Thanksgiving was the single, quietest eating event of my life. Mom had gone to visit cousin Deb for a few days and would be there Thanksgiving. No turkey around here. No dressing. No pie. No aromas and no leftovers. (But Christmas dinner looms and I'll make up for that.) Sister invited me over to her house but the truth was I was under the weather with the flub which is what you have when you have had your flu shot but have symptoms that come crashing in on Wednesday that are highly suspicious and cause you to miss the annual Parnassus decorating party of which you take great pleasure. So Flubbed up and no decorating and no dressing. I finally webblewobbled my way over to my sons to watch the new Kurt Russell Christmas movie which we both gave two Kurt Russell fans thumbs up and then I came home and went straight to bed. At seven.
The Charmings were scheduled to arrive the next afternoon and I was in hopes that I would survive the visit. Three small children equal sixteen hundred small children when you have the flub. To Which led me to creating THE MASTER PLAN. Otherwise KNOWN AS A SCHEDULE. Instead of a romping up the stairs down the stairs free for all of giddy wonder and oh, boy, oh, boy and Zaza this and Zaza that - we would abide by a list of acceptable activities ONE AT A TIME. Sickness will force you to figure some things out. Somehow, by the grace of what comes with being ZAZA and possessing a Magic Marker - we made it through movie night with homemade popcorn, sleeping bags, superhero pajamas.
We pulled out all stops and aprons and made Pancakes for breakfast in helper on the footstool modes instead of the easy go to - cereal and feed yourself. We had drawing time, story time, nap time, bath and bubbles time, truck time, and even a short variation of load up for fresh air we are going to the park time.
All of which I tick-tocked off the list with a sigh of relief because I was hanging in there and making it. But then just as we were rounding the corner for night two of family movie time, sleeping bag and spaghetti time (not necessarily in that order,) Kevin the rescue dog began barking furiously so that THE Damon had to rush out to the front porch to see what all the fuss was about and we hear this NOISE that is not immediately recognizable because it is nighttime and it is clip, clop, clip, clop with a solid dog bark beat and Kevin rushing to the road where a horse comes into view with a rider wearing a lighted helmet and Damon screams ZAZA A MAN I RIDING A HORSE IN THE NIGHT BY OUR HOUSE! even though I am standing right next to him. A man riding a horse through the night was not on my schedule of activities. I call Kevin who is chasing the horse and because I am being Estelle's granddaughter and was raised by the tribe of Eeyore I immediately have visions of tragedy and doom, of the dog getting stomped to death by the horse which will be all the worse because Damon will witness it and the other boys will come out to see what's happening and I will have to call their daddy at work and this is going to be one of the worst nights of their lives. Only it isn't because even though I call Kevin he doesn't come but when Damon calls him he turns around and runs and runs. And every time he stops to catch his breath and Damon calls him he runs and runs again. And every time he stops to catch his breath - (as I said - we live up on a hill) And this keeps happening because when I call him he acts like he may be actually slowing down and thinking of chasing the horse again but when Damon calls he picks up speed and starts running again and Damon cracks up laughing so hard about this that he can't catch his breath and so I begin laughing too. Because laughing, thank God is contagious. Then he comes up with
DAMON'S BIG IDEA
And says - HEY DO YOU JUST WANT TO STAY OUT HERE FOR AWHILE. We can just sit here and we can light these lanterns which is also not on my schedule but because I have drug all the plants BACK OUT TO THE PORCH for one last HURRAH of Sunshine and there is a little fuel left in those mosquito lanterns and because I am a ZAZA I say ok - so Damon rushing in the house and go's, HEY GUYS (who are watching Wreck It Ralph for the third time because they love it so) WANT TO COME OUTSIDE and SIT ON THE PORCH?!!! WE're gonna LIGHT THE LANTERNS Like it is the niftiest thing to happen in the year 2018 and BECAUSE I am a ZAZA I remember I have stashed two packages of that magical madness known as SPARKLERS leftover from the forth of JULY and we pull those down out of the pantry and light the lanterns and light the sparklers and the NINE year old Michael who is becoming old and wise now and evolving says, I'm gonna use my phone (that only takes pictures and videos) to take pictures first and then I'll hold one, so he captures this magical moment of lamplight and sparklers and laughter and I think - these kids. Without them I'd just be all flubbed up and nothing else. No magic lights. No laughter. Then son calls from work and says I just want to make certain you guys- ARE LOOKING AT THE MOON so we have to run to the back back porch where we can see through the trees and see the full, yellow moon rising and for a moment I forget about - everything. All the reasons that my heart is heavy. The burning of Paradise, the destruction of the Gulf Coast, the rattle and hum of the constant undercurrent of my worries about this and undone that. Right in the middle of illness and anxiousness there is nothing but this moment, these three little boys with Ryder on my lap and them looking up at our one, big, beautiful yellow, full moon - and they were cheering because a big, yellow moon is worth cheering over.
And so is this moment right here to still be fully alive with the wind whipping on the hill, the night leaves falling at our feet and the moonlight just as magical as it ever was.
May your week make way for magic and God whisper the greatest of tidings in such a way that you may hear the words.
I've been doing stuff this morning. And trying not to post anything to facebook because I have numerous deadlines crashing around me today. BUT I woke up feeling just like I did last Monday except I wasn't as spry with the hope and making myself turn the boat of my emotions around. It was more like - God, I'm sorry but I'm depressed. Yes, I think maybe I'm a little depressed. Or maybe worried. Or maybe anxious. And then I thought of you guys because of all of your comments from LAST MONDAY and I thought - Maybe they feel that way, too. So, before I go off slaying the dragons of my deadlines I want you to know that I'm thinking of you. If you woke up with a little cloud hanging over your head your still not alone. The news of Paradise, California has been heartbreaking and soon the news will move on. Just as it has with my beloved Gulf Coast that still needs prayers, money, hands. Not a word in the media and still roofs are missing as it rains, people are homeless, nothing is normal. That enough gives me reason to be blue on this Monday but it's something more than that. It is a ball of mistakes that have rolled up in my front yard and are screaming at me in my sleep. It's been piling on for days. And no matter where I turn, no matter what I do right (and I do plenty right) it's not that voice that is the loudest. It's some ancient internal voice of judgement that has followed me around since I came out of the womb. It is not God's voice. This I do know. But this voice can be powerful in its condemnation. You should have turned left instead of right. You should have, you could have, you would have. If only you had done this or not done that. You've made a mess of everything. This is all your fault. All of it. What's interested me from the standpoint of being able to be intelligent enough (or maybe spiritual enough) to observe this voice is man, has it been piling it on lately. Every day bringing on a new mountain of mistakes and moments newly discovered or old and revisited added to the previous days list.
In J. Philip Newell's Celtic Benediction book of morning and evening prayers Monday looks like this - "In the turbulence of my own life and the unsettled waters of the world today let there be new birthings of your Spirit. IN the currents of my own heart and the upheavals of the world today let there be new birthings of your Spirit."
I reread those words a few times because the turbulence of my own life, the unsettled waters of both the world and my life all seemed very appropriate. That's what I felt and also like my mistakes were threaded into my bone and muscle and then hanging from my skin like odd ends of frayed thread for all the world to see.
My Monday. Your Monday. They may have some shared similarities or maybe you are skipping around singing, OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORNING, OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY! If so God bless you and could you toss up a few notes for the rest of us that are struggling. Could you sing a verse for those of us who just can't sing this morning?
If you have been bombarded lately with feelings of - less than, not enough, too old, too over, too fat, too thin, too tired, too unkept, thin-skinned, wrong color, bad code, no clue. If every time you turn around you just knocked something over, broke somebody's something, tripped on your own tongue, made one more new mistake to add to the mountain that's seems to be crushing you. If you just realized someone just doesn't like you but you don't have a clue why, if you take horrible selfies and then erase them because they all look as old and tired as you feel. If you don't measure up to your own standards much less anyone else's and things don't seem to be getting better but honestly worse by the day and you think - ummm, this doesn't look good. And, then you go out into your day and you SMILE anyway and you like other peoples post and you try to do your job, be you, take care of others, drive another mile, do another thing, sell another widget, cast out another demon and get up and do it again - This prayer is for you.
A New Day
May the light of a new day unfold in your life beginning the moment you read and receive these words. May they begin in you a new work that opens your eyes to the glory of the truth of who you really are. May those old sins of youth or yesterday fall so quickly you are left astonished. May there be in you a smile that defies the gravity of your life situation. In the midst of your battle may you raise your head high, hold out for the strongest kind of magic, and believe with all your might not only in this unseen God but in the power that was gifted you at your birth. That with each continued breath that allows you to remain in this world you may reflect a holy habitation from deep within your soul. May you make eye contact with those around you today and when you do allow them to see the real majesty called - you. May you cling to knowledge that you are a fellow traveler on this journey and were not now or ever meant to be cast off and alone on this wild, ride that is your life. May this day bring with it the surprise of joy. And may that inner voice that declares you broken beyond repair submit to the silence of one final truth, in blessing and beauty you shall continue.
Wishing you an impossible, supernatural peace in the middle of this turbulent world.
Yesterday was pure magic. First it was Sunday and it felt like a sabbath. A kind of quiet day given over to prayer and introspection, rest and reflection. To reading. Early in the morning the fog was rising in the little valley but the sun there at the edge of the world at sunrise was promising. The wind had turned and was blowing in from the East. The Summer was past and it let me know that soon the wind would turn, tunnel down from the North and I could feel all these things down in my soul. That it was time to pile wood, to ready for Winter. It was the first day where it felt as if that old clock known as seasons had shifted. No more Indian Summer days that surprised us with warmth and promise. Now the wind held a chill, shook the trees that cast off their leaves by the hundreds. I watched them sweep and pile at my feet. The world on the hill was quiet. The traffic kept its peace.
Lately, I've been embracing Sunday's for reading. A curl up in bed or sit on the porch kind of day to allow myself this luxury. Not reading for work, or after work or just before bed. But reading as a center-point of the day. A spoke of a wheel. And since it is Sunday I've laid aside all types of reading and picked up a habit of reading those things that reflect or embrace a spiritual side of life. In some way. This is a wild, sweep of a description since it encompasses so much. Books like Leif Enger's Peace Like a River would fall into my Sunday category. Yesterday, I picked up Mark Richard's House of Prayer No. 2. Roy Blount, Jr. described this work as "Hot damn! and Glory Be!" and I think that is a fine assessment. I've never met Mr. Richard's but I read this book years ago when an author friend, Michael Morris was kind enough to mail it to me with a note that said - I think you will like this book. And, he was right. I like it as much the 2nd time around as I did the first and am highly recommending it to those people who are studying writing with me to add it to their library of books that lead by example.
So, I read and watched the leaves fall and said my prayers. And read a book on prayer that is meaty and in it's upteeth printing since the 1940s and it requires that I concentrate on the words. And then think about them. And then underline some and think about them some more. It's Harry Emerson Fosdick's book on The Meaning of Prayer. I picked it up in the throw away free books at McKay's when I went in to find season 3 of that very, expensive soap opera known as POLDARK for me and Mama to watch. The Poldark's have just about worn us out with their problems but we are hanging in there trying to help the story find a happy ending. Which may never be forthcoming since PBS is now on Season 4. We are almost caught up with our binge watching evenings and then we will have to return to Antique Road Show and the Golden Girls to find something to agree on until the next big thing comes along.
Last night it grew dark early. Mom had gone over to Sisters to visit, little dog Duncan had gone to the sitters and for a moment Kevin the rescue dog and I sat in the growing evening shadows as I read House of Prayer No. 2 and the house was still and silent. The rain had started and was steady, the wind still shaking the branches, raining down in gusts acorns that are golf ball size and clack, clack, clack against the roof. The birds defied the wind and clung to the feeders eating as they were spun around and around and around. There was a kind of peace that defies the stress that so easily besets us these days. On every level.
For a few moments I quit worrying about things and was just a reading woman, sitting by an empty fireplace. I kept looking up from the page knowing that soon and very, soon I'd be layering log upon log, smoking up the old house in such a way that everything in it including me will smell like wood smoke until Spring. So be it. Seasons come and seasons go. And my soul is learning to rest in this knowledge and to count my blessings.
Today's facebook post was specifically designed for Monday's. If you don't follow or friend yet I hope you will. I realize that there seems to be a world of people out there all in the same boat, trying to keep hope afloat without realizing we are not alone. That we are on this journey together and remembering to be that to each other, fellow travelers, helps lighten our load.
If you haven't signed up for my newsletter on the homepage I hope you will join me there. In the meantime, may your week be bountiful in grace and mercy and all good things.
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.