I cannot get Robert Frost's poem out of my mind today.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I did go miles. And miles. My feet were frozen, my hands numb. But the woods were silent as a whisper, soft flakes floated down from the silver sky. They settled on my camera lens, melted into blurry spots on each picture I took.
The snowstorm was breathtaking.
Yesterday, during a very foggy walk, I noticed a weed. I judged it to be nothing but a dried up old weed on the side of the road. It was not beautiful, it was not unique, it was not wanted by anyone. Just an old weed, that's all. Not even worth noticing.
But last night, God, in his mercy, decided that old weed was worthy. So when the misty fog of heaven came down, the old and the dead became transformed.
In fact, an entire field of weeds was transformed in the dark, crystallized in glorious perfection. Together, the weeds reflected the pure light of the sun. It was dazzling.
It doesn't matter what people might have said or thought or how they may have judged this weed yesterday. Because today, God's mercy extends to the lowliest.
And mercy triumphs over judgement.
Race out the door, start the car, crank the heat, scrape the windows.
Rush off to your busy day.
But in your haste to scrape the windows and get away, Slow Down...
You might miss the small things.
I was sitting on the couch before daybreak this morning, cuddling the small kiddos. No school today, so of course they were up extra early. It was pitch dark, but no bus, no race, no stress.
Just peace. Quiet. A tender moment...I thought.
I wondered if my kids would keep this scrap of time in their memories, just watching the sun rise, peacefully with Mom...
I looked at my son's freckled face. His eyes drooped half-mast, dreamily.
"Whatcha thinking about?" I asked.
"I wish I had dentures," he said.
"Yeah! SHARK DENTURES!!!! That would be even more epic than tiger dentures. Yeah, I sure wish I had dentures."
I guess peace is a state of mind.
Today the sky is grey. Not grey and dreary... Just grey.
To me, Grey is a beautiful family of colors. Grey makes me so happy! Grey is infinite and mysterious and muted and deep.
Thank you for taking a moment to appreciate grey. And enjoy this grey day!
A moment of (cold) peace... I stood in a frozen marsh in January to give you this picture. It was very gratifying watching the little fluffs of cattail flutter in the wind. If I hadn't been determined to find something lovely for you, I would have missed it. Thanks for a beautiful start to my day.
This is what happens when the air is so cold that water vaporizes.
We boil pots of water...
And toss the water up in the air.
There ya go:
We make our own clouds. Our own snowflakes. And our own ice drops.
We are that cool.
Official. Today it is colder in Minnesota than in the Arctic. These were the only three Minnesota residents to refrain from loud complaints.
The death of David Bowie had me feeling sentimental today. I turned on some tunes while I made lunch for the kids. As soon as he heard me blasting “As the World Falls Down” (Labrynth) Doug entered the kitchen. That was the song we began our married life with. First dance as a couple.
I was so desperately nervous to dance in front of all those people watching. David Bowie’s music calmed me down. What were Doug and I thinking? Two artists, in our 20’s, getting married and dancing to Muppet music? And the song was called “As the World Falls Down”? Really?
Here we are, seven kids and a few decades later. Yes, the World Has Fallen. I cast aside the sandwiches and lettuce, like a bride tossing her bouquet all over again. And Doug and I begin to dance. In the kitchen. No one is watching, so it’s all good.
“Ewww! Time to leave!” one child cries.
“It’s so romantic!” says another, dreamily.
Small One appears out of nowhere, an Easter basket full of Kleenexes on her arm. She pulls a tissue out of the basket with great pomp and circumstance, and throws it on the floor at our feet. Again and again, she rains down Kleenexes around us as we whirled around in front of the dishwasher.
“I’m your flower girl!”
When she asked me to put on my wedding dress, I just laughed. Perhaps my arm might fit in the skirt part? She was thrilled when I suggested it might fit her better, instead. Oh, the twirling that ensued. Just Joy.
Thank you for the music, Mr. Bowie.
It's a lovely world, even though it has fallen down.
Still on the lookout for one precious moment in each day. Some days it is more difficult than others. Some days I am just cranky!
Today I am very grateful for sleep, which I know that I am going to get, sooner or later.
Also this pillowcase.
I bought it once upon a time, a very long time ago, at a garage sale on the street where my grandma used to live. It reminds me of her. It's a very beloved item around here. Somehow, the kids all think that the 'bluebird pillowcase' is special. How many hours did my grandmother spend, trying to teach me to stitch and sew? Was she always patient? Ha. I was not a very neat and tidy seamstress, follow-the-pattern sorta gal. I wanted to change everything and do it fast. I can still hear my grandma scolding "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!" Then all the crooked seams would be ripped out of the pink polka dot nightgown. The threads would flutter to the floor like raindrops, and we would begin again.
But I am smiling now, remembering her small and tidy stitches. And her patience.
And her love.
So now today ends on a beautiful note, after all. Thanks, Grandma.
Which moment will you hang on to today?
A friend of mine asked an esoteric question yesterday. He asked, rather incredulously, "Why the (insert inappropriate word here) would anyone live in Minnesota?
Well, my Friend, this is one reason:
I hear a picture is worth a thousand words.
Do I love you?
Oh, I do. I’ll tell you how much, Dear. I won’t tell you all the details right now. But someday, when you are older, you might stumble across this blog of mine… And then you’ll find out the truth.
I love you so much that I let you have a pet. That buffalo that you love so well, the one that masquerades as a dog… The one that digs holes in the front yard and sleeps on my couch. Yeah, that one. I love you so much that I let you have the dog.
Late last night, while you were sleeping peacefully, your beloved dog didn’t feel so well. It seems that his foray into the garbage can yesterday gave him much more than the plunder he sought. He got a tummy ache.
At midnight, his restlessness grew into groans. The rest of the house was sleeping soundly. But Dog was unhappy. As time ticked by, his sadness ballooned into a storm of desperation. He needed to go outside. Bark, bark, bark.
I stumbled to the hall, donned my parka over my bathrobe, stepped into my son’s arctic boots that are three sizes too big for me, and opened the front door. A cloud of steam escaped, swirling, dissipating off the porch, and I gasped for air. Did I mention it was cold? The windchill was under -20 Farenheit last night. I braced myself. I’m tough.
We walked up and down the icy street in the dead of night, Dog and I. With not a cloud in the sky, the stars pierced the heavens brilliantly, glittering their reflections on the snow. It was brittle, but beautiful, I will admit. But I wondered at my own sanity. I wondered how many minutes it would take for my hands to freeze. I wondered how my mag light would fare against coyotes. I wondered when your dog would finish his business of being sick, and want to go back inside. His paws got cold, too.
We repeated the scenario a couple hours later.
It was still dark. Still starry. Still frigid.
Still, you slept. And I was glad. Because I love you.
By 4:00 a.m., he finally stopped the bark bark bark noises, and settled down for a nice old-dog-nap. I started the coffee.
So here I sit, sipping some ridiculously thick coffee, and thinking of you. You’ll be up soon for school, and I’ll be making your breakfast and lunch and pushing you out the door. Dog and I will spend the day together, I will write and paint, he will sleep and bark.
Yes, I love you quite a lot, My Dear.
The ice is booming and cracking as it expands. Winter has finally arrived. Yes, that is steam escaping from places where the lake ice is still thin. Good morning to you...
Recently I needed to drive to the airport to pick someone up from a red-eye flight. I tried to plan ahead a bit, so I wouldn’t be too tired. Supper was on the table, bam! Right at 5 o’clock. Dishes done, backpacks and lunch boxes for tomorrow morning’s school rush all lined up. Just like clockwork.
At around 6 pm, the kids were all calmly reading, so I thought I’d take a small nap before the kids went to bed. I cozied up with a fuzzy blanket, fell asleep right away, while the neat, clean kids read books quietly, the whole time. The kids said their prayers and put themselves to bed. I awoke refreshed, and rested…
…Said No Mom, Ever!
Who am I trying to kid? Reality runs a different race around here.
Instead, I dealt out bowls for Cheerios, smooth and fast, like a blackjack pro. Spoons flashed, a blur of lightening on the table. Watch out for flying cups! Good thing they are plastic. Milk spilled where? And that is ENOUGH sugar, Mister-I-Don’t-Care-If-I-Have-To-Go-To-The-Dentist-Again. Did you really spill milk on her homework? Well, it’s not the graphing calculator, so we’re fine. Prayers, anyone?
At around 6 pm, dishes were piled high. Dishwasher broken again! The kids were nowhere to be seen. Backpacks and lunch boxes and homework papers were scattered all over the living room. This seemed the perfect time to sneak off and sleep for a few minutes. I should have hidden in the closet. I cozied up with the unfolded but clean laundry piled all over my bed, closed my eyes, and drooled like a leaky faucet.
Then I heard them. In my drowsy state of semi-consiousness, I heard the pitter patter of small feet. No one was yelling, so I kept on dreaming…I can sleep through this. More feet entered the room. Clickety click, the dog’s toenails crossed the hardwood floor. With a few squeaks on his tennis ball, he scampered away like an aged buffalo across the prairie, hoofs beating. Two Small Someones climbed onto the bed. One began to giggle. One began to jump. The giggler joined in the jumping, and bounced the other kid off the bed. A chorus of laughter ensued, and the voices faded away into the kitchen. Meanwhile, Child Number Three climbed into bed and covered me with her cherished blanket.
And she began to sing.
Her little hands tangled into my hair, rubbing my head like just like I have done for her whenever she is sick, or needing extra love. Gently, she smoothed out the snarls, and caressed my sagging jowls. “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me hoooooome…” Her voice lilted through my foggy brain and I drifted, asleep in the softness of the melody and the laundry. I didn’t fully awaken even as she began to sing Christmas carols. Joy to the World, Silent Night, We Three Kings… Every song she had heard lately, during Advent and Christmas, rang out softly and clearly in her little cherub’s voice.
She mothered me, just like she mothers her ragged pink stuffed dog. I felt loved. Cherished.
Just then, in my dream-state, I knew the two bed-jumpers had returned. They began to jump and laugh and chortle and steal my bath-towel pillow. Oh, how the Lullaby Girl howled! Fiercely and Instantly, she was upon them. She leapt from the bed, a fa-la-la-la-la trailing behind her like tinsel from a tree, and she chased those two big siblings right out of the room. Scolding them for all she was worth. A roaring tigress, defending her sleeping kitten.
My eyes opened completely, and I saw her face then, peering closely into mine. “It’s all right, Mom.” she whispered. “They’re gone now. They won’t be back. Close your eyes.” Again she lifted her voice in song “…The First Nowell, the Angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay….”
Late that night, as I drove off to the airport, I remembered the touch of her little hands on my forehead. And her ferocious defense of her sleeping Mom.
This was what being a Mom is all about, and I wondered at the mystery of it all. Motherhood is a tumbled mix of Love and Ferocity, Lullabies and Scoldings, a full kitchen sink and a shepherd, lying in the fields among her sheep.
Silent night, Holy night.
Motherhood is oh, so very lovely.
I almost missed it.
As I was driving this morning, the roads were iced over, so I drove more slowly than usual. Because I was driving slower, I noticed a tree in the misty darkness on the side of the road. The weather was snowy and foggy…but the tree was so radiant. Amazing, really. It was so special, it stood out from all the rest.
The tree was lit brilliantly for Christmas, still glowing in the foggy, January dawn. Someone had made a great effort to really bestow that small tree with lights of all sizes and colors. The colors radiated through the frigid darkness, reflected off the dazzling snow in a spectrum of beauty, shining like a beacon of hope and joy in the shadowy world.
I pulled my truck over to the side of the road, and rummaged about for my camera. This was a glorious sight, and I wanted to share it.
But in the hustle and bustle of my busy morning, I had forgotten my camera at home. I couldn’t capture the moment… Without a photo, I knew I would probably just forget about the tree, like I forget about all the other little details in my busy life.
I missed it.
I drove off and went on with my day and my work. But I continued to think about the small tree, laden with lights. I couldn’t stop mulling it over, and how special and perfect it was.
Later, when I had a chance, I grabbed my camera and returned to the remarkable tree that had made such an impression on me. I drove to the same spot, but couldn’t see it.
I parked, got out and tromped up and down the country road in my boots, scanning the scene for my special tree. But all I saw were many trees, all heavily burdened with new snow, boughs dragging under the weight of it all. Large trees, small trees, maple trees, birch trees, pine trees and spruce trees… they all looked the same in the brightness of day. Just a bunch of normal trees. Nothing special. When I did locate the “special” tree, it stood like all the others. Just an offshoot of nature, carrying a lot of snow. Burdened.
Then it clicked. I began to understand why this tree was important, after all.
We are just like the trees. We stand around, minding our own business, carrying our burdens and problems like anyone else. We are all the same.
When the troubles of night fall, and fog of worry rolls in, we are lost. We are just a forest in the dark. We don’t know where to turn or what is ahead. We live in fear. But sometimes, a rare person comes into our lives of darkness, and dispels all the gloom. A person of joy, a person of peace. Someone special. A person that somehow holds the light of Love within themselves, and lights our world with brilliance and hope.
God is that light. He shines within us who are ordinary. He makes all things bright and holy, a living flame of Love in our souls. We are the forest in darkness, and God is the Light.
I didn’t miss it, after all.
To the righteous a light is risen up in darkness:
He is merciful, and compassionate and just.
This is one moment that the 'Snowbirds' in warm climates missed out on. I walked on the water today and watched the sun rise.
It is my quest to share one moment of Love, Joy or Peace each day for 365 days...
So here it is, Folks: One Moment in Day 9.
Yes, okay, it happened yesterday. But some days, like yesterday, are so loaded with glorious moments that the joy overflows into many days. I think that is the whole point of my 365 day challenge. If we learn to find the joy, and hang on to it, the world will be a place of hope. A place of peace.
I hope you find your moment today, too.