Tag Archiv: God

A conversation with God

Cover from 1920's issue . . . supposedly in the public domain but it might be good for business if somebody sued me.

Cover from 1920’s issue . . . supposedly in the public domain but it might be good for business if somebody sued me.

Dear God,

I thought you’d like to know that I’m purchasing a large stack of those god-awful women’s magazines that they have at the hair salons. For every moment I am awake during the night, I will pour through them for rubbish. The more scandalous, the better. In fact, I’m going to keep a highlighter on my night side table (right beside my prayer book). Anything particularly racy I’ll mark so I can find it more quickly the next night. When that bores me, I’ll read up on important things like interior decorating tips and fad diets.

It’s not that I don’t like the time together. Those sleepless hours in the middle of the night are oddly some of my favorite times with you. The problem is sustainability. I appreciate that you sent your son as a human being who also needed sleep. Perhaps . . . well, I’m just saying, I notice that he came as a single man.

Truthfully, if I never had those long hours in the night, I’d miss them. I’m honestly grateful. It’s just too much of a good thing. I’m not trying to start a fight; I’m saying please give me chocolate on special occasions only. I’m saying, well, I’m rambling. I’m sorry. It’s  easy to do when you’re tired. Deep breath. Focus. Main point. Retain. Main point. Rephrase with slow deliberate focus.

Dear. God. In light of the above. Would you consider a compromise position? One wakeful night out of seven? Two? You could take just as much time, but pack it into fewer nights. See where I’m coming from? I’m coming from the place where people need to sleep well for multiple nights in a row. Studies show this to be remarkably good for physical and emotional health, not to mention mental function and memory.

If I knew of studies measuring the impact of sleep loss on spiritual health, I would mention it. Still, I can pretty much guarantee that a steady diet of comparing my house, weight, hair, clothes, kids, and husband with the plastic people won’t be good for it. It’ll kind of be like waking me up to smoke or eat potato chips. Which are some other considerations if the magazines don’t do the trick.

We both know I’ll be suicidal after two nights of reading that stuff. So please. Please go for the sleep option before things get desperate.

Sincerely,

Michelle

A few from the twos

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In the kitchen:

Boy two wanted to cook. With much delight, he sequestered himself for the making of the world’s best molasses cookie ever. I am descended from a master of molasses and make a pretty fine molasses cookie myself. I tasted his cookies ready to sweetly encourage him from the heights of my better way. But his cookies weren’t ok, they were amazing. Starting to feel a little threatened, I reminded myself to be happy for him. He is after all my son. Just because he killed the competition on his first shot at molasses cookies didn’t mean my contributions to the craft of cooking had no value.

To comfort myself, I ate a lot of cookies.  Secret ingredients were enthusiastically confessed as I ate. Clarity came not with the choice of ingredients, but rather their amounts. My prize Mexican vanilla (for which one needs half the called for amount to equal three times the glorious flavor) had been used by a boy who didn’t wait excitedly for it to arrive, procured by relatives visiting in Arizona. The cookies were soaked in vanilla like fruit cake in brandy. Undercooked cookie consumption could have meant a drunk driving charge. The recipe called for a teaspoon. Boy two used a 1/4 cup. (That’s 12.5 times the amount the recipe called for if anyone’s curious.) I’m going to stick to my recipe after all, but if I ever want a very pricey cookie, I know who to call.

 

On the way to school:

Girl one says God can do anything.

Girl two is sympathetic to her position but not convinced. God is great and everything, she says, but . . .  God has never turned a mother into a baby. He has turned a baby into a mother, but never a mother into a baby. And even when he turns a baby into a mother it’s not very fast. It takes like a really long time. So maybe he can turn a mother into a baby, but so far, he never has.

 

After dinner exchanges:

I see Boy two give Girl one some money. I can’t figure out why, so I take the money away, give it back to him along with advice not to share, and go about my business. He takes his money and goes upstairs to find Girl one. I can hear him giving her the money again.

She doesn’t need your money, I say when he returns. It’s really ok to have your own things.

Don’t worry, he says rubbing his hands together with a wicked smile. The only birthdays left are hers and mine. I’m just helping make my present even bigger.

 

Running and Pentecost

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I have been thinking a lot about Pentecost.  I got hung up a little bit wondering why it was so small. How, I wondered, could the observance of an event that kicked off the official start of the largest, most enduring organization on earth range from a blip of remembrance to blank stares? Shouldn’t the birthday of the Christian church be a big deal?

But wanting to march in too many parades is a quick way to wind up miserable. Besides, the truth is, Pentecost passed me without much notice last year and some years before that. This year, there’s an inexplicable Pentecost bee in my bonnet. The buzz has been impossible to ignore, so I have been pondering Pentecost and what it means that God gives us mystery.

Pentecost is a bit like God showing up one day at the door with a gift, invisible of course, but no denying its existence, we can feel the weight in our hands. God says we need the gift, He loves us, and then He leaves.

Don’t worry about how everything turns out, He tosses over his shoulder. You’ve got the gift now.

For the rest of your life you know what the gift is, sort of, but you have no clue what the gift is exactly. What you do know is that since you received the gift, you are not the same as you were before. Sometimes you actually know this, like you know that standing in the sun feels warm, other times it’s a matter of faith. A lot of times you can’t see clearly what the gift is giving now as much as you can see it looking back at then.

Which I guess answers my own question about why the whole celebration has never really caught on that widely or crossed over into mainstream culture. If you tried to sell it to Hallmark they would have no way of making it tidy. If you think about it too long, Pentecost is a bit unsettling. It’s not a warm greeting card kind of feeling.

Pentecost says, Jesus came as one of you, but I remain beyond what you can imagine. You accepted a baby. Well done. Now let me set you aflame with the fire of Me. Afterwards, you will never be the same. Flesh and blood. Mystery. Forever and ever intertwined. Yes?

Pentecost is a voice on the wind. Whispers of a love that roars and takes no prisoners. One minute tearing you off your feet. Teaching you to walk again. Asking you to run. Another minute gently wiping your tears, sitting vigil with you at your private groanings.

The only question about Pentecost really, is which way to run. As far away as possible, or headlong into the wind?

Molly and God

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Molly

I find it hard to love freely. Sad people are ok. People in crisis that I read about are easy. It’s the aggressive, overbearing, opinionated, in your face people that get to me. The stuck in their ways, plodders, who would smile if they had the energy, but it’s not their job to and Lord knows they’re busy enough as it is, also get to me. Which brings me to our dog.

Molly is almost twelve. She is a mutt, bought at the wrong time (the same week we moved into a new house with an almost two year old, a lot of years ago). She has been raised by people who are largely not dog people. We love her, but we find it strange when people visit who want to touch her for hours and roll around on the floor with her. At first, Molly and Boy one were at the same maturity/intelligence level. Luckily, Boy one moved on. Since then, we’ve had three more children and moved to a farm. Molly is great with everybody. She killed a few chickens when we first moved to the farm, but she wasn’t angry, they were just too interesting not to shake by the neck.

For the month of April, Molly shared our house with visiting dog, Jasmine. A few weeks ago, we got kittens. These days I run out the door many times a day to check on chicks and lambs. With the end of school coming into view, the kids lives are filling up with extra concerts, games and end of year projects. Molly’s routine is definitely disrupted.

Misty, the pony, Michelle, the human, we’ll let you know if people start setting us off to the side for good causes or other. (It’s not complaining, it’s advocating. Think life skill.) If you forget who I am and what kind of homage I deserve in this house, you can most definitely plan on hearing me advocate as loudly as needed until a change is made.

Molly isn’t like that. She’s her affectionate self regardless. In just about every way, things are best for both of us when Molly and I get to the woods each day.  – But when it’s not best and hasn’t been best for a few days, and I call her for a walk, or stop to talk to her, there’s no payback for not coming sooner. She’s happy to see me, always. Happy to be together now, despite what was or wasn’t before.

I love to walk with her, but I don’t like being licked. I don’t talk dog. It’s not that I don’t try, but on gung ho dog loving, I don’t think I do it right. It doesn’t seem to matter. Molly doesn’t have charts of my pros and cons, she just loves me. There is no bitterness for who I am not, only joy, somehow unbounded, for who I am.

I’m starting to wonder, excepting the chicken part, what if God is like Molly?

Read it and hope

file000459357359For the most part I don’t like book recommendations. Thanks for thinking of me, I say afterwards. I don’t say: I skimmed as far as I could and then put it down before I threw it in the fire.

That’s great. I’m looking forward to it, I say before I read.

I don’t say: Really? Didn’t I already read one in that series? (And to Boy two, whose hundredth recommendation I am currently reading . . .Buddy, you’re wearing a purple head covering and bright red shorts from morning until night these days. Don’t you think it’s possible we’d have different taste in books?)

Last week, I got another one. It had a lousy title (Tattoos on the Heart) but Anne Lamott had blurbed it so I opened my mind to potential readability. The book is written by a Catholic priest who works with gang members in Los Angeles. I thought it possible that I might be moved by something outside of me.  People who don’t speak my language, look like me, eat like me, or dress like me. I find it very safe to be touched by people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. But the book didn’t do that for me.

Tattoos on the Heart, didn’t give me a perch in a museum to watch the strangers from. It didn’t knock me over or wake me up either. It flooded me. Gently, it rose inside of me, washed over a couple of damns (not a typo) and spilled joyfully onto the parched and dry places of my heart.

I don’t know when I have had my eyes opened so clearly to who God is or how much He loves.  Me, the people around me, and people I can really only try to imagine. I have never seen with such clarity that the love is now. Not when we’re fixed up, put together and behaving well. Right now.

If you’re looking for a book or if you’re feeling a little lost and unworthy, I would really recommend this book.

 

**The only proviso is language. Gang members aren’t often schooled in the King’s best English; their stories reflect this. If strong language is a barrier for you for one reason or another, then this is not the book for you. – Myself, well, I don’t mind the talk of the sea. Besides, when I hear people with worse language than myself it comforts me. I didn’t understand a lot of the Spanish phrases. My policy was to get whatever I could get without straining and skip over the rest.

Pianos and me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have in mind to write about pianos but sitting down to do it, I feel myself pulling back. I feel about pianos the way some people feel about God. The thing that’s between us is so personal it hurts. It runs deeper than the realm of something as limited as language.

Listening to me play, you wouldn’t know about us. You’d be sitting there thinking about what my fingers did with the notes. Fine for country churches, fine for a group, not even in the ballpark for a professional musician. But playing for other people was never the point. What connects us isn’t about what I do with a piano, it’s about what the piano has done for me. My throat fills up trying to say it.

I heard my mother practicing a Bach Invention when I was younger. I fell in love. I didn’t care about the piano. I took lessons because I wanted to play that Invention. My beloved, eighty year old Mrs. Murdoch took me there and beyond. A wonderful high school music teacher, Ms. Liszka, let me learn to accompany, giving me a lifetime of ways to be part of music. These two who helped me, without whom I could not have known the piano in the same way, will get their own piece someday. This imperfect piece with the wordless tears is for the piano.

For a lot of high school, I was afraid. There were lots of things to be afraid of.

Play me, it said. And I would open the hymn book and touch those promises until I believed them.

I wanted to dream. About all kinds of things – acting, writing, boys, running a home for kids nobody believed in, happy endings.

Play me, it said. And I would take out sheet music from our choir and play my heart out with, “Somewhere Out There,” and other such.

I was sad. Life was sad. I was young and I didn’t want it that way.

Play me, it said. Weep into me for as long as it takes. So I did.

I was so mad I wanted to smash things. If cars ran on rage, I could have driven to Pluto and back. Ten times.

Oh for heaven’s sake, it said. Do you honestly think there’s not something your fingers can do here that will fit the occasion? When in doubt, play louder, dear. Play softer, and you’ll figure out how much you need to cry.

To worlds gone mad, it gave me chromatic scales played contrary at lightning speed, rhythm perfectly precise.

For my sorrows, my hopes, and my happiness, it spoke to me in the places without words and gently filled them with music.

I don’t know that I ever sit down and play without remembering. When we are alone together, I am home.  A thousand thanks, beloved friend of my heart.

Forgiveness Project Part IV goes in unexpected direction

I have never been a baby person. My own babies were the only exception. I’m in a strange phase now. I physically ache when I see a baby. I want to run because it hurts. The chances of a baby from me surviving pregnancy are too tiny to risk the battering of my body. It has had enough, and so has the rest of me. I dream about more children anyway.

My brain has informed my heart about reality. I am working to get rid of every single baby thing we own. It is over. Time to move on says my brain.

In May, I called the public adoption agency. I asked if they would even read the paperwork or were we a write off with four kids already in the family. “Definitely not a write off. I like what you bring to the table,” she said. By the time we hung up I was so excited about the possibility of adding a few siblings to our tribe I was dancing.

We filled out forms and more forms. I drove them in so the mail couldn’t slow them down. The next step was an introductory meeting, followed by a course. I waited for a call. I started figuring out our fall schedule so we could attend the course. I called for a date so we could plan our vacation around it. No answer. I drove in to ask. “Don’t worry. We’ll let you know.” I called in again anyway. “Sometime in August. Don’t worry. We’ll let you know.”

We got back from a long weekend and opened an invitation to an introductory meeting that had already happened. I tried not to panic. I called. I left messages with the lady. I drove in to talk to someone. They wrote everything down and said they were sure something would work out. I called again and left a message with the lady’s boss. Then I didn’t call. If God could part the Red Sea, surely He could get a phone call returned.

Every month or so, I want to drive in and make her tell me why. Then I let it go again.

It isn’t meant to be. I try to accept this. Then I hear about a pregnant girl not ready to be a mother and I’m gone. Dreaming. Wondering if maybe this is the child I couldn’t let go of.

I started out to write about forgiving the adoption worker, but I guess this isn’t really about her.

Dear God,

This aching. I hate it. I can’t figure out how to resolve it. I like my life tidy. Dreams exist to be realized, not to gnaw at your insides like a tape worm. Down here, we take medicines to kill tape worms. I want the ache realized or gone. Nothing in between

I am waiting for peace, but it is taking a long time. If you were running a business, you would get hammered on wait times.

I hope the answers and the peace are so good that I forget about everything else once they come. I forgive you for having a different schedule, and not keeping me in the loop on everything. Sometimes it has to be that way with my kids too.