Monday, December 19, 2011


the magic is gone. or so i thought.

i accidentally said something to luke a couple of weeks ago about what i was going to put in anastasia's stocking. he was not really surprised: "i already knew santa wasn't real, but you just confirmed it for me." we decided it would be our little secret; after all, anastasia still has many years of santa-belief ahead of her.

despite the secret being out, luke still wanted to go visit santa at the neighborhood clubhouse nearby. (he made this decision having confirmed that yes, santa would still bring him a gift, even if he wasn't real.) i managed to scramble to get the gifts for the kids over there in time this past week (everyone knows that the mamas are the elves, of course), and this saturday, we headed over to meet the big guy.

when he got off the fire truck (that's how he arrives here in the sunny south where there is no snow for flying reindeer), luke looked at me and snickered, "that's a teenager! his beard is falling off!" yes, the magic was gone, apparently.

and then it was luke's turn to approach the not-so-big guy himself. (and anastasia's, too, of course; she wasn't sure what she thought of the beard.)

 having smiled for the camera and dutifully thanked santa ("i saw his mouth under his fake beard!"), he sat down to open his (and anastasia's) gifts. first, he was shocked to discover that santa had the very same wrapping paper we had at home. "how did he know that's the kind we have?" but the biggest shock came when he opened his gift. it was a game, the very game he had just told me about the week before (fancy that). and anastasia's gift was a little toy phone, just exactly the sort of toy she loves these days. luke was flabbergasted. "how could that santa possibly have known just exactly what we both would want?" he could barely believe it.

maybe the magic isn't completely gone.

(as we discussed the strangeness of this coincidence on the way home--and i tried to convince him that maybe that shabbily-bearded teenager was actually the real santa after all--i asked luke how else he could possibly explain the wrapping paper and the perfect gifts. "i don't know, mama," he answered. "it's one of those questions like the chicken and the egg: too complicated to figure out.")

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


this is not the season for blogging for me, nor facebook nor christmas cards nor much social engagement at all. but every year, i share the entry i have written for our church's advent devotional, and today feels like the right day to share what i wrote this year. the entire devotional is available as a free download here, and it's definitely worth a look if you're the kind of person who appreciates this sort of thing.

in quiet anticipation, and wishing you and yours all the blessings of the season--

Have you ever seen a child who has fallen, maybe running on the sidewalk, tripping and banging his chin on the concrete? Or maybe misjudging a curb on her bike and skidding knees-first onto the pavement? Or climbing to the tippy top of the jungle gym, only to slip sweaty-handed from the last rung and end up eating mulch? If you’re a parent, no doubt you’ve seen your children suffer something like this. And even if you aren’t, if you were ever a child yourself, you can certainly remember some experience along these lines. What is the look on that child’s face, there on the ground, bruised and bleeding and dirty? What is his cry from that place of disgrace and pain?

Mommy! Daddy! Help me!

But what happens when you rush in to collect the weeping victim? Is he immediately consoled? Does she grin peacefully and settle right back into her bike riding or jungle-gym climbing? Rarely. Even if the wound is nothing serious, even if your response is immediate and adequate, the recovery takes time. The child may refuse to settle down, refuse to catch his breath, refuse to have her wound washed, refuse to “get back on the horse” and try again. Which, frustrating as it may be as a parent, says nothing about your parenting and everything about the experience of suffering: even when we trust the response and know the healing to come, we can be slow to accept the comfort of that certainty. And no one blames the child for wailing at his playground misfortune or for hating having dirt scrubbed from her skinned knee. Pain is pain, and we are right to rail at its violence, even when we know and trust the relief to come.

In Psalm 77, the psalmist expresses our grown-up version of the same experience:  “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted,” says verse two. It’s the child’s cry from the sidewalk: “Daddy, Daddy!” and his continued weeping in the father’s quick-to-respond arms. He refuses to be comforted. But here’s where we learn from that injured child, because despite the lack of immediacy to the recovery, the child does not hesitate to call out for her parent, every single time. “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.’” It may not be a conscious thing, but that sweet victim of the pavement remembers that Mom is always there to scoop her up, time and time again, and she will call out to her this time as always, knowing that, as always, her skinned-knee-healing deeds will be mighty this time, too.

This Advent, this story is my story of longing, of the place between sorrow and joy. We wait all year for this, don’t we? Our hands are outstretched without wearying for the gift we know is coming, even if we refuse to be comforted in its promise, desperate for it to finally be here. My grief and suffering seem to be concentrated more and more each year in this season of anticipation; I can only believe that’s serving to remind me to long ever more fervently for the God of Psalm 77 who works wonders, whose might is known among the peoples. Who scoops us up off the sidewalk every time, without fail, and comforts us until we stop refusing to be comforted, just as He always has. This place between sorrow and joy, between the pavement and back-on-the-bike, is the place where we learn the true meaning of advent, coming

 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). This year, I’m glad for the challenge to begin rejoicing in anticipation of the morning, even here in the sorrow of the night.

Friday, December 2, 2011

because they're pure joy

and because rachel said so

Saturday, October 22, 2011


it only took me until 10:30am today to be breathtakingly grateful--never mind that it took me another twelve hours to find time to sit down and record it. i stepped out my door this morning, and the smell was the undeniable, earthy, damp, sun-streaked, crisp-aired perfection of fall. already! and i was already grateful, even at 10:30am. and it was that attentiveness to gratitude, first step out the door, that carried me through the rest of a day that was hard pressed to provide anything to be grateful for. fall in my nostrils--the promise of end, death that will bring something new. the promise of end. i'm already grateful. and eager to step out the door again tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

wagon wheels

having fallen off the gratitude wagon these last ahem-many days, i guess i should be most of all grateful for grace that covers this one-among-many failures. and come to think of it, i should be most of all thankful for grace everyday, which makes me thankful for having fallen off the wagon so i could learn that lesson. grace. i am also thankful so thankful for seven-month-old baby hugs. anastasia's new post-nap greeting is an honest-to-goodness hug, arms around my neck. and even better, after about ten seconds, she leans back, smiles at me for a few seconds, and then dives back in for another good long hug. it is about The Best Thing i can imagine. luke will certainly want to stall bedtime momentarily by thinkingthinkingthinking about what he's thankful for; i suppose i can be glad for that stalling tactic among many possibilities. and i'll be thinking about why it's so easy to be impatient and frustrated and grumpy and tired and whiny and even funny...but so hard to remember the simple gift of gratitude. i'll be thinking about it. (and the title? well, wagon wheels are one of anastasia's favorite snacks these days. yes, i'm thankful to have made it to the finger food stage...but mostly that's just where my mommy-mind goes when i think of having fallen off the gratitude wagon. it goes something like this: fallen off the wagon -- wagon wheels -- snacks all over the floor -- i need to go sweep. or something like that. nothing profound, i'm afraid. not these days.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I also am known. --1 corinthians 13:12

anastasia thoroughly enjoys looking at herself in this little mirror (or, to be honest, in any mirror, window, or other reflective surface she can find). i knew i wanted to take a picture of her admiring herself in the mirror, capturing both her sweet little pig nose and the patchy soft hair on the back of her head all at once. i knew the picture i wanted to take. this is the picture i took--which i love, and which is not exactly the picture i wanted to take. thankfully, anastasia spends quite a bit of time looking in this mirror, as it took me two sessions and over two dozen pictures to capture this moment. the moment which wasn't exactly the moment i was going for, but is just right anyhow.

and that is, in fact, the point. seeing through a glass darkly. not quite accurately. we can't quite know what we're looking for in that dark glass, can we? but it's in there. and i am certain we're supposed to look. now i know in part and not fully, as i will know and be known. but i do know in part, and that's important. i'm not sure what babies are doing when they're spending all that time admiring themselves (and, let's be honest, slobbering all over themselves, which is part of the picture i meant to capture but didn't quite). but i know there's something in there they want to understand, and they are persistent in trying to understand it. it will likely still be a few months before anastasia recognizes herself in that reflection, although she does already seem to look back and forth at the reflection when i'm holding her, looking at me and then looking back at the reflection of me. even though she doesn't understand what's in there--in fact, probably because she doesn't--she keeps looking and looking. and she delights in the learning and looking and figuring out.

we can learn a lot from a baby examining that other baby in the dark glass. just because we won't know and be known for a long time, just because we are trapped with the dark glass through which to look, it doesn't mean we don't keep looking. we keep seeking and trying to understand. and we delight in the process, even though we know it'll be long before it's complete. and when we're frustrated by the process--which babies often are--we don't cease wondering and we don't decide we're done looking. we can rest in the promise that--just like anastasia will one day (too) soon discover that she's admiring herself in there--we will one day know and be known fully, with no glass in the way at all.

but in the meantime, i'm determined to rejoice in and persist in examining the (skewed, unclear) reflection.

thinking hard

that's the whole point of this exercise, right? finding things to be thankful about on the days when it's really hard to be thankful? well, i'm getting my workout, then, and it's working.

luke is thankful for so many things to be thankful for. (i think that's a copout, but i let him get away with it, primarily because it was bedtime and he'll do anything to stall...even if it is think about things to be thankful for.)

i'm thankful for chubby seven-month-old fingers that play and dance in the air, the sunshine through the window, the shadows on the wall. seven months tomorrow. thankful for every single day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

can you guess where we went today?

luke is thankful for bumper cars. i'm thankful for deep fried oreos.

but i'm most of all thankful that the state fair happens only once a year. because it's really not my thing...even though, as it turns out, deep fried oreos really are my thing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

between gratitude and gripe

the line is fuzzy sometimes, i think. tonight, it's a good thing i'm committed to this gratitude work. because it's work tonight, for sure.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (job 2:10)

today, i found myself thinking, how can i be so troubled by my little problems when there's so much worse going on in the world? how can i lose sleep over my losses when people are suffering so much more than i am? how can i lament my circumstances when others' are so much more dire? i have it so good, really, compared to so many.

i have answered this question for others so many times, so many friends who have followed a lament about their own lives immediately with, "oh, i'm sorry; how can i even complain to you when you've been through so much worse?" the answer i've always given is that there's no comparing griefs. your suffering, your own worst thing, is in fact your own worst thing. it doesn't matter if my worst thing is in some quantifiable way (if that even exists) worse than yours, or if someone else's worst thing is ten times worse. your suffering is pure and absolute in the midst of your own worst thing, and it does you no good to try to diminish it by comparing it with someone else's: it's bad, and it's yours, and it's suffering. that's all you can really know as you experience it, and comparison is futile. it's the same reason that, when luke says, "i'm starving!" i don't follow my no-you're-not answer with but-children-in-ethiopia-are-and-they-have-it-so-much-worse. no, luke isn't starving, and it's good to be careful with our words and make sure we mean what we say. but his own hunger is his own experience of "suffering," and to attempt to diminish that by comparison with someone else's actual starvation is something he can neither access nor profit from: he's still hungry, he's still suffering, and now perhaps he's feeling shame, too. this isn't helpful.

anyhow, as i shamed myself for my lament this morning, i was glad to remember my own answer to others: comparisons are useless. your suffering is bad, it's yours, and that's all there is to it.

but why are the gripes so much easier to come by than is gratitude? sometimes, i think, it's a fine line. sometimes, i think, there's a reason we can't decide whether to laugh or cry. sometimes, i think, the very thing that brings us the most joy can bring us equally the most pain.

today, i'm grateful for clear thinking. thinking about painful things clearly. the lines are fuzzy.

i won't open that tossed-aside card from who-knows-what joyful occasion addressed to the nickname no one knows that i found yesterday. not now. fuzzy and fine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

so many things, so bedtime

my parents, and merlot, and "crazy head" (anastasia's little game), and open windows, and strollers and babies who love them, and bedtime. it's bedtime. (luke forgot to tell me his before he went to bed. he was too busy with my parents. which makes me think i know what he's thankful for.)

i was thankful yesterday, i swear

this is why i don't usually take on these must-do-everyday type projects... i was thankful for jeans that were two sizes too small before i got pregnant with anastasia, which are now falling off. i'm here to tell you that stress does have a silver lining, y'all. luke was thankful for flumist (in lieu of the flu shot, of course).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

eight-year-old thankfulness

luke is thankful for himself today. i agree.

i am thankful for his eight-year-old self. his brilliant, stalling-at-bedtime, mastering-the-piano, adoring-his-sister, deep-eyed self. his deep-thinking, sensitive, eager, sponge-like self. his funny, adorable, deeply-feeling, teacher-adoring self. i am so thankful for that little self.

and anastasia is, too. i can speak for her on this one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

an invitation

God gives me books sometimes. i'm pretty sure i've blogged about that before, but i can't seem to find the post--or the patience or time to hunt down the post. often, these book-gifts seem to come in waves: book after book after book that i pick up, usually for some very insignificant reason, and each one speaks to my heart in a way that makes me think, "why didn't someone tell me to read this before?" maybe this sounds strange to you, the idea that God might show up at the library, there between the stacks, whispering read this one, trust me. and that's okay if it sounds strange to you. it sounds strange to me, too. but all the same, i have no other explanation for how i happen upon books that speak to me so clearly, sometimes, and often all in a row.

as you might have guessed, i'm on one of those reading jags right now, having just landed on divinely-sent book #3.

(let me interject here: none of these books, divinely-sent or no, is gospel. they're not even necessarily all that well written sometimes. but each one has some lesson for me, each time. disclaimer finished.)

anyhow, #3 on this current jag is one thousand gifts, by ann voskamp. i'm only about 60 pages into it, and who knows if i'll love it by the time i reach the end, but for now, i'm learning a good lesson from it: gratitude. she says it so much more eloquently than i will be able to--so if this post piques your interest, go check it out of the library, or at least check out her blog: a holy experience--but she talks about how gratitude is a habit that must be cultivated like any other good habit. to that end, at the encouragement of a friend, she took on a challenge: making a list of one thousand gifts from God for which she's thankful. i've only gotten to about #200, but i'm already thinking about what a great exercise that would be, noticing things i'm grateful for every single day.

so i shared that with luke, and i told him that i thought i might start blogging about something i'm grateful for every day. he's eager to do it with me, perhaps more because he's excited about blogging than he is about being grateful. but whatever gets him there, i think, is worth it. i'm quite sure my--that is, our--list of things we're grateful for won't make it to one thousand; luke did the math pretty quickly and declared that we would have to keep it up for three years to get there! and wouldn't it be great if we did? but i'm going to try to jot down something i'm grateful for each and every day. some days, that might mean nothing more than a sentence--gasp, even a sentence fragment--because these days are hectic and full and distracted. and luke is going to share something with me every day, too. some days, i hope, those things we're grateful for will inspire me to have something more to say, more to write, which has always been good therapy for me, but which has been hard upon hard these difficult days. i'd rather be blogging about things i'm grateful for than hard things, anyhow. or maybe i'll be able to think about the intersection of the good things and the hard some days, too, which might be the best of all.

so luke and i will start tonight at dinner. but for right now, luke is at soccer practice and anastasia is asleep, so i have a moment to make my note for the day: today, i'm grateful for sheer curtains in open windows.

(for the record, anastasia is delighted by billowing sheer curtains in open windows, too, as they slip through her almost-seven-month-old fingers--which is a sweet, fresh reminder of how much i love them. and that's a picture i want to take now, so maybe when she wakes up from her nap, i'll see if i can capture it. or maybe by then luke will be home and it will be time to make dinner, and anyhow, the breeze has died down now...and soon it will be too cool out and i'll need to close the windows. but today has been a day of billowing sheers in chubby fingers, and i'm grateful for that.)

you're welcome to join me, if you'd like, in this journey of gratitude, either by commenting here with what you're grateful for or linking to similar posts on your blog or whatever. if i were one of those mega-bloggers, i'd probably have a special icon for these gratitude posts and some sort of system for linking and all that. but i'm not, and i don't. so be grateful with me, organically, if you'd like--as organic as a blog can be. you're invited.

(and if you have a book title to whisper to me to help me sustain my current jag, whisper away. you never know when you might have the words of life to speak to someone, even if it's just through a book recommendation. you might be one of the people who already has.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

changing channels

[here's this post's soundtrack, in case you want to listen: make me a channel of your peace.]

 "Be angry and do not sin," says ephesians 4:26. in the last twenty-four hours or so, i've been furiously wrangling with what that could possibly mean. righteous anger: what does that actually look like? aside from turning over the tables in the sanctuary, did Jesus demonstrate it for us? what tables in what sanctuary would i turn over, anyhow?

i have thought of people i could ask for advice. i spent my sleepless night last night (the joys of teething--not mine, of course) composing emails i would write this morning to people i thought could help me figure it out. circumstances are such for me right now that anger is one appropriate emotion among many, i know that. but to be angry without sinning? i needed some help.

then just this morning, as i rocked my angrily teething baby, i came to the end of myself. (why it always takes me so long to get there i'll never understand; it's the best place to be, always and always. why can't i remember that?) as i rocked and patted, rocked and patted, i finally remembered who the right One to ask the question was, the One who issued the command in the first place: how can i be angry without sinning?

[an aside here: if you know me, or if you don't know me but have read this blog very long, you'll know that i'm not the i-hear-from-God type. i don't hear His voice audibly daily; i'm not regularly given life-clarifying visions. i can count on one hand the number of times those things have happened to me. which has nothing to say about God and everything to say about me, i'm sure: if only i sought those things more often, i do not doubt that He would be gracious to answer. but i digress.]

so i asked. silenty, as i rocked my poor hurting baby to the sound of the ocean, i cried out: how do i do it? immediately, i was singing:

make me a channel of your peace.
where there is hatred let me bring your love.
where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
and where there's doubt, true faith in you.

oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
to be loved as to love with all my soul.

make me a channel of your peace
where there's despair in life, let me bring hope
where there is darkness, only light
and where there's sadness, ever joy.

make me a channel of your peace
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
in giving to all men that we receive
and in dying that we're born to eternal life.

except i could only really remember the one line: make me a channel of your peace. and i was crying, too, immediately. as the silent tears rolled down my face and the silent song sang itself in my heart, part of me was crying out, "are you kidding me, God? i asked for righteousness in my anger! you have got to be joking. that's not what this is about AT ALL!"

it's a good thing God isn't limited by what i ask for. i am reminded of a line from bird by bird, by anne lamott, which i've coincidentally (ha!) been rereading recently: "You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." hmph. i suppose, then, that this God who was singing to me was the real One, not the one i hoped to create to answer the question that i had first thought to ask everyone else but Him. a channel of His peace. hmph.

the tears kept falling. at which point, i became concerned about the angrily teething baby on whom they were no doubt raining...but when i remembered to look down at her on my lap, i discovered that she had fallen asleep. peaceful, pacifier-less, painless sleep. make me a channel of Your peace.

is my anger justified? i do not doubt it. but perhaps my call is to something bigger than justified anger. (shouldn't we all hope for better, after all?) i am reminded of the woman in proverbs 31: "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue...a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." what is it, after all, that my family needs from me most of all: righteous anger? or strength, dignity, wisdom, kindness, God's peace? surely all have their place, but as i looked on my peaceful, no-longer-angrily teething, sleeping baby, i realized that peace was not only what she needed but what i needed to seek, too: release from the painful anger so i can find rest. and more than anything, i need to be a channel of that peace for my family.

so although i hadn't even gotten through this post before my sweet girl was awake and angrily teething again or before the source of my own anger had once again reared its head, i am listening and actively seeking to change the channel. make me a channel of Your peace, Lord.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

repost: elliptical tears

(here's a repost from this day two years ago. i don't think i have much new to say...but maybe you didn't read this back then.)

he brought a knife to class.

i was an early-twenties community college instructor, teaching an 8am developmental english class in a computer lab. my students were of all sorts: young people getting started on an associate degree and hoping to transfer to a four-year college, older folks getting a new degree or certification in pursuit of a career in nursing or automotive technologies, immigrants getting their feet wet in a new world. they all came through my class because they needed some extra work on college writing. i was wet behind the ears, enthusiastically green and chomping at the bit to join these students in their pursuit of a whole new life.

and then, that morning, my slightly mysterious, quietly confused, small boy in a big man's body of a student brought a knife to class. a hunting knife, big and serrated, carried casually in a pouch on his hip. i didn't notice, wrapped up as i was in the joys of proper grammar and punctuation, thesis statements and topic sentences.

halfway through the two-hour class, around 9am, we took a break. the students left the computer lab for a drink, a snack (breakfast?), a smoke. they came back atwitter. several reported to me, quietly but not so casually, that the aforementioned student had a knife. indeed, there was no mistaking it: the poor, sweet, wouldn't-harm-a-fly student was carrying a weapon. was i supposed to know what to do about this? in all my twenty-three years of life, all my nine months of teaching experience? i talked to him quietly about the knife, asked him to leave, told him to meet me in my office after class ended at 10am. i'd explain then. he was clearly clueless and harmless, but he was also confused and very concerned about missing class. i'd fill him in later, i assured him, and (as i assured myself) i'd have my boss with me, just in case.

the rest of the students were atwitter with rumors flying through the hallways: there had been a plane crash in new york city. "aren't you from new york, mrs. jackson?" a plane crash was not high on my agenda for the morning; and anyhow, it was 9am, halfway through my class, and there was much left to cover. and i was myself distracted by the knife-wielding student. we plunged back into our work.

class ended at 10am, and i headed quickly for the adjacent building, which contained my office, my dean's office, and, among other things, the president's office and the college's main conference room. as i entered the building, i found the conference room door open, which it never was, and the big-screen television on, surrounded by many colleagues and students, including my dean.

not grasping what had happened as i had spent the last two hours in grammar-induced bliss, i hurriedly filled my dean in on my situation with the armed student; my immediate boss was herself teaching a class, and could my dean accompany me to meet the student who was no doubt waiting outside my office door? she did, tearing herself away from the television and quickly filling me in on the news.


there are six televisions on the wall in front of the exercise equipment of the gym where i work out. this morning, on the eighth anniversary of what we have all come to know simply as 9/11, i showed up at the gym around 9:30, climbed on my usual elliptical near the center of the room, plugged in my earbuds, and started jogging. was i aware of the date before i looked at the televisions? i'm not sure. but on the screen in front of me to my left was playing the footage from that very hour eight years ago; and on the screen in front of me to my right, the live memorial being held in the rain at ground zero.

the elliptical in the center of a gym full of people is not my usual spot of choice to break down. but as i watched, i was flooded with grief and memories.

memories of my beloved dean--she who tore herself from the footage eight years ago to come to my rescue--who passed away last spring from skin cancer.
memories of frantic attempts to find out the whereabouts of many city-dwelling college friends, including one who was just a block from ground zero and whose story from that day and those following still sends shivers up my spine.
memories of my sister-in-law's story of watching the smoke billow from the twin towers from her hoboken apartment as she wondered about her friend's husband, who worked on the top floor. he had been running late for work that morning, and hadn't arrived yet.

sure, those stories can choke me up sometimes, in a private conversation or a quiet moment. but on the elliptical? never before.

but the pump is primed, as it were, and i understand loss. that's the long and short of it. eight years ago, i had no idea what it meant to grieve. i had no idea what it meant to live in the inexplicable physical pain of tragedy. i did not understand fear or loneliness or mourning. sure, i cried along with the rest of the country as 9/11 unfolded, but i didn't know why.

today, on the elliptical, i did.

Friday, September 9, 2011


(my posts used to always have soundtracks. here's one for this post, in case you want to listen: sanctuary.)

Lord, prepare me
to be a sanctuary,
pure and holy,
tried and true.
with thanksgiving
i'll be a living
for you.

each tuesday morning, our church staff gathers at 8:30 for a morning prayer service. we spend an hour or so praying together and digging into scripture, getting our hearts and minds oriented to the "why" of what we do before we sit down to our staff meeting and all the "whats" of what we do. it may be my favorite hour of the week.

we gather in the sanctuary, setting a circle of chairs just in front of the chancel, quite literally at the foot of the cross. we recite a liturgy that is centuries old, repeating words that have been repeated by generation upon generation before us. we read scriptures that have been prescribed for us by that liturgy, long before the moment we're in right then, facing the things we are facing just now. we join our voices with the heavenly hosts as we recite the jubilate or the te deum. we are not alone, we seven (or eight or six or however many we may be that week). it is when it is raining that i am most clearly reminded of that fact.

you see, at that spot in the building where we circle our chairs, there's not much between the ceiling above our heads and the roof, uninsulated and unfinished as that part of the ceiling is. and the roof, well, i'm not sure, but i'm guessing it's made of metal. because when it rains, it's something to hear sitting there. there are times--like this past week, when the remnants of a tropical storm were passing through--when we have to shout to be able to hear each other over the deluge. it's a sound something like what i remember niagara falls sounding like when you walk under it, something i haven't done since i was a child but have never forgotten. i love that when we recite the prayers together, along with that deluge, i know that our voices are not alone.
there are also those sweet moments when the rain abates, even just for a moment, at just the right place in a prayer, like when our rector prayed for peace this week, and the deluge settled abruptly--if only momentarily--to a gentle drumming. i cannot help but smile at those moments, too. and there is in all that rainy noise also a loud reminder to be grateful for that roof over our heads, surrounded as we are by people who aren't so blessed. the occasional leaks the roof springs are nothing but a small headache compared to the experience of those who have no roof whatsoever whose leaks to lament.

sanctuary: that's what we call that part of the church, the place where we gather to worship. but a sanctuary is more than just a room in a church; literally, it's a place of refuge or safety. that roof, that drumming rain, that circle of chairs, the people in those chairs, those ancient words--those things represent refuge and safety for me even more so than the roof that so loudly receives the rain. even as i am protected from the rain by the roof of that sanctuary, and even as i rejoice in God's provision of that roof, i am reminded of the sanctuary that is the sound of that rain, the reminder that my voice is joined with many in that deluge even as it is joined with the few gathered there with me at the foot of the cross.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


maybe i'm the only one who notices.

there are seasons to dishwasher loading, i think. tonight i was having trouble fitting in all the things i needed to. then i realized that was because the contents of the dishwasher are different now.

seasons. we are in a season now--all of a sudden--when space must be made for colorful plastic things: sippy cups and tiny spoons and little bowls. those things take up spaces that are different, leave gaps that are different. with school lunch-packing in full swing and soccer season hard upon us, water bottles are taking up spaces that had been vacant or filled with summer iced tea glasses instead. i'm not sure if it's my current cooking rut or the people around my table, but for whatever reason, there are very few plates in my dishwasher right now--those easy-to-fit-right-between-the-pegs inhabitants--and many more bowls, which take up more room than they ought to, i think. and we who are filling the dishwasher these days seem to be filling the silverware slots faster than we are the rest of the dishwasher, maybe because it's just not filling that fast these days, in this season.

it's obvious, isn't it, when you've had a dinner party--the dishwasher contents are significantly different on those nights. many wine glasses, maybe, or too many forks to fit in just one load. it fills faster on those nights, and it's obvious to anyone from the dishwasher load that the eaters and drinkers that night have been different from the usual. but as the contents are affected by seasons of life, the changes are more subtle. and it's not until a night like tonight, when suddenly nothing fits, that you realize how much the dishwasher loading has changed. just now, it seems, right between loading the dishes last night and tonight, the contents seem to have changed completely. right under my nose, and i hardly noticed until just now.

it's the sort of thing that takes your breath away, really, when you finally notice. and i hardly noticed until just now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


so much of life is about how you tell the story. it was a charcoal gray vw beetle from hawaii that got me thinking about it. but i should probably back up.

at the church we attended when i was a kid, we always sat in the same pew. always next to the same people, always behind the same people, always in front of the same people. every single sunday. always said hello, always shared the handshake of peace, every single sunday. but never once in all the years--my entire childhood, in fact--that we attended that church did i learn any of those people's names.

(i will pause here to allow you to reflect on the strangeness of that fact. my southern friends especially will find this inscrutable. someone told me once that people have two walls around them. for southerners, the first wall is very low, which is to say that it's easy to meet them and get to know them on a superficial level; it's not hard to get over that first wall. but the second wall, the one surrounding the real inner person, is much higher. whereas for northerners, the first wall is the insurmountable one; you just can't get in easily at all. we yankees don't say hi to strangers on the street, don't even know the names of the people we sit next to every single sunday for decades in church. but once you're past the very initial introduction, getting over the second wall, the one where you get to the real person, is much easier. be that as it may or may not, now it's time to get over the strangeness of this piece of my childhood lore because the strangeness of it is not what this post is about.)

this post is about storytelling. because the fact that we didn't know anything about any of the people we worshiped with every single sunday did not at all mean that we weren't curious. so we made up stories instead. we guessed at these people's lives: who they were, how they were related to each other, what they did all of the other 167 hours in their week. and in our conversations about them, since we didn't know their names, we made up names for them, too. the mafia family, the sausage lady, the little people--these were the (mostly unflattering) ways we referred to the people we sat with as we guessed at their stories. how were all those people in the mafia family related to each other, anyhow? why wasn't the husband of the little people couple in church two weeks in a row? was it possible that the sausage lady just didn't own a mirror? (putting these thoughts in writing doesn't make me particularly proud of them, come to think of it.)

the point--other than the fact that i am suddenly wondering what moniker my family and i earned and why and what stories were imagined about us--is that we naturally make up stories to fill in the gaps in our lives. we are, whether we realize it or not, constantly trying to make sense of life and our experiences by filling in details where they're lacking. which is what happened the other day when i found myself following a newish-looking charcoal gray vw beetle with a hawaiian license plate reading "ncduke." hmmm.

i made up some stories, none of which could i quite get to make sense. there are lots of details to fill in in such a circumstance, after all, unusual as it is to see a hawaiian car in north carolina. how did the car get here, anyway? and why? a student might have such a university-centric license plate, sure, but what kind of student is going to bring a car all the way from hawaii? instead, surely it was someone who had just moved here and thus shipped the car all the way. but could s/he have known s/he'd move to north carolina when s/he registered the car in hawaii? is this some far-flung cameron crazy who finally made it to the land of the blue? and the car looked very new, which meant it couldn't have resided in hawaii for long before coming to north carolina...anyhow, i just couldn't make the story make sense.

(another aside: if you'll indulge my curiosity and leave your version of the story in the comments, i'd be greatly obliged. maybe you'll figure it out more easily than i could.)

fast forward to later that night, when i found luke, who i supposed to be getting ready for bed, on the floor in tears. he didn't want at first to talk about what was wrong, but he finally did explain: "i just want to have a normal family." when i asked him why he thought our family wasn't normal, he said, "what kind of normal family has a dead sister?"

in retrospect, i am quite sure the combination of some old family photos he saw upstairs for the first time in a while with the fact that he had earlier in the day been telling a new friend about his sisters is what led him to end up in such a state. he tells his story very matter-of-factly: i used to have a sister named eliza, but she died. now i have another sister named anastasia. no big deal, or so you'd think to hear him tell it.

but that's a crazy story for a seven-year-old to have to tell. how does he fill in the gaps in his so-young, so-brilliant mind? how does he figure out the details that he cannot remember or never understood? and how will he tell the story over the course of his life, in a year or ten years or fifty years? how will he tell the story to anastasia, who will one day see those same family photos and wonder at the sister in the picture that she'll never know?

there are different kinds of stories, after all. and different versions of the same stories. there are stories we love to tell--stories of falling in love, of discovering five dollars in an old coat pocket, of the day we got a new puppy, of an exotic vacation. but there are stories we have to tell, too, even if we don't love to tell them. stories whose details are burned into our minds and whose gaps we can't help but fill...or sometimes can't bear to fill. sometimes, we can't but stick to the facts: that's a newish charcoal gray vw beetle with a hawaiian license plate reading "ncduke" here in the middle of north carolina. and that's all there is to say.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

dipped too deep

(a disclaimer: i didn't write much of this post. in case it isn't familiar to you, all of the italicized text comes from the anglican book of common prayer, eucharist rite II.)

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

seven-year-old luke returned to his seat with a grimace on his face. “i dipped my bread too deep into the wine and it tasted bad!” he struggled to swallow the wine-soaked morsel.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

does it leave a bad taste in my mouth? it should, i think. do i choke on the bitterness? on the night He was handed over to suffering and death. Christ has died. to suffering and death. the wine is sour before the sweetness.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. AMEN.

dipped too far into the wine. it tasted bad. is it possible to be dipped too far? sanctify us also. a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.

The gifts of God for the people of God: Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

we are bold to say.
i am bold to say, Father, that i want to be dipped deeper in the blood. bitter and sweet, the sour taste of suffering and the bold sweetness of redemption. in the blood. i cannot be dipped too deep.

in some churches, the communion drink is grape juice served in those little plastic cups. while there is nothing wrong with this, it will never be enough for me. i believe i am meant to grimace a little, to choke a little on the bitterness of dipping my bread deep in the wine. we are meant to be shocked by the sourness of it--as He spread out his arms on the cruel wood of the cross, shocking indeed--before the sweetness. our bread, our daily bread, is meant to be tainted by the memory that the very Son of God is broken for us. we take and eat, we feed on Him in our hearts by faith, only because He is the bread of life, broken for us. dipped in blood. broken.

Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

“i dipped my bread too deep into the wine and it tasted bad.” amen, my love. this week, i am grateful for the reminder of the bitter suffering of the cross and the sweetness that only the blood can provide. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). i will drink deeply. “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood,’” (how can we but choke?) “’you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day’” (John 6:53-54). sweetness.

as we struggle through the bitterness, the sour first taste and the grimace it inspires, may we long ever more for the sweetness to come. Christ our passover, sacrificed for us. we cannot be dipped too deep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

as for what's best

it seems to be the thing to do these days to write articles and blogposts and such about why you have chosen to feed your baby the way you do, and often, why that's the best way. consider this my two cents' worth, then, in a simply honest, not-going-to-be-helpful-if-you're-trying-to-choose-bottle-or-breast sort of way.

some background: luke was exclusively breastfed but for the occasional bottle of expressed milk, which he didn't really care for and so drank only of absolute necessity (thus very rarely). i took the advice to nurse for a year very literally, as any good legalist would, and nursed luke to sleep on his first birthday, kissed him goodnight, and without hesitation whispered that he had, in fact, just nursed for the last time. neither of us ever looked back. eliza, who was unable to eat by mouth, was fed expressed milk by feeding tube for four months, at which point she switched to some high-tech, medically necessary formula. she nursed only once in her life, her very first day, and never again had the opportunity to try. anastasia, now three months old, has been exclusively breastfed but for supplemental formula in her first week, necessary as it was to keep up her (substantial) weight until i could make enough milk to sustain her. i'm hopeful that she'll consent to a bottle or two of expressed milk on our upcoming 700-mile pilgrimage to the north, but i have my doubts.

but hear me on this: i am no member of the la leche league. i have lots of respect for those for whom "breast is best" is their life motto, but i can't get quite as excited as they do about it. nor have i ever been able to join the camp that touts all the benefits of bottle feeding--better sleep, more help from dad, etcetera--despite the fact that i often watch bottle-feeding parents and think, why am i not doing that right now? no, i can't get too worked up either way on this issue.

to me, breastfeeding is a relatively simple choice. the only prerequisite for milk production is childbirth, and it almost always happens without any intervention at all. it's free, it's easy (after the first few weeks), and it's healthy for mom and baby. it naturally makes babies sleepy, a good thing for everyone's bedtime (and thank you, but no, i'm not worried about breaking the nursing-to-sleep habit when the time comes. i figure God knew what was up when He made milk sleep-inducing, and i'll deal with the consequences of that opinion later. i never regretted it for one minute with luke). but nursing doesn't excite me. i'm not one of those moms who sheds tears over weaning, nor do i get those sweet, sappy feelings many moms describe when nursing. to be honest (and you know i always am), it's often uncomfortable, restricts my freedom considerably, is exhausting and isolating, and has the potential to cause all sorts of unpleasant problems--thrush, mastitis, and the like. it's a practical commitment for me and not much beyond that, but one i make willingly and readily and with very little hesitation.

so i don't really have a dog in this fight. if you're looking for advice about how to feed your baby, i'm not really the person to ask, and this isn't the blogpost to read.

but i do know what's best. there comes a day in every nursing baby's life (i assume--it has come in the life of both babies i've nursed, anyhow) when she is happily and obliviously chugging away and suddenly stops. she looks up at you and gives you a heart-breaking, tear-inducing, ear-to-ear grin, as if to say, "oh, you're here! i'm so glad to see you! i'm having some really great milk right now," and then gets right back to nursing. that, i can tell you, that moment is what's best. and for the pure joy of that moment, i'll take all the sleepless nights and discomfort and inconvenience i have to.

and now i have to go nurse that baby. again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

the next thing

when my mom called me this morning, she said she was worried about a man who lived a few doors down. there were multiple emergency vehicles in front of the house, and they didn't show signs of leaving. when i asked her how she knew it was the man who was unwell and not his wife, mom said she had seen the woman go out to pick up the newspaper from the front porch.

it was not two hours later that mom called back to say that the man had passed away.

it's what we do when unbearable, unspeakable things happen: we pick up the paper from the front porch. we worry about overdue library books. we get new cell phones (yup, we did that the very next day, too). we wash dishes, mow the lawn, answer emails, or make dinner when the world has suddenly been upended. and the next day, we do the next thing.

i'm not sure if it's a function of habit--we just always pick up the paper from the front porch without even thinking--or a semiconscious seeking after normalcy--at least i know how to do this thing. or are we actually unable to stop? i don't know my parents' neighbor well enough to know what drove her to pick up the paper from the front porch when the unthinkable was happening or maybe had already happened.

but i know that, on some level, it's what we all do. we do the next thing. we go to work, we get an oil change, we do the grocery shopping. even though it's still unbearable, unspeakable, we do the next thing. and the next thing we know, we're doing another next thing: we get a new job, move to a new house, get a pet. but the world is still upside down. it's not fixed, we're not saved by doing the next thing. still, on some level, we can't not. or perhaps i should speak for myself here: at least i can't not. i do the next thing. i get new curtains, get a haircut, have a baby. i try a new restaurant, clean out my closet, rearrange the furniture, find a new hobby. things aren't put right by doing the next thing, never. but it is still unthinkable, unbearable even if i don't do the next thing. so i do.

i want to tell my parents' neighbor not to listen to the people who will tell her to stop doing the next thing, to let the newspapers pile up on the front porch, forcryingoutloud, or to let someone else pick them up for her. to let the bathroom go unpainted, the flower beds go unweeded, the refrigerator go uncleaned, the laundry be forgotten. and maybe, just maybe, here's another place i need to speak for myself alone. because doing the next thing, even from my upside down place, is the only way i know to be. but maybe that's just me. is it, in fact, possible to stop doing the next thing?

the more i think about it, the more i realize how much i'm projecting. i don't know why the neighbor picked up the paper from her front porch on the morning her husband died. maybe her husband was still well when she picked up the paper, and he wanted to read it. or maybe it wasn't the paper she picked up at all, but instead a piece of medical equipment an emt dropped on the way in the door. maybe she wasn't doing the next thing, after all. i don't know.

what i do know--at least i'm pretty sure i know--is that nothing in her world is right side up tonight. and if she wants to read the paper, i hope she won't let anyone stop her.

speaking of family photos

okay, these pictures are admittedly old news by now. anastasia is way bigger, and i am (thankfully) at least a little bit smaller! but they're still so sweet--not too late to share them, i think. (and if you're looking for a photographer in or near southern california, check out our old-friend-turned-photographer, who took these pictures: krista lucas photography.)

where i am and have been, in no particular order

the first part of this post is nearly six weeks old. yup, six weeks ago, i started a post and never did get to finish it. i had more thinking to do, and i got interrupted (by a baby, no doubt) and i never did get back to writing it. to be honest, i can't really remember the rest of the thinking i was going to do. chalk it up to sleep deprivation, as a friend told me today when i confessed that i sometimes find myself rocking and bouncing even while i'm in the shower. (come on, mamas. you know what i mean. you rock and bounce so much that you forget you don't need to do it while you're washing your hair...*chirp chirp*, come on now; i know i'm not the only one.)


"i have to get used to the idea that she's going to change."

this was sam's comment a week or so ago when we noticed anastasia's already-improving head control and almost-certainly real attempts at smiling. she's going to change.

the fact that this idea is something that takes getting used to made me realize how thoroughly screwed up (honestly, i have a stronger word i'd rather use for it, because it makes me angry) our ideas of baby care are as a result of eliza's screwed up life. one month into anastasia's life, i'm realizing i'm still undoing and unlearning all the things that became normal for the nearly-three years eliza was our never-growing-up baby.

it took me twelve days to realize that anastasia should be sleeping on her back, like all babies should, instead of on her side, like eliza had to. she was twelve days old before it occurred to me that she was not going to have a seizure and vomit and asphyxiate, so she really could sleep on her back. twelve days. screwed up.

i still cringe when anastasia is sleeping and i hear her smack her lips or sigh, because lip-smacking and sighing were always the start of a sleep-ending seizure for eliza. of course, anastasia smacks and sighs and keeps right on sleeping, just like all babies do, unlike her sister did. but four and a half weeks in, i still can't overcome what is now a reflexive cringe. screwed up.


see? there was more coming. you can tell, can't you? oh well. you get the point.


i think maybe there are still a few people who check in on this blog. and maybe a few of those people aren't on facebook (gasp! can it be?). so for those few among the few, i thought i'd drop by for a quick update. there's nothing profound here, really, because i spend so much time snuggling and cooing at and "torturing" (luke's word) my baby with kisses that i don't think much. or if i do, i forget what i was thinking about because she smiles at me or giggles--hot off the presses! new tonight! giggling! love love love--or gurgles or coos get the point. but here's a quick update.

anastasia is ten weeks old today. she acts so much like luke and looks so much like eliza, which, if i do say so myself, is a stellar combination. she doesn't believe in naps but sleeps like champ (most of the time) at night and wakes up smiling in the morning, with a smile that is so big it takes up her whole face and she can't really keep her eyes open anymore. this is a trick of which i will not tire, not ever. we are all three more and more smitten with her daily and have had a running contest to see which of us would solicit her first giggle (i won, just today, as i think i deserve to have, thankyouverymuch). luke cannot get enough of his sister. cannot. it is amazing and wonderful and so very dear.

there's the sappy superficial stuff. are you wondering when i'll get to the rest?


who do you think she looks like? people will ask me. i can see from their faces that it's a relief when i say she looks like eliza. i don't think anyone wants to suggest it--as if i haven't noticed--because it might be hurtful or make me sad or something. for the most part, i'm really glad she looks like her beautiful big sister. it's the eyes, they'll go on to say. it's true; she has eliza's eyes. which makes it all the more amazing to me when she makes eye contact with me, her eyes full of curiosity and eagerness and searching searching for something to smile at or to recognize, so full compared to her big sister's eyes which never could quite look at you but past, somewhere else entirely, searching searching, i think, for something quite other. i do miss that gaze.

and i do miss eliza, somehow even more now than i have in a long time. anastasia was only a week old when i watched her sleep and wondered, who are you? you are a darling, sweet, beautiful imposter. i have a baby already. so who are you? it was a momentary, strange, but very real thing, this confusion of how anastasia fits into the arms of a mama, a family, that are already--were already--so very full. and in that same moment, i couldn't have been more in love with her, anastasia, someone so new and fresh and eager and darling and oh-so-mine. it's a strange thing this time around.

contrary to (popular?) opinion, i still like to talk about eliza. i still think of her all the time, miss her all the time, want to remember her all the time--which is not at all to the detriment of the joy i have in talking about and cooing at and obsessing over anastasia, nor to the pleasure i take in bragging on and loving on my increasingly brilliant and grown-up baby boy. as every mom who wonders if she'll love her second child as much as her first knows, the heart expands exponentially to make more room, doesn't it?

the thing about the family pictures still gets me. i've written about my thing about pictures at least once before, here. it really gets me that i'll never have a picture of my whole family together. i haven't changed any of the pictures hanging in my house yet. how do i do that? take down the pictures with eliza in them and replace them with pictures with anastasia? just add more and more pictures? i'm not sure i have the wall space for it. i want to cut and paste anastasia into the pictures i have hanging of our prior family of four...or cut and paste eliza into the new pictures i have of our current family of four. this is in an impossible dilemma. i expect it will get me forever. there's always going to be someone missing.

and i think, too, about what it will mean to anastasia to grow up in a family that has known and loved and been shaped by a big sister that she will never have known. what will that be like? she'll know her from stories and pictures. but she will never have known her. will she feel a distance from luke because he knew and loved the sister she never had the chance to love? will she feel left out of the memories, somehow? i think about that sometimes, and i wonder. i do think about it.

i've all but stopped accidentally calling anastasia by eliza's name. that is a strange and somehow sad feeling. in fact, i have more than once been talking about eliza and used anastasia's name instead. that i did not like.

and yes, anastasia wears some of eliza's clothes, the ones that haven't been incorporated into the quilt sam's mom made for us. that i like, seeing anastasia in things i remember so fondly from eliza's life. and why wouldn't i? she's wearing her big sister's clothes. that i like.


sleep when the baby sleeps, they say, whoever they are. and as i hear the squirming through the baby monitor (i no longer cringe and expect a seizure, not most of the time anyhow), i wonder why i haven't been sleeping as the baby has been. g'night.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

repost: come home

(since i can't manage to complete all the half-finished posts i have piling up these days, here's a repost of something i wrote on holy saturday two years ago. if you've been reading this blog for a while, you can ignore it; but if you've only recently started reading, you can pretend it's brand new!)

mama, i just found something that used to belong to eliza, and it makes me think about her a lot. and it makes me feel sad. it makes me think, "come home."

it's Easter Saturday, that weird, i-don't-know-what-to-do-with-it day in between Eli, Eli and He is risen. yesterday, we erected our wooden cross in the backyard; buried luke's Lambie, wrapped in a towel, in a cardboard box tomb; rolled a backyard stone in front of the box's opening. luke was sad to leave Lambie out there all by herself all night. it rained and stormed; i, too, wanted to bring her in. or at least check that she wasn't getting wet. sam went out and wrapped her in a plastic bag, just to be safe.

there's someone else i'd like to bring in from the wet dirt, too.

what did the disciples do on Easter Saturday? we can dye eggs, hunt treats, and prepare for tomorrow--He is risen, Hallelujah!--because we know tomorrow comes. all the disciples knew that saturday was that their friend, the one they thought was The One, was alone in the tomb. dead. gone. on Good Friday, we reenact the Passion, reenact the horror and absolute evil of the crucifixion; on Easter Sunday, we reenact the rejoicing and celebration and blissful surprise of the resurrection. what do we do with In-Between Saturday?

i'm usually in too much of a rush to get to sunday to worry too much about my theology of saturday. prepare the treats, cook and bake for a big dinner, dye eggs...friday's over, after all (whew), and sunday's coming. i can safely use saturday to get all the preparation for sunday done (because there's no church today, whew again), so sunday i can rest and rejoice.

but i'm hung up on saturday this year. i'm living in the already and not-yet. every day is In-Between Saturday. eliza is in the tomb, dead, gone, and i can't wrap her up to protect her from the storm. she doesn't need protection from the storm, after all, because we're not going to bring her back inside tomorrow, back to snuggling in bed with us, like luke will with Lambie. here's the thing: it's not friday anymore for eliza, but it's not sunday yet for me. her suffering is over; she's already in the already. and i'm stuck in the not-quite-yet.

but what if i use this In-Between Saturday to prepare for Easter Sunday? that is, how do i prepare for the feast, the rejoicing and celebration and blissful surprise to which eliza has gone ahead of me? the disciples mourned; they didn't know that sunday was coming. i know. i know.

i'd like to think eliza and luke might be sharing the very same thought today: Come Home. so i'm going to get ready. i'm going to clean house and tidy up and prepare for the feast. The Feast. Matthew 8:11 says that "many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." praise God.

i'm using my saturday to get ready.