The Thundering Spectacle

He drives me to church every Sunday morning and I clutch the side of the door and swallow fear. He’s grown used to this little drive, but I can’t and I tell him to pull up closer to the stop sign…not quite so far to the left…are you following too close?
How on earth did my mother ever survive this?
He is growing up too fast and when friends invite him to an end-of-the-school-year party, we all go. He and his brother pack gobs of old homework to throw on the firepit, this the way they say goodbye—watching those bits of last year turn into smoke.
I watch him rub shoulders with the other teens and laugh and goof off and snap limbs to pile on the bonfire. And at night I dream I am disconnected from my body—moving forward without the most grounded parts of me.
I don’t know how to do this thing—this mothering of teens. At times I am seized with a terror that comes from deep inside of me; like the labor pains that brought him forth. And it feels like my womb is crying out and that place where he once lay planted doesn’t know how to let go. How do I say goodbye and hello all once? How do I stand and watch as bits of the last years turn to misty smoke?
On Sunday Pastor reads Isaiah 6. And she talks about fear.
The king is dead,”she said. “And an unproved son is poised to take the throne. The enemy looms large. And where is Isaiah? Why, he’s in church, of course.”
I feel Isaiah’s terror and I’m all “Woe to me” and I want to hide behind the skirts of this church for a while.
And when she paints the scene with words—the seraphim and the the “holy holy holy” and the train of his robe filling the temple…I wonder if I’ve ever really known God at all.
The truth is,”Pastor says. “That you and I experience far too little of God—quiet stirrings not thundering spectacles…”
To see the thundering spectacle, does one need to let go of the tight clutch on the door handle?
I look down at my hand, right there in the pew. And I open…and close. Open…and close…I practice holding this life up to Him.
And the next day we go driving for a full two hours.

This week’s memory verse:

To download a memory card of James 2:18-19.

Check previous Tuesday posts for prior verses.

For memory cards of the whole book of James visit this post.

Blogging in community with Michelle and Jen today. Love you girls! 


  1. says

    gripping the door handle…or my favorite…slamming my foot through the floor as I “help” my daughter with breaking…she loves this by the way:)…oh yes…saying good-bye…and hello…I am right there with you. Even though I have done this before…each one is it’s own birth pang…blessings to you as you ride with your driver to be:)

  2. says

    oh my dear laura. i don’t want my boys to get this old. i don’t. i want them young and chubby forever. sigh. this post was so beautiful, and i felt the fear, and then i felt the letting go. love you.

  3. says

    Blessings to you, dear friend, right there in the thick of their growing-upness. It gets better. I promise.

    And the days come where they flood your heart with pride.

    Epic flood, I mean.

  4. says

    “To see the thundering spectacle, does one need to let go of the tight clutch on the door handle?”

    Mmmmm. What rich imagery, the skirts of the Church, the ashes flying upward, the terror in the passenger’s seat!

    I am inspired to take the “homework” of so many years, the papers of scribblings of lessons I’ve tried to learn and toss them on a fire, not as a way of saying they aren’t needed anymore, but that they are so emblazoned on me I don’t need the tangible proof of the work anymore.

    You’ve sent me down a good path this morning, Laura. Oh, and you will come through these years of parenting teens beautifully. You can’t help but. But I acknowledge the passing moments of terror.

  5. says

    Ah yes, this driving thing takes faith to a whole new level. On Saturday, he drove into San Antonio, and I dug my nails into my thighs so I wouldn’t yell. Later that afternoon, I showed a friend all my red whelps.

    P.S. He’s supposed to get his license in three weeks. Lord, have mercy!

  6. says

    This makes me smile.

    I’m going to invite you to a ceremonial burning of homework party when I’m done with nurse training!


    You’re a good mom.

    Never doubt that.

  7. Anonymous says

    well now … this excerpt from a poem by Wendell Berry comes to mind … and it’s the last verse that clinches the whole deal. I mean we’re all practicing in this life …

    “Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.

    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.

    Listen to carrion — put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.

    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
    a woman satisfied to bear a child?
    Will this disturb the sleep
    of a woman near to giving birth?

    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
    in her lap. Swear allegiance
    to what is nighest your thoughts.

    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go.

    Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.”

    ― Wendell Berry

    Sweet Jesus, how I love Wendell Berry.


  8. says

    oh, I could feel you gripping that door, and then opening and closing your hands, and giving God your heart…praying God continues to give your grace for the journey…lovely…thank you, friend 🙂

  9. says

    Wow – I so do not want my kids to grow up! lol!! And yet at the same time I think to myself “I can’t wait for the day when they can: dress themselves, feed themselves, go out to play by themselves (we live in an apartment), and best of all – sleep through the night”. Uff…mine are 2 1/2 years and 8 months. I’m tired. And yet – I miss cuddling with my wee babies (my 8-month old was “wee” for a very short time…he’s HUGE!!). It’s so hard being a mom sometimes…you long for the little-ness of babies and yet treasure every milestone. It’s a crazy thing.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a kind comment. I pray you are blessed!

    A Little R & R

  10. says

    I love this idea of ceremonial homework burning!

    I had no fear riding with my daughter. Preferred her driving to mine. Now that’s scary. (Of course, she’d already had lots of illegal practice that I didn’t know about. That’s scarier still.)

  11. says

    I have to admit I’m somewhat of a hillbilly. I was taught to drive on dirt roads and you weren’t officially called a “driver” until you could handle a vehicle at over speed on a dirt curve, tires turned into the slide and guts to hang on through it. (even my mom subscribed to these rules!)

    I taught my oldest daughter to drive on undeveloped roads, before people lived in the neighborhoods. She thought I was out of my mind, the details that I held her to. She is a great driver now, although she does tend to speed… I have no idea where she gets that.

    I taught my middle daughter in the same way. Our little one will be up for the same abuse…

    I can’t tell you what those times mean to me, not only passing along a heritage, but the cherished memories that make me swell with pride…

    Beautiful words. The last of the teenage years is like a disappearing mist… Well said.

  12. says

    Your story made me laugh, because I can remember my girls learning to drive. I would raise my right leg and cross it to keep it from hitting the card parked along the road. (Not even close, but I felt that way.) Great story

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