Monday, December 21, 2015

Trying and Letting Go (#SmallWonder Link-Up)


(#SmallWonder friends, this post is late!  My apologies.  We will be taking a break from linking up next Monday (12/28) and I'll see you back here again January 4th.)

I tried to make Christmas cookies twice this December. 

The first was a batch of chocolate covered peanut butter balls.  I mixed the no-bake batter quickly before the buses brought the older kids home, then I shaped them into balls while all four watched TV.  Lining a tray with parchment paper, I put them in the refrigerator to chill, thinking we would roll them in chocolate after dinner.

Then my oldest son threw up. 

The next day he stayed home sick and by the third day the moment had passed.  The peanut butter balls sat naked in the refrigerator, stale and shrunken.  “Just eat them,” I said, at last.

Yesterday, a week after my initial attempt, I mixed two batches of cookie dough – classic cut-out sugar cookies and Martha Stewart’s chocolate peppermint cookies.  I put them, covered, in the refrigerator to chill. 

And then, yes, my older son threw up again. 

Baking cookies lost its appeal and I pulled the last bags of Thanksgiving’s turkey-barley soup out of the freezer to thaw for dinner.  Today he’s home sick again and I completed my first “professional” interview in years over the phone while he sat watching TV.  The call was dropped once and a visitor came to the door mid-conversation.  This afternoon we’ll head to the pediatrician’s office, again.

//

Last week I met with my Spiritual Director.  She told me, in the nicest way possible, that I’m not the center of the universe.  Also, when I complained about not being able to do. it. all., she asked me, “What is most important to you during this season?” 

“Attending to the mystery,” I said, “staying alert for all the ways Christ creeps in among us.”

Of course, that means I might need to let go of some other things. 

Like baking cookies. 


What do you need to let go of this week?  What's most important for you to hold onto in the midst of the holiday rush?  

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  


While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Animals on Christmas Eve (#SmallWonder Link-up)


Legend claims 
at midnight 
Christmas Eve
animals received 
the gift of speech,

but I imagine 
it was the other way around
that first starlight night.  

Animals didn’t gain
but humans lost, 
for once, 
their words.

Speechless, 
they welcomed 
the Word in silence,
led by the animals 
in a chorus of mute wonder. 


*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  


While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Something Epic


He was a dead ringer for the kid from A Christmas Story.  A short, chubby boy with an overgrown buzz cut and thick, dark rimmed glasses.  Dressed in navy sweats from head to toe, he ran back and forth along the edge of the playground, arms pumping, breath huffing in out-of-shape bursts. 

On his third time past he stopped about twenty feet away from my husband and I, equidistant between us and the black plastic swings hanging on long metal chains.  Inspired, he turned toward us, the nearest available audience.

“I’m gonna do something EPIC,” he said.

Then he turned and ran, huffing and chuffing, arms swinging and threw himself belly first onto a swing.  To our watching eyes, it was decidedly un-epic.  The extended take-off added nothing to the quotidian talent of swinging on your stomach – something any little kid can do.  

But something in his confident declaration, his putting it all on the line approach was truly legendary.  And I loved him for believing it, for announcing it and following through.  

What he did wasn't epic.  

But the way he did it?  

Totally EPIC.   

Friday, December 11, 2015

Some Mornings (An Advent Poem)


O that you would tear open the heavens and come down . . . Isaiah 64:1

Some mornings the mountains 
disappear completely, a great
wall of white cutting the distance
between presence and sight.

Maybe this is what Isaiah saw,
this barrier and, like a lover maddened
by desire, he cried out without thinking, 
"Tear open the heavens and come down!"

Isaiah burned with longing, 
his coal-singed lips tingling and God,
whose passion simmers long and low,
was slowly aroused by the pining of his people. 

God came forth as a tiny seed
conceived by earth's desire,
born in the rending wide 
of heaven's door.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

To Wait in Darkness (Advent Week 2) #SmallWonder Link-up

(Our truck isn't nearly this old, but some days it feels like it . . . )

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. - Malachi 3:1-4

By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us, 
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ - Luke 1:78-9
  
The rattle-trap, red, Ford pick-up squealed out of the driveway Tuesday morning and something broken inside of it gave voice all the way to my husband’s work and back home again that night.  He was kind enough to offer to help with dinner and the kids before buttoning up an old shirt and heading out to the garage to pop the hood. 

Before heading to bed, we decided he would call off work the next day to try to wrangle a repair. 

In the morning the older kids climbed into their yellow buses and the twins buckled into the van.  John was going to drop them off at preschool before heading to the auto parts store.  I headed out to the Little House to twiddle my thumbs as us artist types like to do, grateful to be excused from the thrice-weekly chore of drop-off. 

Minutes later he burst in the door.  “Can you come try to start the van while I look at the engine?” he asked.  “I can’t get it to start.”

Out into the cold winter rain I went to turn the key.  The van whined and moaned and finally I pumped the gas enough to give it a coughing start.

“I guess I’ll leave it on at the parts store,” he said, “I don’t want to get stuck over there.”

I stood in the driveway and watched him pull out. 

We couldn’t leave the van running all morning and how would we pick up the twins if we couldn’t get it to start?

//

I dread preschool drop-off because parents are instructed to pull-in under a carport where a teacher approaches, opens the door, and helps the kids out.  Sounds simple, right?

Except when your door handle's broken. 

Three times a week I cruise into the carport in our ancient burgundy minivan and lean back over the seats to pop the door open from the inside before whatever teacher happens to be on duty can make a fool out of herself wrestling the finicky handle. 

Three times a week I watch the twins climb out while silently hoping the teacher on duty won’t slide the door far enough open to cause it to latch.  Most days they do.  Then I’m stuck climbing over the seat again to unlatch the door and slide it shut.

It’s embarrassing. 

Wednesday, the day my husband stayed home and the vehicles went on strike, he didn’t know he needed to preemptively pop the door.  Instead, he sat calmly in the driver seat while one of the boy’s teachers yanked and pulled on the handle, trying to get the door to shut.   

With a mighty yank, the handle broke right off in her hand. 

“I broke your handle,” she said passing what was left to my husband.

//

The truck ended up being an easy fix and it appears the van was faking.  In the end, I had more time to write and work than I would have otherwise. 

All’s well that ends well, right?

I will say that Wednesday morning I wanted to cry and nearly did when I couldn’t figure out how we’d get the twins back home.  My mind bounced between righteous indignation, (This is Christmas!  This sort of thing shouldn’t happen at Christmas!) and self-pity (Of course!).

Somewhere between the opposing poles of control and resignation I found a tenuous place of surrender.  I clung to it in a way that seems in contradiction to what is essentially a posture of “letting go.”

//

Making wreaths at the dining room table the following today, I thought about this thing we’ve got going on, this month-long season of Christmas in which we feel sorely offended if the world appears to be coming apart at the seams.  We’re torn between demanding more - of the world, our children, ourselves - and a death-embracing resignation. 

Let me tell you what I know after wrangling evergreens and wire – it may be Christmas and you may want something more, but #$^% is gonna keep on keepin’ on. 

Red trucks will scream their way to work and back.

Minivans will embarrass and fake their own deaths.

Children will run wild through your house and you will be forced to play the “You’re father’s uncle died from falling down the stairs” card in a vain attempt to scare them straight.  But rather than accepting the logical conclusion that one should not play on the stairs, they will blame the victim because everyone knows if you’re falling down the stairs you can stop yourself before you hit your head.

You will accidentally step on the dog and scare the cat who will then claw the dog right on the nose and those two tiny drops of blood on that dear sweet nose will make you want to weep.

But worst of all (or is it?) someone, somewhere will take a gun and shoot one or two or twenty and the seeds of evil that dwell hidden in the human heart will again seem to block out all rays of light.

You will be tempted between control and resignation. 

You will want to decry the forces that be – the cat, the kids, the world in which “awful and terrible things happen.” 

You will want to throw your hands up in the air and walk away because someone somewhere has again ruined this yuletide season with their crimes and failures big and small.

But then you will remember.

We don’t celebrate Christmas because the world is perfect. 

We celebrate Christmas because the world is broken. 

It’s screaming to and from work, pulling apart at the seams, liable to break off in your very hands, broken.   

Advent is waiting with open hands, open hearts for the One who will sift through it all, cleansing, purging, until only what’s good, what’s pure and golden remains.  Until then, we stand strong, we endure, we hang tinsel and plug in the lights because, for now, it may be as close as we can get to that for which our hearts so long. 

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  
   

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Midnight Benediction


Half-awake,
deep under a layer of blankets,
I hear him cry out
in his dark, cold room
at the end of the hall. 

“Ya-Yuh?  Ya-yuh!” he calls,
pausing to wait for his brother’s reply. 
Answering silence is followed by thump, patter,
then the squeak of his door. 

Half-way down the hall
the word, “Mommy” slips from his lips. 
“What?” I call, still snuggled, waiting to hear
what will be required of me. 

A drink of water? 

A blanket straightened and tucked? 

A song or a hand held in the dark?

“I love you,” he calls, then turns,
hurrying back to his warm bed.

Now I am awake and thinking
of his voice splitting the night
like an angel choir, the words,
“I love you” falling like snow 
across an otherwise silent night.