Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Love when it doesn't come softly

A book that greatly altered my thinking and perspective as a young person was "Love Comes Softly". It was a story of two people - a man and woman - forced together through tragic circumstances, who ultimately found love through the sorrow and pain and in the most unexpected places. They did not "fall in love" and choose each other. They chose each other (by their forced circumstances) and love found them. 

I think understanding love in this light has been pivotal to staying in forward motion in my walk through this life, fraught with all it's adventures, tragedies, wonderful surprises and inexplicable disappointments (and subsequent heartbreak). We may "fall in love" with the idea of something, but we most often find that reality transfigures into something quite different than our original notion may have convinced us to believe. 

The first love of my life, I believe, was my father. I have little actual memories of him, but one memory is clear. The memory of the full expression of love, of being held in arms that were large enough to hold all of me. I didn't know it in my 3 year old cognition, but all of me included my heart. I have to believe that that full expression of love that required no merits from me changed me forever. It changed me beyond his death, beyond the lonely, black nights that followed his disappearance wondering if he was going to come home again. It prepared me for the void that remained forever. It prepared me for future love that was found, love that was taken away through tragedy or through my own choices, love that was unexpected, love that was discovered through pain, love that has been unmerited. It prepared me to love in marriage and all it's broken fault lines. It has given me strength and courage even through my weakness/failures to face parenting with all it's unknown turns, impossible mountains, prodigious joy, in the awe of what is and in anticipation (if not also terror) for what will be. 

Love doesn't always come softly. Sometimes it does, catching us completely by surprise. Dreams sometimes come true (many of mine have!), but often we are asked to see them for what they are and embrace the stuff of life in all it's gross glory. I will face the reality of tomorrow and all it holds with hope because I know that love has found me in all the least expected places. I will fight for the love that doesn't come softly, for love that is tough and painful and even heartbreaking. For the child of mine who is still locked inside himself. For the friend who is trapped in a broken body, but who's heart is whole and ready to meet her maker. For the broken dreams I will see my children reckon with. I will fight to give unmerited love. 

Love is beautiful and amazing and incomplete in this deeply broken world. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Hi, I'm Sue.

The fatigue. It's real. I've never had fatigue start messing with my brain, but over the past several days, I have noticed the toll of stress and exhaustion playing little games inside my head. I've simply had a hard time juggling the stuff of life. One evening, as we prepared to sit down to dinner, Madigan asked me a question, and I felt like I hit a wall.  To answer the question felt like taking a quick stroll up Mt. Humphreys (12,637' elevation). When you no longer have the ability to answer basic questions, you can be pretty certain you also no longer have the ability to love well. Life has thrown too much at once for too long. 

Our septic tank is still completely non-functional, though we seem to be making progress toward answers. We are now professionals at camping in our house. 

We had a going away party for Shelly, hosted by her wonderful friend, Sue. I had not met Sue, though I had talked with her several times on the phone. When we showed up at her house, after a long day of digging a trench in our field, I walked up to her, reached out to shake her hand and said "Hi, I'm Sue." Ummm... just kidding. We laughed and I said, "Well, now you know how my week is going!" :-) 

I still cannot access the places where I usually go to re-find myself, but I have found new places in the woods and I have had the best of companions in my explorations. 

Our neighborhood is starting to dig through the ashes, clean the foundations and prepare to rebuild. It is absolutely shocking and beautiful to see the effect of many hands. This community will slowly rebuild and my prayer is that no one feels alone in the process. 

Pepperoni and ash pizza. 

As Providence orchestrated several month ago our beloved friends, Mark and Renae, had made reservations in Lake Tahoe for this week and they invited us to join them. Madigan, Kelton and I drove out yesterday and have already visited the lake and gotten in a little pool time. But, best of all we got SLEEP! The elusive wonder of sleep. We are going to soak up the mountains, the lake and the beauty of this place to find rejuvenation for the weeks/months to come. 

Monday, May 09, 2022

And I fail


I've never been more afraid.
I've never been more fearless.
I've never known greater weakness.
I've never been stronger. 
I've never been more confused.
I've never known love more surely.
I've never understood less. 
I've never been more filled with wonder.
I've never held onto anything with more certainty that I have absolutely no control. 
I've never hoped more. 
I've never cried more.
I've never laughed so much and so hard.
I've never felt more pain.
I've never felt more profound joy that fills my whole being.
I've never been more proud.
I've never been more embarrassed.
I've never been more shocked.
I've never been so utterly delighted.
I've never been more confident.
I've never been more unsure.
I've never run so hard and fast and made less measurable progress.
I've never felt such exhilaration.
I've never been more exhausted.
I've never experienced such energy. 
I've never done so many gross things. 
I've never experienced things so outrageously beautiful. 
I've never stumbled and fallen so much. 
I've never run so hard and so tirelessly. 
I've never been so blind and terrified. 
I've never seen things so clearly and poignantly. 
I've never dreaded the future more. 
I've never had so much hope in the future as I have now. 

Motherhood has irrevocably changed me, complicated me, and brought me to my knees. 

It is impossible and incredible. 

Raise them to love each other and treat one another with kindness. And I fail. And yet... I have never seen such sacrificial love as I see them give to one another in the most unexpected ways and places. 

Help them to see what others cannot. And I fail. And yet... it was the butterfly with the broken wing that Kelton lifted from the trail and placed upon the tree branch that it might die with dignity. It was Declan who pulled all the money in his pocket ($9) to give to the broken man who asked us for change as we walked by. It was Madigan who dragged me outside to show me the radiance of the sun setting in the dust-filled sky.

Teach them to value order that they might live lives without self-inflicted chaos. And I fail. And yet... I see glimpses where they are ardently cleaning their rooms to find items a place of belonging, bringing order to the chaos that so easily takes precedence in a room governed by Legos. There are the moments when little magic (male) fairies flitter about tidying up the kitchen, vacuuming the floor, picking up the living room. 

Show them the value of hard work. And I fail. And yet... I then see them put all their strength and energy into working tirelessly on a project or job that has been assigned to them. I see them clean up burned rubble from a neighbor's destroyed house, loading it onto trailers by the buckets full and then helping unload trailer load after trailer load into the dumpsters. 

In my human weakness I see that is not for me to make it happen. I have been given the privilege of watching it happen. They will run and not be weary. They will lift their wings and they shall rise up on wings as eagles. Their strength will be renewed when they are weak and falter. I may fail, but they are not in my hands. 

I sat outside in the darkness tonight counting the stars and I was caught in the wonder of the expanse of these lights in the heavens; it was the reminder that we are desperately small, vulnerable and immeasurably valuable. In the expanse of it all, our lives matter more than we can comprehend. 

poo in a bucket

Our septic is not working, so for the past 5 days we have been showering/bathing in a water bucket, going potty in a camping toilet (bucket), washing dishes rarely and by hand. Our kitchen sink hasn't been working either, so we haven't had hot water or the use of one side of the sink. When our little cherubs periodically forget to use only the one side of the sink, our kitchen mildly floods. :-) We are working our way to finding a solution for the septic issues, but these things are never uncomplicated, so we're not sure when we'll be counted among those blessed with flushing toilets. Here's to hope! I will say that peeing in the woods has taken on a whole new magic! And showering in a bucket is really not so bad; our trees are loving the results as we bestow upon them the leftover shower water. My frequency at Matador, our favorite coffee shop has not lessened, as it turns out... they have FLUSHING toilets! Woohoo! 

I have found that trying to organize areas of my house where I am able has helped me sort through the frustrations a bit better. So, I started with the spice cabinet, which is now alphabetically ordered and I love it! Makes cooking so much easier! 

We've also been spending a good deal of time exploring in alternative places. Our side of the mountain is still mostly shut down due the Tunnel Fire. The Tunnel Fire keeps lurking and hot spots keep popping up thanks to the insane winds we've been having. So, everyone is a little edgy, I think. The dreaded smoke and ash have been stirred up as the wind whips through our valley, so any who want to savor the outdoors are struggling. 

We hiked Fern Mountain and up to Bismarck Lake yesterday morning, and it was delightful. 

We also wandered around Pomeroy Tanks where we haven't been for over 2 years. 

And Madigan and I took a ride with Shelly, Joan and Roger for Shelly's last ride on the Arizona Trail before she moves to South Carolina. :-( 

This place holds a magic all it's own. One minute it feels like it's trying to kill you, and the next it mesmerizes you with it's beauty and tranquility. It is where I belong, even if it sometimes breaks my heart.