We took our pool down the other day. The cool breeze of autumn is forcing the leaves from their place in the Oaks that surround our home. The heat of the sun has dampened, and we no longer need the cool water to survive or pass the days. It was a horrid mess to drain the water into the yard - 2,000 gallons let loose into soil that tends to stay damp with even the slightest rain. To dry and fold the weight of the fetid vinyl was a feat of its own. Underneath the pool was a mess of molded, wet grass that smelled of manure and had birthed its own ecosystem. It only took a few days before the sun dried the dead grass and removed the stench, but now we're left with a large brown spot among the acres of green.
My children spent hours in the water when the sun was scorching. Into the pool we went when the energy level of five children grew too manic for the indoors. The fluidity of water, of life, was seamless - no edges to work around, no corners to place children in. Diving and laughing, the crack and hiss of a cold beer while floating on a raft - it was divine. Now, when I stand at the kitchen sink and scrape the remnants of dinner into the trash, soapy water to my wrists, I find myself staring out the window at that damn browned spot.
I never had a pool growing up, or much laughter for that matter. My life was a filter that caught all of the dead and dark matter, smudging my soul with the faint stink of manure. I've carried this propensity to take the good moments and feel emptier from the space they've left in their passing. Worse almost than if they'd never existed at all. I look at the ugly patch of our lawn and it seems like an appropriately large nothingness; the beautiful thing that was, and is no more. It's been home to me in this strange way. Nothing concrete - the tangible brick and drywall - but the negative spaces that look more like holes, moments you can never get back.
My children are helping me change this. They have become my hot sun, drying the stagnation of things passed, slowly, very slowly, helping me to shift my focus from the shadow of what was, to the substance of what is. They are handing my childhood back to me, calling me to a home I've never before known.
My sweet River plucked the perfect pink petal and ran to me. More than a gesture, he offered me a moment and gave me his heart. He's always looking for beauty. He's always thinking of me. I preserved this rhododendron between two pages of a heavy book. I waited patiently for it to settle, to dry. Since my nose is often in a book, I made a memento I would see all the time. As I was sealing this gift, something moved and shifted and came off center. The flower rose too high, visually setting everything off. As much as I wanted to be upset because I failed at this one chance I had to make it perfect, I realized that it's more special, more true in its imperfections. I'm pushing through the inflexibilities I carry with me and choosing to stay in the moment when a six-year-old boy gave me a flower.
I am currently undergoing a huge project that I need your help with. I am curating a collection of your experiences with racism. My hope is to educate those who are blind to the discrimination that is all around us; to shine a light on injustices - the ones that left you feeling raw, numb, a little less than human, and completely alone.
I hope to take these tender moments and to create a medium that will honor your heart, validate your hurt, and to shine a light on the shadow sides of life in a safe and honest way. I am hopeful that your stories will instigate a moral reflection that will prompt our hearts to possess a deeper level of compassion, and to empower you by sharing your story.
If you feel compelled to contribute, please contact me through the "About" tab above. If you are brave enough to share these moments of vulnerability with me, I promise to hold them gently. Thank you for reaching in, for reaching out, and for helping us all to see that we can do better.
Jesus was brought to the council for an unjust trial that would condemn him to death. A death that legally could not be justified, but one that was birthed from THEIR own unbelief. They did not believe him when he said he was the Christ.
Do I distance myself from God when I lack understanding? Do I put him on trial when he won't bend to my will? And when I commit such acts, what happens next?
Peter denied Jesus moments after he vowed he wouldn't. Through grace he was able to see what he had done, really done, and by that same grace, he was able to accept himself as he was, and he wept.
So what do we do after we find betrayal in our hearts? We weep. We repent. We let godly sorrow lead us back to him, and we pray continually that God will show us truth, and enable us to be humble, because that is what will truly change us.
Motherhood is tough, isn't it? It's like the most glorious experience on earth, mixed with a tinge of absolute hell. It grows you right out of your very own skin, which is mostly good, and always painful. The good times far outweigh the bad, but the bad somehow seem to stick in my conscience on repeat. I could do a million things right: I can kiss my children, I can balm their soul and speak gently, I can nurture them with all that is in me, and when I don't hold my tongue or lose my patience, that is precisely where I take harbor.
A friend recently said that we live too much in the shadow of Freud, and I totally feel that within my bones. With much anxiety, I lend a lot of weight to the things I do wrong. I can enlarge a single moment into the destruction of my child's very future because of how I think it is growing them internally. No doubt, there is pause to be had over the weight of our actions and words as parents, but the incessant dooming fear over wrongdoings is just silly. I cradle those bad moments in my arms and nurture them into a beast.
I have needs that require me to separate from the chaos of everyone's feelings. There is no defeat in requiring respite from time-to-time. I'm realizing that the weight of my children's future isn't solely in my palms. I want to give them a solid foundation to build upon, but the choice will ultimately be theirs alone. How I can walk in grace for them and myself is knowing that I will parent imperfectly, but with great love. I can't take harbor in the past - on the choppy waters of my emotions and fears or failures - but I CAN rest knowing that whether I do wrong or I do right, I don't have to fanatically obsess over it, I can simply move on to do the next right thing.