Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The hope of spring

I slipped away from the noise and chaos.  As the front door shut behind me, the muffled sounds of the children continued in their play.  I sat on the front step, enjoying the calm and ignoring all that remained to be done behind me.  The flowers on the tree were bright in the warmth of the evening sun.  I thought of spring and renewal--of the glory and beauty of the earth's growth--of the exuberant joy of abundant life after simply survival.

And the Lord started to teach me.

In many ways, my life follows that of the trees and the flowers.  I have periods of simply survival.  Times when only that bare necessities matter, and, sometimes, even some of those don't get done.  These are the times that I drop the signs of abundant life.  Ponytails abound, dinners emerge from boxes, dishes and laundry erupt, and patience gets thin.  And then come the times when I shine.  I am put together, I invite others for dinner, and the children and I find adventures.  I am like that spring time tree.   Much of life is neither.  Much of life is the work of summer growing.  

I've known all of this before, only with different words.  But this time, I learned something new.  Each spring builds on the work of last summer and fall.  Each time I can go further, be more--more kind, more persistant, more full of faith, more orderly, more loving.  And those dormant times of survival, whether they come from moves or babies or trauma or doubt, are the reasons the spring is glorious and that I can grow.  And the times of plenty give me the reserves to weather the long winters that come.  This is how I grow.  This is how I become.  Each year adds another tiny bit that can add up to a beautiful tree that spreads beauty and shade to the weary nearby.   And each winter yields to the inevitable, if sometimes late, spring.

Somehow, the image of that ebb and flow of life was reassuring.  The hope of springs to come filled me with peace.  And as the muffled sounds of play became the muffled sounds of discord, I could return to face all that waited inside.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


This is the first year any of the children has caught on to the idea of April Fool's Day.  Miss M was enthralled.  It didn't help that her school teacher was helping her plan some of her deeds.  It all started the day before...

Miss M:  Young A, what is your favorite cereal?
Young A:  Oatmeal Squares.
Miss M:  Miss E, what is your favorite cereal?
Miss E:  Oatmeal Squares.
Miss M:  No, you have to choose something different.
Miss E:  Then Shredded Wheat.

Five minutes later, I catch Miss M in the kitchen switching the bags of cereal in the chosen boxes.  The idea was to have them discover her deed the next morning at breakfast.  Unfortunately, as we left to pick up the Professor from work, Young A decided to grab a handful of cereal to tide him over.  He stuck one in his mouth and was very confused.  It took a bit of explaining for him to understand why Shredded Wheat was in his Oatmeal Squares and where in the world his Oatmeal Squares were.

The next day, Miss M got home from school and very quickly asked for a glass of milk as she hurried past hiding something.  Later, I went into the kitchen to find a cup with "spilled milk" left on the table.  She had used glue and a plastic cup to imitate a spill.  She was quite proud of herself.

A bit later, Miss M came to me and asked, so I thought, "Mom, do you want a brownie?"  I figured something was up, but said yes.  I was handed a brown paper E.  How kind.

I must admit it's been fun.  When I realized that Miss M was conspiring before the day even came, I made sure to set a few expectations:  No mess and nothing mean.  She came through with flying colors.