Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke." -Van Gogh
I could contemplate that quote a little more, but I'll leave that up to you. Worth doing, actually.
What's still burning inside me is the lasting heat of spending more than a few hours just sitting by the fire at a get away cabin in Pennsylvania last weekend. Ahh.... It is good for my soul to unplug for a couple of days... good to just sit away from distractions and everyday life. Two days after arriving home, I still feel the glow of the fire inside me.... the lasting affects of time to relax, far too rarely taken. My "tasks" for a couple of days in front of the fire included starting a new knitting project with lovely Alpaca wool I purchased at a farm in Portland, OR this summer; looking through assorted library books, just for fun!; cooking fresh scones; chatting and playing games with my best friend; watching a couple of movies; and enjoying the rain which kept the skis idle.
Idle skis = more time by the fire. This was good.
Words are obviously not capturing the feeling of lasting warmth. Ah well...fire has an elusive quality anyway - universal and elusive.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The best thing she did was to reassure me that moments like this have also happened to her. I've not encountered this sort of thing before. Moments that are missing entirely! Zap! Gone! This brain fart (as they have so aptly been called) was associated with only $36.60 in a missing check, but what if more zeros had been attached to that number! Oh my. Scattered.
That poignant moment came after a good deal of searching for directions to the cabin I am heading to this coming weekend. No luck. No clue how much the guy quoted me for the price or even the name of the place. I do know I have reservations, however. (Or do I?) Computer to the rescue, in this case, since I had the link marked. But, oh, what if I hadn't? And, where DID I put the name and directions for "safe keeping"? Scattered. Scary.
Much of my life reminds me of the childrens' book "If You Give A Moose a Muffin"... In the story one thing leads to another, then to another, then to another.... To me is it the quintessential ADD book, a model of my life, illustrated with charming pictures and sweet characters who come full circle in life. A good life, full of eating, painting, creativity and friendship, all the while living with full out ADD behavior.
My daily tasks are like that. My writing is like that. (In case you haven't noticed!) My parenting is like that. My performance at work is like. "If You Give Andi A Minute...." Amazingly, my good life is full of eating, playing, creativity and friendship, in the midst of all my scattered, scary way of being.
I'm going to sew right now. I am going to stay focused. After I finish my blog and take my hot chocolate mug into the kitchen and clean up the newspapers on the way, and decide to vacuum the carpet after I put away a few more Christmas decorations....
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I have always loved snow. I have always lived where this fluffy white stuff appears periodically and I wouldn't have it any other way. Snow is full of beauty and possibilities for play. It tames us when we think we are in control of our world and it delights us when the call comes "It's a Snow Day!". What a marvelous creative outlet for water molecules. No two snowflakes alike! Ever! Imagine!
My snow memories are abundant, many of them on skis. Winding through snowy trails in the forests and over bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire. (On our honeymoon we arrived in Vermont and it immediately began to snow and didn't stop until there were 16 fresh inches on the ground. We had our skis, an inkeeper to provide breakfast and each other. Talk about perfect!) Backcountry trips in West Virginia, complete with full pack and face plants. Swooshing by on groomed trails at the Olympic ski venues. Racing in Leavenworth, WA.... and on and on. Still waiting to add "inn to inn" ski touring to the list.
Then there are snow memories of building snow people. When I was a kid. When I was a grown up. My favorite have been the snow people in the front yard toasting marshmallows around our snow fire. They mysteriously come to visit some years. Maybe this year?
Oh, there are also been those moments of praying hard while traveling on roads that weren't meant to be traveled on. That's when snow reminds us that we aren't the ones in charge of our universe, much as we like to pretend that is indeed the case. I am thankful for always making it home, or at least someplace for the night (including a church floor in Kansas en route to Colorado one winter).
I also love hiking in the summer snow in the Rockies... shorts and gaiters and the cool air caressing our legs while the summer heat bears down on our shoulders. It's a May and June trekking experience not to be missed.
Snowy night walks are my favorite, right along with snowy night skiing. One New Year's Eve my just-out-of-college-friends and I put on our skis at midnight in the full moon and skied under the Flatirons in Boulder until we were too tired to go any further. Lots of years have passed and I'd still revisit that scene.
Thus, my love affair with snow is strongly embedded in my soul. Last night the conditions were perfect. Fresh powder, in the 20's, that evening "snow light" where everything is aglow though the sky is dark and foreboding. I can't head out for miles from my front door, but I did the next best thing... skiing down the street to the teeny tiny park on the lake and set about 1/10 of a mile track there. I went round and round and round until I could go no more. Smiles on my face, and joy in my sweaty heart.
I am fully aware that there are those who love humidity and sunshine and heat and beaches. You can have them. I'll take my snow. Tonight, however, I'll take the warm indoors as the temperature heads towards zero outside. No skiing or walking as I am too tired. But there is always tomorrow.
The more inches the better.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Twenty Six Years together. When you start this journey, no one really tells you what Year #26 is going to be like. So I will. To make a long story short, I'll simply highlight today's anniversary activities. (no worries...it is G rated)
I woke up early to the scraping of the frozen car windshield since high school kids are the last in line and have to keep their cars outside of the garage. Regardless, the garage door is broken, so all cars in the household (2) are currently gathering much snow and ice outside of the cozy garage. Activity #1: Call the garage door repair man. Activity #2: reschedule life around garage door repair man. Rapid Activity #3: make list of errands and execute them in a timely fashion. Overdue library books returned. Overdue mailings mailed. Joann Fabrics for rest of the T-Shirt quilt backing (overdue). Lowe's for dust mask to avoid asthma attack while cleaning. Activity #4: eat salad. Too many cookies over the holidays. Activity #5: greet garage door repairman, walk him through the house in his snowy boots and find out that he needs to return tomorrow with the correct parts.
I can feel your anticipation as you read... your desire to also enjoy SUCH a delightful anniversary when you reach #26!
Activity #6: begin cleaning horrible dusty, long overdue for a cleaning master bath. Included rinsing off greenery, scrubbing sink, moving very dusty things, etc... Yesterday I started the week long de-soap scumming of the shower. Activity #7: snowy walk with BFF. Lovely, actually. Activity #8: Get quick phone call from hubbie who is with clients in a really fabulous resort lodge two states away. Intermittent phone reception. Him: eager to take his weary "I just lost my mom four days ago" self to bed. Me: trying hard to listen with my hearing disability. A couple of "I love yous" and "Your e-card made me smile" and "Wish you were heres".
Activity #9: Make corn bread (always from scratch, always from the More with Less cookbook, page 70) and share left over soup with teen son. Find some chocolate from the Christmas stash. Eat that too.
Activity #10: spend time on Facebook sharing silly status reports with friends like "Black, Pink, White with Lace, Purple, etc..." Activity #11: update blog to fill people in our the YEAR OF AMOUR 26.
I might trade today. I wouldn't trade Dave.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
'Tis actually a funny word to our western ears, especially in our post modern culture. Most people don't think about Epiphany, nor celebrate it, nor have a clue what it means. In our western tradition, however, it is rich and wonderful and the message of the Magi gives Gentiles, like me, hope in Christ. The wise men journeyed from far away. It may have taken them months and months to follow the star to where Jesus was, in fact, a toddler playing in the hay & dirt and singing & dancing with his parents.
The Magi were not Jews and yet, God spoke to them, sending the message that this infant King was for them, not just for the Jews. So today, I am alive in faith and abundant blessing because they recognized and followed the star centuries ago. I think that is plenty of reason to celebrate and give gifts one to another!! Bring on the feasting!! Bring on the Twelfth Night of Christmas!! Bring on the gifts!!
(Truth be told, no one is even around tonight and there is no feasting, no Twelfth Night celebration... and the 'only' gifts are gifts of the soul and the real abiding presence of Jesus. Gifts good enough for me, that's for sure!!!) There has been the gift of new fallen snow this week. And I gave the gift of "Epiphany Milk and Cookies" to my teen son upon arriving home from high school--a kind of Mom from the 1950's joke for today, actually.
And, so as the quiet night of Epiphany passes, I offer thanks to the Christ who came to give life to all people, not just as Messiah of the Jews. And now, it's time to pack away my delightful little creche until next December when we shall once again celebrate the Coming of this King.
Work occupied 8 hours of my day. Flitting around helping customers in all sorts of ways, mostly enjoyable. A few conversations... one dear friend who popped in, one guy a new resident to whom I gave the lay of the land for outdoor activities, a lively acquaintance and others... packing away Christmas decorations; organizing; out with the old, in with the new; texting my now-living-across-the-country-again-daughter; arguing with my newly driving son; shoveling snow; opening mail. FRAGMENTED. You get the picture.
The wearing of grief, the intensity of parenting teens with such wildly varying needs, the ability to take what comes and greet people pleasantly, all require that I be CENTERED, however. For me that centering comes through quietly listening to the still small voice of God Himself. He is always there waiting for me to stop long enough to listen to his loving words and advice. Right now, I must stop and listen for if I don't, I will quickly be overwhelmed by all that fragments me. I know He longs to carry me. To offer my soul the space to experience sorrow and gratefulness. To give me the ability to 'let go' of what I want to control when it comes to parenting... and on and on and on...
Tomorrow is a new day. I will ponder more and be less fragmented even as I go about my daily list. Which, by the way, will include some journaling, some exercise (a good time for my mind to ponder), and the mindless and quite necessary Cleaning at home that MUST happen. I could, of course, include a photo as Example A for that latter activity, but I will refrain.
May God grant us all the willingness and strength to be Centered this new year.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
My mother-in-law died this morning, and thus, it is a day of great sorrow. We knew this day was coming after the past 18 months of her life was spent in hospitals... frequently hoping she just might make it home, but then encountering set back after set back... today, she did make it home.
I think this new home will be completely unfamiliar, yet at the same time, a warm, inviting and fragrantly familiar place. She will once again dine and dance and laugh with joy. She was a gentle woman and after this incredibly long battle of hanging onto life, I am happy she can completely rest and feel relief and joy as never before.
Meanwhile, we will feel sorrow. We will mourn and grieve and remember. Isaiah reminds us, however, that Jesus bears that sorrow and grief and was the Only One to once and for all eliminate it completely on the cross. Of course the fullness of that elimination isn't ours to hold yet, this side of the veil. But, oh, it IS for those on the other side. Sorrow for them has passed. They know what we do not. Most of all, they know Jesus himself... in a wonderful, timeless way not bound by earthly perimeters.
Gratefully, our family has had many who have journeyed and prayed with us these many months. The past few days, they have willingly received a few cyber updates I have passed on. Words of encouragement and prayers matter. What follows is merely part of today's update with the news that she is gone.
As I was thinking about how to title this note, I was thinking about the concept of “commencement”. Dave’s Mom’s life on earth ended this morning around 10:15 am, but it is for her a commencement of New Life. I had a strong sense that she was welcomed into the arms of Jesus like a child who is so greatly loved that she has not a care in the world. Indeed, that is the case for her this afternoon. All fear, all pain, all unknowns are gone. Dave, his dad and his aunts were able to be at her bedside at the very end, and the other brothers were not far behind.
She was taken off of life support systems yesterday morning. That decision was very difficult, but they all had agreement about the timing. She rested peacefully from that time on with members of the family at her side round the clock. As you would expect, they are all physically and emotionally exhausted. Dave is grateful for your prayer support and said that he is more physically tired than anything. Once his mom died, he was able to pray with the family as they ushered her into the Kingdom of Life.
Finally I am adding a scripture from I Corinthians 15. It’s paraphrased in the Message which always seems to provide a fresh look at God’s word. May we all be encouraged as our futures are indeed in the loving hands of God. What follows reflects on the mystery of the Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (The Message)
50I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don't in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very "nature" is to die, so how could they "naturally" end up in the Life kingdom? 51-57But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand. We're not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it's over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we'll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! 58With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
Thank you so much for receiving these messages from me, on Dave’s behalf.
The love, grace and shalom of Christ be upon you,