Friday, November 20, 2009


The time has come to be festive. I am feeling just slightly less festive than my friend Tammy, pictured here. I do have my Christmas stick (as my kids call it) on the back deck with big old fashioned bulbs on it - and a timer that puts the lights on every night at 6 and off at 10.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


In my reading recently I came upon the information that neither ancient Hebrew nor Greek languages had any word for 'person.' In fact, the concept did not come to light until in the first centuries when scholars began to reflect on the relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Father God. Growing understanding of the Trinity - that three divine Beings lived both uniquely and in community, agents of choice and participants of self giving love - introduced a new concept of human as 'persons:' individual personalities, uniquely separate, agents of choice and yet profoundly communal.

The concept of personhood is elegant - one of my favorite ideas about being human. I love that life is manifested utterly uniquely in each one of us - the marvel of agency and personal beauty and possibility - stuns my mind. I am ridiculously alive in my own singular (and your own) form, a person, and yet dependent on the interaction with you, each of us shaping the other, physiologically, emotionally, spiritually. Our formation is far from mechanical; it is art my friends. Each of us is art. And somehow tied to us being like God.

I scratch my neck as I write this. My fingers reach out and feel my soft skin and go back to the keyboard. I turn the music up because I like this song, even though Steve doesn't. I finish up so I can go exercise. I anticipate a conversation with Steve. This hour - this very hour I am living is unique and rife with meaning. It is a miracle. I am here. I am dancing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

one more thought about the plane conversation

... I was drying my hair this morning thinking about our tribe. It seems to me that we are not a better family than many. In fact, we are FULL of personality which makes us full of possible offenses. I think what makes the difference for us is the strong desire to forgive.

I know that I have the capacity to offend my kids more than twice in three weeks. I know I have disappointed them... often as not without even knowing it - we can do that to each other.

But they have not cut me out. They have not said things that make a relationship dangerous to continue. They have not threatened me.

One of the marks of our family is kindness. We tend toward kindness. And we forgive forgive forgive. Forgiveness is the only way to sustain kindness.

I am so glad to be in a tribe that doesn't keep record of wrongs. The air between us is clear. Because we forgive.

CSLewis - one of my mentors - says that we have to begin our days forgiving each other even before we get up out of bed. The other person, simply by being 'other' will offend us. The way forward is to forgive them unilaterally, simply forgive them for being who they are,for not being 'me'. (Sort of reveals our own selfish perspective doesn't it?) To do this is to create a state of mind, to establish a foundation of relationship, acknowledging before hand that my own pleasures and rights will make who you are something of an offense, at some point. So before that happens I let it go. Then when we collide I can laugh instead of fume.

I have another idea to write about but I had to say this first. Happy Sabbath.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

on the plane

The conversation is interesting so I lean my head on the window and tip my ear back a bit so I will hear every word. It isn't eavesdropping if you are packed in so close you can the person behind you blink. Granted, it might be eavesdropping if you lean against the window to hear. Whatever...

The two 30-something men behind me are talking about their families. Clearly these families have money, because one tale is a story of a battle about who will use the 'big house' during the holidays. Lots of drama. Siblings fighting. Mom doing manipulative and mean things. Finally he tells his mom that she should never expect to see her grandkids again, that she is a 'sh---y" mom and a 'sh---y' gramma and he is finished with her. He spat out that she has disappointed him twice in three weeks.

The other guy chimes in with his story about the upcoming holidays, his wife being depressed and always 'bi-chy' and all the fights they have. About her sister ... what a witch she is. And on and on.

My kids (all except Ben and Kari and their babes) are coming for Thanksgiving. I couldn't be more excited. I would sleep in a tent to make room. I am combing recipe books to find food they might like - picked up some thin mints because Rae's husband Curtis likes them, made up a fun bag for Kyra and Megan, schemed with Vincent about his arrival. We are packing in baby supplies for the twins.

We like each other. We know we can't live each other's lives, but we like to stand around and watch each other live what they are building of life. We love all the quirks and foibles. We make mistakes and bicker sometimes, but back down as soon as we become aware. Our holiday days won't be a Rockwell painting - it will be mess and tiredness and cooking and helping each other but also tons of laughing, teasing, party noise, helping out, sharing and hopefully each one will go home filled up with love.

We need our people. Cutting each other out is such a catastrophic wound. I am thankful this November that none of my people are lost. I can't wait for our happy bedlam.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Big Steve is a great guy

Tonight BS and I made our home beautiful again. It hadn't been cleaned for more than a month, not vacuumed, everything was a mess. I felt all kinds of stress but BS just pitched in with me and we got it all back to order. We put our Christmas tree out on the back deck like always, and the lights wouldn't go on. So BS worked on them and made a store run and we have glowing Christmas on our back deck.

I just want to say that real love is not about intensity. It is more about kindness and paying attention. I like very much that Steve notices me. He doesn't notice my crazy old lady look - my curlers and baggy pjs ... my age spots or gray roots. He notices my smile. He notices my sadness. He pays attention to me.

Guilt doesn't live in our home. Obligation hasn't got a space to hang its hat. Life has enough burdens - we don't need them in our homes. I just want to say to anyone that hears me that my pastor husband has lived his faith with me. He is the same at home and at church. (Ask the kids. They laugh about it.)

So - thanks Steve, for helping me feel good about my home again tonight. You built it for me and now you clean it for me. This is why I don't mind him sitting in front of his computer with ear phones on watching the Red Wings play hockey. He makes me smile.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What I saw at WalMart

Isle 9. Across from hundreds of boxes of cereal. Carts bump each other, a man sneezes and a kid begs his impatient mom for Sonic Hedgehog cereal.

A girl walks down the isle, her long hair loose and unwashed and her jeans and shirt looking like she pulled them out of the wash pile. A girl with a fuzzy headed baby draped across her left arm. A baby wearing a brown sleeper. A boy. Three days old. Clearly jaundiced. Sleeping.

Behind her slumps a slightly older boy with a fuzzy hunting hat, flaps pulled down over his ears, old shirt, untied shoes. He won't make eye contact. I hope he is her brother.

She looks tired. And unloved. But has a kind of defiant pride. She wants me to touch her baby boy. Three days old. (I didn't want to stand up three days after a birth let alone trudge through WalMart.) "This is my baby," she says. The boy grunts.

I leave the store concerned and sad. A sadness that is still with me like a little ball of cement in my chest.

Everything gramma in me wants to take her baby and bundle him in a blanket, give him the tight securely newborns are used to from the womb. I want to sit her in a quiet place, wrap her in a quilt and bring her tea. If ever a moment needs love this is it. This little new mother needs to cry. I can see it in her eyes. She hopes everything for her little darling boy, but who is standing with her? I hope hope hope she has a mother who loves her with the same fierceness. She is, herself, a child, who needs to be allowed to restart her development. She desperately needs someone to teach her and support her in the daunting task of keeping this boy alive and well.

I lay awake in the night and wonder if she is awake with a screaming baby, maybe trying to nurse him. Exhausted. Without resources. What will become of this little trio? I pray. My prayer expands and covers more and more space. I cry into my pillow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

they didn't dare~!!!!!!!!

I got home from my retreat with Steve and I opened a letter that said my driver's license is suspended! All because I have not yet gone to 'driving school.' I am SO offended!

________________ ... and, an editorial comment.

I am fully aware that all the people who were at my 'dinner for 22' read my blog! And I hope YOU are aware that this blog is about women and serving and life and making things happen and how we come to the end of ourselves. Or at least I do and I hope (profoundly) that you do too. In fact, I count on it.

My little friend who wrote this poem saw the evening from her point of view, and I laughed when I read it. (She herself is a LONG way from being in the stage where she could put on a dinner for 22, and to satisfy her curiosity about what kind of event this would be I invited her to come and take pictures.)

I was, in fact, in denial about having ever voiced such a sentiment, but she swore that is how it was! I am a 9:30 bed goer and when 11:30 comes I am done in. Unable to cope. Like a baby who cries so someone will put her to bed. So I have to concede that this was how it happened. That my home was full of some of my favorite people in the whole world is irrelevant, completely.

Steve makes fun of me for always hoping our incoming guests have a flat and don't quite make it to our home for events we plan (or are planned for us.) But then our times together inevitably turn out to be fun. And yes, there is a cost to be the one hosting the event, but we get up and do it again the next day so it must be worth it to us.

So flop into the chair beside me, my dear women friends, makers of life's happenings - and toss your laments into the air. We will certainly laugh!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

how life gets out of control

The Dinner Party
written by Krissi Carson

“I’m having twenty-two people for dinner tonight,”
spoke you to me, distressed with a smile reminiscent
of the gaze of a rabid dog. “By accident.”
Only you.

And they came, and you cooked.
And they prattled as you provided.

Little boys wandered knee-deep in your creek,
hoping for Crawfish, and your Girls trod lightly in swim suits
and gossamer wings, while parents sat idly
in your living room, avoiding the sun and contagious
child-like spirit out back.

And they sat, and you served.
And they ate as you smiled.

Fire blazed in the cooling air after empty plates and full tables,
roasting marshmallows for dessert around stories, a dirge,
and your backyard fire pit. The adults ventured
out after all, for a moment.

And they mingled, and you laughed.
And they chatted as you scoured their dishes.

You disappeared and I found you in your room, locked
in with the cat and the only peace in the house,
where I dropped on the bed beside you and Walter, the girl,
all exhausted.

And they stayed too long, and you turned to me on your bed,
and I laughed as you muttered with tired eyes and no more strength,

“I hate all these people.”