Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pouncing Kitty

Fitzwilliam leaps up to touch his paws to my two-year-old's hand, fringed with fog on the cool glass door.  As soon as his hind legs return to the wet wood of the porch, he pounces again.  Joseph laughs mightily.

Our home has missed a kitty.  We've sheltered and loved Artemis and Apollo, Ophelia, and Lydia - mostly strays or soon-to-be animal shelter live-ins.  Alas!  All have met the same fate, as we live close to a rural road, which most teenagers mistake for a freeway.  But, until their end, we make them as happy as any kitty-cat can be.

And isn't that what we all are doing?  We don't need to flip to the end of the book, because our ending is known.  Every last one of us has the same final word typed into the stories of our lives.  Shouldn't that jumpstart us to live and savor each precious moment?

I want to leap like Fitzwilliam, bringing a happiness to my own life and to the lives of others (especially my dear friends). 

My dear friend, do you want the same?  What have you put off for tomorrow?  Isn't today better than never?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prismatic Possibilities

Colorful pot holders line the kitchen table and cushion shiny lidded pans that seem to stand at attention.  "I'm makin' lunch," declares Joseph with a can opener in one hand and a toy car in the other.

Ezra squeals in delight.  A constant "he-he-he" accompanies his broad smile while he cruises in the walker back and forth across the floor of two rooms.

Mesmerized by the can opener, Joseph slides the handles back and forth and contemplates the movement and clinks each makes.  Ezra brandishes a teething ring and stops every once in a while to chew with his two-toothed gums.

I can almost feel the mental concentration growing as thick in the room as the early evening's shadows fall from the wooded hill beside our home.  It is so amazing to watch my boys discovering the world around them.  Just to see their happy smiles, I place fascinating trinkets in the right place to catch their notice and then sit back and watch them explore their new discovery.

So many times I need to shift my own perceptions to get a different view of the thoughts that filter through my mind and the circumstances that march into my day.  Turning my attention to the prismatic possibilities that those thoughts or circumstances bring into view, I can encourage my mind to select the hue most conducive to spreading that smile across my face and the faces of others.

Friend, do you need to bend that rainbow's down-trod ends?  Perhaps bundle up, spread a blanket on the ground, and lie down to savor the scintillating stars tonight.  Or examine the intricate design of a happened-upon rock.  Whatever you decide to do, dare to dazzle your same-old-same-old view and let the moment smoothe your heart's rough spot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boiling Point

Flames flicker across the quartered wood chunks placed just so inside the Jotul.  From a safe distance away, wide eyes peer through the pane framed by cast iron arches.  Ezra, ready but not willing to fall asleep, blinks and notices a bright truck in his periphery.  He jumps into action, arms flailing in circular motions as his feet kick the walker toward the toy.  As I sit, lulled by the fire licking logs, the jolt from sudden activity stirs my mind awake.  It's then that I notice how warm the room has become and I peel off a layer to cool down.

There have been so many instances in my life in which I have felt the startling blush that arises from miscommunication, lack of attention, or inharmonious priorities.  When conflict arises, I have a tendency to clam up and avoid the topic as long as possible.  This habit has led to heated debates when whirlwind emotions no longer contain themselves.  How many times have I been in controversial conversation and left thinking of the perfect thing to say half a day later!  How many times have I opened my mouth to solve the dilemma with words of forgiveness only to convulse in sob after sob after sob!  How many times have I heaped blame upon another's head only to have my own faults gnaw at me later!

So, I stop and peel off that sticky layer in prayer to cool down.  Then, I pinpoint a hard-to-find positive in the situation, which usually falls just outside my view.  And, let the refinement begin, reminding myself that I'm not the only one that feels too warm standing by a woodstove.

Friend, are you trying to huff out glowing embers only to find the flames fanned by your efforts?  Take a moment to sit and sigh and search for a positive solution that reminds you others in the situation may be feeling just as warm as you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thin Whines

My days have been filled with thin whines.  It's like listening to air slowly sneak out of a balloon, whose neck is stretched between the thumbs and fingers on each hand, in just such a way that a squeak vibrates through the air.  Or like the hard-to-see mosquito that zips from ear to ear and emits its mournful tone.  But this whine comes from a two-year-old boy who has had a mild reaction to his flu shot.

There are times when I can almost hear some of my hair strands turn gray, when I can nearly see my body age instantaneously, when I can feel the root of a headache wound tightly about my spine, when I can smell the decaying leaves that gather about autumn-tinged tree trunks even though a window pane separates us, or when I can taste time's bitter sweep as it pushes past me.  I feel tired and worn.  Do you have days like that, my friend?

During times like these, I let my mind transport me to a rocky hill in Greece with a sparkling blue lagoon stretching all around me and the arms of an island encircling me almost like a hug from God.  And then, a good friend at my side, I toss a small rock down the cliff and listen to it tinkle through the silence that sits so thick.  And, I laugh, and laugh, and laugh. 

What moment can spiral you into a belly-tickling laugh?  Let your mind take you there and fill the day's exhaustion with the cleansing of a happy laugh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Plan

Leaves, with curly-tips and dappled hues, litter the ground.  Clumps of gold cling as long they can to the hickory tree outside my window.  And beyond the canopy of trees that dance this way and that, splotches of vibrant blue sky peep and disappear and then smile their witty grins once again.

Ezra tried to scoop up sunshine from the floor during the morning's slowly waking lull.  Each time he raised his hand, palm full of the feather-light brightness, it vanished as soon as he tipped it toward his wide-open mouth.  Quivering on his side, arm up to his face, he stopped and looked about as if he had dropped it.  And sure enough, there the golden rays lay upon the carpet's ragged texture.  And so, he tried again.  And again the light spilled out as soon as his palm came perpendicular to his face.

It was quite amusing.  Until, I applied its metaphor to my own life.  I thought of how possessed humans are with time.  In an age where time is measured so precisely and kept close at hand in so many forms, I could see myself trying to scoop up time while it easily slipped through fingers and splooshed down arms.  I thought of how pointless people seem to find sitting in nature and savoring the stress-relieving beauty God created or talking 'til dawn with a friend or making the time to tell a spouse or parent or child "I love you", and yet we quite readily waste hours in front of a computer screen or television set and walk away with little to show for it.

Our days are not eternal on this life.  How do I want to spend the time that I have?  Plucking peace from the perviewed vales and crests or flowering buds and tinkling creeks; encouraging others to share their fragile hearts with a message of hope that this world so desperately needs; sharing life with the people God places in my path and daring to make them smile; cleaning out the clogged innards of my life so that I can shine with a pure heart; savoring the delights of a delicious meal carefully prepared or happy smiles and gleeful tones of my children at play...  There is so much to love about life and there are so many reasons to live and love and laugh. 

Friend, is time slipping through your fingers at a mind-boggling pace?  Stop.  Think about what is good and true and pure.  And dream up a happy plan to grace another's life with a loving act today.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sudden Squall

White cotton curtains with simple lace trim part to let sun rays lick the countertop, stove, and floor.  Leaves, brown and yellow, hang limp on the gray mimosa branch beyond the window.  Some daisies, with their wilted petals and soggy faces that whisper of the passed summer months, stand in a vase drenched by shadow below the dark cherry-wood cabinets.  The washer hums.  A lullaby chiming from the belly of a giraffe fills the still air.

Then, Joseph dashes into the room.  Papers rustle and come again to rest in his wake; tall block towers tumble upon his footfalls; baby's lids pop open startled by such a sudden commotion.  Life is funny like that.  One moment, the air is calm and quiet; the next, a squall surprises and shakes up day-to-day happenings.

Maybe your day is like that?  An unexpected illness or tragedy?  A deadline encroaching or pending news?  Perhaps financial stress or marital strain?  Is life yielding rocks instead of harvest?  Does dry dust tumble about, settling upon every corner of your mind?  Remember you are never alone!  God sprinkles our lives with friends we sometimes never knew we had.  Is there a prayer you need today?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Clangorous Tempest

Interlocking green, yellow, blue, and red building blocks litter the living room's carpet.  Tiny dinosaurs form a horde, plotting a return from their mass extinction, upon one of the sofa's cushions.  Soft rattles, plastic links, and bath books still smart their wounds from the toothless jaws of a six-month-old on the run.  Other rooms in the house exhibit the same chaotic clutter with high table-tops and shelves filled with these-and-those which fled from lower realms where toddler hands now easily roam.

Sometimes Joseph and I straighten up as the day marches by, perhaps before he pushes slick washable paints across white paper with excited fingers or bristled brushes, prior to play-doh creations that ooze through exuders, when my toddler asks for yard adventures that include pushing a small bike here-and-there or scraping about dirt in the garden.  Other times, I tidy up when the little ones fall asleep so that when they wake up their eyes fill with the wonder of making yet another notable mess.  And more often than I should admit, my eyes are so bleary and my bones so weary that I go to bed before pushing piles of cars and crayons into their holding bins. 

But most frequently, Russell and I share the labor of love, working together with nimble hands and swift feet to sprinkle a little order here, some cleanliness there.  I am so thankful for my husband, whose ready heart and gentle look inspire me to keep going when I'm often overwhelmed.  It's important to remind myself of the gift God has given me, because otherwise I take my beloved for granted.

And so, dear friend, what help-mate or sibling or parent or friend is your life blessed to have?  What characterstic do they possess that calms the clangorous tempest within you?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Elated Etchings

As a simple silhouette, glistening sunshine rings my son's happy face as he peers at the piles of papers on the edge of my writing desk.  That snapshot catches in my mind like an etching on wood.  I would like to think that I will never forget it.

Every day is filled to the brim with roller coaster emotions.  Hurt, frustration, fear, anger, all are mingled with the pleasanter moods of joy, elation, and peace.  At the end of the day, I often dwell too much on the negative lapses on which my feet have stuck, like stepping on a fresh cow paddy that gooshes up the sides of your shoe.  It isn't much fun to scrape the smelly strands and clods clinging tightly to a tennis shoe.  Instead, I would rather dance through flower-scented fields (sine bobus) and feel the warm sun upon my back.

I cannot ignore those times less desirable during my day.  Through prayer or solitude or writing or drawing or talking with a true friend or a plenitude of soul-refreshing activities, I can cleanse the scum that surfaces.  (Of course, with two children under three to care for, finding time for such activities is quite difficult and requires a great deal of creativity.)  My goal is to focus on the light-hearted moments that bubble up throughout the day and savor them as readily as a prism sprays its lovely light when the sun peeks from behind the gray clouds.

What refreshes your spirit when days are draining, friend?  How do you soak your attitude with jocundity?