The first two of many brave chickens. (And really, face lift for outside of the coop is coming…)
I received the following in an e-mail this week:
You worry too much, woman. You call YOURSELF a square peg. No one else does. We love you dearly. Know that. Believe that. The burden you place on yourself is far harder to carry. Far. Harder.
Considering how completely together I have it, there is probably a sense of shock that someone would feel the need to say this to me. Or not.
I read the e-mail. Cocked my head (kind of like a chicken) and read it again. Huh. I read it one more time and then started folding laundry so I could think. I called my husband.
. . . I got this kind of weird e-mail. Now I’m walking around with this crazy thought in my head. Like what if I’m not a failure? Maybe I’m not even failing. Maybe the book taking so much longer than I ever thought doesn’t mean anything other than long sagas are frustrating and things take time even when you don’t want them to. Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong. Maybe this is just the way it is. Maybe everything is ok and I can just keep plugging away at things when I can and not worry about the rest. I mean, is that crazy? Seriously, what if I’m not a failure?
He didn’t think I was a failure. I said goodbye and put on my snow clothes. The chickens love the outside but they don’t like standing on two feet of snow. I shoveled some paths and space in the outside part of their coop. They didn’t come running so I stole some hay from the cows, made a dry place to stand, and lined it with food scraps.
Somebody had invited me out into the sunshine. The chickens were the only ones home I could think to pay it forward to. Invitation complete, I watched for a minute and enjoyed with them the way it feels when you’re stuck in a coop for so long all winter that you forget about the way out and then someone points to the door, calls from the outside and beckons. You cock your head to the side, let it bob around a bit to show you don’t take risk lightly, tip toe back and forth a few times, then bob out into the fresh air and sunshine to look around. Breathe. Smile. It’s not so bad out there.
Having been so graciously invited myself, I pray that similar invitations will be extended your way. Beginning now or sooner, may a path be shoveled through your two feet of snow, your coop entrance cleared, and enough hay put down to make your feet happy. In answer to your courageous head bobbing from your very wiggly neck, may the sun rise each day and the treats at your toes be as pleasing as rotted fruit or discarded vegetable scraps.
Yours in the Journey –
People gawking to see why the chickens are daring to opt for fresh air.
The Three Wisemen Aka Halt of the Wisemen, by John La Farge. (Because wise people have to halt now and again to work up the courage to keep going)
Wise men follow a star for a long time through strange lands. They are looking for a king. When the star leads them to the boy, they do not trouble themselves that a peasant child stands before them, they see a king. They kneel. They worship. They offer gifts befitting royalty.
I don’t know how to follow a star, yet the heavens beckon. I long for that which is good and true. On my best days I pursue the glimmers. We’ve traded camels for cars, but the journey still stretches to endless some days.
It is difficult to recognize salvation in the simple and unsung. People talk about the wisemen risking Herod’s wrath, but no one talks about the courage it took to kneel before someone so unrecognized. To insist with their gifts that this unlikely baby was exactly who they were looking for.
So wise men three, or however many you be, here’s to a year of courageous epiphanies . . .
In the tears of a defeated nine year old in the bathroom, the siren call to set aside the lessons and love the girl. Maybe not just the girl. Maybe others, myself, the world.
In the stomping of a six year old, the insistent invitation to express my own frustration more gently.
In the lengthy explanation of Lego worlds, a glimpse of wonder. Things live and move and breathe without my orchestration or knowledge.
In the impassioned hopes and dreams of a 14 year old, a dare to throw caution to the wind and let the fire of love run madly down the hallways of my heart.
I took a nap on Dec. 30th. My husband met me with delight when I woke up. There was a surprise, he said. Downstairs I found him standing where the Christmas tree had been, grinning.
Decorations, lights, everything. Done, he said.
Thank you, I said softly. (The tree cannot come down before January 1, I thought. I never got to sit for one last night and look at the lights. I wanted to cry.)
You’re not happy, he said. I thought you would be happy. I’ve been excited for almost an hour.
I’m happy that you love me, I said.
Every hour or so for the rest of the day we both said the same things over again.
I thought you would be happy.
It was kind of you to try and surprise me.
The tree’s absence made me sad but the face of the man who loved me was there too. He had failed to love me as I wished to be loved. But he loved me. Epiphany.
Love has a history of awkward packaging. The baby came wearing diapers undoubtedly full at times. May we have the wisdom to recognize the moments of our salvation, the courage to kneel, and the good sense to bring royal gifts to the least of these.