The life is known: baby brother, boy #3. The name is close to being known. The items have all been retrieved from storage. He moves and kicks, perhaps even practicing prenatal yoga. And yet now is still the waiting time. 13 more weeks. It is too early for him to burst forth, breathe this common air, and join this human pilgrimage . His presence may be growing more pronounced every day, but we are still living in the pregnant pause.
The life is known: a return to Louisville for the next chapter. The jobs are secured. Our home will return to our possession next summer. Our minds leap and jump and stretch. We imagine the ways our life will return to “normal” and the ways it will feel as an all new beginning. The year cannot be rushed nor the days counted down. The days prescribed have too much to teach us. We are living in the pregnant pause.
Piercing the tapestry of all that has been of our lives for the past ten years, the winnowing fork does its work. The Divine Hands rake the winnowing fork back and forth, over and over, pulling out the threads of the tapestry that has been. Threads loosen. The tines of the fork carry out the threads that remain intact. The threads that have snagged and disintegrated fall to the pile of scraps. It is the baptism that Jesus promised – the kind that does not just immerse us but promises to eternally transform us.
Oh, it hurts. The tugs and the pulls.
The process of dismantling the tapestry that has been in order to prepare for the tapestry that will be has been one of the most difficult ones to endure. There have been times when I tried to cling to the tapestry that has been in order to protect it from the winnowing fork’s work. But each time, the Divine Hands waited in persistence until I realized my efforts were from fear’s taunting. Fear tries to keep intact that which should be dismantled. Each time, the Divine Hands paused the process to pass on enough trust so that I might move aside and the work might continue.
The house is quiet now, but once the doors creak open, the rooms will flood with noise. Paws will patter in the path after the youngest’s breakfast remains. The oldest will embrace the beloved, “stay at home day,” with pancake petitions and plans for play. “I’m cold,” on repeat, will lead the youngest to be picked up and enveloped in my arms.
The day will quickly turn into a never-ending line of requests and demands. They will be delightful Saturday ones, but commands nonetheless. I will enter fully into my specific role as “Mommy” within our family system.
First, it is the sound that breaks through the music. A weather alert. A “special weather statement.” The clouds overhead and the gray sky comes into vision. A storm is coming.
I continue on the run but adjust the distance. I veer to the left and then up into the trails. Running around the golf course, I feel akin to the golf player. Before too long, they and I will be engulfed in the reality surrounding us. The clouds will no longer be able to hold it in and down it will come.
First they are droplets. Covered by the trees, it is not my arms that feel it first, rather my ears take in the sounds. Pitter patter along the ivy that surrounds, the wild plants that roam, the leaves overhead.
Rounding the corner, the trail runs parallel to the interstate in the valley cut-out amidst the park. The cars receive the droplets while the drivers drown out nature’s music with their own choices of soundtrack. Over the secret bridge, I arrive back on the other side and I am closer to home.
The rain droplets grow. In size. In weight. In intensity.
Amidst my two weeks of travel, a bird has set up its nest right outside our back door. Perched atop the lamp post, with bits of mulch and sticks and even a little recycling, Momma Bird sits atop her eggs waiting for their lives to come to be.
I can’t help but wonder if Momma Bird regrets her choice of nest location. For at least five times a day, the door opens right by those fragile little ones in order to send our beagle out back to use the bathroom dig holes.
It’s not only vulnerable. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. It’s almost painful to know how much life’s security and future hangs in the balance every time.
I couldn’t help but keep looking down at him as we walked along. His hand gripped mine and his thoughts poured out of his mouth. Four and a half and he is growing into this little boy full of curiosity, feelings, and imagination. Is it possible to grow in awe of Life every year that passes? Can my heart expand to hold it all? I squeezed his hand every few minutes as I felt the waves of time lapping into me.
As another year goes round and I add a number to my age, I can’t help but find myself lost in the vastness of it all. What is this life that I lead? With what, to whom, am I to live it?
The wind picks up and papers flutter. That which holds no weight finds itself floating and shifting. Moving from simply a breeze, the winds increase and become a united force. A great gush from the skies funnels down and circulates itself. It begins its work of not just shifting and shaping but dismantling and destroying.
The funnel encircles the known structures and that-which-has-been becomes a pile on the ground. As the wind softens and fades, the brick wall has now returned to its former life as building blocks.
That-which-has-been now is that-which-will-be.
The two men carefully bend sticks and tie them in place. Held together with scraps of clothing and rags, the sticks create a frame for a tent in the midst of the Gourougou Mountain. Random pieces of tarp tied onto the frame transform into a shelter. Meticulously, with patience to execute it well and urgency because their well-being depended on it, they turn nature’s leftovers and human leftovers into a home. The Land Between, a documentary we’re showing at Highland on Sunday as part of our Moroccan partnership, tells the stories of those who are stuck between the home they have fled and a future they cannot grasp.
I sat in my office as I previewed the film and I marveled at their survival skills, ingenuity, and teamwork. Then I marveled at their suffering and resiliency when the journalist takes us back a few days later to see the bare bones of the shelter. The sticks stand but the tarps so carefully tied have vanished. The men share the story of how the authorities chased them out of the camp and burned all their things.
The journalist leaves the camera unnervingly on the framework of sticks. Hollow. Empty. Bare to the bone. It tells of the death chasing after them AND the life enduring despite it. Continue reading
Ain’t that good news? Ain’t that good news.
I received it as good news. I still had it together. This community was holding me together. The choir’s words washed over me, a tired mother covered in my ministerial robe as if that could hold me together. And yet here I was, I was making it. Ain’t that good news.
On a rare beautiful sunny January Saturday, we pour out the back door with a short window of Drew home amidst a busy call-weekend. In the garage, the oldest climbs aboard his “racing bike.” I help him around the car and through the driveway. Drew settles the youngest into the wagon and wrangles the dog on the leash. I place the helmet on the head of my little bicyclist and wait for the snap of the clasp under his little chin.
With one inaugural push, he pedals as fast as he can do the sidewalk. The farther he gets away from me, the more my heart begins to pound. It is as if my body is on overdrive as I begin to panic a bit. My eyes focus on the driveways to watch for cars backing out. My voice raises to attempt to slow him down, unsuccessfully. My feet can’t help themselves and I run after him. He’s five houses away from the intersection with Wilmington Ave and yet I’m sprinting full speed.
Does he really know how to stop when going so fast? I forgot to remind him to stop at the intersection before he took off, will he remember? Is he old enough for this?
He’s not ready. I’m not ready. Continue reading