Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Late Mothers Day Post

I love this one because I can see each of my unique babies in the stanzas, accompanied by a happy memory.  The ending is bittersweet, like the significant weight of a baby's body that wears you down in the balancing but the eventual absence makes your arms ache for the burden in the decades that follow.    


The mornings are his,
blue and white
like the tablecloth at breakfast.   
He's happy in the house,
a sweep of the spoon
brings the birds under his chair.   
He sings and the dishes disappear.

Or holding a crayon like a candle,   
he draws a circle.
It is his hundredth dragonfly.
Calling for more paper,
this one is red-winged
and like the others,
he wills it to fly, simply
by the unformed curve of his signature.

Waterwings he calls them,   
the floats I strap to his arms.   
I wear an apron of concern,   
sweep the morning of birds.   
To the water he returns,   
plunging where it's cold,
moving and squealing into sunlight.
The water from here seems flecked with gold.

I watch the circles
his small body makes
fan and ripple,
disperse like an echo
into the sum of water, light and air.   
His imprint on the water
has but a brief lifespan,
the flicker of a dragonfly's delicate wing.

This is sadness, I tell myself,
the morning he chooses to leave his wings behind,   
because he will not remember
that he and beauty were aligned,
skimming across the water, nearly airborne,   
on his first solo flight.
I'll write "how he could not
contain his delight."
At the other end,
in another time frame,
he waits for me—
having already outdistanced this body,
the one that slipped from me like a fish,
floating, free of itself.

-Cathy Song, Frameless Windows, Squares of Light-

Sunday, May 24, 2015


In my faith, when a boy turns 12, he's given significant responsibilities within the framework of the church.  This process of stewardship involves a special blessing, usually given by his father.  And in this case, we were especially fortunate to have Our Big Guy surrounded by his grandfathers while the blessing took place.

Watching my father and father-in-law surrounding my oldest today, along with my husband - thinking of so many other men I adore and love who are no longer here, but who make their presence known during special moments - you'll forgive me if words fail me and I'm falling back on an old favorite -

"I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who are to come.  I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

And their eyes were my eyes.

As I felt, so they had felt, and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and for ever.  Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning, and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father's hand, and his hand was in mine...

I was of them, they were of me, and in me, and I in all of them.

-Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley-

On a more secular note, Our Big Guy celebrated his birthday with a few friends for dinner and a movie.  He spent the first full day of being 12 catching a massive cold from being rained/hailed on during mountain-bike practice.  He's wild about bow-ties, and he now has enough camping gear that I worry he'll move into the back yard. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Goldilocks 2015

Do you remember two years ago when I finished a massively rainy, cold Goldilocks race and I naively declared on this blog, "I would do it again in a heartbeat"??

No.  No, no, no.  

I now see the error of my ways.  

The beginning - so nice and dry - so blissfully unaware.

This was so much worse.  SO. MUCH. WORSE.

This was winter-cold, waves-of-ice-water hitting me when I was already soaked to the bone.  This was a downpour that NEVER LET UP!!!  This was stupidity.  This was ME...realizing my own stupidity.

My great epiphany came at Mile 26 - when I had already out-paced my friends in my mad attempt to finish this cursed race.  And now I hesitated alone at the top of a multi-mile stretch downhill.  Cycling downhill at this point was dangerous.  I wouldn't be moving for 10-15 minutes and not moving made the freezing process so much worse.  But what worried me most was that I couldn't feel my hands anymore.  Which meant I couldn't squeeze my brakes.  And I had to feel my brakes.  

So I do what I always do on my road bike.  I started to pray.

Half-way down the hill I made a new resolution.  

I am not immortal.  No more spring races.  No more races with rain or snow.  No more risking myself with the real possibility that my children would have to grow up without me.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Hasty Self

I yelled at a kid last week.

I've never yelled at a kid before.  Actually, I lie.  I screamed at a total stranger kid 2 years ago.  Screamed.  Yelled.  Threatened bodily harm.  

We were at a falls, hanging out together as a family when this rebellious 8 year old hellion started throwing rocks off an upper ledge towards the people below.  His mother had very sweetly told him to stop at least 2 times - of course he didn't.  Finally, when one of the larger, noggin-size rocks came within inches of hitting Greg's head, I lost it.  

Every time I think back on that incident I feel such a major sense of shame and embarrassment - even though I wouldn't change the anger or my yelling.  When my protective, hasty side kicks in, I tend not to be so eloquent in my choice of words.  

So then last week happened.  

I think what set me off most were the messy, charcoal marks running down the sides of my oldest son's face, along with his very red eyes.  He's a strong soul and he rarely lets his guard down when he's hurting.  So when he does, I know it's bad.  

I also knew the culprit.  We've had problems with this kid before.  

And this time my hasty self reared its ugly head.  I didn't waste nonsense with the principal or the teacher this time - instead I went straight to the kid.  I walked right up to him - closer than I usually am when speaking with another human being, which is completely necessary because this kid has never acted like a human being towards my oldest.  I wanted to make sure he had to look straight up into my face.  

And then I let him have it.  

And I will confess, I have never wanted to punch someone so badly in my life.  But I was very aware that I was flanked by both my oldest sons, plus their friends who were actively backing up my son's story, while the miserable kid denied any involvement whatsoever.  

I can't remember exactly what I said, but I know it definitely involved me growling -  "LEAVE. MY. SON. ALONE!!!!!"  

His mother's on the school board.  His dad is some big wig.  

I'm probably going to get in trouble.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars"

The brilliant, beautiful writer Nichole Nordeman released a single yesterday.  Her first release in years.  And of course, I'm stunned.  I'm speechless.  And I've already listened to it like a thousand times!

These lyrics will resonate with anyone who has ever felt their life fall to pieces.  It is pure, insightful Nichole - sketching out our imperfect selves and eternal questions of mortal, disappointed expectations in our conversation with the Divine.

This is where the walls gave way. This is demolition day.
All the debris and all this dust.  What is left of what once was.
Sorting through what goes and what should stay.

Every stone I laid for you. As if you had asked me to.
A monument to holy things. Empty talk and circling.
Isn't that what we're supposed to do?

What happens now?  
When all I've made is torn down.
What happens next?
When all of you is all that's left.

This is the unmaking.
The beauty in the breaking.
Had to lose myself to find out who you are.
Before each beginning there must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars.
This is the unmaking.

The longer and the tighter that we hold only makes it harder to let go.
But love will not stay locked inside, steeple or a tower high.  
Only when we're broken are we whole.

What happens now?
When all I've made is torn down?

This is the unmaking.
The beauty in the breaking.
Had to lose myself to find out who you are.
Before each beginning there must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars.
This is the unmaking.

I'll gather the same stones where everything came crashing down.
I'll build you an altar there.  On the same ground.
Because what stood before was never yours.

This is the unmaking.
The beauty in the breaking.
Had to lose myself to find out who you are.
Before each beginning there must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble, I can see the stars.

This is the unmaking.

-Nichole Nordeman, The Unmaking-