Monday, May 26, 2014

God in the sink

"What is God doing in the sink?"

Bobble Head Jesus
 My granddaughter, Ava Lou, was standing on a stool washing dishes with a sink full of cold water and soap suds as only a four-year-old can "wash" dishes. She was looking at the bobble head Jesus who was over-seeing the process.
Ava Lou
 I wondered how to explain irony to her. How to say it had some obscure, but special meaning to me. I've often thought, I should put it away because people must look at it all the time and wonder if I am a heretic of some kind, worshiping saints or idols or something equally suspicious. So here is my explanation. He was a gift from a friend, Jeremy Huggins. Together we appreciate humor and irony in Christian paraphernalia that is marketed in certain stores that purport to be "Christian." Things like Frisbees that say "Flying for Jesus." Or night lights with the inscription: "Jesus is the light of the world." So there Jesus sits on the edge of my sink as a reminder to laugh at ourselves for the stupid ways in which Christianity is marketed and to try not to participate in the trivialization of such great things as the gospel. I mean no disrespect to a God I love. I think he knows that.

When it took too long to think of a simple answer to this dear child, she moved on to the next question.

"Can I give God a bath? He wants a bath."

I gently said no. He will get all rusty inside and not bob anymore, and I moved to pack him up in a box, ready for my next kitchen.

She and her mother had visited us for a few days to help me clean out the attic. Micah's presence and and help was so stabilizing. Much was accomplished in a short time. Everything down from the attic and out. Throw away, give to family, give to charity, sell some if possible. Label what to keep and where it should go in the next place. All done.

It really does feel like God in the sink with us. God with us in the midst of real life helping us to a new stage.

Thank you for stopping by. This time I will truly have a good excuse for not posting for awhile because this Friday we move and we will be living in the wreckage of boxes and plastic bubble wrap for quite awhile. But it will be a happy wreck.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Witness to life

     The cowbirds in our neighborhood have been busy. They are like cuckoos and practice a kind of bird abuse that ought to be punished, in my opinion. I would like to punish them and can’t think why this is part of creation, unless to remind us that life is not always the lovely, sweet place we wish it to be.
Bronze-headed Cowbird

     Last spring I found two cowbird eggs in the nest the purple finches built on our front porch. This year when I checked on the progress of mother finch’s nursery I found three finch eggs and one rouge. You can’t miss the difference. Notice the larger egg is a spotted buff color =  cowbird. The finch eggs are turquoise. The cowbird lays her eggs in another bird’s nest, leaving the responsibility of parenthood to someone else. The problem is, birds being what they are, the parents don’t recognize this egg is not their own and the female hatches and feeds the little criminal as if it were native. This hatchling is always larger than the real offspring and aggressively, starves the other babies and is soon able to push them out of the nest where they die on the ground. That’s why I removed the egg.

Purple Finch nest

Cowbird Egg

   I noticed the fine architecture of the nest - it is so pleasingly and carefully woven with grass, wool, and even flowers are incorporated if they are in bloom. And see how they surrounded the nest with little snippets of cedar? I heard that long ago the remedy for bedbugs was placing cedar boughs under the bed. Bugs and pests don’t like cedar - hence cedar chests that safely store wool blankets and clothing. So I wonder if this helps repel the mites that birds are prone to host. A natural wonder. So interesting to find both wisdom and villainy right on our front porch.
This may be one of the last acts of charity I perform while living at Toad Hall. Our days here are numbered as we pack the house and get ready to move in a week. Saying good-bye to many friends and leaving our home of thirty-three (!) years will be hard. But we look forward to our new place where there may be many more birds who will benefit from my moral compass.  We found a house in a quiet neighborhood in Savage, Minnesota, and the back yard abuts a wooded ravine that drops down to a little stream and a forty-six acre park called “Hidden Valley.”
All I can say right now is everyone was right - that we would find something. This is a gift. A mercy. Grace upon grace. Something my wizened heart does not always expect in this life. I’m more accustomed to expecting difficulties and impostors. I am so thankful.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ice Jam

It’s been more than a month since I’ve posted and I’m sorry about that. I'm going to try to ease back in here. I’ve been dammed up like the Zumbro river I mentioned in the last issue of Notes From Toad Hall. We captured a little video of the muddy waters and chunks of ice moving under the bridge. The gradual building of pressure finally broke an ice jam and we happened to be there at the moment it happened. Something I’d never seen before. It was both frightening and fascinating at the same time.

Ice jam on the Zumbro River
Everything has had to come together from prepping, selling, looking for and purchasing another house and it has, in amazing ways. But I am excruciatingly aware that people do this all the time, and some do it over and over again, and I am that anemic American that thinks moving is tough. During the first six years of our marriage we moved thirteen times; somehow I’ve either forgotten what it took or just don’t have the stamina anymore. Plus, it has been thirty-three years since we last moved; that's a lot of time to forget how to pack boxes. You’d think I’d be more mature about the unknowns and the stress, but no, it seems not.
It’s not just the upheaval of moving or entering a new stage of life, it’s a combination of other things that add to being somewhat depressed and emotionally jerked around. Like earlier this week I learned that my recent up-tic in hearing loss qualifies me for hearing aids and that this isn’t going to go away, like I hoped it would. And I may need to wait awhile before we can afford them. (So I might be saying WHAaaa? a lot.)  One moment I’m so thankful we sold Toad Hall in three days and the next I’m quite certain we will never find another house that works for us and we’ll end up living in a yurt in my mother’s back yard. This has made it hard to think or write in a fundamentally coherent way. On lots of days going to bed with Almond Joy bars and People magazine seems like a good option, but honestly, I only succumbed yesterday when I couldn’t resist George Clooney on the cover. But even more shameful, is being tempted to buy the nasty National Enquirer. Fortunately I said, Satan, get behind me, and really? I mean, really? People, I don’t think dressing in a kilt qualifies as cross-dressing.
Camilla's World Falls Apart
 I have a friend whose family has been with the State Department and they have relocated across the world many times. She says that each time they moved she wished she were a nun and only needed to pack an extra habit, prayer beads and a cot, but the feeling passed once they got to their new home. I count on that feeling to return. The good news is that we haven’t needed to down-size as much as we initially thought, and in the new house we get to look out the back to a wooded ravine and park full of birds, predators, wild ginger and ramps. A bedroom and laundry on the main floor, and a wonderful and convoluted journey through the wilderness of real estate negotiations brought us to this house. I didn’t think we would make it, but my husband did. In all, we have much to thank God for.
Thank you for stopping by and, again, I apologize for being so spotty with postings, but don’t know how much better I will do in the next few weeks as we continue to pack and plan to move at the end of the month.