Celebration

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)

And also:

…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.

Yet…

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?

Junk and Treasure

It continues to rain here in the Kanawha Valley, misting a lazy malaise over us all and making the trees bow down with heavy heads. Most, who are not ducks, choose to stay inside. Unless…there is a neighborhood garage sale going on as in my subdivision today! The die-hard salers sloshed about our streets this morning, oblivious to rheumatic joints and chilled bodies. It wasn’t good weather for a sale, but no matter, the prices were right.

Here is what my garage looked like this morning:

I’ve been tucking away items for weeks, waiting for this chance to clear out and recycle parts of my life. There is something so cleansing about purging the house of unused items. Something so sweet about watching a person’s eyes light up as they strike a bargain. It really is true that one man’s junk is another’s treasure.

As I sat in my lawn chair with my coffee this morning, I couldn’t help feeling a bit wistful about parting with this:

I had taken the better part of the morning scrubbing off the crayola markings and scraping off Blues Clues stickers. But when a young woman excitedly hauled it off with a bright face, it brought me much joy to know that this little table would see some more happy days.

Here’s another view of the garage:

Can you tell that we are book people? In fact, as I was putting them out this morning, several didn’t make it into the sale. I had to take a stack back in that I just couldn’t bear to part with: Corduroy, for one. Green Eggs and Ham, another. After all, I may be a grandmother one day. One can never have enough books.

In between customers, I mused about the objects on my tables. Like my children, if I pondered them too long, I was apt to change my mind and keep them. But as it was, I was practically giving these things away. These silver candlesticks Jeff and I received as a wedding gift. This book: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, that was read every night of my first pregnancy and well thumbed throughout the second. I remembered the day we bought that set of dishes…how young we were! And that little tricycle; how many miles on the odometer?

Seasons. God created them so perfectly. I wonder why it is so difficult sometimes to stand on the other side of one and look back? As I look over this garage filled with junk and treasure, I am overwhelmed by the blessings in my life. These objects represent a journey. Trinkets and garments. Stories and toys.

Yesterday, Jeff and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. I had to work, and for fun, asked each one of my patients how long they had been married. I was amazed at the stories my questions yielded. A young soldier, wrinkled with age now, buried his wife of 55 years only 2 years ago. A brief moment compared to the years they shared. Some tears were shed in the telling. But, oh, the love! Another, lost her husband much too young. She seemed to savor the taste of his name on her tongue. Kept saying it over and over. Others, blessed to still have their life mate with them, smiled shyly as they spoke of their love. What a blessing are these years we have been given. The widow told me, “You cannot get them back.

“Fifteen years is a milestone”, said she, when I told her we had nothing special planned, “make a date with him.”

But he had praise band practice and I had the sale to get ready for. Still, when I tucked little Jeffrey in last night, when he asked me to stay a bit, I says, “No, hon, mommy has a special kiss for daddy tonight.”

“What for?” he wondered.

When he was reminded of the special day, he thought we should celebrate by sleeping in his bed with him since the start of our marriage marked the beginning of our family. Ha! The little con-man!

He has a point. Not about the sleeping, mind you, but about the celebration. We have much to celebrate in the years that we have been given.

Yes, it seems like yesterday, that morning I last awoke as an individual. Yet, it seems like forever, because I cannot imagine my life before him. For since that day, fifteen years ago, I am not whole without him.

Maybe I will make a date with my husband. I think I’ll take those silver candlesticks off the table. Told you what would happen if I thought about them too long. It’s time to celebrate.

And the Endless gifts continue…

51. Fifteen years of ups and downs, of mostly goods and some bads; Fifteen years of love…

52. And the fruit of that love…

To see all the posts of the Endless Gifts, click here.

The Wedding Party

When I turn my face into a gentle spring breeze, my heart always rejoices. I feel that it is God’s fingertips that brush over my face, His breath that stirs my hair. I often close my eyes and breath in deeply, savoring this tangible reminder of His presence. When I am perched high to enjoy this sensation, I feel like a queen; and I lift my head, upturning my face to my King, basking in His love. But today…today something else came with the wind.

The fruit trees have donned their glory for this season, dotting the landscape with color and filling the air with their heady perfume. When I step out onto the stoop this morning, the air is filled with pear blossom confetti, thousands of white petals shed into the breeze, a wafting shower of celebration. My heart lifts as I step down into the midst of their swirling and dancing delight and I am carried away.

I am part of the bridal party, which joyfully frolics under this confetti…this parade of living joy that dances and whirls in the air. I am the bride, a most treasured one anticipating the joy that is to come!

The petals swirl around me, in obvious delight, settling in my hair and every crack and crevice offered. I lift my arms, slowly turn around and round. I am walking on a blanket of flowers dropped from heaven as the saints rejoice.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NIV)