Monthly Archives: August 2014

Benediction Part II…

Standard

I’m wrestling this morning.

I wrestled myself from bed. I wrestled breakfast onto the table and the boy out the door. I wrestled Legos from my Baby’s iron grip.

And I’m wrestling right now at seven-thirty in the morning for a chance to sit at my computer and get this down while it’s in my head. I’m wrestling against a four-year old girl who wants me to make paper airplanes and a baby who’s lifting up my shirt enough to show a sliver of warm Mommy belly to lay his head on while I write.

I feel like I spend most of my day wrestling for rest.

And I find a bit when I stop and admire a drawing of a strawberry birthday cake with three candles, when I pick up Baby and kiss him in the hollow under his cheek again and again until it smells more like me than him.

There’s an honor in wrestling, you can’t wrestle from the next room. You have to be close, all hands and bodies in hard contact.

And I’ve seen the blessings that come from staying, remaining close in vulnerable friction, from wrestling through frustrating friendships and difficult times in marriage, refusing to let go until some glimmer of life comes out. And, if God is there, life comes out.

For, God is in the business of resurrection. That’s all he does, creates life from nothing, new creations all day long, by his voice, with his breath. But you have to stay close in frustrating openness and sometimes in the dark silence of doubt.

Like Job who wrestled with God until he was answered. Like my baby who has finally gained access to the coveted lap. Like my daughter whose elaborate missives I am now transcribing unto the back of birthday cake drawings and along the length of paper airplanes.

“Birthday cakes, strawberries, hugs and kisses. Flowers and hearts. Love you well. Camping trip. Can you write me a card back for my whole family? Love.”

And isn’t that part of the covenant promise of relationships? Doubts and questions are brought within the context of the relationship first.

First.

Which means God gets my struggles for solitude, identity, and satisfying rest first. That’s the deal. He wrestled his own humanity and death itself for the privilege.

Which begs the question, what exactly does that look like?

Wrestle, wrestle, wrestle…

Benediction…

Standard

I’m not doing the dishes right now or wiping down the table. I’m not going to start the second load of kid laundry. I’m going to sit down amidst all this chaos and try to pull straight this tangled image that’s been amassing in my tired brain.

When Baby wakes up he screams for me. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in my bed, very close and very still. Maybe I fall back asleep, but at some point the milk runs out.

When Baby is satisfied he maneuvers however he must so that his head is on my head, his breath is in my breath. And he takes my wrist in the firm grip of both his hands and lays my palm over his face. He leans into it, from where the hollow under his bottom lip touches the heel of my hand to the tips of my fingers spread along his soft hairline. I can feel his breath on my palm, the wetness of his lips. He does this every day.

And I am reminded of a young boy in church growing up that was developmentally delayed, handicapped in many things except a jolly spirit. At the end of service every Sunday the pastor would step aside the pulpit and raise his hand in benediction. And this boy would raise his hand, too, hovering inches above his forehead, his open palm doubling his blessing.

And then, there’s Jacob who deceived for the blessing, who wrestled all night to earn that blessing.

Why does tangibly wrestling an angel seem simpler than … what, God? What does my wrestling look like? How do I fight for your face in mine, your breath in mine? What does it look like if the first thing I do every morning is pull your heavy hand with both fists to lay it across my face?

You blessed Jacob, the one who went to such great lengths. Let me go to such lengths. Bless me.

Retrofitted…

Standard

Well, last night my husband and I were abruptly awoken by an earthquake. I reached out for his hand and he reached for mine. We lay still and prayed silently as the building shook.

And as I was praying I thought, “Wow, this feels exactly like the earthquake exhibit at the Academy of Sciences we went to a couple of weeks ago, exactly the same. They did a good job with that exhibit.”

This is my third earthquake.

The second one I barely felt. It happened when we were living in Vacaville. That was the big Bay Area quake of ’89 that collapsed the Bay Bridge. Our next door neighbor commuted across that bridge every day. When he got home, in the time before cell phones, his wife was near hysteria. He had seen the bridge collapse in his rearview mirror.

The first one, when I was eight in southern California, scared me to pieces. I was in my room before leaving for school and there was a sudden jolting shake. All Mrs. Graves’ second-grade earthquake drills were fresh in my memory and I crouched under my desk with my back to the window.

It was very scary, debilitating even. There were a lot of big aftershocks. I slept in the door frame of my parents’ room for weeks after.

And I remember pulling out the atlas, quite decided to move somewhere when I grew up where there were no natural disasters, and definitely no earthquakes. I was NEVER going to move to San Francisco, EVER. But I couldn’t find any place in the contiguous United States free from fear. I shut the atlas.

And now here we are.

Our friends in Napa got the worst of it. According to the map we only got the weak shocks. It wasn’t sharp, but a steady roll around, back and again. It seemed to last for a very long time.

The building creaked and swayed a bit, but then, as my husband reminded me, it does that when the kids run around, so, that’s nothing new. I heard some things rattle. I thought I heard something fall.

When it was over I got up to check on the kids.

My eldest had woken up. He took a drink of water and flopped back down before he saw me. The other two were still sleeping. I never found the thing that I thought I heard fall.

And then we went back to bed. I was awake for a while. I wondered if I should tiptoe through the building in my pajama shorts and smell for gas leaks or something. I lay in bed determined to stay awake for a while sniffing, just in case.

It was tempting to return to the fear. I remembered being eight and looking through that atlas. And I remembered that there is no place free from fear. Our safety is internal and eternal, the safety of a retrofitted soul.

I let the fear pass by. I sniffed for gas and vowed to buy some emergency water in the morning. I really should probably have some stashed under the bed or something.

And then I fell asleep.

Dear Tooth Fairy…

Standard

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Please see enclosed one baby tooth, bottom left incisor, lost this day, August twenty-second, two thousand fourteen.

I deposit it here with the understanding and hope that it may be of some use to you. Of course, any recompense in kind would be greatly appreciated.

I understand how busy you must be caring for a city the size of San Francisco and I deeply appreciate your kind and prompt attention to this matter.

In hopes of discovering you myself sometime after midnight I have placed my flashlight here and remain, sincerely, your servant,

Lyon Cub Number One

PS- If you are so inclined, my mother would not turn down a chocolate or perhaps a gift certificate to the local massage therapist. What with kindergarten and a lost tooth, she finds herself rather tender at the end of this week.

My First Workshop…

Standard

I finished my YA book. That is, I wrote it all down and now I’m in the process of revision.

I reread it and printed it out because I find I catch a lot on paper that I miss on the screen. I had fun marking it up, but the best moment was when I finished reading through it. I felt like I had a giant pile of play dough to mess with. I noticed that in my passion to get it all down I skimmed some of the setting and a few of the minor characters. I’ve been having fun fleshing them out.

I think the editing process is going to be my favorite part of this writing thing.

I signed up for two workshops this month, but one got cancelled. So I went through the agonizing process of deciding which manuscript to take. I decided to take the first ten pages of my YA and save the picture book for next month.

I’d never been to a workshop before or even a critique. We used to do critiques in my studio art classes, offering criticism and compliments on paintings and drawings hung up and down the hallway. It was very similar, except that I find I’m much less emotionally attached to my writing.

There were six of us and I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s pages. There were two middle grade books, two picture books, and two young adult novels.

We read each other’s out loud and two, at least, I wanted to curl up with and read to the end. And then someone read mine. It was interesting to hear it in someone else’s voice. The comments and critiques I got were very helpful. They brought up questions I hadn’t considered for my character which helped me get to know her better.
In the end I found a better way to present the setting in the initial chapters that tells the reader more about what’s going on and gets to the action sooner. So, I’m excited all over again.

Now, I just need to find a couple of uninterrupted hours between nap time and school pickup to get it down.

I really, really like this writing thing.