Monday, December 22, 2008

Away from you

We leave Toadhall tomorrow for Chattanooga (Please, dear God, don't let us get stuck in the Detroit airport, unless I can eat sushi for lunch.) where our daughter, son-in-law, and five grandchildren wait for us to join them for Christmas. They've been practicing the family tradition of playing hide 'n seek in the dark on Christmas eve and promise we will never, ever find them if we are it. (We used the game as a time killer for that eternity of waiting from supper time and eve-tide services until a decent hour to open gifts. Craven, I know.)

"Then it seemed as if men must proceed from light to light, in the light of the Word..." - t.s. elliot

Wishing you unexpected moments of joy and light.
See you at year's end.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Receiving the Offer

Snow is steadily sifting down, inches piling and piling on every branch, auto, and ledge. Now the wind is picking up and the temperature will drop to minus fifteen tonight. Two of our neighbors are already trying to shovel and snow-blow. Yesterday there was a break in storms, a window of cold sunshine allowed roads to be cleared from here to Waterloo, Iowa where the prairie winds drifted snow two feet deep. That window allowed our son and his family to leave around noon as they headed south to Micah’s family in Herman, MO. Having them arrive at 2:30 A.M. and to awaken the next morning to the creak of footsteps sneaking up the stairs, and to make buckwheat pancakes, to have Anson and Paige (no time wasted sleeping) rolling up the rugs, dragging boxes of toys, and redesigning the first floor was chaos and celebration. They left by noon. Later in the day my brother-in-law and youngest sister hurried through Rochester from Cedar Rapids back home to Biwabik, MN in a race to beat the next storm. We gulped a cup of coffee and snarfed a cookie together, talking as fast as we could eating time. The window for travel has now closed again for another day or so.

And now Denis is out snow-blowing, trying to beat the pile-up and the dropping temps.

Today, first thing, I was off to the post office to mail the eBay Bible to girlonajourney who “won.” Getting out before the roads close. This is good. My guilt is half assuaged to think someone will be making good use of this journal Bible. The reading schedule in my old raggedy copy, which I’m now fine with, has taken me to Isaiah where the prophet records the words of “the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel” saying: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..” Trying to think what that means and get it into every day real nights and days, and trying to take myself (get back, Satan) far away from the final phrase of that verse: “but you would have none of it.” I’d like to accept this offer for what most of us need most of the time. Or is it just me?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The base ridge

Five-year-old Anson showed me his thumb as soon as we arrived last Thursday. “Grandma, look at this!” At first I thought it had been painted purple. But he’s too boy to let anyone near him with nail polish. Gender roles are very distinctly defined in his mind. It had been slammed in the bathroom door at preschool and was healed enough so he could lift the nail all the way up like a hinged flap. I shuddered and almost gagged. He smiled and yanked it all the way off. “It’s pokin’ me,” he declared, meaning it was getting hung up in his hockey gloves when he tried to pull them on. He showed the dead nail to his dad hoping for some kind of reward like maybe a thumbnail fairy would show up if he put it under his pillow.

Turning sixty-one is something like getting slammed in the bathroom door. It surprises you, and sometimes it hurts a little. People feel sorry for you. They send sympathy and love. And friends make you supper of easily chewed foods. Thankfully I have no body parts to put under my pillow, but sometimes my brain flaps around, unhinged, searching for right words more often than it used to. I can swing certain body…okay, arm parts that were once taut and hard, especially those triceps. I remember watching my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Griggs, write on the blackboard, her underarms flapping, and I swore mine would never look like that. The young are just that, young. Unknowing. Unable to think past their stomachs hoping to make it to lunch in twenty minutes if the history lesson would only end.

Anson’s thumb is now tender and vulnerable, but from the root a new one is already growing. It’s awfully small, just a ridge at the base. But it’s coming. It’ll be okay. In a few months he’ll have a new one altogether.

As I scope out the years to come, I see I’ve got a ridge at the base, too. I have to cup it in my hands sometimes and blow on it, in order to see it, in order to keep it going. But it’s there. Waiting to spring up. It won’t be going away even if the surface turns a little discolored. I read some of David’s words this morning. “…consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.”

I love the superlatives here: FOEVER AND EVER. Denis and I have an ongoing discussion about the use of superlatives, which I’m not allowed when complaining. Like: They ALWAYS. You NEVER, EVER. Etc. But God gets to make exceptions to the rule. Yes. Against all odds, heaven awaits along with new bodies. My base ridges belong to God forever and ever.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This December Life

Late last night we heard a tapping at our back door and there was Anna D., her hair covered with snow, shivering and cold, she’d just got off work at the hospital and was snowbound, needing a place to stay for the night.

We’ve been getting snow now for the past two weeks and Denis has been out shoveling quite a few times, but yesterday afternoon a storm that began with a few flakes and swirling drifts ended with six to nine inches by this morning. People have been hurrying past on their way to work, breath steaming, walking up the middle of the street. I saw a neighbor wade through the snow to his front door with four Canadian geese by the neck – he’d been out hunting! Others are scraping cars and running their snow blowers.

Seems like long ago when on a hot day last summer I saw these little tutus in a pricey store in the Nashville airport and immediately thought, Christmas for granddaughters! They were alarmingly cute, but not for $85. So I sketched them, avoiding the stares of the clerk who was pretty sure I was going to shoplift. This week I made one for Paige and Isobel. I know little girls dream of being the princess or the dancer. They do.

I don’t know if they’ll like them or not, but making them was almost reward enough. There are a lot of things we pretend to do for others, but really, it is for ourselves. When finished, I admired the layers of tulle, the sequins and silk flower petals floating in the folds. I felt some kind of accomplished, like maybe I’d have worn them myself, tapping my three year old brain parts. Soon enough most of us we learn we can’t become anything we want. When I was a girl one day Dad taught me how to take care of a horse that had a very nasty cut on his fetlock. That was when I abandoned dreams of ballet. I soaked and cleaned his leg every day for ten days. The horse adored me as though he knew the pain I caused would heal him, and I thought, not that I wanted to be a veterinarian, but a people doctor who squirted disinfectant on fetid wounds, sewed cuts, removed tumors.

Only later did I learn I’d no capacity or resolve for that sort of education. Am thankful God’s destiny was a different one. How often do we know what our future holds and how we will manage to live it? Over and over again, we experience God’s care in shepherding us through places that hold both sorrow and deep joy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Margie's eBay?

For sale:
One Slightly used beautifully bound ESV Journal Bible.
Black leather. 7.5 inches by 6.5 inches.
Original price: $52.00
Previous owner opened twice and decided print too small. However, owner also stupidly wrote name on flyleaf and comment in Isaiah 7. Argh!
Will ship free to highest bidder.