Uprooting Winter

Rain foiled my intentions today to uproot winter from the yard. I’ve been avoiding the sad, forsaken planters and flower beds, once beautiful adornments now turned brown and brittle from the one-two punch of winter’s cold and my neglect. With the coming of warmer weather this past week, the kids have reclaimed the back yard, and dozens of red plastic cups litter the scene with secret botany experiments, “soups” I was told. Here and there between cups, the 4 and 5-year-old children proudly marked thirty-some of the dog’s land mines with bricks leftover from an addition project, an idea they thought quite imaginative. It’s as though, instead of spring, we are sprouting bricks. A collapsing, old Cozy Coupe is parked in front of the screened door, and “Nella” the scooter is parked haphazardly close so that you can’t open the door more than a few inches without hitting it. A bucket sits on the step with yet another soup that will spill its guts just as soon as someone decides to open the door and exit. Along the back fence, someone ran the Green Gator into the Cast Irons where it has idly collected leaves and pollen and more soups. I wonder how many mosquito larvae may be mixed in with this one, patiently waiting for the first day warm enough to hatch? Continue reading “Uprooting Winter”

The Lost Sin

I read a book I can’t finish. I’ve read every page, but I’m not done with it. It smelled of something monumental, sent flutters into the pit of my stomach whispering, “Listen. See. Hear.” The book wasn’t about the next self-help step. It didn’t unlock a passage of scripture that provides a prayer you can pray to find ultimate joy or prosperity. Instead it exposed a sin, an ancient sin that Dante and Chaucer wrote about, Luther mentioned, the desert fathers feared and that monks in monasteries around the world seem to know intimately. One of the famous seven deadly sins, it seems to have lost popularity over the ages; and the reason I’m not done with the book is because I’m afflicted with it. The sin is acedia, and what the author of Acedia and Me, Kathleen Norris, wrote about it, cut deeply. I knew I’d been had by something. Continue reading “The Lost Sin”

A Cry in the Dark

The birth of God as Son of Man happened in the dark night. A young girl, bulging with the promised Savior, was forced to leave home on a lengthy journey that would bump her along dirty roads at the behest of a donkey and a king’s command to be counted. She was near the time of giving birth. As a woman who has birthed four children in sanitary hospital rooms, who was discouraged from travel during the final month of pregnancy, I can barely imagine Mary making her way to Bethlehem in such primitive conveyance. Yet she did, with the promise that she bore God himself.

Continue reading “A Cry in the Dark”

The Fair

People swamped the corridors as a mother tried to convey her brood from one end of the fair to the other where the Ferris wheel promised a good view and easy ride. Groups three and four wide would stall in the middle of the path, ogling the scene, hungry for anything that would capture enough attention to engage it. The best the mother could do to navigate the clumps of aimless amusement-seekers was bump from one to another in spurts. She corralled her children around her and tried to weave between the sputtering movements of the crowd, the three-year-old’s hand in her left and five-year-old’s in her right. The older children walked behind in the wake the three made, their mother determined and game faced at the helm. Beats of pop music overwhelmed the air so that she could hear nothing else nor talk over the squealing electrics of synthesized sounds wrenched into space through tinny, under-capacity speakers. Men yelled from behind counters, “Only two dollars to play. Don’t you want to win that little girl a teddy bear?” “Come on, Sweetie. You can win big today.” She imagined them with long, elastic arms grabbing at her children, pulling them into an arcade lair. She imagined the roller coasters of screaming people disengaging their tracks and scooping the five of them into their insane frenzy. Continue reading “The Fair”

The Parenting Crucible

My children were born on four different days, each in a different year, each in a different delivery room and each in a different way. If the labor of giving birth were any indication of my children’s personalities, my two most challenging to rear were also my two most challenging to birth. For all the pain the births brought, parenting has brought more. In the midst of the joys and pride of rearing four children is the crucible of parenting. Continue reading “The Parenting Crucible”

Coming Storm

It’s the feeling I get when I know what I’m in for, when my son wakes up nauseous with a fever and I know exactly what my day will look like: it won’t be what I’d planned. All plans will be set aside. The day will entail temperature taking, medication dispensing, floor wiping, bucket rinsing, clothes and sheets washing, nose wiping, tea and dry toast — you get the idea. The weather feeds this morning all say a storm is coming our way. It’s an official hurricane and expected to land on our town tomorrow. Whether it be a hurricane or the onset of a sudden illness, the feeling I get with news of an impending storm is always the same. I am braced for an altered agenda, and I am mustering reserves to respond with strength and resolve to equal the storm. All focus shifts to one thing, weathering the storm well. Continue reading “Coming Storm”

Guilt & Gumption

I am the guilty type. When I was a kid and the teacher asked who had stolen something, I immediately felt red faced and obvious, on the edge of my seat in sure anticipation of her finger pointing right at me. I’ve never stolen anything in my life; I’m just the guilty type.

It doesn’t take much to flush my face and make me squirm so that even when I read the Bible, my natural inclination is to get scared. I tend to think I need to work harder to please God. And I’ve realized a few things about guilty types like me: 1)  We don’t fully understand how much God loves us, 2)  We don’t fully understand the nature of God, and 3)  We don’t fully trust God. Continue reading “Guilt & Gumption”