Hanging in the Balance

Tilting my head to one side as I walked across the overfull parking lot – weighed down by laptop, books, papers to grade, cell phone and all the other amenities which I pack around – parasites necessary for my current state of being.

I see what’s left of the sparse Fall colors here in northern California.  The colors that, with one windy evening, have fallen and have already begun to dry, fading into one brittle, monotone layer which will with the next wind, be forgotten.  The remnants of gold and red have already faded to rouge and mustard.  I almost stop to take a picture, but realize how many things I’d need to set down and then need to re-sling over my shoulder, instead I  continue walking….

Last night at church there was talk of futures planned not by us but held firm – directed, protected, by God.  Talk of business and bustling – busy-ness which keeps us from balance.  I sat quietly, knitting, thinking.

Busy I know.  balance

I have known for a long time:  full days, sometimes productive, sometimes full of hoops I know need to be jumped through in order to get to the next day – the future – trying to fulfill all of the plans – mine, family’s….God’s? Mine.   I joked with a friend after church about the balance of work, school and family and the need to find balance.  I said I was looking forward to balance – which requires only 2 of those things – laughing that I didn’t see how a balance could support three things without swaying to one side or the other.

 He immediately stood on one leg – hands to the side, one leg back – and gracefully corrected my idea of balance.

I do not remember which passage from Thessalonians we read, I do not remember precisely how the stories aligned.  What I remember is sitting, attempting to remember balance, catching words such as “breathing in the breath of God” and faintly remembering the inspiration I focused so steadily on not so very long ago.

Reminding myself that work, school, family, church, gardening, knitting, reading, all of those parts of this living.  Living on the edge of crazy, pushing myself to do the best and ‘succeed’ are goals measured only by me.  If instead I live into each moment without worry about whatever effect that moment will play in the future, I will find the balance.  Thankful for the moment, the lesson learned, the time spent.  Breathing in each breath and being thankful rather than wondering how to get to the next one, or how to get to next week, or year.

Planning, having goals, all of this is important,  but letting these plans and goals – the focus on the future – be more important than right now never allows  thankfulness or grace an entrance.  So I sit here tonight.  Probably avoiding things I should be finishing in order to be successful two days from now, attempting to focus instead on how lovely it is to be quiet.  To sit with a cup of coffee and read the blogs I’ve been bookmarking for a future day when I’m not so busy.  When busy is just a construct of my own doing, I guess I get to decide when to take time to notice the moments right?

There’s no guarantee that I will ever put down the baggage of my day in order to capture the beautiful fallen leaves, but maybe I will -

stop.

and breathe.

- and take a few more moments to notice them – to be thankful for the turning of seasons – for signs of life that push through the pavement of a crowded parking lot – defying the constant foot traffic, growing upward toward a sky which is so blue.

Stop and watch the trees swaying gracefully in the invisible wind, breathing in grace, dancing to music unheard.  Watch the clouds move smoothly across the vast blue sky and wonder where they formed, when they’ll fall, what path they’ll take to begin again their cycle toward the heavens. And breathe Grace in a moment .

Shift the baggage of the day

- re-balance -

and continue to the next moment, unencumbered by the future.

Petrichor

Every day running

Sitting, learning, reflecting.

Cyclical schedule,

Ready-made days.

 

Today I walk the field

Avoid the track.

Slow down

Smell the earth

Plant seeds and wait for new life.

 

Waiting

I know well

How to wait each year

Arduously long, and fleeting.

 

Sweet perfume

A rain nearly forgotten

A lifetime ago

A year.

 

Soil turned

Young life that will produce

Produce

Another cycle.

 

Still photographs in a minds-eye

As I take my place again

Starter pistol

Crack

The race begins again.

Poetry Assignment…..

I am writing this poem for a class – and since this is generally my public forum for writing things I have to share with other people (or want to), I thought I’d share – I also think it’d be fun if anyone else wants to share their own “I am from” poem…..there a bit excruciating (in the best sense) to write and I feel like mine will be under almost constant revision, but fun nonetheless……here goes nothing:

 

I am from

Slow harmonized hymns and soul wrenching prayers

Kids tables and Easter dresses

Silly faces in over-sized mirrors

Spaghetti stuck to the ceiling

 

Dark, clear nights lit by millions of bright stars

Redwood trees and mountain misery

Roll down the windows – turn that radio up.

 

I am from

Long hours, sore muscles

Dirt under your nails, dusty knees

Overwhelming dedication and pride.

 

Stubborn as an – ox

Strong as a – mule

Or some variation of unrelenting good intentions

 

I am from

Sweet melodies and china trees

Shimmering above the wind-blown, wheat-strewn hillside

Crawdads and cows.

 

Freezing rivers and granite rocks

islands found and made

Freedom and curfews.

 

I am from

“How many phone numbers can you memorize?”

and “who knows your locker combo?”

Houses and cars that never lock

Friends who each have a key

 

Friday nights under the lights

Long bus rides home

“Yay Cheerleaders” – “Yay Band”

 

I am from

Love even when you can’t stand each other

Doors off the hinges

Sisters are forever

 

Beautiful and Broken

Here and coming

Run through this life but leave a trail

Find Love

 

…but if you really knew me

You’d laugh every time I start to cry

Forgive me for being sarcastic and afraid

and know what I really mean is thank you.

 

Where are you from friends?

empathy and me

No longer do I recognize a person’s sadness and just sit there with them in that sadness attempting to be a stronghold for them to lean upon. Now the sad, joyous, excited and frustrated reach right down into the very depths of my soul and I become that feeling. Claws of empathy that reach and reach and extend into this place I never knew I had. I read a poem from the point of view of the child writing, the mother reading and the teacher wanting to correct. I read from the standpoint of love and kindness, kindred adoration and an overwhelming need to take away the pain. My old self reads with a cynicism, and at the heartlessness which that may infer, only shows my practiced ability to shut out the feelings which imbibe and overflow from  my every thought and action – and still, there I am. The more I live, the more I relate to a world I never thought I’d understand – the more I so wish I could wipe tears and pain and hold them steady – ecstatically celebrate and lift up – sing melancholy melodies that pour out souls and pour in understanding – pray and begin again.

Wednesday Poem on a Thursday:

Notice the strange lack of posts?  me too!  You know what that means?  School is back in session.  It also means I miss you friends and hope you’re all well.

 

When I’m overwhelmed, i scribble in notebooks.   This scribbling is compliments of my last 3 hour classroom management class – I swear I took notes as well.  :)

 

Wednesday Poem on a Thursday:

Completely submerged;

Movement restricted.

So. Much. Noise.

Muffled voices and unintelligible sound

I break the surface and

The clarity is too much.

The air is cold – sharp

shards of broken reflections filling my lungs.

Binding bright, midday sun-

beam frozen heat and I blink.

Silence surrounds

Lifetimes of calm seas-

And summer breezes:

A constantly unobtainable expectation.

Leaning in toward Grace

sunset

Boxes piled in corners – in walkways, in rooms. Attempting to fill these new spaces with our known belongings and finding that it’s difficult to unpack. The starting of a new journey feels weighed down by possessions which have been boxed for weeks.

Life is like that too.

In the grand scheme of moving forward – living into the broken beautiful-ness and the kingdom here and coming – attempting to bring all of our expectations and learned ways into a journey that doesn’t require them. We find ourselves struggling along, attempting to match our own notions into true understandings and the puzzle pieces keep sticking around the edges – corners need to be cut off for these pieces to fit.

This constant struggle to fit ourselves and our own baggage into the journey means we miss the beautiful views and the little – almost unnoticeable – everyday miracles that make up this crazy life.

I am attempting this week to live into the spaces – boxes be damned – to play with the kids and enjoy the sunsets (and sunrises too at this rate).  School starts for me in just a week, and even in the barely muffled stress which tells me I am walking into this year without the slightest clue of what to expect besides busy, running-around, trying to keep up days – I know I have to let go – no expectations will fit this year – no amount of pre-planning or precisely scheduled calendar reminders will guarantee that this will go smoothly.  All I can do is keep moving forward – holding hands and hearts with my family as we go, and each of us needing a leg up this year as we keep climbing on – further up and further in people – everyday.

 

Mornings

Cool and calm and so very bright.

Summer mornings are full of wonderful smells and sounds that fill my soul so completely.
The chickens create such noise in the backyard that the morning cannot be describe as still and silent as it might be in the cold, dark winter. These chicken rustlings and sounds that mark the waking up of the world create a stillness in my soul that allows the day to begin beautifully. Mornings, where I sit in solitude, sipping hot coffee and shivering slightly in the coolness of a California sunrise, are my very favorite. These mornings allow me to let go of the worries that I know will surround the rest of the day, to relax and ignore the knowledge that questions will descend the stairs along with my children, but at least I have this chance to sit in the unknowing – answer-less, myself silent and still.

We are moving in 2 days.

Yesterday, I received one phone call and two very exuberant texts congratulating us on the purchase of our very own house. Congratulations marked with humor and with relief – this is a crazy process, the buying of a house.  Stressful and scary and not intuitive in the very least.  It’s been a rough month of paperwork and phone calls and more paperwork and So. Many. Signatures.  Scott and I have been trying to make this process run smoothly so as not to stress out the kids – we’ve acknowledged to them that this is a stressful process that requires patience and that requires all of us to work together – but I think in the end, I at least have been attempting to mask all the nervous stress, with excitement – and packing, lots of packing.

After reading the 8th chapter of the 6th Harry Potter book to my kids last night before bed, Katarina, rather than adopting her normal resignation toward bedtime – during which she claims that she never actually does sleep and should just be allowed to stay up, because sleep is useless – the girl broke into tears. This girl has been so excited about moving, about the newness of having her own room for the first time ever, about new places and the possibilities of new friends – this girl. She cried because she is worried about next school year (they’re going to the same school they always have), and how she knows she won’t make friends and no one will want to play with her. She’s worried about a new house and the distance it places between her and said friends. She’s worried about the newness – the unknown – and she’s just a little scared. Oh my Katie.
Why do we bottle things up so long? I know I do it too. Mask the fear and the nerves with excitement and fearless ambition. What is it within us that says -” don’t show fear”,”don’t worry”.
I sat and talked to her about how exciting it is to have her own room, how many of her friends will live just down the street, and how during summertime, our whole lives feel unstable because each day comes with a bit of unknown – our friends are on vacation, at odd times, we do not have a daily schedule.  I also told her that being scared and nervous and worried, is completely normal and that many of the questions she has can’t be answered in this moment – we have to live the answers – find them as we go.  There’s more than that really.  This morning I sit and because it has been a practice since I was 18, I think about Jeremiah 29:11 – and to me, knowing that the plans for my life are known, that they’re meant to prosper and not to harm, gives me comfort in this moment – but I know too, that there have been times when those same words inspire guilt.  Guilt because even if I believe these words, I’m scared.  It is so difficult to sit in the unknown and know that all will be well – and while I, in my 31 years have found the ability to embrace the unknown and the trust I seek, How do I help my kids to trust, without the guilt I’ve often felt?  Again, parenting is hard, but lovely and beautiful too.

So friends – here’s to new things.  The answers we want, and those we don’t especially want will come with the experience of living the questions and trusting that tomorrow is a new day.

Enjoy your morning!