Being where my feet are gets very messy some days.
Just in case you read this blog regularly and think, "Now there's a woman who has it together and keeps it that way," here's your notice to think again. And even if I could somehow manage to have it all together and keep it that way, I'm sure I would forget where I'd put it. Lately, I'm having (a lot of!) trouble keeping track of my belongings. As a mom, it's always been my "job" to keep track of other people's stuff. You know the drill: "MOM, where are my_______???" - you fill in the blank. It just goes with the territory. But lately, I've been looking for my own stuff.a.lot. Glasses, to-do list, keys, mug of coffee, phone, shoes…and my gratitude perspective.
Oh that. A perspective of gratitude.
Hard to get it, harder not to lose it. Fortunately, God's persistence knows no bounds. He is forever creatively pulling me back toward the center, toward gratitude, and ultimately, toward Himself. On a recent walk, I thought back through a rather bizarre list of oddments (yes, this is truly a word, I looked it up), and God persistently turned my mumbling grumblings into something much better, oddments of gratitude. So for what it's worth, here's one day's odd little list.
1. I'm thankful for the band aid plastered onto the bottom of my sock. Again. Bandaids adorn our driveway, stair steps, lawn, and, frequently, my socks. I've lost track of the places I've found them, but maybe I have also lost track of why I keep finding these discards: the boy's body has healed and the bandaid is no longer needed. That long scratch he got "trying out" the (very thin) board he was nailing onto his latest hideout is now just a three inch scar, soft pink reminder that no internal organs were punctured, the tetanus shot was up to date and he didn't even need stitches. Just bandaids. Lots of bandaids. Over and over, healing comes, for that is how his body, my body, every body is created.
I'm grateful for bandaids no longer needed.
It took me longer to get to thankfulness for this one. Sure, home school moms are notorious for swapping one-up tales (tails?!) about bizarre science projects in the fridge. The cow's eye was a big deal 15 years ago – a popular curriculum included this item for reasons I do not recall/cannot imagine... (not the curriculum I selected!!!)
But gratitude for this snake, now? Frankly, 15 years ago it was easier. All of it. My students were more typical, my energy level was higher, my fascination with home school possibilities was fresh, my life was less complicated. Now I've been doing this awhile, say 20 (twenty!) years, and the novelty has, shall we say, worn off. I still believe it's the right choice, the absolute best option for Youngest Mystery, but now I am compelled primarily by faithfulness. So, being thankful for the corn snake in my freezer meansgratitude for the opportunity to do what is best even when it comes at high personal cost, when I find myself wishing to find only frozen food in my freezer (how boring?!). It means adjusting my perspective to remember and give thanks for the look of hesitant wonder on his face when Youngest Mystery gingerly brought me the tiny perfect, dead reptile. He who avoids odd textures and unpredictable creatures brought me a snake. Sometimes gratitude is a matter of being attentive to and giving thanks for small amazements. So, tonight...
I'm grateful for a certain fleeting look of wonder and a (very small) dead snake.
I often feel like the journey toward entropy is accelerating on Hickory Lane, aided and abetted by my housemates, ever and always male for more than thirty years now. It's enough to make me burp or something. Ammo any/every where, sock balls in the laundry, dirty shoes trying to "tiptoe" into the kitchen, tanned rabbit hides draped on the rocking chair, tools and sheep poop in unexpected places… an amateur tracker could "read sign" in my house and know which gender has the highest head count. But I don't give up. I light candles and decorate seasonally and use "the good plates" regularly. And now I am being joined by daughters-in-law and they are girls!! I know, I'm stating the obvious, but it is so astonishingly delightful, I can't help myself! Consider this a shout out to the girls...oops, women...in the lives of my sons. Even from an ocean away, M. adds joy to my life with her love for my son, her artistic style, and her wonderful laugh via skype. The cider-pomegranate table candle came to me from A. who shares my love of all things glowing and scented, and I am grateful for what she adds to my life. Without her lovely Yankee candle gift(s), that bb might have been all alone on the table. So, maybe it's a stretch to give thanks for bb's in the potpourri, but I know this-
I'm grateful for the girls who love my sons, for candlelight and for potpourri in which a bb can hide!
I thought wistfully about the goofy, unifying roll/role of duct tape in our home. For nearly two decades, the Christmas stockings always bulged with a roll for each eager repair-son. And even though the stockings were put away when the fixer guys became men, somehow the duct tape tradition has continued. (We even carried a roll to South Africa this year, stashed in the gifts to be opened by Barefoot Wanderer on Christmas morning.)
My pace slows and I sigh again, swallowing a lump in my throat. With our family scattered across ideological and actual oceans some days I wonder what, if anything, holds us together. I'm often not sure what a mother's love should look like in this season; I don't get it right. I make messes and I wish for relational duct tape to hold us all together. Our family feels fragmented. But on this day's walk, God points me in another direction; kindly, gently he redirects my thoughts. Perspective shift...oh, there it is. God's unfailing love for each one of us, wrapping around us, pulling us toward each other, patching our errors, repairing our mistakes, holding us together. He is both afghan and duct tape in our lives. "Love covers over a multitude of sins." Even mine. I'm grateful for duct tape on the afghan.
6. I'm thankful for walks late in the day. My life used to include a brisk morning jaunt, but that hasn't been happening lately for a whole list of (undisclosed) reasons. Maybe someday I'll be back in the steadiness of that routine, but for now I am slipping away quite late in the afternoon. Some days I barely beat nightfall, other days the window of opportunity quietly closes while I'm still hunting my gloves/phone/camera.(pick one.)
I miss my morning walk. I miss bird chatter and the way the sunlight slants across the woodlands, gilding every common twig. I miss starting my day with the feeling of accomplishment that awaits me at the mailbox upon my return. But for now, my reality is late walks or none at all. And I'm making peace with that. I hold my breath and hear the owls calling. I breathe deeply and see the wonder in the hushed dusky world around me. On this walk, it was as if God smiled at my feeble efforts at thankfulness, and said, "Here, you'll never see this on a morning walk." I'm grateful for walks late in the day.
Thursdays are for thankfulness. Hummin' B