I reach into the laundry basket of clean clothes that’s been sitting here for the last four days, pull out the boxer shorts and see again the identical gray and black checked pairs and wonder how I didn’t notice that I was buying two that were exactly the same.

I reach into the basket and pull out her no-show socks — the ones that I can nearly mistake for mine. I reach into the basket for the leggings with the horizontal stripes — the ones that make her five-year-old legs stretch even longer. I tug at the pants with a hint of bling at the ankle that remind me how she once loved shine and glimmer on everything, before her style turned more casual, like these gray sweatpants here that ride lower on her hips.

The laundry and chorus of birds is this morning’s refrain, the reminders of an entirely new day and yet so much the same, as I sit under the window that nearly reaches the floor, read about burdens that are carried and hearts that are softened.

I need this. Every day.

I think again about the verse from Ecclesiastes, how there will be times for gathering stones and times for scattering them and how these words have found soft ground in me these last weeks, even as I struggle to understand them, even as we pray for hearts of stone to be made hearts of flesh.

Gathering stones is home where we build low-lying fences that still make room and where we make remembrance altars and give thanks, where we count our blessings and pains and receive that this is where we are and where we’ll be together. Last night as we played charades in the growing-cooler shade under our giant tree around the hand-me-down plastic table, we gathered stones. And as we snuggled with each other and our new dog, Clancy, and laughed at the ways he tried to work his way onto the couch, and as I read the cards these growing children made me, and as sleep fell heavy like our quilt, we gathered stones.

As I toss away performance and production as the means by which I’ll judge my value, and as I let life happen without needing to cling to expectations, and as things wind and wend, and as I look at limitations that hold us back and cause us to grow, we cast away stones. As I see the marks that jagged rocks of anxiety leave in my hands, and as I search for what is true over the lies that taunt, I throw those stones aside.

I wrote something several weeks ago, wanting to share with you what I’d learned in my time away from writing last month because there was some gathering and some casting aside for sure. I worked on that piece for days, but the timing didn’t seem right to share it, and now there’s been even more time away, so what do I know?

Maybe there will be a day for that conversation. Or maybe new awareness will just come out a slow steady trickle.

These days I don’t know the kinds of things I can wrap and hold out to you like gifts, but I am aware of this new kind of trust growing in me, a new kind of security in my place even as the walls sometimes feel too small, even as my stomach knots. Even as the limitations drive me batty.

This morning as I wake to more laundry and children’s questions and chirping birds and walks with a dog that pulls far too hard on the leash, I don’t need the answers. I don’t need the words. I don’t even need to know why I’m writing this morning, or if this counts as gathering stones or casting them away.

I only know I’m showing up to this day, thankful to imagine you there in your everyday, and that I’m holding space for you and me both. Burdens lifted, hearts softened, songs lifting like birds.


Linking this morning with my friend Kelli Woodford and Unforced Rhythms


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