The screen door doesn’t fit in its casing when it swells with November rain, so it slacks open. Every minute, every thirty seconds, a change in air catches the door, and it taps. Wooden door against porch railing. Tap. Tap-tap. Tap.
Normally, repetitious sounds rattle my nerves, but this morning, I find it comforting — this drum beat refrain like a heartbeat.
A vase of white-centered mums sit in front of me in a gaping-mouthed vase. Orange bread crumbs and mandarin orange strings from this morning’s breakfast sit in a happy pile next to me, gathered together, but not tossed.
Outside the crows caw across hundred year old trees. Overhead the dining room chandelier buzzes like it always does.
I’m not just light. I’m electricity. Don’t you see? Don’t you hear?
We escaped from the throes of lice this week — the third time the girls have caught it at school in the last 13 months.
I take that back. We did not escape lice. There is no escaping lice once they’ve made their way onto your head and into your life. There is only enduring the process, doing the next needed thing to eradicate the horrid creatures.
The nit picking. The cleaning.
The laundry piles. The quarantine room. The freezing of hair brushes. The rotating series of bed covers. The bare, vacuumed couches. The nightly hair oiling. The morning showering and combing. So much combing.
It’s a Groundhog Day style- anxiety-producing, micro view within the macro destruction of a house torn apart.
(Your head is itching right now, isn’t it?)
At the very beginning of this week’s Operation: Rid the House of the Louse, I read words to the effect of, Notice the small things because the small things are really the big things.
Back in the spring, a rectangular card arrived in my mailbox. A distinctive font scrolled across an ombre watercolor wash of blue and at the top three words: The Open Door. I held the invitation to join a small group of women from around the country — speakers, writers, authors, artists, ministry leaders; the only commonality our faith in Jesus and call as bearers of hope.
As I read the invitation and explanation of the vision, as I held the small bronzed key that accompanied it, I shook my head. Why me?
I most certainly am not a superstar blogger with my beginner WordPress blog (and all the best intentions to update it). I’ve only just begun speaking. My primary ministries are in my home, our school and with women over coffee, story and prayer. My freelance writing career hasn’t yet gotten off the ground. My name has never graced a book cover. Really, my primary vocational nudge seems to be Love People. Why me?
And yet, because of my journey to stand firm on a rock of confidence that doesn’t turn like shadows, because of my desire to live fearless, because of the tremendous faithfulness of the Spirit who shows me one next step after another and another, I said yes. I walked through that open door and chose to keep believing I belonged.
Not like one belongs to a secret society or insiders’ club, but the way one allows Love’s eyes to lock with her own, to watch the mouth that forms the words, beloved, and to nod, Yes. Yes, I am.
Really, it’s a lie when we compliment after passed years, say someone is exactly the same. I suppose what we’re wanting to say is that the essence of you — the unique spark of you — is intact. The one we recognized then, the one we see now.
“Come here,” I said, pulling you from the bed and onto the floor where I sat. You cried as I stroked your long bangs and wisps of hair from your forehead.
“But I don’t want to be seven tomorrow,” you said. “I want to stay six. I’m not ready to be older.”
You know your mama well, so I probably don’t need to tell you that the tears ran down my face then, too, because I’m not ready either, and I want to seal this moment in chunks of amber beneath a stopped clock. Make an agreement that we will both stay just how old we are now, vow to sit this way again — you tracing the outline of my arms while I memorize the shape of your cheeks.
I read of longing and desire from bed, covered in the quilt I brought from home and a rightly heavy down comforter.
The walls are yellow like sun, and I am sick. Not the worst sick I’ve been in my life, but sick that looks weak and tired in the eye, feels the cold burning in lungs. The kind that is relieved that curtains are pulled shut.
I am here at this vacation house with my girlfriends who are going for walks and hikes and talking in the sunshine, and all I want to do is be still and read in this bed. This is not normal for me.
I do hope to be better before it’s time to go, so I can play with them, too. These women are some of my favorites, you know? And I look forward to these times all year. I really do.
I am sad about it, and I am content. I’ve read that you can’t experience gratitude and sadness at the same time (or something to that effect), but I’ve not found that to be true.
The fussy toddler wears poop
right close to his bottom –
you can tell he has for a while.
Hot unwashed bodies carry
unique scents like pepper, fermenting fruit,
soaked and dried again towels.
Final days have ways
of making a person think extra long
about things like this.
The press of pungent humanity is
much easier to romanticize
when riding the number 8 is choice
for a time and not grocery shopping,
Walking downtown streets to the law office
for my last Tuesday,
I see that young man again, just a kid
with a skateboard,
face bleeding drugs at the
same corner by the Square where
the man with the dog propped his sign
that said “Feed my human.”
There’s a piece of glass
in my foot from walking barefoot
in our basement storage.
I thought I got it all,
but today I lilt to the left
in my wedges,
remnants reminding me of
how we’re all limping.
I exit the elevator onto
the 8th floor and the
sticky thick of shared spaces,
mingling smells of
yesterday’s food and perfume,
corridors only vaguely connecting
here to there
before air conditioning cuts
with its comforts.
We draw to the close of another school year, and I can’t decide if it feels like nine months have passed, or nine days. The way time suspends like a hammock, the way it marches forward like ants in a line.
Sea foam sizzles and waves rumble,
and both call me right to the edges
because I feel no choice but to see life
in contrasting metaphor,
how Love is thunder and a settling
into sands, gentle dance of bubbles in glass
Pelicans hover over waters
as on our honeymoon 17 years ago,
and it is a breath-catching gift, this sight,
because we’ve never seen them
on our stretch of Pacific
We watch birds skim waves
like prehistoric creatures until they catch
a glimpse, make their bodies arrow slim,
dive below the surface,
gulp up beakfuls of fish and invisible things
with soup ladle mouths
We recall pre-wrinkles, pre-midline pooch,
pre-almost everything that would be us,
how we could not tire of watching these birds from
our veranda on the Bay of Zihuatanejo
so many Aprils ago,
the artfulness of their lingering and plunging
because we saw the metaphor
We choose to plunge over and over again,
don’t we, love,
hovering over everyday before piercing surfaces,
sometimes shocking each other with our
sudden mouthfuls and
water streaming from corners,
and you’re right close to me
when we pause on the rocks to share our catch,
bones and all
I squeeze those I love, laugh freely and cry more than most. I'm a detail collector, big picture thinker, nature lover, book savorer, passionate lover of people and God. I am learning to embrace the great mystery, live in the questions, take risks and speak unafraid. I believe in pain redeemed and hope where it has no business, and I'm so grateful you've come to unwrap some messy and glory-filled stories with me.
to the life right where you are. Whether delightful or downright disaster, each moment presents the opportunity to stumble through half awake or slow down to truly see. I want to live AWAKE.