Thursday, May 29, 2014

a porch swing tale of life and surrender

At last, I steal away to the front porch. The children have been warned in all the, err… kindest ways of what will happen if they come out of bed to ask me for something to eat or what we’re going to do tomorrow.  There are seasons of bedtime and this one isn’t on the sweetest end of the spectrum.  Transitions have been rampant around here with my full-time work days wrapping up for now and a 12 days trip that threw us all into one exhausted, jumbled mess of something once resembling a routine. On top of all that they have been missing daddy something fierce because for six months, he was home during the days and now he started a new job and so good glory, I find myself crawling into bed just minutes after them, waving whatever flag says, I surrender.

I understand that transitions are real and they affect us all differently.  I’ll never forget our move to North Carolina, I was going forth bolding declaring my love for all things new and the beauty of change, when those two little ones launched a full-scale assault on all that was sane and holy… and mostly us.  I was beginning to wonder if we had forgotten our own children somewhere on the journey and wasn’t at all delighted in this newer version.  My easy going, happy children had become the nemesis of my existence and I probably, no, most certainly lost my mind.  I got the message loud and clear that from now on, we must tread lightly with these two fragile souls in the waters of transitions.  I’m still not sure how that works.

And did I mention that I’m nearly thirty weeks pregnant with our third and someone is supposed to start school in August, at a location to be determined.  It’s just… a lot.

Tonight as I write this, my husband concludes his part time evening job, five evenings a week and following that we will be entering into this strange and foreign land of having only one job, one of those crazy Monday through Friday, evenings and weekends off gigs.  I barely even knew they existed anymore.  It feels as if we’ve won the life lottery.  Certainly, life won’t slow down, but we’ll be spending more of these beautiful and exhausting minutes together and that makes a world of difference.  Worlds, even.

So, it was on this May evening, that all I wanted was to sit quietly and rather invisibly on my porch swing for just a while.  To let the gentle rocking wash the highs and lows of this full, complex, day, week, season into the grand motion of existence, where certainly, the sun rises and the sun sets and we rest in the promise of strength for today and new mercies tomorrow.  My neighbors returned from a walk and I prayed for the cloak of invisibility,  surely, not one further ounce of conversation was left in my lungs.  Graciously, I was ignored and the soothing began.  

It only took minutes for the sounds of little scampering feet to reach the doorway.  She needed to use the potty.  Twice.  Which is pretty much why I say to use it before getting in bed, but whatever.  Then, he did too, of course.  This was followed by, mom, why are you outside, what are you doing, can we come play? Essentially, the very opposite of stay in your beds and go to sleep.  Alas, my sails held no more wind and they flapped listlessly as I mustered all the last scrapes of something resembling patience for the day.   And with the promise of no longer having to face bedtime alone, I surrendered to everything.  I surrendered my quiet treasure of being alone and role of bedtime enforcer.  Everything.

The air was cool for a hot day, the kind that shouldn’t be missed and a light rain fell on the ground. An occasional firefly illuminated the darkening earth.  And we do have this really great porch swing.  So, instead of uttering once again, get back in bed,  I suggested, get your brother and come sit by me to the bravest one who is small and less afraid of consequences. 

They cuddled their long bodies of elbows and bony shoulders in really close and we rocked.  We rocked.  A soft, nearly invisible rain fell.   Under the canopy of night, the occasion song of birds and miniature flash of light.  I sang in the darkness, all the best nighttime songs.  A million questions interrupted all of the moments, even though they were asked in a whisper.  You sure are thinking about a lot of things aren’t you? I asked. He answered in the way of a thinker with a heavy yet, contented sigh,  yeah, mama, I do think about lots of things.

Little legs folded on each side of me, two heads infringing upon the space in which their new baby sister has taken hostage and we rocked.  There was nothing else to do, no better idea in this tiny shimmer of eternity when life feels to be just, so, everything.  It wasn’t about sacrificing my desires or giving in to their trickery.  It wasn’t some heroic motherly bit.  There is no hidden message about anything at all.

We rocked.  I stroked foreheads and squeezed babies.  I answered a million whispered questions.  The rain fell. The fireflies flickered. The birds were birds.  A soft breeze, almost cool floated through the air.  And all the words we didn’t say, went something like this,

hey, my small ones, we’re in this madness together, this beautiful, exhausting madness.


Monday, May 12, 2014

On the eastern redbud and where things grow

In the Smoky Mountains, the road weaves and we follow its path.  Always curving right and left among the jagged edges that have been carved out for travelers; rising and descending with our fellow sojourners, because once upon a time, they blasted through the mountains with tools and TNT, paving way for the possible.  Around each turn, we are enchanted where the bluest sky cuts deep into these green sloped marvels. Shadows cast the perfect mystery along the way and just beyond, a burst of light.

The open road invites us into a space big enough for thinking the kind of thoughts that require a great deal of room.  It s a place where one can find what they are searching for.

The road is lined with etchings, often sporadic, but also clear with intention; a timeless masterpiece depicting the laws of nature, carrying the whispers of yesterday and the willing canvas to the carvings of tomorrow.  They tell of the forces to which we will always fall prey, the howling winds and the rushing waters-- always creating, ever changing.

And the trees, always trees.   Green for as far as one can see.  And the thing with trees is that you can’t ponder them for too long without considering the roots.  And roots, that’s where the controversy lies.   Roots baffle me a bit with their consistent ways, how they dig in and remain. I’m not sure what to make of that. 

So, we continue and I considered the trees. Safely in the valleys and along the slopes they grow in masses. In the familiar soil, in all the designated spots, roots interweaving and combining, marking their territory for generations, in a this land is your land, this land is my land, kind of way.  I suppose it is desirable after all, it’s the way of trees and people.

And yet.

Along the road lined with jagged edges, among the etched stones and swooping cliffs, I notice them again and again.  I noticed until I could hear their story, a rather familiar tale.  The Eastern Redbud, with its slender trunks and spiny roots grasped the rocks, lingering near the edge, daring to thrive where others could not, burst forth with radiant purple blossoms.   And the roots, they were exposed, which is kind of a bold move for things of that nature.  They were hopeful and they were brave, because uncertainty was real, but so are possibilities. 

This adventure we are on, the inherent restless winds howling within, it’s baffling and beautiful. Tomorrow awaits us with absolutely anything and we can face it trembling with fear or delight.  So often, I want to make sense of this journey, the way our path weaves up and down and over, but understanding usually comes with some sort of finality and we’re still rising and falling with the trail before us.  

And yet.

Breaking the silence, as the kids slept in the backseat, I looked over at my husband and said, “You know, if I was a tree, I think I’d be one of those.” And after sharing my miniature discourse on the types of trees and roots, which, of course, wasn’t really about trees and roots at all, he agreed.