Saturday, February 21, 2015

Morning mythology

There's this myth in motherhood, especially in the shared sisterhood of mother-writers, that if we get up early enough, we can work before our children are awake. I seek those dark, cloistered moments in my kitchen, huddled with a journal and a cup of something warm, scribbling my thoughts in the quiet of the open morning before the real day begins. Mornings are supposed to be empty and open and dripping with potential, like dewy grass or the coffee that is calling me with its gurgle-pit-pat as it collects in the pot. Morning is ready for something, for anything...and in the half-moment of quiet, if I stop and hold my breath, I feel the possibilities and almost believe them.

I could make cinnamon rolls and surprise everyone!
I could paint the laundry room!
I could go for a run before the snowstorm hits!
I could write the short story that's been rattling around my head for weeks and then let the kids help illustrate it!
I could get all my chores done early and then relax!

No matter how tired I am, especially on a Saturday, SuperMe takes over, beckoning me into the Realm of All The Things I Can Do. "Come on! Think of how productive we could be!" And I follow her. I can really do everything. For that moment, I am a regular mama demi-god...powerful, motivated, filled with unstoppable creativity, with energy for days.

And then a door opens. A toilet flushes, maybe, or the water runs long enough to arouse my suspicion. Instead of SuperMe, I hear a small voice in the hallway: "Mama?" and the quiet is over until tomorrow.

I know one day I will sit quietly all the time, all day, every day, and I'll long for their voices to call my name, to ask me to help them, to talk with me about what matters to them. I'll miss their hands (which are so small and occasionally sticky these days), coming to me full of drawings or dandelions or tiny stones they've found. I will long to hear someone ask me to read that awful library book one more time (well, maybe). I will wish, probably, that I was more in the middle of their worlds, the way I am now, when I sometimes wish to be somewhere else.

And so, this morning, with rumblings and rattlings and voices calling in the hallway, I choose to be grateful. I'm grateful for their noise, their mess, and their interruptions, because I choose to be. And all the other words in my head and the projects I dream about will have to wait for another moment, because in this moment, my children aren't likely to wait another second.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

#HolyLens, Lent 2015

Well, I changed my mind.

I'm allowed to do that, right?

I realized that I was going to miss seeing the #HolyLens posts on Instagram and sharing about our days and bearing witness to the little holy moments in each other's lives. I remembered that taking tiny snapshots of those moments isn't a burden- it's a spiritual discipline. These photos (for me) are more than just photos. They are signposts of God's grace in my life. I think I need them.

So, just in case that's true for anyone else, I'm putting up some prompts for Lent.

Here are the prompts for this week. (They will be posted on Sundays for the week ahead.)

I hope you'll join me. I know there are lots of other photo-a-day projects out there. The important thing isn't to do this one. The important thing is to remind ourselves that God is always working, even in the most ordinary, mundane moments. This project helps me to do that. If it helps you, too, then please post your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #HolyLens. Let's keep each other company as we look for the places God is present with us...even if we happen to find him sometimes between the forks and the spoons in the drawer or between the mismatched socks in the hamper.

Have a blessed Lent.

Previous weeks' prompts:

On Silence. And Lent.

Sometimes, it seems like there isn't quite enough of something.

I tug at the edges or let out the seams as much as I can, trying to make the pants cover the tops of her socks when there aren't any other clean pants and we're late for story time. I look through my yarn stash over and over, trying to find something to use to finish the sleeves on a tiny sweater when the blue yarn I need has been discontinued.  I twist and squish and fold and press the tube of toothpaste to coax out the last tiny bit onto three small toothbrushes, all of them moving targets in the hands of their owners, and I don't have time to go to the store.

And when there isn't enough time to write, I scribble my thoughts around the margins of my church bulletin and never get around to opening my computer.

I know this space has been very quiet lately.

I've been busy, of course, but I'm almost always busy...there are fourteen activities to fill every waking minute, it seems. The more free time I have, the more ways I find to fill it. Somehow, in the middle of doing school and post-Christmas resettlement and getting my family all healthy again from illness, it's suddenly Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday? How did that happen?

I'm not at all ready for this. I don't have Lent "planned." I don't have any lists or ideas of what we're going to do this year to mark this holy time between now and Easter. I haven't written photo prompts for #HolyLens, or gospel reflections, or blog posts about meatless meals to help inspire me (and maybe you, too). I haven't changed the wreath on my door or prepared the candles for our table or thought about how we'll do our family prayers.

I've done nothing to prepare.

I've been quiet. Reading, writing a little, knitting. Hanging out with my family. Sweeping the floor more often than I used to. Doing the laundry, and doing it again. Reflecting on my life and the gift of those people with whom I share it daily.

With Lent upon me, things feel different this year. I don't have any activity checklists or new Lenten playlists or collections of helpful links or innovative recipes for cooking meatless meals. I'm feeling an irresistible pull to come inside and shut the urge to look inward and sit quietly with what I find.

I don't feel called to lead Lent this year. I feel called to pray. To be still. To sit and read and wonder and soak up what's around me. To gather up what I have, even though it feels small, and offer it to God. I'm going to take my loaves and fishes, and instead of attempting to arrange them artfully on a plate and posting them on Instagram, I'm just going to bring them to Jesus and wait for him to tell me what to do next.

I don't have any big proclamations to make. I'm not giving up blogging for Lent, but I don't know how much I'll write here. Maybe a little. Maybe more than that. Maybe not at all. I'm not swearing off social media, but I probably will take long breaks from it. I'm just looking for Jesus so I can practice walking with him, or sitting with him, or generally being wherever he is going to be, for the next 40 days.

And I'll be praying for you.

If you have a special intention or prayer request for which I can pray, would you please let me know? I'd be honored to spend the next few weeks holding your concerns and needs. Please feel free to leave me a comment here, send me a message on Facebook or e-mail me.

Thanks for being my friends and for being patient with me. At the end of my life, I doubt anyone will say that I was an excellent blogger- I don't follow any of the rules, ever. Even so, I'm grateful for every one of you who reads my thoughts here and shares this journey with me.

If you are still looking for ideas of what to do for Lent, try Auntie Leila's post at Like Mother, Like Daughter. She's so good at that kind of thing. If you're feeling short on time and wondering how you can keep Lent as a busy parent, try this lovely, insightful post by Jenna at Call Her Happy or these practical suggestions from Sarah at Two Os Plus More. And if you want some reassurance that (like every year), this Lenten journey is going to be exactly how it is supposed to be, try this post from Laura at Mothering Spirit. I'm taking comfort from Kathryn's words about Lent this year at Team Whitaker and Molly's invitation to walk with Christ these 40 days and let our time with him unfold gradually as we go.

Finally, I'm trying to remember that sometimes, all we are called to do is to hold open a space for God. Even a small one is enough for him to use.

I'll be around. A blessed Lent to you all.