The Ants Go Marching, II

My favorite ants went off to school last week, and the dog days of summer seem now a Polaroid faded by time. Ah it was a lovely summer! I thoroughly enjoyed its spaciousness, and I’m sad that it is over so soon. But such is the nature of rest (and vacation). It’s a lovely and needful thing, refreshing body and soul. But if we were to stay in it always, never to leave it, something beautiful and refreshing would soon deteriorate into something disfiguring and life-draining. “Too much of a good thing,” the saying goes, and it’s mostly true.

I am thoroughly caught up in the transition from rest to work. Schedule has marched us forward with the constant beat of a ticking clock. And it’s suddenly necessary to watch the clock again because something or someone important will surely be slighted otherwise. I’m not entirely in the groove yet. I’m running to catch up to the schedule like someone late for her train. When back-to-school descends upon us, it comes into the station like a bat out of hell. And I’m still not the step ahead I need to be. So this morning I rushed into my second cup of coffee, sat down at the computer, determined to knock out a new item on a swelling to-do list. I’d started the day behind; I’d hit the “snooze” button three times this morning and set off a falling-domino frenzy. It has not been the prettiest of mornings.

But as I sat down to work, my spirit was unsettled. Soundlessly, my name was being called. I’d reacted to the demands and work at hand as if my season of rest were gone forever. But it’s not gone. The taste of summer still lingers, faint though it is. And there’s Sunday, the day our family turns off electronics (kind of consistently), wakes up to daylight instead of alarms, and goes off to worship the God that transcends all this frenzy. And then there’s this quiet part of the morning I’m having right now. Even if I did hit snooze too many times, I still have this precious moment of quiet once my four little ants are safely at their desks.

How quickly I forget the graces of God, brush them away in my determination not to fall behind. In this lifetime, my work will never be done. And I need this daily moment of rest, if only for a small number of minutes, to listen to the sweet call of my name. Our God desires to meet with us, to settle our spirits and gently call us into the real work of each and every day. The emails, the phone calls, the paperwork and the laundry can wait a few more minutes so they can be transformed from the pesky nips at my heel to a kind of work that is somehow connected to the life and service of Christ. What could be oppressive can sparkle with the signs of Christ and become instead a labor of love, when we can stop and rest in Him. My friend wrote about just this thing recently, and it took me back six years to a time when I was pondering the same ideas, reading the book you see pictured above (and so you can witness personally just how quickly I forget the graces of God!).

Four little ants are at their desks now, in clothes that adhere to dress code, finished homework papers, and miraculously, a packed lunch. Their breakfasts were odd, but they will get them by ’til lunch. My work is yet ahead of me, but it holds more potential now. God has touched me and it, and I am ready to follow Him into it. It’s a much better way to do life. Perhaps the rest of summer is not gone forever. There is a rest for the people of God, the scriptures say. And I believe it can happen in small ways even now, in the busyness of this day, in the labors of my work. It is clearly a different kind of rest than summer, but it is a rest, a pause, a deep breath, a looking above rather than just in front.

This ant is marching in, but thankfully not on her own and hopefully not for herself. And I’m so grateful for a God who calls my name.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)


The Ants Go Marching

The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching four by four,
The little one stops to shut the door
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

At 43 I am still learning who I am. Still becoming. Changing. Parenting four little ants over the years has taught me to place fewer demands on life and adapt better to unpredictability. Even so there are areas in which I’ve grown rigid, like an old man who plans his day in the comfort of worn grooves, who drives the same route, goes to the same stores. Days have developed into ritual. I live in a body that often contradicts itself, at one moment flexing more easily and at another resisting movement in any direction but the one I’m headed. Continue reading “The Ants Go Marching”

A Theology of Violence

We know the news is bleak, but it came closer to home this past week with the terror in Boston. It was just one week ago when two bombs detonated amidst bystanders at the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding 170. Here in the U.S. we’ve come a little closer to identifying with what folks in Israel, Syria and in many other places around the globe experience every day: not knowing when the next bomb will interrupt life as we know it, when it will take the life of someone we love. Continue reading “A Theology of Violence”

Spring’s Honey

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them your servant is warned…Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me.

Spring knocked on the door of my garage this past weekend. The sun, long barred by layers of packing tape, sprung into re-opened cardboard boxes, boxes that had been sealed and stacked from a move that happened over a year and a half ago. Its sudden light scattered silverfish. I pulled out clothes and kitchen wares, books and blankets. I held them up in the light to name them. In the light, they received new purposes; things to be cleaned and put to use again, or things to be discarded. In this spring cleaning, hidden things are being laid bare. The beginnings of order are leafing in my garage. Continue reading “Spring’s Honey”

How to Say Good-bye?

January 26, 2013 – Surely death is hallowed ground, and the transition from this life to eternity a sacred doorway. I drove them today, four grandchildren in an unpacked car over highways and state roads. I drove them under a blue sky, the radio playing quiet tunes until we could no longer pick up the signal of the Christian radio station in Tallahassee. I drove them so they could hold their grandpa’s hand one last time, so they could say goodbye because we knew now that death was close. Continue reading “How to Say Good-bye?”


My first grader finished an assignment on Harriet Tubman last night. She did all the work herself with the exception of finding the photograph online (her big sister helped with that while I was playing taxi for my other kids). She was beaming, a smile spread wide across her face when I walked in the door. “Look what I did, Mommy,” she said, and I looked over her shoebox lid with the pictures pasted on purple construction paper, careful cuts around each one, the words “Harriet Tubman” written in marker across the top. When I read over the finished project and I saw all the “inventive” spelling, I wondered if I should have her correct the spelling before turning it in. But I just couldn’t. It was just too heart warming. Pencilvanya? Oh I LOVED it! I love that word and the “anportant” person Harriet Tubman was and the “varry anportant” person this little first grader is, one who warms her mother’s heart with what she makes with such pleasure. Continue reading “Pencilvanya”

Rachel Weeping

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted … because they are no more.”

Massacre of the Innocents (Peter Paul Rubens)

It is Advent, and we Christ-followers are celebrating Christmas. We have been singing carols of God’s deliverance, erecting beautifully painted replicas of Jesus’ nativity on mantels and in yards. But what we are really celebrating in Advent is the arrival of Creator God into the violent mess of a poisoned creation, all hope resting on someone as unlikely as a helpless, bastard baby born in the heart of the Middle East to a teenage girl of no popular consequence. The hope of the world would rest on a little Jewish infant wrapped in rags in the stinky stall of a barn, stuffed into a trough licked out by a cow or maybe a donkey who’d had their fill of supper in it. And it was because there was no other place to advent in, no other place that better resembled the stink and smell of naked creation. And so God came and made his dwelling in the slums of our world. Continue reading “Rachel Weeping”

Clearing the Creative Logjam

Ah, hello! It’s been a while. I’ve been distracted, but I’m feeling pulled back. Thanks to actor/writer/Lutheran Susan Isaacs for her post about how she cleared her creative logjam, I took a nice long walk today and reflected on all the questions she asked. So while I’m clearing my creative logjam, I highly recommend you visit her words as well as another friend’s timely post. A similar thread binds them. Happy Monday, friends.


The Preacher’s Ticker

The first time the preacher’s ticker had a meltdown was in December of 1982. I was 13. I’d gotten off the school bus and flung open the front door of my home with sophomoric confidence. I was glad to be done with what I considered the captivity of the school day, glad to forage freely through cupboards for an after-school snack. But I hadn’t known the drama that had quietly unfolded in my home just hours before I’d arrived there. Continue reading “The Preacher’s Ticker”