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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

of children's books and nightlife

our nursery is on the back of our house, with windows overlooking the backyard and woods behind it. one of my sweetest memories of the many, many hours i spent nursing luke during the night in that room is the pair of owls that lived in our woods. every night, without fail, i would hear them calling back and forth to each other, their calls absolutely distinctive and always, always the same: one a higher-pitched "who-who-who...whoo whoo" and the response a deeper "whoo...whoo-whoo." i don't know much about owls, but what i think i know is that many species mate for life. and whether each owl's call is unique or not i can't easily find out by googling (i just tried, of course), but i do not doubt that i was hearing the same two owls every night.

i imagined many things about those owls, soothed as i was by their familiar, predictable, mournful nightly conversations. i did not doubt that they were an old couple, probably living there in those woods long before luke's nocturnal feedings began coinciding with their mundane nightlife. i remember wondering whether their calls continued--i'm sure they did--long after luke and i no longer spent those quiet hours together in the rocking chair.

it was appropriate, then, that one of luke's favorite books was owl babies, by martin waddell. do you know the one?

lover of children's books that i am, i'll confess that i have many favorites, but this one is near the top of the list, perhaps as much for the happy memories i have of luke's recitation of the youngest owl's repeated line, 'I want my mommy!' said Bill, repeated enthusiastically in a silly little developing southern drawl, as i do for the sweet storyline. it's a story of three owl babies--sarah and percy and bill--who discover that their mommy owl is missing. while sarah and percy attempt to reason out where she might be or how soon she'll come back, bill can only repeat again and again that he wants his mommy. spoiler alert: of course, the mommy owl does come back (and they flapped and they danced and they bounced up and down on their branch), with food to eat--what good mommy wouldn't?--and the baby owls are delighted, perhaps most of all little bill, whose line finally changes: 'I love my mommy!' said Bill.

anastasia and i sit in that same room now, and i spend those hours gazing on the bookshelf across the room, bursting with all those books i read (and read and read and read) to luke, reciting the favorite lines in my head, chomping at the bit to begin reading them to anastasia. i can't wait to hear luke read owl babies to his sister, and i wonder if his said Bill will still have the little drawl it had when he was a toddler. just the other night, as anastasia and i rocked quietly in that chair, i heard--even through the still-closed windows--an owl call in the woods. it was the same call i listened to seven and a half years ago in that same spot, the higher-pitched, longer call. and i waited for the deeper, shorter response, but it never came. the one owl repeated its call, again and again, the night empty of its partner's answer.

and in that moment, the story changed in my head: maybe, just maybe, those two owls were not a mated pair at all, but a brother and sister. and each night since, as i've listened to that single owl's call, i've missed the answer more and more.

photographic evidence

i'm still here--really! here are a few recent pictures, with the promise that i've got blogposts galore percolating, if only i can find enough waking hours with two hands free...