Wednesday, November 26, 2008

for your kindness...

Thankful. Thankful. Thankful. I've already thankful-ed it up over at Close to Home but now as I ready our family for this Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to specifically say a special thanks to those of you who visit me here, where random thoughts mix with favorite photos and my eclectic taste in music. The talented and beautiful Ser, over at Just Another Mama Blog, recently posted about her own appreciation for being able to interact and share her every day experiences with those old friends and new on-line acquaintances she would rather get together with over coffee (and later, wine) but cannot due to the miles that separate them. I echo those sentiments and often marvel at how the very same technology which can suck us into ourselves if we are not constantly aware of that danger and vigilant in our dedication to stay connected, promoting community over individualism, can unite the otherwise un-unitable.

So to those who've traveled alongside me for years now, and you know who you are, holding my hand (sometimes literally) though the births and deaths I've reveled in and endured throughout my life thus far, and to those I've had the privilege of "meeting" through the process of blogging, whose faith, honesty and wit have earned my deep respect and admiration, I'll have you know that I am braver and wiser and filled to capacity with gratitude because our paths have crossed. Let us keep on, then, spreading love, belief and friendship willy-nilly all over the place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my little mouth, my winter lungs...

We got nine inches last night and now our yard looks like a scene from out of a Thomas Kinkade painting - all timeless, softly lit, and too good to be true. Within minutes of gathering the boots and layers necessary for snow ball, man, and angel making, I was reminded of how much slush and clutter gets strewn around my kitchen, living room, dining room in the winter months. But then again, there is something about flushed icy cheeks, frigid mornings and emaciated tree branches covered in billowing mounds of sparkling, starry snowflakes that make coffee taste even better and staying inside all snuggled up together on the couch a preferred, glorious, comforting way to pass the hours. Will it get old? Oh yeah, come February, we'll be clawing at the walls and dreaming of greens and pinks and yellows. But today, the white on white effect is mesmerizing and magical.

I'm preparing, devising a plan, the goal of which is health and making it all the way to springtime without caving in to the eye-twitching madness accompanying those extra hours of dark, and isolation. I'm a moderate optimist - hopeful but realistic, thus I'm ridding my house of chocolate and keeping a gym bag packed with spandex-ey shorts and a water bottle for those 6:00 pm exercise classes at the YMCA. I have learned the very hard way that stay-at-home mothers cannot live, cannot thrive, on positive thinking alone. Now is the time to gird ourselves with better soul, mind and body affirming choices. We have so little control over our stuff and our unpredictable schedules, but no one is holding a gun to our heads and shoving junk food down our throats or forcing us to dress in shapeless sweatpants and sluggishness inducing fuzzy slippers. It IS going to be messier, and more difficult for awhile to stay afloat emotionally amidst all the usual parenting demands plus the loneliness, and the added complication of finding mittens and hats, scraping off vans, shoveling driveways before errands can be run.

Please, join me in prayer, in fueling ourselves with wholesome nutrients and aerobic activity, in writing letters to old friends (see two posts below), offering sincere and specific compliments as often as possible, surrounding ourselves with quality, beautiful, thought provoking (as opposed to numbing) stimuli, and staying aware of and away from those temptations that when yielded to leave us agitated, regretful, morose and depressed. There is power in numbers and a higher chance of success when accountability is involved. So tell me, what will YOUR tactics be for staying sane and robust this season? I could use some inspiration and support!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

put out the fire

The blaze has died down some. Our streets are lined with the last remnants of autumn, piles of gold and red all earthy scented and muted from the raking and the trampling of sweatshirt-ed children still resisting the confinement of puffy coats and mittens. Gone too, for the most part, are the heated accusations and the scorching debates burning holes in the theories and characters of rivals. The time has come to retire our weapons, cool off, declare a ceasefire - the race is over. Let us be neighbors now, exuding warmth. Let us think in terms of today and peace and respect for the whole of humanity. Nothing's changed this season, for those who recognize the bold and brilliant Brightness glowing lucid amidst uncertainty, but the weather.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Please read the letter...

There is a question whether faith can or is supposed to be emotionally satisfying. I must say that the thought of everyone lolling about in an emotionally satisfying faith is repugnant to me. I believe that we are ultimately directed Godward but that this journey is often impeded by emotion. I don't think you are a jellyfish. But I suspect you of being a Romantic. Which is not such an opprobrious thing as being a fascist. I do hope you will reconsider and relieve me of the burden of being a fascist. The only force I believe in is prayer, and it is a force I apply with more doggedness than attention (pg. 100).

I've been slowly making my way through her numerous letters. She penned hundreds between 1948 and 1964, when she died too young from complications related to Lupus. The book is called The Habit of Being and within it are the humorous, brave, extraordinary and intimate insights of the very talented and witty Miss Flannery O'Connor. I am awestruck by the sheer volume of them and the thoughtfulness that went into each. I am wishing, now, that I could sit with her awhile.

I can't remember when I last constructed a letter. Staccato e-mails have replaced the girly stationary and detailed correspondence about every day events I used to send and long to receive from my high school and then college friends, because I'm old enough to have made it through four years of higher education without help from the Internet. Cursive writing, with actual ink on notebook paper, has become painful and awkward. My penmanship, which I used to agonize over, is now sloppy and illegible. I communicate by typing, using facts - who, what, where, when -instead of offering a piece of myself by way of hand scrawled stories and spit sealed notes addressed from me to the recipients on my mind and in my heart. We hit "delete" and there is nothing left to treasure or hold on to.

I am thinking that I'm not yet ready to throw in the towel, to surrender to this frightening epidemic reducing the beauty and complexity of language to cryptic abbreviations in the form of text messages on cell phones. I am suddenly quite desperate for lengthy paragraphs, complete sentences, floral envelopes and a roll of stamps. It's not my personality, really, to rock the boat, make a fuss, protest, but in this case...I'm too scared not to - for the sake of my children and their future, potentially void of truly meaningful interactions, of literary and historical keepsakes. This week, one letter - I dare you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

forever dreams of a better day

This photo of Mary was taken two Novembers ago and there is no need, I am sure, to rehash the fact that time is flowing forward with the force, speed and steadfastness of a rushing waterfall. You get it, already - I am stupefied by the rapidity with which we all are growing older, and hopefully wiser and less impulsive, more accepting of our limitations when it comes to not knowing everything or having all the perfect answers. The closer I get to the other side, the less I nitpick over the details and stomp my feet in a royal huff shouting, "This is the way things are, I am certain of it!"

"But what of the children?" I used to wonder. How do I mesh for them God's omnipotence with the passion heard here on earth in arguments heated, perhaps noble yet still divisive in their desperation to uncover the truth. Where should I draw for us as a family the line which separates faith and empathy from a no holds barred acceptance of immorality? How is it my place to construct barriers when I am clinging with white knuckled fingers to Grace unlimited, unconfined?" Maybe it's lazy of me to forfeit but I just can't see the point, anymore, of summarizing.

Love is life, wrote Tolstoy, All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.

Peg me as foolish or naive. Say I'm in danger of calling a spade a Queen of Hearts, but I'd rather err on the side of peace, forgiveness, kindness, beauty, hospitality and HOPE, HOPE, HOPE (did I say that already?) than fear and judgment with its weighty assumptions that could be turned back on to me because I, my friends, am a mess - I have plenty to work on.

So here is what we'll do, kids: pray for mercy on our own infirm souls and then love as we've been loved - illogically and with no strings attached.

We'll simplify.