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Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

How is it that some things that are right on schedule, still manage to take us by surprise?

It was a precursor, to be sure, the new teenager in the house asking a Very Good Question last night which required a Very Good Answer. The Answer came thoughtfully, passionately and chock full of wisdom he was supposed to absorb and carry into the next generation. He sat there at the table, pausing from eating his supper to feed on this Very Good Answer. He even appeared interested, smiled at appropriate times and exuded all the love of one of those shiny-faced children in the Children’s Bible where they sit and eagerly listen at Jesus’ feet while He gives Very Good Answers.

Then, when I reached the end of the Very Good Answer, his fork still paralyzed in mid-air with what I perceived as rapt attention, he quietly asked, “Mom, why does there have to be a lecture every night?” My bursting into laughter eased his sweet sensitive disposition into laughing, too, and I told him it was because he asks such great questions. Point taken, I assured him, awareness noted and filed away.

In one meek question he managed to inform me that he had reached the age of not really wanting or needing Very Good Answers, simultaneous with still needing to ask Very Good Questions. Hmmm. These years are going to be tricky. It was all well and fine working with Teenagers Who Know It All at the hospital – they let you know in no uncertain terms when they’re finished listening, even before you open your mouth. But my own son was so gentle about it, it took me off guard.

Kind of like how hot and humid yesterday was. I had grown so accustomed to it, my favorite season, lasting for so many months here. They had warned of the winds of change approaching, and so I milked the day for all it was worth, as though it was the last day of the world…holding therapy sessions outdoors, making that extra trip up the hill on a whim at the end of my run, windows down flying across the water with music full blast. No, I wasn’t going to let my favorite season go without a fight. I clung to it and all its memories, fiercely.

Quick as an email delivering hard truth into the inbox that you knew was coming but didn’t want to read (but your eyes draw you to reread and again), the wind picked up its punch during the night, rendering me sleepless. The things which awoke me were all expected when wind blows. But when you’re in that sleepy state of denial, it comes as a mix of startled surprise and anxiety, with no wherewithal to get up and address the problem. Easier just to close my eyes and let the wind blow as it may.

With each breath of the wind, my bedroom door sighed open and shut, the latch brushing against the door jamb gently. I never did decide in my half-sleep state if it was annoying or comforting, like the rhythm of a rocking cradle. Open, closed, open, closed. It was kind of like the tide at the beach, its rhythm dictated by the wind. Then came the dog barking at imagined threats, probably in the form of tree limb shadows lunging at him. There were the unexplained rattles and creaks imposed on various appendages of house parts. I noticed I went from way too hot to burrowed under the bedding. In my quasi-dream state, I remembered commenting to the children on the way home through the cotton fields yesterday, when we spotted a visitor’s license plate from up north, “Look, the Snowbirds have arrived already!”

The wind had gotten stronger, faster, colder, and I could not deny what it was bringing. And what it was taking.

Then, with great force, the bedroom door slammed, waking me early for the day, the wind announcing it was time to drag myself out of bed and face the now-cold, dark morning. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t like these changes. I don’t want to leave that Season behind, it was so much fun and so happy and so full of interesting things. I don’t want to bundle up. This to me is symbolic of being a prisoner, and I am now under arrest. No attorney can get me out of this pickle, having to march forth into a cool season with I-don’t-know-what’s-ahead-but-surely-it-can’t-match-what-was.

Resistant, stubborn girl.

So I will get up today and face that wind head on. I will pull out the necessary clothes and put on my October game face. I will learn to tame my lectures to my son and keep them brief but powerful. I will put my seasonal mourning away, and focus on what is in front of me. I will face this season with courage and productiveness. Besides, I heard the weather dude say we’d be back up into the 80s in a matter of days. Okay, I can deal with this.

God, help me to do just that. You know how I hate letting go of favorite things, but I know how You give us new tethers to hold and follow just in the nick of time. I can’t see it or feel it yet, but I know You will make it okay. Help me to have forward vision by hastening the mourning of my losing the vision of looking behind. Be with me, Lord, through the bluster and the cold and the grief of loss and the season of change, through the slamming of doors and the sun rising again anyway. God, bless my friends who are also feeling stuck, and bless those who are forging ahead too fast. Let us all have the necessary perspective from either position, to be able to see Your will…and to follow the tether You provide out of the cold, dark wind, back toward a season of warmth and good times.

Lord, hold me up and rock my cradle. Don’t let me fall.

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I suppose it wasn’t really there after all. I must have been daydreaming. When you’re hanging at the beach, some things just kind of blur together, like the pod of dolphins the other day at one point clearly being a pod of dolphins, gradually fooling the eyes into trying to decipher what was bottlenose and what was fin and what was tall wave. The playful animals somehow melded into being waves. Eventually when the excitement wanes and you start questioning your own senses and sensibility, you learn to quit looking, and refocus anew on what is, on what was, to begin with.

I thought I saw a ship, of great proportions, traversing the horizon. It had a bright color that caught my eye, contrasting from the sea, and maintained a steady path, as long as I dared to watch.

While it caught my gaze, I imagined where it came from, how long it had stayed in port, and where it now headed, what it carried. The Sunday newspaper keeps a public record of such data, but it’s been a month of Sundays since I read a Sunday paper.

But the ship was real as long as I looked at it.

I was driving, though, and could only afford intermittent glances. I was driving fast, windows down, music loud, hair flying.

I know it was there. But then, I glanced again, and it was not. Simply slipped out of my vision, out of my reality.

It reminded me of the man I used to see come home on what I calculated must be his lunch hour, as I ran the last hill on my runs. His house was one of my reality checks – I used it to remind myself of my goal, since it was at the peak of the knoll, the hardest and steepest hill of the three I conquer on my usual 2.5 run. Once upon a time in the season of jasmine, I marveled at the tall southern pines which graced his front yard, with something that looked like clematis climbing up the trunks of each tree. They were so fragrant, I came to look forward to springtime runs, just to get to that last, steep incline. Each labored inhalation was rewarded. His front porch was typically Southern, a wraparound with ample rocking chairs and detail in the woodwork, beckoning one to stop for a glass of sweet tea (slice of lemon) in the fragrance of the climbing flowers. The trees, and the clinging flowers, disappeared up into the sky-blue like some Jack-in-the-Beanstalk fairy tale.

How I would have loved to stop!

But my course would have been ruined had I done so – I was compelled to finish what I began, compulsively dedicated to completing my circuit, and his house was only one stop on my way to my destination. How sad…and it always seemed…no, seems (I still go by) so inviting.

Through the spring and part of the summer, I saw him come home. He would be parked in the side driveway, sometimes standing on the porch, sometimes inside, sometimes conversing with his landscapers. Sometimes just standing there, yakking on his phone, or pausing to watch me and wave.

And I always kept going.

Although we saw each other nearly daily, he was a stranger, and I to him. He was at the end of my run, at the top of the steepest hill, and I could not, would not stop, no, never. Never meant to be. He and his coveted possessions were well out of my league. I would not be interested in such.

I had to keep running, keep my pace, knowing the end was near and soon I would have rest. But in that rest I often thought of how nice it would have been to stop my run short and crash on that ample front porch and get acquainted with the wealthy neighbor. He didn’t know me, not really. And I didn’t know him. No, we were Worlds Apart, on two different courses, two different schedules, two different paths. He may have thought he knew me; he probably imagined he knew me, but he would have been wrong. Someone like that and those Things could not have understood or known joy from someone like me and my things.

And, like the ship that I’m not sure ever really existed, he also ceased to exist after my weeks of illness which prevented me from my daily runs. I have gingerly, carefully resumed and gone back, as I sit at the lapping water here, but he no longer comes home for lunch. And I have not seen a ship like it on the horizon since, either.

Both are gone; I am alone, and left wondering if they ever really existed, or if they were figments of my imagination, like so many other things.

I suppose I was a figment, too…not quite real, not quite tangible. Just sort of, out there. Interesting to imagine, but not really existent.

There is safety in not really being real, not able to be figured out, comprehended, perceived fully. Perhaps it is best if figments remain figments, visions as visions, dreams as dreams. That way, things of intrigue remain as we wish for them to be thought of, and we do not run the risk of disappointment, should the harshness of reality not live up to our dreams.

Our dreams…our delusions…our mirages serve us well, to provide the comfort of distracted vision, and of hope and curiosity, without the pain of what is, what must be, no matter how satisfying what must be, is.

Both the ship and the man were elusive and surreal as they passed before what I thought was my reality, bringing interest and reason to look while they lingered in the periphery of my reality, ever just so out of reach and causing me to question my sanity, yet serving a purpose by challenging myself to keep looking and to keep running all at the same time.

Oh, why O why, didn’t I stop long enough to verify the existence of the ship? and the man? Was I afraid they’d be real? Or that I would have to change to accommodate their reality? Was it better that they came and went from what I thought was my vision, that they remained a part of the Unsure?

How bittersweet, never to know for sure. I could never pursue either, and must stay on my circuit.

Damn, today’s run was totally to mentally detox. The news at high noon (delivered in the best room with the best catered food which I didn’t eat) was supposed to be good, which I couldn’t swallow, either. It was good to everyone but me. My crestfallenness did not go unnoticed, and I know they saw me tear out of the parking lot on my run after the meeting with more vigor than usual Upon my return, I was swamped with Higher Visitors and calls from all angles, feeling me out, no one daring to ask. The Secret is not theirs to uncover, they knew. And I was helpless, speechless, unable to explain. Only someone like me could be living such a dual life in so many dimensions.

But the run was hard and fast, and the man wasn’t there…again. I guess I missed too many days, so it was…just…a run. And I returned to face reality, my dreams and thoughts and feelings sequestered to the depths of my inner being, where they are better kept behind the game face.

But nothing can erase the ship on the horizon. I know it was there. I know it seemed like it wasn’t at one point, but I can still see it, I can still picture it crossing my path when I had time to pause my gaze. It was big and bright and happy, and added perspective to the horizon. The fact idea that it was there gave enough impetus to relish the rest of the surroundings, even after it disappeared.

Even if it wasn’t real, it was…just for a moment…it really was. And if I willed it to be so for the sake of my sanity, is there anything wrong with that?

The fumes of belief fuel faith.

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She was tired, nearing the finish, but still a ways away…pacing herself and thoroughly exhausted. The third hill had been a bitch, to say the least, after nearly 6 weeks straight of being sick. Recovering from surgery last spring after coming within minutes of losing her life,  had been much easier than resuming her old circuit lunchtime run. She wasn’t prepared for the endurance it would require, the perseverance, the determination to finish.

And then, afterwards, the grief of the loss of being finished. Phoo, having to return to reality.

She impatiently forwarded through the songs on her iPod to get just the right song to get to the sprinted finish, even though she didn’t know which song might suit her at the moment. All she wanted was motivation, hope,  and damn it, a little bit of fun to ease the pain. Her muscles were aching, lungs searing, and she was oblivious to the traffic as she darted across the busy road, staying focused on her goal to finish – sprinklers, ankle-twisters and common obstacles invisible.

Then she saw him. She had avoided this for months…for years…but there was no avoiding him now. He came up the hill, iPod strapped firmly to his well-developed bicep, keeping a pace that was intimidating at best. She couldn’t hide; he saw her and waved. She had to move toward him and get through the traffic and respond to his paused jogging on the other side of the busy road. Now she was unable to avoid giving the wrong impression, but wasn’t supposed to… it wouldn’t look right. She had fought this for so long. But now she had no choice. He beckoned and was waiting for her. No one else was watching, and there was nothing but more running to do. Innocent enough, she justified. Her passion for running spontaneously combined with divine and unforeseen opportunity.

She made it across the road and they resumed a good pace, running together with him in harmony, exchanging both smalltalk and insightful dialogue. She was reluctant to tell him she did not like to talk while she ran, preferred to dream inside her music and pace… part of the world, but not really part of it. But here she was, happy to be there anyway, because she loved the freedom of running. She wasn’t prepared for running with him, though. She thought she was, but once she really was, it was different. She felt different. It was exciting and wrong.

Yet she felt like she was a real runner, like someone unencumbered with disabilities and schedules and hangups in life. Without his even encouraging her, she felt like she could run the real race – not just this daily self-imposed jaunt – with competence, with speed, and without abandon. She was never one to talk on runs, but this time she talked, and was able to keep up a conversation. He was impressed with her, having seen her leave to go running 30 minutes earlier, and knowing that she had not stopped, that she had run alone and was intoxicated with endorphins…and she joined him anyway, running a route she had already completed by herself, but was gracious and eager to do again, partly because she wanted to for the hell of it, and partly because it communicated something to him about her. She wasn’t sure quite what – didn’t have the energy or wherewithal after the first half hour to second-guess what it meant to him. She just knew it was the right thing to do at the moment.

She became worried, though, during their run…what began as a casual, friendly pursuit, training for a marathon relay this winter, somehow turned into a competitive thing, with him envisioning all the benefits of coming out ahead at all costs, and her grieving all the people and things it would leave behind in the process. He admitted he was born with a competitive spirit – trained in his youth to go far and go long, and he could not appreciate (other than peripherally, from having polite little encounters) the people and things he would leave behind in his wake of pursuit, such as those who only wanted a taste of what he could do, or those who looked up to him and trusted him because he always said and did the right things. But somehow he always got ahead, and they always got left behind. Or those who could only dream of being like him, or being near him in his inner circle, because being around him brought them comfort and security. Funny thing was, he never really noticed it, he was so focused on competing with himself. But she listened without judging. And valued him for his sake.

But somehow, he remained an Untouchable, always being the best, always being the fastest, always being the guy nobody could catch up to. He never quite understood the plight of the Underlings. Although he said he did, he never really did. And he remained out of touch, but never really knowing it.

After we finished running the loop together, he noticed I was becoming increasingly silent. He lovingly checked on me, inquiring as to my silence and verbally acknowledging the change in my breathing and pace. I forgot my inhaler last night, I admitted. I could at once see the suppositions form in his head: how can that happen, is she negligent, is she damaged, is she less-than, why would anyone not ensure that they were in tip-top perfection at any given moment. I couldn’t answer, my breath escaped me, my lungs burned, but I knew I had to finish with him and get to the gate at the top of the hill. He was counting on me to be with him. As we continued up the hill, I feebly gasped that I was conserving my oxygen. He had heard enough times about my stories of overcoming asthma to finish a marathon, seen me enough times darting out the door with a big smile and my iPod blaring as my legs couldn’t contain the urge to start running even before the door shut behind me, and rolling in from of the parking lot, tank top saturated from beneath my breasts to my tummy, face red as the sun setting on the bay, music still blaring and my rock ‘n roll hair needing brushing, wild and free because my pony tail holder pounded itself out of my hair by the rhythm of my hard pace over time, oblivious to my transition from running reverie to reality.

He saw me all those times, but I didn’t really see him. I mean, I know I saw him, but I knew he was in another world, and I in another.

And yesterday I saw him. And I had to join him. And I wanted to. And because of that, I ran that extra mile, literally. I don’t know what he thought about it, but I think I benefited (although the scale today defies me). But I don’t want to think about it, because I wasn’t supposed to do that because the premise was, what would others think if they saw us running together? But the funny thing was, nobody saw us. And we ran. And it was lovely. But I paid for it dearly. And it was worth every molecule of oxygen, I tell you.

Alas, in all his glory, he ran away. Shortly before we saw the end coming, he acknowledged it and told me he was going to slay the dragons on up the road, since he got out of the gate later than I had, he was going to go on up the hill and conquer great horizons up towards the next traffic light. He alluded to the weaker folk not being allowed to run the race with us, and suggested ones he deemed worthy. I was worthy, of course, he said…and I knew this by how impressed he was by my having run this extra mile with him after he knew I’d already run three just before…,but they somehow I was not worthy. I knew he was right…the ones I had hoped to bring into the race to instill a sense of “you can, too!” were, by his competitive spirit, disqualified before they were allowed to register for the race. How would I tell my friends that others had been chosen? Would they be relieved and not look back? Would they feel more disheartened and separated from  Those Who Can?

Once upon a time, I had not been able to run three. I had not been able to run one-half. I had not been able to run two mailboxes away from my own house.

This saddened me.

He was so right, though, he couldn’t see any other right.

But for me to join the race, it took a marathon-runner to come along side me and slow down long enough to encourage me that I could do the same…and she stayed with me until I did. She didn’t run off to New York and do the NYC Marathon, like she planned, so she could improve her time for the Boston Marathon. No, she stayed in this Podunk town and reveled in encouraging me, marveling at how someone with asthma could really do what she knew I could do all along. She was also my disabled son’s occupational therapist, ironically. The year after the marathon, I wrote a nomination that won her an award for her accomplishments, and we had a blast going to the beach resort where she accepted the award. She didn’t win it for excelling in her athletic pursuits, or for helping my child with his disabilities.

She won it for believing in the unbelievable.

Back on the circuit, I suggested other races he might run to get that 13.1 sticker he covets to slap on the back of his wonderful SUV that the rest of us can’t afford. I encouraged him that if I can run a marathon with my asthma in honor of my disabled child, surely he, in his history of cross-country glory, can, too. He could aim higher than he currently is. He chided me for not gloating and putting the 26.2 sticker on every vehicle I own. He patronized me and maintained his perfectionistic, all-or-nothing thinking, “if I can’t do it in the time I deem appropriate, then it doesn’t matter and it’s not as meaningful.” He had the audacity to dictate that those we had previously committed to helping to train in the race, that they were likely too weak or unworthy, and would inhibit our race outcome.

He had the fever of success and pride. There was little I could say to him, or do for him, but wait. And accept. And love anyway.

Dang it, it all started as a goodwill, good fellowship, mutual encouragement thing for the race this winter. How did it come to this?!

How many races do we run that we deem our worst or our least, when they are victories for others? How many ways do we deceive ourselves into measuring our achievements in a way that somehow equate to how God measures us?

Apples and oranges.

Perhaps we need to look at our defeats and our shortcomings to grasp how God is measuring us.

Kneeling in front of the candles at the altar railing this Sunday, continuing to re-accustom myself to the verbal and physical obligations during communion, I thought of my eighteen years as an evangelical Christian, now coming home to my church of origin this summer.

God didn’t change, I did. He was always there, no matter where I went, no matter what I did, no matter what I believed, no matter how I practiced. Suddenly, it all made sense.

It was up to me to run the race – He provided the stamina, the endurance, the change of scenery, the inhaler when I needed it. He was there with me at every corner, at every refreshment station, at every mile marker, at every finish chute. He is there adjusting my time when I stop to assist a fellow racer who is injured, or to slow down and walk with one who clearly needs some encouragement to finish. He is providing the last-blast music to crank up for that final sprint toward the finish. He will be the One tearing the strip off my race number after I pass under the time clock, just before the Gatorade station with all the banana and orange slices. (Then come the masseuse tables, mmmm).

It’s up to me to give Him the victory for the race.

Now excuse me while I tend to my disabled child who is writhing in pain in his sleep, while my gifted child is demanding to know what I did with my Latin textbook from college. The race is not about us and our abilities, how fast we run or what circuit we train on…it is about acknowledging Jesus as Savior and serving Him, at the expense of our own notions of what that all means.

Let Him brush our rock ‘n roll hair.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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Lead Balloons

A wee collection of conversational clunkers from the week:

He swallowed what?! Two of them? Well, he won’t start glowing…just watch for them on the other end.

“I need to tell you something serious…are you ready? I’ve been diagnosed with early onset dementia.”    “Umm, I know…”  “Oh, no, did I forget that I already told you? Hahahahahaha!”

“Who dumped liquid soap in my water glass?!?”

(at company picnic of sorts, by high-ranking administrator to wife) “Look, honey…that’s the girl I told you about who runs every day in the 105 degree heat!”

“Hey, Mom, check out these stalactites in the microwave!”

“4 kids? It’s like having maxi-pad expenditures wrapped around a thong budget.”

“What did he flood now?”

Sign outside the biscuit joint in the middle of nearby cotton field: G   OD FOOD

“So…what do you think about moving to Brazil?”

I almost hate to write over the last post…the traffic has not yet stopped. Must have hit a tender spot in the blogosphere with the minimalist vs. pack rat issue!

In the meantime, join me in relishing the afternoon today, seeing the dolphins play while chasing a shrimp boat on the sparkly water, toes in the warm sand, while the bbq slowly cooked at home. It’s been a long week. I wish you all could live here with me, my friends.

Hey, God…thank you for bringing me here. May my friends reading this be blessed with rest and relaxation. May they find the same peace amidst the storms of life. Thank you for neighbors rocking in our chairs on the front porch in the light of the waxing moon, sharing their trials and victories. Thank you for blog friends virtually doing the same. Thank you for reconciliations and renewals. Thank you for a rich life, for richer dreams, and richest eternities.

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Could I…

…if homeless, take pride in how quickly my cardboard box dries after a rain, when the sun shines again?

…if disabled, keep dancing, like doing the mental rehearsals the director had us do before each performance?

…if penniless, find something else to give another?

…if blind or deaf, still see beauty and listen?

…if shot and left for dead, forgive my assailant before I passed?

…if silenced, find ways to be heard?

…if betrayed, still trust?

…if insane, not drive those around me insane, too?

…if trapped, make peace with my condition until the way out is shown?

…if lost, creatively find and use resources?

…if starving, sufficiently distract myself until the pain subsides?

…if hopeless, fearlessly dream anyway?

…if terminally ill, embrace it with grace and courage?

God, bless those who show us how to direct our gaze upon the silver (or crimson!) linings, so we know where to focus when clouds overtake our sky.

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Hey, God…

Thanks for the laughing-till-crying story exchanged at 1am today. I hate that I already have to edit and censor the story, and can’t share that slice of life. I would much rather assume the world would be better off seeing the humor instead of seeing the legal implications. Anyway…I was just sayin’….

Had I come upon this scene, I probably would not have connected the morgue door+breathing body on gurney. I am too hyper to notice such details in the moment; these are the type of things I connect later on, typically during sleep. I am the one capturing these delayed realizations on Post-It notes at 3 in the morning or flying down the interstate. I am also responsible for editing this blog days later, when I realize I had yet another song title butchered. I type what I hear, facts be damned. There is always time for pesky details later, right?

So this guy lies to me a couple of days ago, looking me earnestly in the eye while doing so. I fall right into it, fully believing him, even though I knew better. We were surrounded by other people who, although otherwise occupied and not really listening, also would have known better. I was being served up a royal yarn. “Wow,” I habitually and wrongly assumed, “I must have my facts wrong, or hadn’t heard those facts yet.”

This has long been the drumbeat of my superiors, who see me do this time after time: “Trust your judgment, it’s always spot-on,” they inform me, as if this were a foreign concept to me. This week, although I fell for it in the moment, I knew something was amiss, and instead of awaking at 3 am to “get it,” I marched straight to someone who could immediately assure me that I was indeed just lied to.

Yep, I was lied to, alright.

The weird thing was everybody else laughed about it like it was nothing new. REALLY? I was floored anew, albeit satisfied that the liar was going to be justly confronted and dealt with. I, on the other hand, always react as if I am being hurt anew, as though this is not normal human behavior, as though, as I naively assume, everyone shares the same values as I do: to be honest, forthcoming, do your best, willing to learn and change, and knowing that things like lying eventually come back to haunt you, so it is illogical to do so.

You would think in my profession, I would have gotten “it” by now, that humans do not operate logically in most cases. I’ve even known some so obsessed with conducting their lives in an ultra-logical fashion, that they paradoxically lived illogically.

Maybe I need to live a little more illogically, think a little more illogically…assuming that lying is illogical, and assuming that most of us are illogical. Maybe I need to quit being so naive and assuming people have the best of intentions at all times.

God, I know it’s a world of sin. But I don’t wanna see it that way. I like to think higher of people, of the world. Help me temper my impatience with sin, including my own. God, is it good or bad to be so naive all the time?

Thanks, friend, for contemplating these things with me here on the beach with God. I’m in a hurry this morning and have a bazillion other things I am mentally multitasking, and I will probably come back and edit this later. Not one of my better posts, and I could care less…that’s the nice thing about friends, we don’t have to be something we’re not…we don’t need to lie to one another, do we? Meanwhile, I’ll try not to be so naive and work on paying more attention to details. And trusting my judgement more.

On the other hand, I kind of enjoy blissfulness…

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Really, it WAS a dark and stormy night, all purple prose aside.

The day had been punctuated by startling moments of sensory surprises, like standing at the copier in the office under a skylight and being suddenly overcome by a perception that something is amiss in my brain’s sense of Normal Daytime Expectations. I looked up and beheld a completely black sky overhead, prompting me to seek the nearest vertical window and exclaim to anyone within earshot, “Oooooh, look!” Looking, we all saw an impressive gust of wind busy itself with pruning a few dead leaves and small branches, barely visible through the thick blankets of rain.

Commuting home, the forward march of one of Lee’s outer bands ominously loomed in the distance, casting a mirror image of his fury across the water below, the water precisely matching his darkest parts and a couple of sparse hints of shimmer on the water, showcasing Lee’s best efforts to conceal the sun, which he had effectively snuffed out ’round about noon on Thursday.

Then came night, indistinguishable from many parts of the day. That last band had graciously passed at the time designated as local sunset (the clock was all we had to go by, as the dark clouds made the night darker….likely what Mr. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was trying to convey by describing a dark night with the word “storm” in the same sentence). Darker than night, how ’bout that?

Sitting quietly before bedtime, an other-worldly sound pierced my peace with its ghostly strains, demanding that I engage in the process of attempting to decipher its meaning and purpose. I was too tired to play another head game with Lee, so I took the best shortcut to make someone else figure it out: “What the hell was that?” It could have been the approach of the headhunters on Gilligan’s Island, for all I knew.

I don’t believe a definitive conclusion was ever reached, so we chalked it up to a wallop of wind, since the noise was immediately followed by an intense tropical downpour. The wind bullied the thunder, restraining its commanding voice by carrying its crash aloft in waves, making it sound like a strange symphony of muted tympani and belittled brass. This, combined with the tinny thud of each heavy raindrop landing on the chimney cover, lulled me to sleep, the backdrop sounds yielding to the strangest of dreams….

….dreams which were interrupted at some point by a poltergeist-like indoor event, the miniature Dirt Devil toy vacuum turning on by itself, its glaring light at the base illuminating the room and the sickly groan of a toy with drained batteries trying to revive itself back to life. Who left this out last night, anyway? As if we didn’t have enough entertainment going on outside our walls.

After surviving some of the most destructive hurricanes this beach has known, a little ditty like Tropical Storm Lee is most welcome. We need the rain this year. It waters the garden of journalism for the long weekend, encourages bonding among the affected, and forces those of us with growing lists of Ignored and Mundane Indoor Tasks, to finally face the music. You know, stuff like sewing the button back on the forgotten shirt that’s been patiently waiting, folded on the shelf in the laundry room for a semi-eternity (does it even fit anyone, anymore?) Studying for that nagging exam. Purging the accumulating crap off the (name any and all surfaces throughout the house). Fixing the leaky faucet. Carving a path through the dust on the uncluttered surfaces. Reclaiming the tool drawer as a right and true tool drawer, instead of the tools being crowded out by things like the spare part to the thingamabob which we no longer have, the broken piece off of Buzz Lightyear’s space pack which would never survive being glued back on anyway, and the massive collection of Keys to the Unknown, which go to nothing anybody in this current generation of home occupants can recall.

On the other hand, Lee is an even better excuse to relax and have fun. Every tropical storm has a silver lining! Instead, I think I will stay in my jammies a little longer today, with an extra cup of coffee fueling the posting of this blog, to the beat of another band of downpour drumming overhead.

I will continue to ignore the buttonless shirt in the laundry room and instead spend a little extra time studying the Scrabble board so I can beat all my online opponents, instead of my usual, thoughtless, hurried plays on the fly which inevitably cause me to pay attention and wonder why my average has tanked.

I will walk briskly past the tool drawer on the way to the freezer, where I will get out the ice cream to go with the cake to go with the presents which go with the young man in our house who turns three today. We will sing “Happy Birthday” at the top of our lungs, the surreal thunder that’s not quite thunder accompanying our rendition. We will be wearing our conical SpongeBob party hats and plying the children with terrifying amounts of refined sugar and Red Dye # 40. I will take said young man on my lap and marvel at how quickly time passes, and attempt to hold on to him tightly (little wiggle-worm!) and hope that he doesn’t repeat what he did last night when I attempted the same (he did what any pre-gentleman would be tempted to do as a practical joke on someone’s lap – ’nuff said).

Speaking of which, we will bypass the leaky faucet and nosh all day on the Boston Butt our good friend talked us into buying, all proceeds going to a child’s gymnastics travel fund (eating for a good cause is standard in the South).

The exam material will be ceremoniously bypassed as we stampede out the door in between rain bands, to pile into the van and go looky-looing – you know, go see what roads flooded, take pictures of the angry surf, run barefoot in the puddles-turned-streams…maybe hang around for a beach concert moved indoors and see a fairly popular musician.

We will go beach combing for leftover tarballs Lee may stir up. (“No-no, baby, don’t touch that shell…that’s not a shell.”)

I will hold my head high as I walk past the piles of accumulating stuff, and pause at one of the dusty surfaces, and use my index finger to draw a pretty design in the dust. I may delegate a more thorough, less creative dusting to the Child Labor Department another day, but for today, we will take advantage of the circumstances.

Thanks, God, for circumstances. I see it is getting dark again in the middle of the already-dampered daylight – we’d better go make a run for the van now, while the running is good.

Whoops, too late – that was fast! Another downpour. We’ll just serve up the cake and ice cream for breakfast, instead….

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No, not I…the 2, about-to-be 3 year old. He graciously reminded me tonight of the importance of unwinding. Really unwinding. He reminds me that we must perpetually turn to children, the older we get, for advice on how to live. Really live. With the first child, scolding was the parenting du jour should he have attempted such a feat…with child #4…..well…I learned to take heed. You know, step back and contemplate….hmmm…well, isn’t kind of, er, funny? Go ahead, break into the chase, let him go squealing with delight, buck naked, round and round, catching him with laughter and direction to get into jammies….silly boy. I love you.

But I really wish you hadn’t have put four toothbrushes and one Mardi Gras cup in the toilet today. Luv ya anyway. Say, what happened when you tried to flush? Sorry I wasn’t there to find out with you. Bless Daddy.

Sometimes it takes a child to hold our hand and lead us precisely where we need to be. Children know freedom.

It was what our very country was founded upon.

We must constantly question and examine our beliefs, as the development of beliefs can be a fluid process throughout each life phase. A good, hard look at why we believe what we believe is good for the soul, and keeps us fresh. We become stagnant if we can no longer embrace the merits of our beliefs. Yet we cling so tightly sometimes to things that no longer make sense…

A conversation with “Common Sense:”

“He should not be allowed to run naked through the house. This is wrong.”

“And what could happen?

“Why, it’s not proper. It might make others want to run naked through the house.”

“And then what?”

“Well, then things would be out of control. They’d get the wrong message. One thing leads to another”

“What’s the wrong message?”

“That you can’t think that you can run naked through the house and it’s okay. There must be consequences.”

“And then what,? if not?”

“Ummmm… I dunno. It’s just wrong.”

“With whom? How?”

“Ummmmm..I dunno.”‘

“What harm does it do? I mean, does it serve a purpose for the runner? Do they get some benefit from it, something out of their system, sow their wild oats, then want to conform, or what? What’s going to happen if a little off-kilter happens? Doesn’t off-kilter behavior serve an ultimate purpose?”

“Well, I never thought about it.”

“Well, think about it. Is it so bad? You ever been off-kilter? What did you need to do to get right?”

‘Nuff said.

Sometimes, in all our adult wisdom, we completely miss the point of living.

When was the last time you ran naked through the house? Would the sky fall? Is it so bad?

Thanks, God, for freedom and laughter and children. It figures only the serpent could have made it so we had to wear fig leaves and toil, instead of having the childlike freedom of running naked through the house.

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Hey, God…

I really should lighten up. After all, life is too short. Why, I ask myself, are my posts so, um, serious? Is it because I use most my humor at work, making my superiors and the children laugh? Wait, they must be laughing at me instead of with me. This could account for why I have not been promoted within my impatient time frame. Some coworkers might beg to differ, however, since the new position with the office they gave me is the only one, other than higher administrators, which has an actual window in it, a window that overlooks some beautiful scenery…lily pads with bullfrogs sunning themselves, a blue heron whom I suspect may be a prop on the payroll for therapeutically aesthetic purposes, sloping lawn that dares you to lie down, cross your heart and roll down to the pond. One day I will lead all the children to do just that, simply because it is there. We will get muddy and laugh.

Maybe I am being kept there for their entertainment. Maybe they secretly want to say and do the brash things I (sometimes impulsively) do, like saying what everyone is thinking anyway, but nobody wants to be the idiot out on a limb to come out and say so. Or maybe it’s the double entendres I spit out on daily whims as circumstances present themselves, the kind that go clear over the heads of the children and certain adults, but are clearly understood by those who happen to be on their toes at the moment. Other than a couple of appreciated indiscretions, I have followed my New Year’s resolution this year in the office to keep all emails brief and businesslike.

Blah.

I will have to do an experiment and try being serious at work some day, and see if I don’t have more playful humor left over in the evening for this blog. Oops, that might not work…they recently gave me that office to work in a position in which playfulness is valued, even expected. The staff was stiffly aghast last week at my choice in replenishing the Treasure Box with whoopee cushions, rubber roaches and hillbilly teeth; my superiors suppressed grins and happily but quietly reimbursed me for such purchases. The children and I had a wonderful time, nonetheless, and I hope lessons were learned all the way around about the importance of laughter and lightheartedness. Alas, am I doomed to be playful by day, serious by night? I hereby try not to be so serious, even when I am not being paid to be playful. How much better life is when we keep playfulness a priority. Life is too boring, too straight-laced, otherwise.

I was terribly grateful for the unbusinesslike email a coworker sent me envying my daily playful responsibilities; and shamefully amused at another coworker who went to the trouble to page me overhead throughout the entire facility this morning in front of you, God and everybody, just because she wanted to show me something she found for me on her phone that was best relegated to her phone and not mine, and made me blush just having to look at it in the confines of the office setting. Oh, my. I do want to sign up for those classes, though.

And when I came home, our home was opened to several neighborhood children who emerged out of nowhere when we pulled in. How much more fun was it for them to do homework with classmates who are neighbors; to ride bikes off of the ramp which they rigged up in the front yard; to laugh at the baby who puts a “y” instead of an “l” into his vocabulary and tried to feed his stuffed yion some Yucky Charms; taming snakes and lizards and critters the other kids aren’t allowed to keep in their homes; to feed all seven children supper because they were here and hungry and nobody wanted to go home quite yet. I hope the background strains of “Holding on to Black Metal” didn’t subliminally corrupt anyone.

Now it is my turn to unwind. I am thoroughly exhausted, cold still in full swing, head swimming with all the puzzles and Legos and dollhousing and Monopoly Junior and cards I played today, while I slipped in some neurological rearranging on those with whom I played. I will consider planting a rubber roach somewhere tomorrow. But for now, I am reduced to stick-figure status, tired and simplistic, with X’s for eyes.

Aaaah, thanks, God, for these beach chairs, that we can unwind together! It’s okay to play both on and off the clock, isn’t it?

I secretly think You must like to play, too, God. After all, You rested on the seventh day. You play…for keeps.

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Usually on the morning commute flying across the water, I am able to gracefully finagle the slice of bacon into my mouth without incident in two or three well-orchestrated bites, with the other hand firmly on the steering wheel. A Confederate soldier’s breakfast of bacon and coffee on the run has become standard issue, with a modern version of the old tin cup. Sometimes the traversed water is so sparkly blue, I forget all about breakfast, and the scenery steals any sense of appetite whatsoever. A meal of visual, auditory and mental joy is much more satisfying, I conclude, and the Confederate breakfast remains ignored until well after 11 o’clock or so.

This morning, however, it slipped.

Right out of my hand. I caught the errant strip of swine precariously dangling from index finger and thumb, wildly swinging amok, threatening to permanently alter the interior of the car, my dress, and my pearls. I had no choice but to tilt my head up, dangle the swinging strip over my poised mouth, and gradually, carefully, lower it in, using my tongue to ensure its obedience to my will. It was the only way to prevent a disaster which may have involved the Department of Transportation, hundreds of impatient commuters and a dozen media outlets.

If only the guy driving the pickup next to me hadn’t witnessed this event. Honest, it wasn’t what it looked like. I don’t normally eat like that. I wasn’t implying anything.

Nonetheless, I managed to save the day, and there were no grease spots to speak of. Pearls intact. Traffic flowing smoothly. Especially the guy in the pickup trying to keep up with my pace.

Yeah, I licked my fingers in self-satisfied victory when I finally pulled ahead of the traffic and thought you weren’t watching.

How many little miracles go unnoticed?

When I had Mutiny on the Bounty at 4:05 this afternoon and had to create a miracle in 5 minutes or less to make it all better before I sailed out the door, was it recognized as a miracle, or was it murmured about? Things are rarely what they appear to be.

Hey, God…help us cast aside our assumptions, and be open to Your alternatives. Help us to remember that what is observed, is not always seen; what is listened to is not always heard; what is tasted is not always fully savored; what is experienced is not always fully perceived. Let us drive with no sunglasses and fully take in Your light.

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