There was a red bird outside my window this morning. I heard its chirping and stopped to listen. I pushed back from my desk, opened the shutters and stopped, captivated by its visit. Bright, confident, vibrantly bouncing around in the straw.
My mind moves lately from one to another thing, the bane of the multitasking and distracted life. It’s my current place in life, engaged daughter and youngest entering college.
Last night, planted next to the checkout at Target, a friend and I shared wisdom over the need to rest, to look away from the current inundation of horrific. We agreed that we’d be quite content to withdraw to our homes, to draw into and near to God. We wondered if this might be the only sound place of solace. We agreed we should and we could do this.
Let’s just stay in our quiet place; stay home, curl up on the couch, kneel down bedside. Avoid the news, the media, the social sucking in of our minds via handheld places of informative anguish. We might withdraw, we decided.
But wait, there’s a birthday coming up tomorrow, her daughter and “Lisa, you have your daughter’s wedding to plan, What fun!” she said. Our conversation and our faces changed as we shifted to the good, to the peace bringing, soul touching, warm smile bringing happy things.
Glancing towards my desk this morning, ready to begin my list of to do’s. I had committed in prayer to remain focused, to avoid distractions and to honor God in my work. I placed my yellow mug down next to my collection of peaceful things. The things that make me smile, a reminder note to “be still” and a mug, both gifts from my daughter. A perfectly hollowed out bird nest cushioning baby bluebird feathers and I thought “this little vignette is my happy way of life”. This is rest for my soul, pretty and peaceful in the impending and overwhelming now. I’m hoping God has planted a collection of joy on my friend’s path today and that she’s stopped to notice already.
My friend has had a hard year. She is thin. She is tired. Her eyes have an appearance of long, heavy nights. “It all caught up with me this year, Lisa.” she said. I asked, wondering “Like the empty nest is so much more empty than you thought it would be?”
She agreed, nodding without words, her eyes becoming watery and I wondered if these words were hard or just hard truth.
Her son, same age as mine, should be headed to college. He ended his life three years ago. I cherish the story of her son. I’ve heard it many times, no less difficult in the repetition. I am honored to be a listener of her cherished story.
I was there to shop for my son, entering college in three weeks. My dread of the coming Matriculation Day changed to an embracing of the gift now, of accomplishment and challenge.
I asked about her kind and quiet husband then, “I saw the mission trip pictures.” I said, adding “the one with the child looking up at him, he seemed so serene”. She smiled then and said her husband may have found peace in Africa. His journey has made a turn. His path seems more peaceful, she said. She turned a corner too, a hard road she saw him travel she’ll travel now, she hopes for not so long.
My sweet and wise cousin sent a photo the other day. She’d spent the day in Charleston and thought of sending a picture of the college campus soon to be my son’s home. She thought of me, she said as she drove past the gated entrance. She rethought the idea, suddenly though. Later, she says knew why. Her daily routine, out walking her dogs, a hot and dry day, eyes cast downward, she thought of me again and smiled.
Nestled in the brown, dry pine needles, crisp and crunchy leaves, she found a brilliant feather. She texted me: ” I saw this and thought of you. I love you.” I imagined her stopping to look, deciding which path to take and then pausing there, thinking this is for Lisa.
She texted: “Walking dogs , saw this pretty feather , thinking of you.”
Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, walk there, you’ll find rest for your soul. Jeremiah 6:16
I’m sharing my story in a link-up with other wise women who are most likely distracted, yet content.
To the country, a big white house, grandma’s house.
It was a sneaky kind of longing all around a breakfast choice, wishing for breakfast at my grandma’s…doors wide open to the wrap around the front screened-in porch.
I always loved the narrow little side porch, a good place to be tucked away.
Last Sunday morning, I found myself wanting what couldn’t be again.
That kind of floating around in your mind of all things changing.
The knowledge of not being able to be in that place, with those people again, not a cumbersome sadness dragging around all Eyoreish….
Just an almost sweet ache. I had written about the look on my son’s face at graduation, and my sister-in-law commented:
“Feeling melancholy, sis?” Dianne
And it stuck. Why yes, I believe I am and by the way, Thank you for putting a name to my longing, my wistful thinking
Also, thank you for calling me “sis”.
That made me smile in the simplest and sweetest of ways.
Melancholy feelings on a Sunday morning,
Wishing for, what back then I thought silly, odd old people ways.
I opened the refrigerator for milk, thinking I’ll have cereal and banana for a change.
Instead of protein boredom and sameness, I immediately thought corn flakes in the big white, bright rooster box and I went for the closest we had in the cabinet.
Remembered the wilted, golden floating, softened flakes… me, at Bama’s tipping the bowl to get every last drop of milk flavored with thick sweetness of cream.
I was thinking about my grandma’s sweet milk, tiny pancakes and coffee with cream from a can, poured into the saucer of a cup to cool so I could then sip along with her.
So, instead of two percent, I grabbed the pint of light cream purchased earlier for something, can’t even recall.
I poured it over my flakes and bananas, its creaminess settling amongst the fruit and flakes, finding its way into the ridges of the flakes and sinkin’ into the bananas.
I tasted home, sweet country dirt road, playing baseball with my cousins on the clay front yard home.
The sweetness of simple, of sparseness, of sameness…of small things that happened with spontaneity.
Again on Wednesday, I thought of Bama, my grandma. I moved into my morning, the lingering melancholy of accepting change, difference, good and worthy transitions…blue, nonetheless.
Waking up feeling complacent, doubtful…needing to surrender but not really feeling hopeful or too thrilled with letting go…
I journaled in the quiet marking my little notes to self. Remembering my grandma in the dim tiny light, her Bible in her lap. I made more notes on prayer.
Lately, God has called my heart and beckoned my attention towards prayer. That morning, empty house except a snuggled down beagle and lab puppy (like a toddler) waiting beside the door, I sang in the shower; free, confident and joyously affirming “Tell it to Jesus” Lisa.
Are you weary, are you heavy hearted? Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus alone.
Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus, He is a friend that’s well known. You’ve no other such a friend or brother, Tell it to Jesus alone.
I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and am thankful for a chance to Tell My Story, His story. http://jenniferdukeslee.com/tellhisstory-the-first-step-to-authentic-friendship/
Everything started moving really quickly. May felt like two days, not a month. Your birthday, on the 29th and I thought, “Didn’t we just get done with Christmas and your first car and making the AllStar team with your buddies, all lined up, gangly legs swinging along the side of the pool?”
Seriously, wasn’t it just a little while ago that bedtime meant Spot stories and afternoons were Tellie Tubbies and Clifford the Big Red Dog? I feel like it was just yesterday, on a Sunday just like today…warm outside, summer time waiting for us to get home from church…that you caught me off guard, stepping from our pew and down the aisle to open your heart and life to Jesus. And I cried, not big showy tears, sweet soul-filled tears.
And it seems not so very long ago that you’d fall asleep in my bed. Not long ago that I’d pick you up from daycare to find you usually on the playground. I’d walk towards the window after gathering your things and I’d watch for just a bit. Mamas do that. Sometimes you’d be sitting in the sand and I’d smile because I knew your sharp little blue Keds and socks would need to be emptied first thing.
Sometimes, it seems I’d find you in thinking mode. You’ve always been my thinking child. And I could see you watching the other little boys and girls, content to sit and gaze. I can see so clearly your little elbows on your knees, your chin cupped in your little hands. Or sometimes running around, laughing as you toddled on cute, chubby little tan legs, blonde hair glistening from the sun.
But most of all, I saw you waiting, your face intently focused and your little mind’s clock anticipating my arrival, waiting to hear my voice, your name…”Austin I’m here.”
Are you here yet?
And this is why I can’t take my eyes off this one shot.
My daughter, making allowances for my lack of discretion, captured this gem. I told her…”Catch him looking, he’s scaninng the room. Hurry, get that shot!”
My son, looking to see if I had arrived. Waiting to see me there. On the day of his graduation, knowing I was there, but looking for me in the crowd. Until finally a barely noticeable, understated nod and just a hint of a reassured smile.
Thinking back to the sweet days of a skinny, silly, long legged girl, her cool grown-up cousin named Heather and Austin, a cousin with a cute friend named Alex…the days of a trip to Tybee for my birthday…family and us, my sister and I navigating the growing up of our babies.
Okay, so Austin’s a Senior, Heather’s a second year teacher and grad school student and pretty little Ivy Grace begins high school. Hayes is handsome now, young-mannish looking. How on earth has this caught me by surprise?
If it were possible to slow lifedown a bit…revisit a frame frozen…I’d take us back to Tybee for my 50th…randomness and silly joy on the beach as Ivy flitted about, legs “pony-esque” as we bathed in the sun dodging birds and darting to and fro in the sand! Austin and his friend looking all handsome for the girls, while Heather languished in the sun…and Ivy, and me laughing with silly joy, simply infectious joy!
Oh, the beautiful presence of a not quite young woman who is still okay with cuddling up next to a beagle and hangin’ out with crazy Aunt Lisa!
Love me some Ivy Grace and homesick for Georgia. Home soon to bemoan the growing up of our children with my sister, Cindy.
My grandfather, “Dan Dan”, was a fisherman and a carpenter. He wore overalls; but, he only buckled one strap. His pants were crooked and I always sort of turned my head sideways to line up with his slant. He had a sideways smile that we now refer to as his “go to Hell” smile. He liked a cigar balanced on this lip and had a penchant for going off into the woods as my grandma yelled at him to get back on time.
He fished more than he worked wood. A big catch meant cleaning with all of the cousins watching as he cursed at us in a fun not scary kinda way, then looked up and smiled that rascal smile and watched us scatter as he randomly tossed fish guts to shoo us off.
Most everyone loved him just to experience his swagger and his stories…dogs and children too, they followed Him. He was a fisherman and a carpenter. Maybe that’s why.
My grandma (we called her Bama because my brother, the first grandchild chose this name, this pronunciation) took us for walks on the dirt roads bordering her white clipboard house and we picked blackberries in the bushes way up high above the deep clay ditches.
“Hit the ditch!” She’d holler if she heard a car coming. We’d all chant ” Hit the ditch! ” and jump into the ditch waiting for a car to pass us all standing wide-eyed and obedient to Bama.
This morning, almost 50 years later, I pause to guess how much longer for the blackberries to change from pinkish to a vibrant hue of purple so that, on my walk, I will stop in this empty lot to pick berries and then carelessly pop one or two unwashed, into my mouth as I turn back towards the street to my home.
I will return to a time spent with cousins, a makeshift baseball field in the front yard with old seat cushions as bases, boys versus girls with mama and Aunt Boo under the chinaberry acting as our umpires. Every Sunday we played baseball on Peacock Hill. We were big time!
So, note to my chubby, freckled-faced, shy “Bama’s girl”…you would never believe it…but you will grow up and leave the country. The country, tho’ will never leave you…you will find it wherever you go.
How amazing is it that my walk through a neighborhood development is bordered by blackberries and honeysuckle?