Tag Archiv: driving to school

Ash Wednesday’s Transportation

Ash Wednesday, by Carl Spitzweg, 1855-1860.

Ash Wednesday, by Carl Spitzweg, 1855-1860.

I have embarked upon a death by degrees. If I could work in an unheated laundry in the early morning hours with my hands raw from the scrubbing, or make cheese to sell with the milk I had squeezed by hand from the last drips of every neighbour’s cow for five miles, if I was doing something along those lines for my children’s education, I imagine a sense of pride would accompany my labours. Instead, I am nailed to a car for a very extended Lent.

If points A, B, and C, lie on a crooked line, we live at point B, with three of the children requiring taxi service to C, and the child of a thousand activities requiring taxi service to A. By week’s end, the chilly laundress and the determined cheese maker both have something in their hands that proves what they have accomplished. By the sweat of their brow they have obtained their children’s education. While it is true that my children could not attend their places of study without transportation, at the end of every single week, there is nothing to prove that I have done anything. My back aches a bit, my right leg is stiff, my toes at times numb, but only the laundress can decry her chapped hands. It’s not quite the same to say you’re achy because you went from B to C to B to A to B too many times this week.

An early Ash Wednesday is catching me up short. The cold of mid-February amplifies the monotony of duties and begs the question of their meaning. I am hesitant to hope for Lent’s promise. Afraid to believe that Easter will dawn in so short a time. Soon the weather station will have to invent a synonym for polar vortex to keep things interesting. Many days are cloudy, but not all. I went out the other day to almost brilliant sunshine. I turned my face to the sun as I walked and pulled the scarf away from my skin so that light could touch more of me.

Perhaps Lent in deep winter is good. Perhaps the effort it takes to believe on cloudy days that the light will come back builds something for which we have no proof. On Ash Wednesday we bow as a claim that what we bow to is bigger than our moods, disappointments, or even our dreams. Faith needn’t be felt at all times. Ash Wednesday accepts it wrestled to the ground, hogtied, and held by a large rock drug from the backyard. Bags of cat litter would also suffice. Light was and is and will be whether we see it or not. A thousand clouds of dull grey today, but tomorrow the sun will tear once again with ferocious glory through the skies.

We may need to jerry rig this year’s Easter dresses with battery powered sections of an electric blanket, but we’ve got forty days to sort it out. Ashes to remind us from whence we came. Ashes to pull us silently up, out of our forgetting and into a grand awareness of Divine transportation. Tirelessly ferrying us from B to A to B to C and back to B again while we learn our lessons largely oblivious to the driver.

Unheeding of thank you’s neglect, Ash Wednesday comes. With Love’s arms open wide, we are invited to march toward Easter’s hope.

Turkey Convention

Die hards at the end of the day

Convention Stragglers

Half a kilometer down the road is an on-going as we speak turkey convention. Now that I take the kids to school, I drive by it four times a day. By afternoon, half the participants have left for happy hour, but in the morning, I can count on fifteen or more of them milling around on convention business.

The convention takes place in a graveyard. The main hall in the convention centre is actually the gravesite of a six year old girl. Years ago, her grandparents made it into a little shrine and they keep it in pristine condition still. There are toys, a bench, a bird feeder. At night, there are soft lights. The path to the grave is always clear, even in winter. There is no sign that the turkeys find this an odd place for a convention. Quite the opposite. They love the free food, sprinkled liberally across the ground.

I pass the graveyard on my walks to the woods too. For a while there were raccoons who came. They would scamper up the trees as I walked by, then come down again when I was past. Countless deer stop by in a week, but most of the time they seem to have booked the centre for different hours. One day I saw the turkey convention with three deer standing right in the middle. I was too far off to see if they wore name tags, but it seemed to be working for everyone concerned.

I can’t quite explain why the turkey convention has caught my fancy this winter. Is it seeing so much life in the midst of death or is it just the turkeys? Turkeys are fun to watch. The way their heads move on the end of those long necks when they’re looking around makes me want to try it. I can’t get enough of the way they tip toe off in such a flutter of not subtle when they see me coming, all in a line, bustling like church ladies off into the trees, so proud of themselves for being so canny.

Most everything good and bad that’s gotten stuck in my craw these past few weeks has eventually made it to the part of my brain that remembers the turkeys. Exhausted. Excited. Discouraged. Incensed. Triumphant. I picture myself a turkey. Just one of the girls in a grand convention of turkeys. Oblivious to the miracle of life in the midst of death, but deadly serious about the way we stand, the order in the line, and who eats what when and how.