Of Caterpillars and Hope…

Tiny Teddy-bear Caterpillar

Our first “teddy-bear caterpillar” sighting of the year. He was crossing our gravel road when my sister and I stopped to pet him, and he curled up into himself — protecting his softness from the harsh unknowns of the world. He was gently carried to a place of green far off the road, and we continued our evening walk.

Today, I found myself envying this tiny one’s ability to freeze and bring himself a sense of safety — in his little world everything stopped — there was time to just be still. I, too, feel like curling up for a period of rest — I find myself unable to think, unable to function well, unable to ponder this journey. I am tired…

It’s a night to yearn for peace rather than marvel at it… My eyes burn with the build up of fatigue and emotion from this past summer. A couple days ago we had to evacuate since the state park I grew up hiking to from home became the site of a wildfire… Thankfully the winds pushed it the opposite direction from my childhood home, and we had firefighters from districts all over the state as well as civilian volunteers from the area, come to conquer the flames. They won. We survived our evacuation adventure – five of us at my other sister’s place, with five cats (and two fish!) – no one really slept. It was so wonderful to return home safely — and we’re all so grateful! Not everyone was able to return to their home safe and sound…

Tonight I am weighing the balance of my losses this summer alongside all the ways Light shines in my world — all the Goodness that simply is… Life is hard… but it is good. There is Hope. Tonight I will sleep — and tomorrow I will hope again.

Veni, Vidi, Amavi.

It’s all Grace.


Sunsets and Birdsong Dawns…

Clackamas River Sunset

Life has thrown another curve… It does that.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll find after I turn the corner, but for now I’m walking slowly along the path in no real hurry to get around the bend. I have spent this last week or so in my childhood home while working on my Finals for this term — this curve in life forced me to fall way behind in my classwork and I needed some help with the boys so I could get everything caught up and finished before the term ended. Somehow I’ve managed to catch up with everything despite all my current life drama…

While here my “baby” sister and I have had the opportunity to go for evening walks together — the boys have grandparents to help if someone takes a fall — I can be away for an extended period of time without worrying. This means that there has been a period of unexpected Rest in the midst of this chaos. Being with family – it’s easier to get up in the morning, easier to remember to eat, easier to sleep… I’m not spending my nights right now dreading the waking of another day…

Out walking with my sister in the evenings gives me the chance to just breathe, and hiking along the river in all its familiarity, it’s easy to remember who I am. The beauty that shaped me is still here — sunset skies above the river and birdsong filling the dawn. The air here at my childhood home by the river I know so well – it still smells like the late summers of my girlhood — like sun-warmed berries and dry grass, heavy with the weight of the heat and the scent of the river… Summer’s end hangs in the air as the days shorten and we all feel the coming autumn looming despite the present heatwave. I miss the sea – the sound of her breathing tides and her scent in the air – but I am so grateful to be here right now…

Life is hard — I hope you all can find Beauty when you’re travelling your own rocky path… Remember we’re all on this journey together – stay soft with each other…

  • #rememberingme
  • #childhoodforests
  • #viewfromthewaterfall
  • #clackamasriver
  • #sunsetsandbirdsongdawns

Breathe…

St. Mary’s after Mass and my front porch this evening

The tide was out this morning after Mass — I stood briefly on the bluff in front of St. Mary’s to close my eyes and feel its rhythm…  the breeze on my face heavy with the scent of the sea. Then it was time to get home and bring Eucharist to my boys — a bit of Thanksgiving and Peace for the week ahead.

The day has been spent in Quiet – my Shakespeare paper finished yesterday meant today was free to simply straighten our home a little and just rest…

This evening I am sitting here on the porch — the sun gentle on my shoulders and face now as it heads towards meeting with the sea — together they will paint the sky and the far horizon with the coming sunset. It was harsh at midday today — even with the breeze — but now there is a softness in its warmth as the day draws to a close.  Sitting here, the sound of the sea is a comforting roar in my chest — the tide was at its height not long ago and it still sounds like it. The breeze off the sea is stronger tonight than it was this morning – dancing with the leaves in the trees, making the shadows shimmer – every once in awhile a gust whips my hair around my face and fills my lungs with the fullness of the seaside in the summer… sun-warmed grasses and sand, the lake and creeks nearby, the heat of the roads in the area, the wet-earth and bracken of the woods… and of course — the sea.

Breathe.
Can you feel its rhythm — can you hear its echo inside as the tide of your own breath fills your lungs with life?

We all breathe the same air.  We’re all rocked to the rhythm of our heartbeats — all the same… all living and loving on land that eventually meets the sea. Love is the only appropriate response to the beauty of our shared humanity – our shared rhythm of life.

Breathe.
There’s still hope for us.

#searhythm
#hopeforus
#breathetogether
#onehumanity

Grief, Grandmas, and Love-Lessons…

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The Philosopher and his Great-Grandma…

The day before yesterday would have been my grandma’s 83rd birthday.

I’ve been missing her a lot lately. Probably partly because I knew her birthday was coming, but it’s also because of the time of year — the holidays are such a family-oriented time. I’ve actually begun this post multiple times over the past couple of days… I just don’t seem to have the words I need…

Grief is such a huge part of the human experience and it’s so unpredictable. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately — I’m not sure if it’s coincidental that I’ve been spending so much time in the kitchen, or if it’s related to missing my grandma (Grandma was a great cook when I was a young girl)… but being in any kitchen makes me think of her, while also making me feel a little closer to her… So many of my memories with the women in my family center around time in the kitchen, even when I was too little to help much I would sit in there and listen to them talk and laugh as meals were prepared. I’ve never had a lot of interest in food — but sitting around a table, laughing and sharing food in the warmth of the family — that I love…

Mama came over this afternoon and helped me make bone broth for the first time in my instant pot. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s always easier to have someone experienced around when you’re trying something new… :) And it was a good excuse to get to spend time with Mama in my kitchen. We talked and vented about life’s challenges while I learned how to work the instant pot without being so nervous around it (I have no idea why the thing makes me so anxious!), and I shared recipes from my new cookbook with her as we talked about a good way to modify one so I could use it at dinner without having to run to the store.  It was homey and just so nice to be in the kitchen together — even if my kitchen sink was already piled high with dishes and my useable counter-space was at a minimum. When does a good meal ever come without dirty dishes? Sometimes you have to make a mess to create something beautiful.

Isn’t that true about so much of life?

I’ve found that the older I get, the more I appreciate the women in my family — the heritage they’ve left me, and all I’ve learned from them. Since my grandma’s passing, as I edge ever closer to 40, I’ve learned that what matters the most to me is family… and I no longer feel like that’s somehow not okay, or not “good enough” — these lives I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with are more than enough. I love spending time with them — I love laughing together and making memories. I love the simple day in and day out of walking the journey of life together. I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life feeling like this was somehow “wrong”… I’ve become so much more comfortable in my own skin — so much more sure of who I am — now that I have spent so much time spinning around this sun. I wish there was some way to have all this internal knowledge of myself sooner — it would have saved me a lot of pointless heartache.

Tonight, now that my kitchen is clean and the house is quiet as everyone is spending their last hours before bed relaxing before another Monday, I’m feeling especially thankful — thankful and a little bit teary-eyed. It’s so hard to miss those we love. Grief is just the continuation of loving the ones we can no longer touch… it’s that missing-ache… like homesickness, but for a loved one instead of a loved place… so it’s much harder to handle. And we never know when waves of this “missing-ache” will hit us…

I am so blessed to have so many of those I love around me… and I am trying to never take my time with them for granted — it’s just so short…

“God sets the lonely in families…” (Psalm 68:6)

I am grateful…

  1. chicken dinners with all the trimmings…
  2. leftovers hand pie pastries (gluten and dairy free of course!)
  3. cooking with Mama…
  4. Arnica…
  5. my boys visiting with grandparents today…
  6. laughing with Papa Jeff…
  7. listening to Little Boy tell the names of his Hot Wheels…
  8. The Philosopher and Brother-in-law talking video game design…
  9. The Professor playing with Little Boy…
  10. fighting with the hubby’s new computer setup…

It’s all Grace…

 

 

Love and Letting Go…

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Today was busy, as so many days are, but the boys both had a decent health day for the first time in ages… so I am feeling a gentle peace amidst my end-of-day fatigue. The Professor had a productive doctor appointment today, and was even able to handle a 50 minute piano lesson — unbelievable progress compared to just months ago. (I seriously love our osteopath Dr. Thom — it’s so amazing to see The Professor’s brain actually showing quantifiable signs of recovery after almost a year and half!)  The Philosopher has been able to cut back on his medication, and today he sat without neck support for the first time in months visiting with friends online (again – thank God for Dr. Thom). I am so tired, but so very thankful to have both my boys making progress today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but sitting here with my heating pad on my back, curled up in this cozy chair, wrapped in my favorite purple blanket… at this moment… I am at peace. Right now, whatever will happen tomorrow doesn’t matter…

“Therefore do no worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

I am trying to practice “letting go” — trying to remember to trust that “all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28)  Life is not long, but it is hard. If you’re learning and living on this globe spinning through space, then you’re struggling with something. We all want life to be easy — we want to have our needs met — we want life to make sense. But sometimes that’s just not how life works. 

It is such a challenge to let go of worry about my family. I can deal with my own health problems, I can handle material losses — being completely broke doesn’t scare me, I’ve been there, done that — I’ve pumped creek water into a washing machine to wash clothes while filtering out the water beetles in a kitchen strainer, and then discovered one morning that even that water was gone because the creek dried up overnight. I can face being hungry and not knowing where the next meal will come from — and I’ve seen God provide through strangers who gave us food without even knowing we needed it in the Minnesota cold. Even if it’s at the eleventh hour, I have seen God come through over and over again… and yet… I still worry about those I love. I worry about their struggles, their pain, their obstacles… If I had my way my loved ones’ lives would be easy… But I am not the author of their lives — they are the ones who put pen to soul-paper and shape their story as life happens around them. I am just a side character in their autobiography… and the only guarantee we have in life is that there will be troubles. There is no story without conflicts.

Why is it so hard for me trust that the ones I love are safe in the palm of God?

“…I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 19:15b-16a)

It’s funny — the more we learn to Love, the more we are like our Creator — and often the more we hurt. Grief and Love are so closely related — we don’t grieve what we haven’t loved first, and the more we love — the more painfully we grieve.  It’s no wonder there are people who choose not to live Love — it is one of the things that makes life hard… and yet it’s also what makes life worth the struggle. It is what we are really learning as we walk this journey of our humanity.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

 

…So I choose to love — I choose the pain and beauty of it all — the glory and the storm. Slowly — ever so slowly — I’m learning to know and rely on Love…

I am grateful…

  1. health improvements…
  2. warm, purple blankets…
  3. Pat-me’s presence curled up before the fire…
  4. Dr. Thom (yes he get’s in here more than once!)
  5. perspective…
  6. love shown in tears…
  7. The Professor speaking German with Dr. Thom…
  8. The Philosopher gaming with his friends around the world…
  9. sweet potato soup with my hubby…
  10. hugs from my mama…

It’s all Grace…