I took this picture on a lazy canoe ride with my husband this summer.
It feels like we’re all in some form of taking off at the moment.
Girl two has been there done that with being little. She’s big and you can see it, or she’ll scream her head off. (So to speak. It’s just an expression. Mostly.)
Girl one has her eye on the growing up prize, sneaking dress shoes to school instead of sneakers and wrapping herself in fancy scarves whenever possible.
Boy two is turning twelve soon. Unlike his sisters, his dreams of flight do not involve growing up. Rather, they involve making himself more unique than he already is. I was informed recently that he has invented a new hairstyle he calls, “the elf.” He explained the elf to me proudly while preparing it for school. I quote, “the whole entire point of it is to make your ears look like their sticking out as much as possible.”
Boy one is in grade 11 and eager to be as old as possible as soon as possible. Nothing makes him happier than answering the phone and having to explain that he is not his dad. His wings flap madly regardless of wind, lift, or splash, stopping only when he falls unconscious to his pillow each night.
As for me, I’ve been pulled into some local initiatives I care a great deal about in the form of that dreaded beast, the committee. I am a bit over my head at times as to how best to contribute. Whether a committee can effectively take off on this one, or if the conjunction of multiple dragging webbed feet defeats (no pun intended) the possibilities, is a question. The group of ducks that took off en masse prior to taking the picture at the top of this last brave soul flying off on his own was certainly spectacular. Does it follow that if ducks can fly together, people with a bit of trial and error can manage it too? The gamble of the committee echoes the gamble of our place in the universe. We can’t do it alone, but too many cooks spoil the soup. We aren’t all charged to take the same road, yet needing each other is an unavoidable agony en route to progress. My group flight attempts have temporarily grounded my ability to think creatively beyond the committees.
So a prayer for my readers inspired by my realities of late:
May your flights be long and brave, your takeoffs and landings smooth. Should you find yourself on a committee, may the patience of Job be yours, and may the dragging of all the webbed feet end in a thoroughly soaked miracle of grace.
And another small prayer for flight by committee
My already slow march toward sainthood has suffered repeated setbacks lately. There is limited pleasure in observations of my shortcomings at any time, but failure set to Christmas music can feel especially glum. I’m not sure it’s even the season that’s getting to me right now as much as the fact that I’m trying so hard and still not spreading peace and joy like dew drops from my wings.
I speak from experience when I say that there is nothing that makes me feel quite so hateful as when I try to be loving and end up being the worst side of me in the middle of it. Examples abound. In case my explanation has failed the clarity test, I’ll share a recurring one.
Loving act: Extra nice breakfast prepared. Many loving thoughts and warm affections fill me as my feet step lightly through the kitchen. Delicious test: Flying colours. Presentation: Strong. Nutrition: Check. Tra la la la.
Worst side of self races to the fore: I react to the dawdling, complaining, and habitually tardy with acts of war.
Realization hits: I started out to bathe people in love and my irritation and anger is now dripping from their hair.
Result: I hate everyone I know. The Grand They has made me do this. The Grand They continually conspire to make me fail and they are exceedingly good at it. If it weren’t for them I would love everyone with patience and gentleness, possibly even me.
Resulting result: An overwhelming sense of failure salted for flavour with hopelessness
So goes the Advent slog on this side of the fence. I’m not feeling as depressed about it as I was. Probably because I got good and mad about something yesterday (again in the midst of planned lovefest for an undeserving segment of mankind). I was more justified than usual, ergo more mad than usual. Then an unlikely bystander was ridiculously kind and generous and I was invited without words to set aside the anger and return to the lovefest. It didn’t feel logical, but it felt possible.
Advent whispers, if we watch for them, if we let them, at odd intervals, strangers and babies light candles in the dark to save us.
Advent whispers that life might be more like soccer than basketball (one or two goals scored in a game as opposed to seventy or eighty). Missed shots are just directives to shoot again.
Advent says a little louder, despite the occasional evidence to the contrary, we need each other too much to bother with all the hating. Better to load up on matches and start striking. We don’t light our own candles, we light each other’s. Whether in a lifetime we manage one or ten for someone else is largely not up to us. But best to go down trying, with soot marks on our hands and wax dripped down our fingers, aiming for a thousand.