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In which it snows in the morning

Every day do something that won't compute :: Sarah Bessey

Wake up to a brighter bedroom, the snow has been falling outside all night. Take a lazy look around the room, look at the life it is reflecting back to you: a sturdy homemade bed; tangled and worn white sheets; a man with a beard is sleeping, his hand still resting on your spine; bright yellow baby rainboots tossed in a corner; piles of books. Stretch the length of your life.

The tinies will come clumping down the hall soon, their voices filled with wonder: “Mum! It snowed!” That man you kissed last night will roll out of the bed because Sundays are your day to sleep in, a deal’s a deal, you do Saturdays. But you both know you won’t go back to sleep – you never do. Watch him head upstairs to the ministry of coffee and Bubble Guppies on Netflix.

Get out of the bed and go to the window, look out into the forest. The snow is still falling, thick and lazy, almost predictably. Open the window for a few moments, just to smell it. Crawl back into your bed, pull up the covers, and grab a book. Once a week, you get to read first thing when you wake up and so here is a stack of Wendell Berry and Flannery O’Connor and Luci Shaw, practice the resistance of reading of good books.

When you go upstairs in an hour, make a pot of tea. No solitary mugs will do for a snowy Sunday, get out the big sturdy brown pot and your mother’s discarded delicate white teacups, the ones with blue and silver flowers on the rim. Hug your babies, good morning, good morning, yes, I see you. Listen to the dishwasher chug, everything is brighter and slower when it snows.

Church is cancelled, you’re pretty sure everyone is relieved for a day off anyway, an excuse to stay in their jammies, watch movies, work puzzles, roll in the snow, read novels. The more judicious might catch up on housework, pay the bills online, answer emails: the kindred spirits will make a bit of room for delicious indolence.

Decide to do something real today, then bake a loaf of bread. Yeast, flour, water, salt – simple is good for the soul and the belly. Guide small hands into kneading properly, let everything rise in its time.

Scratch a few lines into a journal. Write a bit but try not get frustrated because you are interrupted seven times in fifteen minutes. Read a psalm. Pray in the shower. Listen as you go through your day. Clean the kitchen. Bath a baby. Make the beds. Use the good dishes for a lunch of plain soup. Scatter children’s books around the house like bait. Put on lipstick. Flirt in the kitchen in quiet saucy voices. Comfort tired children, prescribe naps and quilts with seriousness. Promise a movie later on. Later when the snow settles, you’ll go for a walk in the dim, into the in-between for a conversation with yourself, you’ll be so relieved to be away from them all for a few moments but yearning to return to them all by the end of the block.

Watch the snow fall in the ordinary beauty of a Sabbath spent practicing what makes you feel most fully human.

 

Continue Reading · abundant life, enough, family, gratitude, love, marriage · 15

In which there is joy in enough

It seems that we always need to get through the details, the mundane daily stuff, of who is doing what and when and why before we can get to the really good heart stuff. My mother’s blue eyes are the same as my youngest daughter’s blue eyes.  She laughs too loud (so do I) and she’s an incredibly beautiful woman, even more so as she ages. Her lines are falling in pleasant places and she looks so much like her Dad, it’s uncanny sometimes. I can see the grey at her temples and the bones in her hands are tiny like a bird’s. We talked a mile a minute, cramming a lot of laughter and weirdness into a short amount of time, diving straight in.

She listened to me (Isn’t it such a gift to just be listened to?) as everything in my heart spilled out about how tired I am sometimes, about how physically and emotionally exhausting this mothering thing can be with its sheer constancy. I jumped from yammering about homeschooling and my many thoughts on true education and spirituality and then I was telling her that we kind of want to sell everything and move to Africa or India to make some sort of a difference—maybe I could be a midwife!—and have you heard about this, that and the other thing? How this person did this thing and I thought it was awesome or terrible or hurtful, and everything that I want for myself and all the time I want back and money concerns and how I kind of need a minivan because three car seats don’t fit well in our car  but if I have to drive an ugly vehicle, then I want it to be weird-ugly not boring-ugly and on and on and on.

I made a bit of a fool of myself, to be honest.

When I was little, the primary emotion in our house was joy. My mother was happy and we knew it (clap your hands!). She loved us and loved my dad and loved her life and we all knew it. We weren’t rich. We didn’t have a lot of stuff. We didn’t “change the world” and no one knew about us, but we were really, really happy together.

I looked at her and remembered her joy, and was hit by the knowledge that my own tinies perhaps wouldn’t describe me (yet) as a person of joy.

“So what did you do, Mum?”  I was really, truly asking her because I didn’t feel simple or restful or joyful. (One of her favourite things to tell me is that a woman can definitely have it all—just not all at once. Most of the time, she thinks I need to chill out.)

“How do you calm down your mind and heart of all the mundane daily things that somehow sap the energy and time when there is all this world to save, all this difference to make, all this stuff to do and become? How do you have the joy in all of this? It always feels like I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough or being enough for the tinies, for my husband, for my home, for my community, for my world, let alone for myself. I just never feel like I’m enough.”

Read the rest of this post at SheLoves Magazine...

This month, we’re talking about joy. There’s a link-up for you to add your voice.

Continue Reading · christmas, enough, family, gratitude, Mum · 0

In which we make room for the small joys

Snow !

It started to snow one morning this week. We’re in an odd little pocket of Canada, caught between the ocean and the nearby mountains, so we actually don’t get much snow here. For a couple of prairie kids like me and Brian, this is almost ridiculous. We tend to have cold, drizzly, grey winters with occasional bits of snow. I don’t miss -43 degrees Celsius of my childhood much – but I do miss snow forts and skating outside, the smell of wet wool mittens on the radiator and the blinding white crisp of winter sun. When it does snow here, it’s a novelty, a joy to be enjoyed because it’s fleeting and impermanent. (I can hear my Saskatchewan family laughing from here.)

The snow fell in the fat lazy flakes of barely freezing temperatures, the tinies crowded around the window breathing delight onto the panes of glass, and we were late for school. I’m a last-minute leaver, perpetually one of the last ones to drop-off no matter my best efforts, and of course we were running behind again this morning. I had my Mum Means Business voice out in full force: get your mittens, zip up your coat, come on, we’re going to be late. Let’s go, guys! We do this every morning.

We tumbled out of the house in disarray and urgency. I had a long list of work for the day, don’t we all. But then I saw the snow and I saw the looks on their faces, the longing to touch the snow and taste it, mingled with their resignation to the schedule as they headed for the grey minivan, lugging their backpacks along.

I stopped abruptly, without thought: “Go on then,” I said. “Go on. We’ll be late, take a moment for this.” They looked at me to make sure I meant it, disbelieving, and then they were off like a shot, falling into the two inches of snow on the lawn like it was a drift from the Arctic.

Evelynn, our toddler, stood in the middle of the yard with her puffy arms straight out and her eyes closed, her mouth wide open, “I eat it!” she crowed. Anne and Joe rolled like puppies, tossed handfuls of snow at each other from a point blank range. I wandered out of the garage and stood under the satisfying beauty of the morning and took a deep breath. Another. Another. Make some room to breathe deep. Exhale before you take in the day.

Make some room for the small joys. Make a little room in your schedule and your world-saving and your end-meeting, in the midst of your meal-planning, program-directing, list-accomplishing. Make some room for the moments, however fleeting, of beauty that breaks through our resolve and our armour, our urgency and our self-importance.

Stand here with me, out in the snow for even just a few minutes. Listen to laughter and stand in space you created with your pause, look at the trees stretched out bare and unshrinking.

Tip your face to the heavy sky until you feel like a woman in a poem; surely a poet could spare a word or two for the tired thirties of womanhood and the sacred discipline of pausing in the midst of the rushing, for the snowflakes and the joy to gather in your hair like fleeting stars.

image source

 

Continue Reading · enough, family, parenting · 16

In which I bless the merciful

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:-6-8

When I took a Spiritual Gifts test in high school, I wanted my result to be Leader. Evangelical culture values the hero, celebrates the leader, and worships the Man of God up front. In our weird little hierarchy of heroes, clearly the most spiritual among us would be the leaders, right? After repeated multiple choice testings, my own results always came out as Prophecy and Teaching. I wasn’t thrilled but hey, at least it wasn’t the gift of mercy.

Mercy just seemed like such a lame spiritual gift to those of us out to change the world. Who could change the world with compassion and kindness? Behind the scenes isn’t quite enough for a Big Big God with Big Big Plans.

Talk about missing the point, eh?

bless the merciful :: sarah bessey

Bless the merciful.

Bless the hospital chaplains who cry and pray in trauma rooms with the scared and the hurting. Bless the older woman who folds the young mother’s laundry. Bless the young red-head who brought me muffins and coffee during this week of sickness. Bless the father who scrapes puke up off the floor only after he’s gently washed and dressed and comforted the sick child.

Bless the ones who cry too much and feel too much. Bless the wounded healers.

Bless the kind ones, who speak words of life and gentleness. Bless the benefit-of-the-doubt givers, the one-more-chance lavishers. Bless the comforters and the kleenex-passers. Bless the walkers-in-another’s-shoes. Bless the wheelchair pushers. Bless the ones there waiting after the chips fall, and the edifice crumbles, and the truth comes out. Bless them for their grace for both the flyers and the thud-ers, for the fury and the glory.

Bless the ones who sling grace, and bandage wounds. Bless them for they give dignity to the rest of us. Bless them because they see us and they love us anyway.

Bless them for standing in our thin places between too-much and not-enough, the places where our hearts are breaking and our fears are manifesting and we are so scared and so alone, bless them for being the ones that show up in the fault lines to hold our hands and pray and weep with those who weep.

Bless them for their patience, for their supernatural ability to stop rolling-their-eyes, for their ability to be present instead of checking out for something more fun. Bless them for their joy in the face of suffering, for the patience in the teeth of our never-going-to-change, and their faith in our story.

Bless them for their heart to ease the suffering, to smooth the edges, widen the roads. Bless them for their cups of cold water, and their plates of food, for their prison visiting, for their preemie-baby hat knitting, for the nursery rocking so tired mamas can worship. Bless them for the healing work of their ministry. Bless them when they smell of salt tears and someone else’s shit. Bless the merciful because they are, so often, Jesus with skin on, for the rest of us.

Bless the merciful as they carry our own burdens with us, and we cannot know how low they are bowed with the grief of the whole world groaning for justice and peace. Bless the ones who serve without fanfare or book deals or conference attention. Bless the ones who love their children, day after day after day, without thought of a speaking career or a MOPS invitation. Bless the ones who care for the aging and the dying, for those making the way a bit smoother for the families left behind. Bless the ones who hold the hands of the poor and broken and you and me. Bless the ones running right towards the hurting, instead of running away like the rest of us.

Bless them because it takes more guts to be merciful, compassionate, and kind than we could have ever imagined. The older we get, the more we value the kind, the merciful, the compassionate, because the more we realise that most of us, almost all of us, are getting rather lonely and tired, and we need a cup of cold water and a bit of grace, and dignity, and kindness clears the air.

 

If you care to comment, I’d love to hear about a person of mercy in your life. Let’s celebrate the merciful today.

Continue Reading · enough, faith · 54