Thursday, May 27, 2010

She called out this morning - MOMMY!...

(I thought we'd gotten her to stop that)

but she yelled it out again, bellowing - MOMMY!...

Part of me wishes that she would just get up and come give me a morning hug,
a bright and peaceful greeting to start the day.
Or I wish I could hear her stirring, come in before the yelling starts;
all cozy & good.
Used to do that, before school days and older ways took over.
But that is not what she wants, and I know it.
Now and again she insists on shouting out her need.
Making sure I hear.

I go to her, snuggle in.
She smiles and the light breaks. Breaks my heart open with tenderest entry.
She is delighted to see me, to feel me warm beside her. She laughs her good morning.
Throws her arms around my neck!

We speak of balloons and how she could gently rise out of bed -
she laughs at the image that brings -
balloons tied to her elbows and wrists, to her ears and feet;
no, that won't do. Too tied up.
"You could just lay on it, one big balloon, and up you'll go.
Don't roll over or you'll fall off."
"I have a better idea," she says to me,
"MOMMY, Lift me up"
and I do, a tangle of gangly arms and legs surround me,
her face nestled in my neck, smelling of shampoo (no more tears)
and warm bed linens.
My hands held tight become a seat on which she is perched.
We walk out into the house, new light just entering
and catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror.
"We make a funny person" she says, "All wrapped into one"
Yes, we do...a beautiful, funny person.
Tight squeezes and I love you's follow.
My step is as light as any balloon, floating into the kitchen to start the day.

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers,
what softened sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now?
Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here,
lift this new glimpse that you found;
carry into evening all that you want from this day.
This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life -

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

~ William Stafford ~

(The Way It Is)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Broken Records

We are a group of moms, in various ages and stages, bound by our friendship with one another and with Christ. And today we have escaped the routine to join for lunch at los panchos; casual dining suitable to toddlers and lively conversation.
Mexican music plays and we dance as we enter the happy chaos– full of joy at being together. Salsa and chips, conversations darting from one thing to the next, interrupted by spills or giggles, by runaways and more napkins,
we carry on, not a bother.
I am surprised by the fullness of my heart at this table.
A little one sharing a French fry with "baby" Michael, just the tiniest dab of ketchup on the tip, carefully placed there just for him.
Her smile when she is praised.
A mothers sharing of her son's minor car accident leaving youth group–
how her husband went to attend to it all while she remained home.
"Everything is ok", her husband said, not betraying the graver details of the drunk driver or the totaled car until the boy returned home; and how she cried at hearing the story of it – car totaled, but everyone fine thanks be to God and a lesson in there too. And then she laughed!
Her mother's heart on her sleeve; right along with the guacamole from her youngest smeared there as she chased him down and gathered him again safely in her grasp.
In the midst of this ordinary moment the music suddenly hit a scratch and kept repeating the same line of melody over and over again, and soon enough they'd fixed it and it went on with another tune altogether.
We joked that there was the stuff of a new talk for moms – the broken record. We've all been there!
I listened and thought of all I had been drinking in.
The melody repeating around tables everywhere,
the beautiful broken melody of women loving life into the world.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Practical theology

On the love of God poured out in our hearts... Romans 5:5

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than FALLING IN LOVE in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination,will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,and it will decide everything.
~Pedro Arrupe, SJ

On the cusp of Pentecost we pray Holy Spirit Come!
Enkindle in us the fire of your love!

Friday, May 14, 2010


This is one magnificent snail.
She found him in the side garden, behind the stone wall.
And they bonded instantly.
When she picked him up he greeted her by stretching out of his shell
and kissing her hand over and over.
It was love at first sight.
She brought him in - gave him a nice home in a former lizards cage.
Green leaves and a water dish made him feel right at home.
He slips into the pool and soaks up all the water.
She put him beside her bed, ready to let him go back to his family in the morning.
Dreams happily.
Morning came, and love was not so easily parted.
So Snaily stayed until after school, then after homework, then after supper.
Then the tears - but he loves me. Can't he stay a little longer?
One more night.
Sweet dreams.
Fresh leaves and water in the morning -
he likes to hang upside down to rest on the top of the cage.
Isn't he silly?
"He has to be given back to his family, he has to live outside, free."
She knows. But her tears flow freely.
She holds him one last time and he kisses her again and again,
comes out of his shell and shows his deep affection.
His antennae wiggle and stretch in a language only they understand.
Bravely, she decides it is time and takes him back to where she found him.
She places him in the exact spot so that his family can find him,
then sinks down below the wall and weeps her loss.
It is so hard to let him go. But she wants him to live happily.
The neighbor girl comes over to play,
and she tells her she had the most amazing snail.
Once she saw him leap into the air and do a flip just to make her laugh.
Who knew a snail could do all that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You're number 1!

I received this
Mother's Day card
from my oldest daughter
when she was 7 years old.
I keep it on my dresser,
not because I am a hopeless sentimental
but because of what she wrote inside…

Now, I know what she meant! But do you see the good of it?

She is now 30 years old. I cannot mother her the way I did when she was 7, or 12, or 26, or even last year.

While I was mother from the moment her little life sparked in my womb, I am also becoming mother according to my relationship with her.

And so it is with Christ.

We belong to God from the beginning of all time, loved into existence by the one who is love; each of us and all of us a daughter of God, a son of God.

And we are becoming who we already are - according to our relationship with Him.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring;
like each tucked string tells,
each hung bell's Bow swung
finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves –
goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is - Christ –
for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Friday, May 7, 2010

Just a quick call

A quick phone call this morning and viola! my Mother’s Day plans are made – dinner at 6:00 in Old Town. Outdoors, in the garden, my special request. Jessica takes charge and I delight in her enthusiasm and wily ways! The place they chose, newly dear to us since last October when we celebrated the rehearsal dinner for my son’s marriage to lovely Leslie there.
One quick phone call was all it took. All day, I was accompanied by the memories rekindled of love so tangible and easily expressed, so alive and full of promise. The gentle good humor of Jessica and Henry, the uncontainable delight of Conor and Leslie, the ripe sharing of it all with my own mother there, the exchanged glances (and affectionate squeezes) my husband and I enjoyed, the easy camaraderie of this wild mix of family and friends, the children happy to be at such a party where love and laughter ruled the day…these recollections were my companions as I planned 2 funerals, celebrated the May crowning, met with a family in need, picked up our first-grader and her little friend to spend an afternoon playing at our house, cooked and chored and got all my Martha’s done. I sit down here now and realize my ping-pong day was another ruled by love and laughter. What holds our thoughts shapes everything.

FIRE camp

We drove over the mountains, mother and daughter, to visit the one close to our hearts through life and childhood's grace; through anger and addiction - through trouble and prayer; through grief and affliction. She is ours and we are hers - painfully and profoundly so. The way there full of tears and fears and a tepid, wary faith. But even a tepid faith can suddenly burst into flame as she sees us, runs to change, comes as fast as she can, tears streaming down her own cheeks and ours. The surprise is always best; no time for pretense; she cried out her need for us and we embraced our need for her. If we were to have nothing more, that day shall comfort me always. Real joy is not dependent on circumstance. Real joy is found when God is present and you know it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lesson from a 6 year old

All I wanted was a little peace and quiet.
I had been up to my eyeballs in it for far too long
and had had quite enough, thank you.
I was on emotional and physical overload.
Life makes its demands; and feeling spent, I was not in the mood to give more.

So when she asked to go in the water, I said yes.
Images of her splashing about happily while I sat under the umbrella
reading and relaxing, iced tea in hand, birds singing and blossoms fragrant surrounding me drew my yes.
I would be left alone!

Of course, reality is another thing altogether.
We changed and headed out. Her smile brightened the sky and my day as I settled in, finally getting what I wanted. The scent was there, and the birds, the warm sun and the cozy chair.
But peace and quiet hadn't shown up. Just
Mommy, look!
Mommy watch!
Mommy come play with me!
Mommy, see what I can do!
Mommy, you aren't watching!

All I wanted was a little peace and quiet.
Can't I just have a little peace.
I thought of changing my name but knew that wouldn't help,
so closed the book (with a big sigh alright) and watched.
She was a dolphin diving;
then a mermaid magically calling all the fish to tickle her;
then holding her breath for the count.
I watched and praised, applauded; but it wasn't enough.
"Come in" she cried.

So I put my feet in, dangled on the edge.

My feet were in the water but my heart and head were annoyed;
I wanted that chair and book; not for themselves
but for what they seemed to signify to me – 'all' I wanted -
so reasonable, so deserved.
Lost somewhere in-between these two thoughts she broke in, "Mommy!"
Then a pause as I slowly turned my gaze full to her.

"This just won't work with you only half in!"

And I heard her.

Heard the words from the Teacher travel through her down to me.

Closed my eyes to the surprise of tears; and slid all the way under,
where 'all I want' could not breathe, stayed there dying under a kind of baptism. Then I rose taking a huge breath, gasping for new life as my ears filled with her laughter and delight;
giggling her yes to mommy full in!

We splashed and played and my plunge brought the surprise of peace to every part of me, happily engaged in such a moment.
Life full and God good.
My heart played its thanks. More dolphin dives, floating turtles.
We shared a sip of tea, listened to the birds singing and yes I could smell the blossoms. That would have been enough, really.

But then it happened. Quiet.

She swam to me; her hands cupped my face as she covered it in wet kisses.
"I love you mommy, all the way to heaven and back." She threw her arms around my neck, then pushed off back to the other side and sang out with gusto – no kidding –

Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day, when Jesus washed, when He washed, He washed my sins away!