We are settling into our summer routine. The boys go with their grandmother on the days that I work and when I am off…we move slow. I just cleared away the breakfast dishes–tucked the syrup back in the lazy susan, wiped the table and counters…I seem to spend a lot of time in the kitchen during summer vacation.
We broke out the waffle iron and fried up some bacon in honor of our guest. Jeffrey had a friend spend the night last night. It is Vacation Bible School week and all the grown-ups are tired. Watching Jesus move into so many little hearts is amazing and exhausting. Dwelling in Him so actively must also create hearty appetites because I couldn’t get the food off the griddle fast enough. The boys feasted as only boys can. When they ran back upstairs I felt lonely. But then, this song came on the radio and I twirled in my nightgown, made the kitchen tile a dance floor.
Now, I sip my coffee…listen to boys upstairs. And think about celebrations. It’s the topic of week 4 in God in the Yard. This chapter left me strangely empty–in part, I know, because it tells my story.
As a child of both divorce and alcoholism, I have frailties on both sides of the celebration question: structure and joyful freedom. (L.L. Barkat in God in the Yard)
…people who live with alcoholics often refuse to enjoy life. (page 34 in reference to words of Melody Beattie)
We did not celebrate.
There were no birthday cakes, no presents on Christmas morn, no Easter eggs to hunt. I have remarked before about how this lack clouds memories… swindles me out of the anchors for life’s milestones.
Without the stones to hold them down, my childhood memories drift away. One day was much like the next. There were no special traditions to hold dear.
As I sit here letting my coffee grow cold I can’t help but remember some sweetness from those early days. I have no milestones to time them by…can’t remember how old I was or other details. But if each day was much the same, my heart knows that each moment was not.
We watched kittens being born, butterflies emerge from chrysalises, and tadpoles slowly grow legs. We knew the joy of discovering secret beds of wildflowers in the woods, running through meadows alight with fireflies, and seeing our hollow from the top of a tree.
There was magic in each moment. And perhaps that was where we celebrated.
And this made the divorce all the more traumatic. When we moved to town with mom, we lost our wonder-land. We lost our celebrations.
We took our wonder to the dirty city streets. One sibling still struggles with the fall-out of that.
But it is still difficult to think on, even after all these years and for now…I must stop.
L.L. says, It is good to take grief and give it a place in our celebrations, alongside joy.
It helps us grow up emotionally and spiritually, softens the callous on our hearts.
I don’t know. I have worn my grief in turns like a crown, and then a dirty undergarment. Celebrations make me melancholy.
But I can still dance in the kitchen when no one is looking. I can twirl and whirl and hold my arms out as I go round and round. This is my joyful freedom. This is my grief. I spin sorrow and joy into one. They can never be separated as long as they are part of who I am.
There is a Greater Becoming that is part of it all. There is Beauty in the Becoming. And I never dance alone.
**This was written in response to week for of L.L. Barkat’s lovely book God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Join me?