry with summer squash, in a separate bowl from the rice, naturally.  (Baby steps.) Matt and I exchanged glances, certain this wasn’t going to be pretty. 

And he took a bite.

The heavens stood still. The earth was silent.

He took another bite.

Matt and I looked at each other in disbelief. don’t move, don’t say a word.”  He kept eating as we watched in wonder and then he asked, if he ate enough. When we answered, yes, he looked at us with the same disbelief.  Vegetable curry with squash?  A vegetable covered in a sauce went into the mouth of my son, more than one time.  It’s been a few hours since the event. I’m still not sure it was real.

It’s a Tuesday miracle, I tell you.