Monday, May 29, 2017

the gift of staying


Most writing days I want to get away – to a coffee shop, the lobby of the local Inn, a well-manicured botanical garden. 

Today I felt like staying. 

We are easing into Joey’s summer schedule of flexible hours so he has taken over with the kids this morning – making sure they are eating, learning, not killing each other or doing any permanent damage to the house.  I hear their footsteps, the opening and closing of doors, and the muffled conversations.  I remove the piles of books and clothes and pictures frames and a dozen other odds and ends from the table beneath the double windows in my bedroom.  I stack them all on top of the white coverlet of my bed.  Maybe I will put everything in its place later, or maybe I will just transfer it all back.  For now it is behind me and the green of our lawn framed by the row of white hydrangea and the towering trees of the woods are in front of me.  

A wide, open space.  
A spacious place.  
God keeps calling me back there.  
There is room to move and breathe and it is quiet enough for listening without distraction. 

More and more I am listening for the things my ears cannot hear and looking for the things my eyes cannot see. 

I am finding them. 

Sometime easily and abundantly. 
Other times the going is slow and the rewards are sparse, but still I persevere because always, always, it is worth it.

I don’t have a perfect work space in my house.  I’ve found I don’t need one.  The weathered aqua blue side table that is just barely tall enough to slide a chair underneath is the only piece of furniture I could fit into the small space of our bedroom.  Our bedroom is the quietest place in the house with a lockable door.  It works fine. 

I have opened up the blinds and cracked the window because it is unseasonable cool this morning.  The camellia bush a few feet beyond the glass has grown too high and has too many wayward branches poking out of its core.  Trimming it is on our to-do list, but not the top of it. 

Despite the obstructed view I can look to the left and see the edge of our vegetable garden peaking out from behind the hedge separating the upper yard from the terraced section.  The runner beans are beginning to stretch up the rows of string woven through stakes meant to provide a path for their growth.  If I squint I can even make out the tiny purple blooms amongst the leaves, promising a harvest. 

To the right of the monstrous camellia the grassy hill leads past the concrete bird bath, along the overgrown garden of spider lilies and Lenten rose up to the play house.  The white curtains I hung on the front are frayed at the bottom but they look lovely billowing slowly in the breeze.  The paneling Joey carefully erected on top of the raised deck foundation he built is painted a creamy white making the simple gray-brown shutters my brother helped me construct out of reclaimed barn board stand out.  The roof panels are brown and rippled and always remind me of Spanish architecture which I was unusually drawn to as a child.  The slide hung from the front is yellow and the wagon parked underneath is red, but otherwise the whole structure blends unobtrusively into its surroundings.  The chalkboard wall is weathered and peeling off the back side.  I can barely see it from where I sit, but I know what bad shape it’s in.  It’s on the list too. 

There are many things in need of our doing out there on the other side of the windows, but I don’t feel the weight of them right now. 

Even after all these years of practice I still have to make a conscious effort to shift from doing mode to being mode.  In this place, I can be fully present and fully appreciative of what exists without any help from me. 

There will always be things to do clambering for our attention, but there will also always be a need to be whispered in longing. 

Just as I finished typing that last sentence I heard footsteps and the slow turn of the doorknob.  For some reason I chose not to lock myself in this time.  That is always a risk, but today I wanted to be tucked away yet accessible.  Lucy entered on unusually gentle feet and whispered kindly, “Mommy, can I ask you a question?” 

Of course.

She cracked open the library book in her hand, “I know we are reading a different chapter book right now but I am doing my 20 minutes of quiet reading and wondered if it would be okay if I finished this one instead.”

Sure.  That’s a fine idea, honey.

"Ok," she said with a soft smile.  As she pulled the door closed behind her she turned, “I love you.”

I love you too.

Sometimes I am deeply drawn to having us all under the same roof.  Even if we are each involved in our separate things and there is work to be done, I find comfort in knowing we can whisper our “I love yous” to each other any time we please.