In the post-Christmas mess of my house and my life, I wallow.
For weeks I have celebrated and loved with fervor and now I reflect and I wallow.
I am ever aware of the life that I had, and the life I now have, and how it all compares to the life I didn’t know I would have. And that makes me think about the life I might someday have.
And how, wonder as I might, I cannot know.
I cannot know.
I am ever aware of the me I thought I was and the me I now am and the them I thought all the others were and the them they actually are and the us that can’t even begin to figure any of them… or us…. or me… out.
Which reminds me of a conversation we had over candlelight dinner with my daughters, who are growing up, and my parents (who are also growing). We talked about education; the education my daughters received, the education my husband and I received, and the education my parents received. And once again, I was made aware of how I don’t think I ever truly learned how to compose a sentence.
And yet here I am, writing sentences.
I am ever aware of how much I am unaware of.
And while I wallow here in all of my unknowingness and indecisiveness, life goes on.
The tree comes down, the guests go home, the daughters continue to grow.
And I continue to have no answers for life’s questions.
But I get up each day and I work and I give my heart away and I try. I really try.
And sometimes I even sing.
I thought that I would have more wisdom by now.
I am coming to find that maybe wisdom is not so much knowing the right decisions to make as it is being able to live gracefully with the decisions (and non-decisions) that are made.
Sometimes I get this ache deep down inside of me, when others speak of their childhood home with longing. Sometimes people ask me how I’m doing with this transition (this big move across the country) and I get that same, familiar ache. I don’t have a childhood home to long for because we moved too much when I was a child. I don’t have that same feeling of homesickness that I think others have. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with the ache that I feel for something that doesn’t exist. I love where I am, I love where I came from, and I think I love what’s coming. And yet … and yet. The ache is always there. My husband says we all have it. He says it’s a longing for Eden.
He’s very wise, I think.
The cat can’t decide if it’s safe to walk past the noisy printer in order to lay on the comfortable bed. After much visible thinking about it, he has deemed it unsafe and decides to just plop right where he is, on the hardwood floor.
I can’t decide if it’s safe to let my children grow.
I think I’ll just plop here for awhile.
Each Day A Life
by Robert William Service
I count each day a little life,
With birth and death complete;
I cloister it from care and strife
And keep it sane and sweet.
With eager eyes I greet the morn,
Exultant as a boy,
Knowing that I am newly born
To wonder and to joy.
And when the sunset splendours wane
And ripe for rest am I,
Knowing that I will live again,
Exultantly I die.
O that all Life were but a Day
Sunny and sweet and sane!
And that at Even I might say:
“I sleep to wake again.”
It’s too much to talk about, really. But my heart is quite full. It’s been a very, very good Christmas.
As fall leads into winter, and light turns to darkness, I live in my home and I wait.
Home. Where the pictures are not too high on the walls, the lights are not too bright and overhead fans that dry out my eyes are switched off. Where colors abound, and reminders of the cloud of witnesses that surround us are visible, even when it’s dark outside. Where pictures of loved ones, past and present surround me. Where the lingering steam hovers over the bathroom mirror like the smoke from the incense that hovers over the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary in church on Sundays. Where the light from the windows filters through that steam like the prayers of the people rising to heaven.
Home. Where the sounds of the sprinklers coming on and the car idling in the driveway and all the busy people in their cars on the freeway one block away have now been hushed in the darkness of winter. They are still out there but I have closed my windows on the noise and the cold and I have snuggled in deep into the quiet while I wait. Where the unmistakable sound of the kitty door being tap tap tapped (because you never really know if it’s safe even though you go in and out of it multiple times daily), makes me smile as I wait for the meow that I know is coming once he sees me watching.
Home. Where the smells of honeysuckle and orange blossoms have gone dormant but they will come again; for now they await their own advent summons. Where smells of coconut and herbs and spices waft out when bathroom doors are opened and newly shampooed heads and their lotioned bodies move about within my waiting darkness. Where a plastic spoon can fall onto the metal heating mechanism in the dishwasher and fill the house with its own unique scent that is hard to ignore. Where essential oils are disbursed both for healing and for comfort as they mingle with the smells of the candles and incense that fill my home daily. Where simple meals are shared with loved ones while we await the Christmas feast.
Home. Where I put my slippered feet into a heated foot pad beneath my cool, copper desk as I work through the daylight hours. Where I thankfully accept the undeserving neck and back rubs that I receive from the hands of my husband as he passes through my office. Where I love to feel his hand resting beneath mine on my shoulder, as I wordlessly thank him before he moves on to his own work. Where warm water runs over my tired hands as I wash the dishes after dinner. Where lotion soothes those same hands as I methodically rub them together, first all fingers together, then in between each one, carefully, purposefully, making sure that each nook and crease is reached. Where I give goodnight hugs to girls that I love if I can catch them after they’ve come home from where they’ve been and before they disappear to where they’re going. Where my soft bed welcomes my tired body when I finally give in to the call of the night.
Home. Where I taste both goodness and grace. Where I taste love. In the midst of all the rushing and the worry and heartache and the pain and the cars breaking down and the chimney catching fire. It’s there, in the midst of it all, like a sacrament. It surrounds me and it’s tangible and wakens my senses and it goes down my throat and flows through my veins and floods my being.
And I wait, with expectancy.
And I wait, with joy.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Well, I pulled off the thanks part anyway. It was a tad on the cold side for this old gal (and her old man) to try the camping part by sleeping in the tent that we set up out there in the freezing temps. The young gals did it though! Perhaps not too much sleep was had by any but what a blessing it was to be with our new California family in this most special way during this most special holiday. My sister-in-law and nephews even joined us all the way from Texas. I admit that I had absolutely nothing to do with any of the beauty that you will see following in some of my favorite pictures from the weekend. But it sure was nice to be on the receiving end of such beauty and to be thankful.
And of course, we don’t allow anyone to visit us without spending some time at the beach…
It’s especially fun when little boys wear womens’ wet suits for warmth…
On to Advent!
21 years ago today, when I was 22 years old, the world stopped turning for a few hours. There was nothing and nobody outside of the labor and delivery room in the basement of the Margot Perot building of the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. I had tried to eat the huge Thanksgiving feast that my mom had prepared the night before, but the contractions that had been plaguing me off and on for a week had organized themselves into a storm the strength of which I had never known. The wind of that storm overpowered the wind of my will and I could no longer function normally, nor be around people, let alone eat.
So I went home.
When we arrived at the hospital the next morning around 5am, the world was dark. The red and yellow lights glowed softly in the frosty November air of the parking garage. For all I know, the world stayed that color of darkness, with softly glowing lights, while my 22-year old husband checked us in and we were led through the fluorescent-lit, sterile hallways with the green doors and the quietly echoing beeps of electronic monitors. And we went through one of those green doors into a dimly-lit room with soft, glowing lights and I sat in the rocking chair until I could no longer sit and I breathed until I could no longer breathe and I writhed and I waited and I pulled on reserves I didn’t know I had until heard my daughter cry. My world stood still through all of that before everything changed forever. It stood still and it waited while it allowed me the freedom to move through that storm until I came out the other side.
And I held her in my arms.
And we fell hopelessly in love.
And just like that, the world began to turn again.
Today, that world has turned for 21 years. Today, I am a half a country away from that little girl and a half a lifetime away from being 22 years old. It is the first time in an world of times that I have not celebrated this day with her. And while that doesn’t stop the world from turning completely, it definitely slows it down a little. And I am allowing myself the freedom to slow down with it. And to remember. And to come out the other side.
Tonight I will go into a dark and frosty November evening with my family and my loved ones. We will sit in the darkness of this land called California, beneath the eucalyptus trees and we will watch the soft red and yellow lights of the fire illuminate the night as it warms our world. Our world that continues to turn, in this, our new home.
And my baby girl that I once held in my arms will celebrate with all the love that her world has given her in her new family of her own. Happy birthday, baby girl. Thank you for turning my world upside-down. I am glad it is still turning with more love than it knows what to do with on this Thanksgiving Eve. My hope is that the love spatters as it turns and that a little bit of it lands everywhere.
“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide Callie wherever she may be, keeping her unspotted from the world. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passes understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
So much to say, so little time. Here’s the gist of it:
It’s Thanksgiving week! My sister-in-law and three nephews are coming to visit! We’re going camping with friends! I’m working all week! Well, not Thursday or Friday but all week before that!
I’ve always admired my friends who go Thankscamping every year. And now I’m doing it too. One way or another, I’m doing it. Don’t know exactly how to prepare, but I’m doing it. I may just go sleep on the ground with a pillow, but I’m doing it. I’ll at least bring coffee. I hope somebody knows how to make it for me. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but I’m doing it. And I’m thankful.
In the meantime, here a few musical links to share. My Sadie has recorded a song she recently wrote up in her little attic room with extremely steep stairs. She put it on SoundCloud and shared it with people. Thus, I feel entitled (and privileged) to also share it. I love her perspective on life and am so glad that she has music, since she doesn’t say much through speaking.
Where you been, my baby child? Tonight I’m heading up 6th street, it’s been a while. You’re on my mind almost all the time. Your insipid games lack a worried cry. These scars are harsh words written on my skin, as I’ve intensely watched you beginning and here I am down on my knees, telling you to pick yourself up as I please. Wait, is it me, do I think too deep or should where you are in your life be concerning to me? I want everyone to be one of my kind. Don’t want you to move on or fall out of line.
I can’t hold on too tight. And I can’t always make things right. But you are part of the fight. And you’re still with me, cause so am I.
I think I forgot that time has moved on. I’m here in California but my mind is at home. I think that I’m stuck somewhere in between trying to put back together a list of all the things we said that we’d do but not one of us knew where time went to. Oh, time, never on my side.
But thats alright cause I can’t hold on too tight. And I can’t always make things right. But you are part of the fight. And you’re still with me, cause so am I.
Look up the stars are out tonight. Grab my hand, come on, lets go for a ride. I’ve learned time won’t stop for you and me, it just pulls us along like gravity. And He’s not inconveniencing me. He’s giving me an opportunity to throw away everything, give it all up, and just love whats around me, love what surrounds me. Cause love’s not holding on too tight. And love’s not always making things right. But you’re still part of the fight. And I’ll always be by your side, cause so am I.
Also, last night we got to go hear Jackie Greene in concert with friends who won tickets. I discovered his music a few years ago and really like it, but I was blown away by his live performance. The man is an incredible musician and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I highly recommend going to see him live if you ever get the chance. Here’s a taste (long, but worth it):
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Let’s do this thing.
* I should get up and take a walk
* My eyes sure are blurry. And watery. And blurry. I rub them.
* My little toe hurts. It always hurts. I wiggle all my toes to try and bring them in sync with one another. Now my foot is cramping. Stop wiggling and flex. Oh, right. I feel that in my knee. My knee still hurts.
* Which reminds me of my hands. Do I still have that carpal tunnel-like pain from sitting at a desk and operating a mouse and keyboard all day? Oh yeah. I feel it in that tender space between my thumb and forefinger. Rub it out. Wiggle it out. Stretch it out. Shake it out. Wait. That makes the bed shake and Chris is still asleep. Stop shaking and just stretch.
* I should go for a hike today. There’s so many places to choose from around here. Which one should I choose?
* Today’s the day I am tackling all the unpacked boxes in the garage. All of them. TODAY.
* It sure is nice that I have the luxury of just laying here and relaxing on Saturday mornings. No need to get up instantly and start working and engage my brain.
* I should get up and read. It’s so quiet out in that house and it’s all mine.
* I should get up and make breakfast. What do I want? I can make anything. Anything. This morning is mine for the taking. Think of all the food I could make.
* My hand really does hurt, actually. Stretch it out. Now shake it. But try not to wake up Chris.
* I love how the morning light streams in through the tree branches that I am looking at through the windows at the top of the bathroom that my bed faces. I bet if I get up now, I’ll catch the first rays of sunshine as it peeks its head over the mountain directly in front of my east-facing house.
* My eyes are really blurry today. Come to think of it, my throat hurts too. And can I breathe through my nostrils? Hm. Nope not too well.
* I wonder if my boss’s wife and daughters made it on time to their events last night? I should check my phone and make sure everything’s okay.
* I should get up and relax. Think of all the relaxing I could get done before everyone gets up.
* I wonder if I stretch my whole body at once, if all the pain will stop and my body will just start working together, like a body should. Big stretch. Nope. Stop. Foot is starting to cramp. Stick it out of the covers and flex it.
* Whoa. It sure is cold outside of those covers. For a place that’s sunny all the time, this house sure does get cold.
* I should go tackle those boxes in the garage. I should hang curtain rods in my room. I should read. Both a novel AND a book that teaches me new things and edifies my soul. I should make an amazing breakfast. I should go for a walk. No, make that a hike. I should go down to the beach and have morning prayer.
* I wonder what I’m going to make for the potluck tonight? I hope I don’t have to go to the store and I can make do with what I have here.
* I wonder what’s happened on Facebook while I was asleep? Grab my phone off the dresser next to the bed. Unplug it. Wow. My hand hurts. Shake it. Look back at my phone and try and distinguish the Facebook app from all the others with these blurry, watery eyes. I think I got it but now that I’m in, I can’t see a thing. Only blur. It looks like I might have some new notifications down there in the corner, but the words all blur together. I don’t have a clue who is trying to notify me. I guess I’ll find out later after I’m more awake.
* Okay. Let’s go. I’ll just start with coffee and see where the day goes from there.