Messy

She is sitting on the bench alone when we drop into her world.

It is our regular Tuesday: Music lessons and passing time.

Teddy’s guitar lesson is first, during which Jeffrey and I pass the time. Then comes Jeffrey’s drum, while Teddy and I pass the time.

On pretty spring days like this, we like to pass the time down the street from the music shop, at the Adena Indian burial mound.

I sit on the bench below as Jeffrey runs up and down the thing, rejoicing in the power of his legs.

But today, we have company.

I sit down on the bench beside hers–Jeffrey already ascending the mound.

She looks at me out of the corner of her eye. Then, in a sing-songy voice, she begins to talk to herself…throwing shy smiles my way every now and then.

Suddenly, a gusty breeze rustles the trees around us and we are caught up in a shower of maple tree helicopter seeds. We both squeal in delight and she holds up her two hands to receive this gift.

I take the bait.

“What is your name?”

“Ting.”

“Ting? How do you spell that?”

“T-I-N-G.”

“Oh. Just like it sounds.”

She smiles and runs over to a flowering bush to smell the blossoms.

“How old are you?”

“Seven.”

“Do you live nearby?”

“Yes,” she gestures to the nearby street. “Above the restaurant.”

She points to the Chinese restaurant across the way. The place I love to get lo mein and perhaps a Chinese dumpling or two.

“I have a sister, three months old. She will go to China…” She puts her finger on her chin– thinking. “Soon. And I have another, four years old, who is in China now with my grandma and grandpa.”

I ponder this. But she is not done.

“I was born in America. Then I went to China too. But I am here now.”

Then she is off, running around the brick path that encircles the flowery bushes. She pretends to fly, holding out her arms like wings, throwing smiling glances my way the whole time.

As she glides on the wind, I think about this practice—this sending of daughters to native country. My heart aches at the thought of such a separation, and I realize that only something very important could make a mother send her child away in this manner.

Something important and a lot of faith. It would take a lot of faith to carry through with such sacrifice.

But faith in what, I wonder?

They don’t want their daughters to forget their heritage. They are passing along their history. Passing on their world.

This touches me, and I am left without words.

When Jeffrey comes down, I introduce him to my new friend. She smiles at him from underneath lowered lashes. He is beguiled by this beautiful China doll.

As we say our goodbyes, he throws this her way: “We’ll be here again next Tuesday.”

I smile.

I deposit Jeffrey in drum and go upstairs to wait for Teddy’s lesson to finish. In the hallway, I sit on the cold metal chair leaning against the wall.

Music drifts under doors and floats out to me. A violin is scratching out a waltz as teacher and student move bows side by side. Next door is another guitar teacher, strumming chords along with his student. Teddy plunks out notes in another room nearby.

I close my eyes and it fills me up inside…This strange mixed-up symphony is oddly cohesive, and carries me into another world—one that I cannot understand any more than Ting’s world.

But I know that it is beautiful.

I am lifted into bold awareness of the many different worlds that live inside this place we call earth.

And I sigh as I think of another world. A world some people I love have recently entered.

The secret is fairly out.

And I don’t understand.

And I have made a mess of things once again.

Love can be that way—messy.

Much has been sacrificed already, and I wonder what heritage they will pass along.

And then I must do it again—drop the burden before Him, as I have done so many times recently.

I know what my faith is in—or Who, rather.

It buoys me.

We are all in His hands, Beloved.

I am reassured that He is holding my friends.

And I know, there is no place I would rather be.

Comments

  1. says

    There is a fine line between symphony and cacophony. Closing our eyes affords us the concentration to hear with clarity and to distinguish the subtlety of life.

    Shalom,
    Denise

  2. says

    Laura:
    You have a way of paying attention to the world and your heart therein. I wish I paid more attention; I think I would know a better peace.

    Thanks for always taking me there … to a place of peace that brings rest and comfort to my soul.

    Strange, isn’t it?

    Love u~elaine

  3. says

    Laura, this is so beautiful! I haven’t seen “a shower of maple tree helicopter seeds” in years. Let’s pray for little Ting whose sweet visit into your world has today blessed mine!

  4. says

    Laura,
    I loved this story. Your words painted it all so beautifully and with such clarity. So often I am you, sitting outside music lessons, waiting for the next activity. It is during these moments of pause we have the opportunity to soak in the experiences around us. Truly slices such as the one you desribed are snips of poetry provided us by the Almighty.

    Who knows what waits for you this Tuesay.

  5. says

    Laura,

    Your post made me reflect on my own life. Yes love is messy, is it ever without sacrifice? Oh but He who made the ultimate sacrifice is the one we need to go to when we don’t understand, when we hurt. Someday because of that sacrifice we will all be like Ting in the breeze of the maple tree.

    Your writing is so pretty! It makes me smile, it makes me think, it always blesses, thank you friend!

    Love,
    Tina

  6. says

    Thank you for taking me with you. I love the sights and sounds of your day with the boys, the short but vivid visit with Ting.
    One of my favorite sounds in all of my life…each of my children as they have played each thier own instrument, saxophone, trumpet, and flute in that order. Each one, the sound…fills me up with emotions that I can’t explain.
    Making a mess of love…me too, dear friend. Our God cleans it up, doesn’t He? How wonderful!

  7. says

    Love this, Laura. Life is full of sacred moments, moments that escape the majority of us. Your brilliant ability to capture and brush those moments into portraits with your words so that we can tiptoe through the moment with you is a gift from God. A beautiful, wonderful, precious gift from God.

    Thank you for sharing your gift!

    Love you, friend!
    Cheri

  8. says

    “Love can be that way… messy…” yes, yes, yes…

    (On the villanelle, btw, I was pretty intimidated before I tried it, but it turned out to be fun. One thing I did was insert the lines that would need to be repeated in their respective spots… then I built around them. I had my doubts, but it worked! 🙂

  9. says

    Laura, I came over from Elaine’s blog. What a beautiful post. You took me back to my days of listening to mixed-up symphonies as I waited for my daughter outside of one of those doors in a music building. Blessings to you…

  10. says

    Yeah. He holds our friends—which is a good reminder to myself, so that *I* won’t hold them too tightly. I will hold them lightly.
    And I’ll be more on the lookout for those bench conversation opportunities.
    Thank you, Laura!

  11. says

    I am so glad your post is the last thing I will read before going to sleep…I can only imagine the glorious images that will pass through my dreams tonight. I love you, friend! You are one of my sweetest blessings!

  12. says

    Good morning Miss Laura,

    I felt myself breathing easier and quieter just reading your day; maybe it’s because I could hear the music playing, or felt myself gliding along with outstretched arms.

    Did you know our sons played guitar and drums as well? You brought back many memories for me this morning remembering my time spent “waiting” while the youngest was at guitar class.

    I too have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from Ting. I hope so! 😉
    Holykisses this glorious day.
    Lea

  13. says

    Laura, your writing is amazing. You had me right there beside you experiencing every little bit – even the heavy secret that nestled beneath your heart tugging upon your deep love for your friends – i remain there with you and continue to pray – for you, for them, for all of us who must learn to love in this hateful place – yet he will and does make us strong through the connecting of life with one another

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