Thursday, April 30, 2015

These Moments

1. Last week: my students performed, 35 of them, 3 Bach minuets in 5 parts. It meant everything to make sure everyone had something significant to contribute to the whole, regardless of where they were in terms of age or development or ability. It worked. And we all got to be in the middle of that big full sound. I posted a video here, on the Violin Project page.

2. Over the weekend: Middle’s confirmation of faith at church. Immediate families stood with the confirmands at the front of the church during the ceremony, and extended families, friends, and supporters were asked to stand with them from their spots in the pews as the pastors prayed for each individual. I didn’t know it at first but the youth of the church stood the entire time, for each of the kids in front. When I turned around and saw them all standing together at the back—it cracked my heart open. The next day a friend told me that she, too, had been standing for Middle. Knowing your child has people—that is beautiful. Seeing that fact—that is exquisite.

3. We had an impromptu photo session Sunday afternoon, the kids all spiffed-up, in the front yard. Things have not changed. Posed family photos are as hard to get as ever, and I have a fabulous series of pictures along with dialogue no one will ever let me share publicly, plus one “acceptable” picture that will eventually make it onto Facebook.

4. Oldest, who has been wearing glasses since he was three, got contact lenses today. I’ve seen him without glasses plenty of times, but this was different. I was witness to him seeing his world differently—an echo of the day we walked up to our front door, him in his first pair of full-prescription glasses, stopping, bending over, taking in this world he hadn’t realized was around him.

5. Youngest, these days, always wants the radio off when we are in the car. “Let’s talk,” she says. She is a good foil for the introverts in the family, inclined as they are to hide by the end of a long day.

I told more than one person that I was afraid of this month, going in. But here we are on the last day of April, and everyone is still all in one piece, even with the Easter Sunday emergency room visit. It has all been good, rich stuff—performances of all kinds, all five of us, and so many other things—I’ve been trying to hold these moments that have risen up in the middle of it all inside of me, and time just keeps barreling forward. How does one do this life thing? How does one not do it?

Which brings me to next month. I’m going to take a break from the blog. There are projects waiting for me, asking for their proper time. A transition from school days to summer days, also asking for its due time. And honestly, some dreaming to do. I will see you in June.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Excuse No. 24

late for
many reasons.
This afternoon 
it was because I 
could not find my keys,
but then also because of
 the cardinal sitting on a cluster
of lilacs—balanced perfectly
right on top of the blossoms.
He was pointed straight at the
driveway, straight at my car
as I got ready to pull out.
Cheer! Cheer! Cheer! he
called, just like in that
book I read as a child.
To not stop for a
moment would
surely have
been rude.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

On My Mind

I have been thinking about the power of transforming something, and the power of re-telling a story.

I have been thinking about this, and making more flowers.

I have been thinking about the heart—the meaning—of a poem, hidden in a cluster of words at the heart of the larger poem. (Poet Helen Frost was one of six authors and illustrators Middle and I got to hear speak at the Children’s Literature Festival at Truman State University Friday. I am still floating a little bit.)

I have been thinking about how mixed in with the rain that fell outside the dining room window yesterday were tiny white petals from our flowering pear tree. And mixed in with the raindrops clinging to branches out the back kitchen window were tiny green leaf buds.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Holy Monday

You don’t always, but on this particular day off you wake up without the alarm (it was turned off, to allow for the richness of sleeping in) at almost exactly the time it would have gone off on a regular school day. The light is lavender, the air saturated with spring. Since you are awake, you sneak downstairs, fill the bread machine with butter, egg, milk, sugar, flour, yeast. You will make Resurrection Rolls a day late. This is becoming a tradition, almost, not managing to get them made in time for Easter. Last year you bought a roll of refrigerated dough, in desperation and even though you hated the compromise, but in the end it did not help. The tube sat in the refrigerator door until two days ago. You are determined to keep your promise this year.

Later Youngest will help wrap dough around marshmallows, and then you will dip each dough ball into melted butter and then roll it in sugar. The sugar and butter will cling to your fingers, salty and sweet. You will lick them once all the rolls are dipped and rolled, no one watching, as if you were still five years old.

Yesterday was good, and you celebrated. But it did not go the way Easter was supposed to go, exactly. In the middle of everything necessary for the day for your family—in the middle of the best clothes, sunrise service, breakfast at church, easter egg hunt, baskets of candy, dinner with family day—there was Youngest’s fall, and a horrid gash in her knee that looked unrepairable, and the E.R., and stitches because it was repairable, after all.

There was a time you were proud of your strength around blood, and your calm in the face of an injury. That, though, was before you had children. Your children’s injuries shake you to the core. It is not so much the blood itself as it is the fact of injury, the fact that you could not stop it, the fact that you could not convince your child after she laid eyes on it that she was not dying. It is not so much the stitches themselves as it is holding—laying on top of—your child while she gets stitches, and, more than that even, the way you absorb the fear and hurt into every cell of your body and try to hold it there, away from your child, even though you know that’s impossible.

Later in the day on this quiet Monday, when she is feeling her woundedness especially deeply, you will show Youngest pictures of Japanese pottery, cracks and breaks filled with gold, stronger and more beautiful for having been broken. Kintsukuroi. Isn’t it beautiful? She cries at the thought, but she also points out her favorite piece. It is exquisite.

Later still in the day you will hide yourself someplace quiet to make paper roses from old scrap paper. It is right to make something beautiful from what is cast-off and unwanted. It makes you dream of making other things. After so many days of looking and seeing and taking in, in the middle of exhaustion and anxiety over things both small and big, making something seems like the proper response. So much inhaling—now is time for the exhale. Without the release you are not actually breathing.

Yesterday was meant to be holy, and it was, in the way that Easter Sunday always is. It was also holy in the way that something broke through all your plans and expectations and made you see it all in a different light. But today too is holy, and maybe even a high holy dayset apart to exhale, set apart to ponder these things while making sweet rolls, while everyone else is asleep.

For now, it is still early and you are alone in the kitchen. In the oven the marshmallows begin to melt, making toffee at the bottom of the pan, leaving the inside of the rolls hollow, empty. You could give a lecture while the kids eat, but that kind of thing doesn’t usually have the effect you’re looking for. You will probably have to rely on faith that the way these things all work together will work itself slowly into their hearts—that this sweetness, and the story of the empty tomb and how light cracked apart solid darkness, and how the intertwining of failings and promises and scars and love leave us marked and beautiful—these are all wrapped into the day after Easter because they are all woven into our Everyday, worn on our hearts and bodies, hanging in the lavender light of another new morning.

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Found, Day 46

My parents found each other so quickly
7 weeks from meeting to married
and over Winter Break at that—
that there was confusion afterwards.
When my mother wrote her new name on the
chalkboard for the Freshman Comp class
the students wanted to know
what happened to the teacher listed in the catalog.
“She got married,” was the reply,
and when they thought that was too bad
she told them “Not at all—it’s me!”
A friend who hadn’t seen my father
for a while wanted to set him up:
“There’s this girl you have to meet.
You would like her a lot.”
“That’s funny,” Dad replied
after hearing her name,
“I married her last week.”
And sometimes this is proof to me
that there’s no such thing as a wrong turn—
that no matter which direction you choose
you will find yourself
in the right place for your story.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Found, Day 44

his morning we had windows open. I enjoyed deep breaths of air heavy with near-rain, and found it had been months since I had breathed exactly this kind. Did the time flash by or crawl? The feeling and scent of it is joyful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Found, Day 43

It seems like more than one branch can handle—too much—ready to burst. But if the weather keeps up like this, it will happen. Think of how easy it is to take it personally, this explosion of buds and flowers and leaves. Think of how ordinary (magical) it is, the fact that at any point you might turn and catch something breaking open, spilling out into the world.

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Found, Day 42

One woman
carried a set of wind chimes
through the big box store
from the far corner
where she found them,
carried them through
aisles of fluorescence
and plastic
and too much of everything
(all cheap,)
and the air around her
turned delicate,
It turns out
the sound of cheap
acrylic and aluminum
is anything but cheap
and the thing she carried
in her hands
was exactly the magic
she’d thought it was
and as she consulted
with the pharmacist
about the medicine
that made her little boy
feel worse not better
the air around her was charged
with light and color unseeable,
with the sound of fragile hopes
scattering outward,
spreading bright all over the place.

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