Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out of Balance

I just walked in to panic in the living offspring were fairly certain that a helicopter crashed in the backyard or we were under alien attack and were close to foaming at the mouth. The sounds emanating from the mudroom were loud enough to make one think that might be the case, but it was merely my washing machine. Turns out that someone loaded all of the towels from the pool into one very large load that had gotten out of balance and the machine was protesting, loudly. Not only did it sound out of control, the machine walked halfway across the mudroom floor like some crazed movie where machines come to life.

I redistributed the towels, moved the washer back into place and life went on.

I've been reading Romans this week and the passage on liberty in chapter 14 makes me realize that as believers we get out of balance, too. Our dogma, criticism and self-righteous assertion that our way is the right way must sound like so much noise in God's ears. Our fussing and bickering over things that are non-essential makes us wobble right out of the position we're meant to be, strains our connection to the source of our power.

I love how Paul says it and Eugene Peterson phrases it in verse 6-10 of the chapter and following:

What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters> It's God we are anwerable to-- all the way from life to death and everthing in between--not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

I don't know about you, but I really don't want my legacy to be that of a petty tyrant. I don't want to condescend or be treated makes me a little crazy. I want to live a balanced life that is optimally functional, humming along as it should be, plugged in firmly to the source of my strength and Power, living and eating and breathing and drinking and working and singing and dancing and cleaning and laughing and writing and loving and raising children to the glory of God!

And if that isn't encouraging or exciting enough for you, Paul ( again through the Message) leaves us with a reprimand that steps on my toes and makes me belly-laugh at the same time....he sounds just like my grandma....and she was usually right on it.

Romans 14:12 So tend to your own knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Isn't that the best? I'm pretty sure if I'm gonna stay balanced in the life I have to lead, tending my own knitting is the only way to roll.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our Town

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping....into the future....

I've been working on producing Thornton Wilder's Our Town for our homeschool co-op next spring. The last time I read this play I was sixteen, just like Emily, and I truly didn't get it. Yeah, I analyzed it for honors English, I wrote about the underlying themes and I contributed meaningfully to the discussion in Mrs. Mabe's hot, modular classroom. I got an A in the class and kind remarks on how insightful all of my written responses were. But I definitely didn't get it.

Fast forward a lifetime of days and I'm beginning to understand what Wilder wanted to communicate in a whole new way.

Every single day matters. Every non-event is real life, happening all around me and never slowing down....triplet babies grow into twelve year olds with crazy senses of humor and their own ideas......first born sons get driver's teenagers turn into 40 year old women.....the guy you married for his blue eyes, biceps and sense of humor has become the one person on the planet who knows everything about you and loves you happens.

We found out today that a friend's wife's breast cancer has metastasized to her brain and bones. Yesterday her kids were headed back to college, today they're afraid to walk out the front door without her.

Wilder says " a lot can happen in a thousand days".....the truth is, a lot has happened in 12,000 days or so that I haven't witnessed. I've been present for it, because it's my life, I just haven't noticed it....experienced it....appreciated it.

When Emily goes back to Grover's Corner for her twelfth birthday, she understands something that I want to get a firm grasp on one more sunrise.

She says, near the end of act three " I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. I didn't realize. So all of that was going on and we never noticed. But first, Wait!! One more look. Good-bye, good-bye world. Goodbye Grover's Corners, Mama and Papa. Goodbye clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers...and food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth you are too wonderful for anyone to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?

I'm thankful that the real life is eternal...that there is a forever with Christ after this dress rehearsal....but I don't ever want to miss out on how great the dress rehearsal is. If God created this life as a taste of things to come, we've got no idea what we're in for....I want to realize how wonderful earth is this side of heaven; I WANT TO REALIZE LIFE WHILE I LIVE IT!!!!

Psalm 39 is a pretty good reminder. It's more eloquent in the NIV, but the Message version really hits me where I am. verses 4-13 say it like this
Tell me what's going on, God?
How long do I have to live? Give me the bad news!
You've kept me going on pretty short rations; my life is a string too short to be saved. Oh! We're all puffs of air, Oh! We're all shadows in a campfire. Oh! We're all just spit in the wind. We make our pile, then we leave it.

What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping! That's what I'm doing. Hoping. You'll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. I'll say no more. I'll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. But I can't take it much longer. When you put us through the fire to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke?

Ah, god, listen to my prayer, my cry--open your ears. Don't be callous; just look at these tears of mine. I'm a stranger here. I don't know my way-- a migrant like my whole family. Give me a break, cut me some slack before it's too late and I'm out of here!"

Yeah. In the meantime I'm hoping! Even though I'm just a shadow, a stranger, a migrant....spit in a campfire....I want to make it count! I want to realize life while I'm living it.

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end
We will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

Let it slide,
Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine
Until you feel it all around you
And i don't mind
If it's me you need to turn to
We'll get by,
It's the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders,
These twists & turns of fate
Time falls away,
But these small hours,
These small hours still remain

These Small Hours by Rob Thomas

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Top Ten

For no particular reason and in no particular order, here is a list of ten of my favorite things at this very second.

1. Grace....really, how could we ask for more?

2. Contented children

3. Friends with front porches, a sense of humor and the ability to be real, gotta love that!

4. Turning 40! Don't be afraid!

5. My screaming new laptop ( see # 4, big birthdays have advantages)

6. Blackberries. I just picked some this morning and put them in pancakes. They are perhaps the best part of creation.

7. edamame, soba noodles, tofu and ginger. all together. trust me.

8. bare feet

9. Tomatoes ripening in my garden

10. The public library. I mean really, they let me take all of those books home for free and then next week they let me do it all over again! They must really love me!