When the storm brings rain

We had a much-needed rain last night. Though the arrogant lightning flashed boldly in my window making it hard to fall asleep, when I heard the droplets pelting against my window pane I knew that thirsty Mother Earth would be glad for a drink. In the morning, the soaking had left a smile on the face of my struggling, newly sodded lawn and renewed my hope that the hydrangea I had transplanted into the front mulch bed — a gift to me from my new next-door neighbor — might still gather the strength to stand up tall. Nice as he is, I felt sure he would be noticing.

As I strode along the drive and then through the neighborhood with my two energetic pups, my shoes became altogether sodden thanks to the puddling on the path which didn’t drink the rain up. Neither did signs and vehicles we passed, nor the metal-covered electrical box, nor the roadway, nor the roofs of nearby homes or their driveways nor the …. But so much did. The browning hillside. The drooping trees and bent shrubs. The colorful annuals planted hopefully along the foundations. These surely did.

Suddenly I felt an odd gratitude for the indiscriminate nature of the rains, falling on all things equally, like the grace of God. Paying no mind to where they land — whether needed or well-received, whether shirked, shed or run off down the hill into the pond — they distributed themselves equally. Yes, the Father sends rain on the just and unjust.

At once I felt a bit of a twinge, recalling times when I had prickled at the apparent unfairness of good things that had come to the poorly mannered, undeserving, entitled or even to the apparently wicked while the same good seemed to be withheld from those who needed or deserved it the most. I needed this simple reminder that the grass, my grass, didn’t receive its rain because it needed it but because of the even-tempered and merciful nature of the One who delivers it.

So that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) 

When we put our hope and trust in humans and human ways, we are sure to be disappointed, but if we trust in God first, perhaps we can trust in what God’s grace can do. Even in them. Even in us. Especially in the storms of life.

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Can I tell you a secret?

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered to the little boy.
The very little boy
who told me he was two
as he climbed across the table
after dumping the entire contents of the bag of blocks
onto the floor
after emptying the cart full of plastic food
into the plastic sink and
trying unsuccessfully to shove the
plastic dish-drainer into the oven
in a way that would allow the door to actually close.

Oh, but he knew how to operate the microwave,
deftly punching its buttons to activate
its pretend revolving tray
then sifting through several plastic plates
searching for the round yellow ones that
were the right size for what he was preparing,
discarding all others in self-selected directions.

The chair I pulled up to this kitchen table
accommodated only part of my backside,
so I plunked myself onto the floor
and drew my glasses onto the bridge of my nose
that I might see the story of the day,
left open to the page where today’s lesson was featured.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whispered to the little boy
who earlier I had snagged,
wrapping him with one arm as he sprinted
in attempted escape from his grandmother
who held fast to his little brother.

Mr Potato head w glassesNow, there is a pause in the kitchen preparations
as the little boy takes Mr. Potato Head glasses
previously perched on his head and affixes them
upside down across the bridge of his nose,
their pliable arms reaching out to grab his temples
well short of the ears they would not have looped.

Spectacle to spectacle, we gaze at each other,
this little boy and I, he on home turf
and me very far from mine.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I whisper to the little boy
who now draws very close
because secrets are meant to be shared, quietly,
ear to ear.
Co-conspirators we are now.
“Yes,” the little boy whispers
as he comes near.
We look together for a moment at the page
of faces that don’t look like his,
of people not dressed like him
of words that have no meaning to him.

“This is the secret.” I say, “Are you ready?”
He is ready.
“Jesus is alive,” I whisper.
“Jesus is alive,” he whispers,
smiling,
because secrets are for telling
when you’re two.
But you must whisper.

Saying Goodbye

It’s been a while since I have been able to sit down and put two thoughts together with any cogency. Life has demanded I move at its speed, and I have dutifully complied, handcuffed as I was to things that needed doing on a firm timetable with no wiggle room.

As I now pause to take a deep breath, I am reminded of the story of the big game hunters who traveled to a distant and foreign land where they engaged local tribesman to carry their gear and belongings through the thick bush. Day after day, sunrise to sunset, they bushwhacked through thick jungle hastening in pursuit of the big game. One morning, as the hunters hurried to reengage the pursuit, the tribesmen stayed where they were, not moving, not rising, not packing, not tracking. “What are you doing?” the hunters implored, “We need to get moving!” The tribesmen replied simply, “We are waiting for our souls to catch up.”

Today, as the fog begins to clear, I am letting my soul catch up. My husband and I have just completed our own big game expedition. We packed up and moved out of our longtime home. All that has gone before has been boxed, bagged or tossed. How humbling it is to stand before your leavings at the curb — load after precious load.

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Three things are pinging my brain:

  1. Buy only what you need and use what you have until it’s gone. Discarding so much — physically taking it out with the trash — forces me to see how much waste I am actually responsible for. Mother Earth, I am so sorry.
  2. Don’t save for a rainy day. Do it, say it, use it now. Omission is difficult to live with and often impossible to rectify. Deep cabinets are not your friend. If it doesn’t come close to hand, you probably don’t need it. Someone else needs it more.
  3. There’s never the right time to say goodbye and always time to say see you later. Even though later will likely never come.

The universe is showing me that there is a difference between value and worth. I have never been good at distinguishing these. Often I keep things because they “might be worth something.” (to someone else) Ah, but value… value is determined by me. The purging, packing and moving has insisted I declare it. What do I value so greatly that I want to take it with me? How can I help it live on? These things …

  1. I share. Things I share live on in the life of the other.
  2. I photograph. These allow me to recall and remember.
  3. I tell. Words expressed live on in the heart of the other.
  4. I hug. Sentiments conveyed live on in the body of the other.
  5. I thank. Gratitude completes what the heart knows.
  6. I give. A gift keeps on giving in and through the other.
  7. I save. Things that tell our story in a unique way reverberate.
  8. I collect. Remembrances with deep meaning go with me.
  9. I pray, over the house and its rooms, claiming its blessings and sending them on.
  10. I depart, trusting that closing this front door will allow me to the open the next.

Few things in life are mentally, physically and emotionally taxing all at the same time. Moving out of your home and your community is one of these things, and I am trying to remember that it’s okay to take care of myself while recovering from the taxing trifecta.

Funny, just when I begin to think of myself as nearly there, God shows me how far I have yet to go. Wendy, Wendy, you hold onto so many things. There is only one thing you need to hold onto and it is already holding onto you.

Saying goodbye to what we truly love is so very hard. Ah, but something of deep abiding value… that has worth always. It resides in us, stays with us, has life in us. Always.

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