Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feat #19: Tradition


I don't know how many years ago--maybe ten?--Dad and I started a new summer lake tradition that I love. I take the shore path about three miles to Black Point, and he takes the sailboat. We meet at the pier there, then sail back home.

We did it today. Perfect wind and weather for it! And, it was my birthday. Can't think of many things I'd rather do to celebrate.

Normally, I wouldn't count this as a physical feat, but I accidentally gave Dad the estimated time it would take for me to run, not walk to our meeting place. I haven't actually run at all since last fall because I'm nursing my right knee, which has bothered me off and on since I slipped on our stairs and smacked it on the tile floor in our front hall.

He'd have been fine tacking back and forth in the boat while I walked, but I didn't want him to wait too long for me. So I decided to run intervals on the parts of the path that were grassy or smooth pavement or packed dirt and walk on the parts of the path that had more challenging footing, like uneven flagstones or lots of loose gravel. I figure I ran at least half of the distance.

Not bad for this particular 51-year-old.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Interruption


I texted Jack, who was up at the cottage. "It is wild and windy and not too hot here on the point! Bright blue sky and big fluffy clouds! Wander down and breathe the fresh air!"

Back to my book. The author was writing about Israel.

You stand on the high hills and look out at a thunderstorm rolling in from the Mediterranean. The depth-less blue sky becomes a steel gray, rain and hail lash down on you and you struggle to hold your footing in the violent wind. Rivers arise out of nowhere and rush in the canyons below you, sweeping away everything in their path.

Moments later, our own sky turning to a steel gray, my sister Maryann said, "Look!" and we watched the sudden squall across the lake, headed right toward us. We quickly packed up our stuff and I yelled to Dad who was fixing something on the sailboat. He turned, saw, grabbed his tools and jumped off the boat.

Maryann and I couldn't run up the hill fast enough to escape the rain, but cousin Jody was waiting at her front porch to open the door for us. Dad took cover down on the point in the lee of a shed to keep an eye on the boat, which wasn't tied down to the hoist.

Ten minutes later, the rain stopped and we walked the rest of the way up the hill to our own cottage to change into dry clothes. By the time we got there the sun was shining again.

Back again to my book to pick up where I left off.

Ten minutes later the storm is gone but the world is covered in a glistening dew. The olive and lemon trees glow under the sun and the red earth under your feet throws off the smell of rosemary. God is here, you think. His glory and grace just appeared with might and fire.

Sunday synchronicity.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer Hours

I am about to have an extra crazy month. House guests, conference, annual pilgrimage to the lake, parties, work. So I may or may not post anything until the middle of August. It is summer after all.

In the mean time, here are a couple of useful things I learned today:

If a person hits the emergency button on his cell phone and calls 911 without meaning to, then hangs up as soon as he discovers what he did, they will call him to find out if he either (A) meant to call and accidentally hung up or (B) accidentally called and meant to hang up.

If a person happens to get oil on his shorts while he and his friends are taking apart the old broken lawn mower, just spray some degreaser from the auto supply store on the stain and then throw the shorts in the wash.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Into the Wild

My friend Shelley is a stay-at-home mom with four children under six, including her youngest who spent the first 8 1/2 months of her life in the NICU and who continues to need lots of ongoing medical attention.

Shelley also has the soul of an adventurer. It can be tough for an adventurer to be so utterly grounded, no matter how much she loves her children.

The other day, as she sat with her baby in the hospital, waiting for her to wake up from her 37th trip to the OR, she wrote on her blog about tapping into her reserve of memories of past adventures across the globe to sustain her, but still wishing she could enjoy the exhilaration of, say, driving through the desert in a jeep.

I thought, "Hey, I have a jeep!" and "Hey, I know a place nearby that feels exotic and worlds away!" So I secretly made arrangements with her husband and then whisked her away into the wild for an hour or two to feed her adventurer soul.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Processing

I'm still processing the morning I spent with a 90-year-old neighbor and friend yesterday. I called to check on her about 9:00 and discovered that her shoulder was giving her tremendous pain and she was unable to get out of bed. So I went over to see what I could do.

It took a few hours to track down someone who knew where her pain pills were stashed, and during those hours we talked. As long as she did not move her shoulder, she was sort of okay, but the slightest movement caused her great agony.

While we talked, I fed her a piece of cinnamon raisin toast and some cherries that a neighbor had brought over from her tree. I told her that she was like Cleopatra, reclined in her bed, being fed grapes. I helped her take the dozen or so pills in her Sunday a.m. pill box, hoping that one of them might be a pain pill (none of them were).

Over and over, she said she knew the time had come to move to a care center. She was distraught at the thought of leaving the home she'd lived in and loved for so much of her adult life, but she'd begun to accept that she couldn't live alone anymore. I could tell she was trying to get used to the idea, to convince herself, with every repetition.

I remembered other visits, when she'd talked over and over about a friend who'd finally resigned herself to using a wheelchair and about another friend who'd decided she had to give up driving after living a fiercely independent life. I wonder if she'd been subconsciously processing through her friends' experiences the decision she knew deep down she was getting closer to having to make.

It will be okay. She's got a place to go where she'll be taken good care of. She'll be closer to family. And she's a spirited gal.

But still, my heart is broken for her.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Can We Go Back in Time Just a Little?

Technically this picture of Dr. Who was taken yesterday, Jack all spiffed up with the tweed jacket he found at a thrift store for five bucks and a bow tie he borrowed from Dad. But it's the same guy who drove us home from church today in our five-speed TARDIS-er, Jeep.


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Barriers

We pulled into a gas station for a bit of respite from construction traffic in Chilpancingo as we drove south from Mexico City a few weeks ago. While I paid for our snacks, I watched Jack crouch down by the floor-to-ceiling windows that spanned the front of the little store, his back to me.

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My niece explained to her eight-year-old son that an important promise he would make to God as he was baptized early this morning is to mourn with those who mourn and to comfort those who need comfort. He was surrounded by hearts full of love and prayers for him as his father gently held him and he worked through his fear of putting his head under the water. It was so hard for him, but he wanted to do it and he did.

This past week on Facebook, my dear cousin plead with both the heart of a mother and the heart of a newly converted Jew for the world to pay attention to the news of the Israeli teens who were kidnapped as they walked home from school in the West Bank and murdered. At the same time, a heartrending exchange unfolded on my feed between a friend from East Jerusalem, who was pleading for people to remember their humanity, and her friend--I think a sister--who was struggling to hear her through so many mothers' tears shed when news broke of an Arab teen found burned to death.

Roger and I talked the other day about the recent influx of Central American children crossing the southern border into the U.S. He speculated about the radical transformation that could occur in the hearts of our communities if the impossible were to happen and we openly invited 50,000 families to say to the children, "Come, you have a place here with us in our homes." Impossible because we think that if we allowed it, only more would come. We have the right, we tell ourselves, to protect our way of life.

I recently heard John Shelby Spong, a Biblical scholar who is dismissed as a heretic by many Christians, speak what my soul recognizes as truth. "We need some process," he said, "That will expand our humanity beyond the barriers that we have erected in our need for security . . . [They] have made it possible for us to get to the top of the food chain, but at this moment the barriers that we have created as our defense system in our struggle to survive have begun to kill our humanity."

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I couldn't figure out what Jack was doing, crouched there by the windows, until he stood up and turned, and I saw he was cupping a huge insect in his hands. How long had it been banging its wings against the glass unnoticed? He carefully carried it outside and released it into a pot of flowers by the door.