☀️ Togetherness

A Sunday Doxology

How do I express gratitude enough

to You, the Joiner of two-into-one,

for the gift of a life-companion who

loves You,

loves Your word,

loves Your world,

and graciously loves me, too.

Thank you for shared laughter

and tears,

for iron-sharpening-iron

and peace-finding, problem-solving

commitment and forgiveness

and days and years

and months and minutes

of companionship,

of fellowship so precious.

Grace upon grace.

☕️ Noncompliance

A Saturday Caesura

It happened on Wednesday in a grocery store parking lot. Since the COVID closures, I’ve been working at the school on Wednesdays rather than at home, partly just to feel less isolated. To maximize the ‘day out,’ I stop for groceries on the way home, and a grocery list was on my mind when I got out of the truck that day.

I started walking towards the store, then paused when I heard someone call my name. I heard it again as two grade 12 students tumbled from a car nearby and rushed in my direction.

There were hugs — sincere and unreserved. “We don’t care,” they said, “we have to hug you.” The need for connection superseded the mandated social distancing.

There were also many I-miss-yous and it’s-so-good-to-see-yous and other words from them that almost made me cry.

It was sooo good to see them.

I know closing schools and keeping people apart have been necessary measures to save lives and flatten the curve so that our medical system can effectively manage this virus. I do, I really do. But my goodness, the absolute joy of seeing just two of my students face-to-face and knowing that they were just as thrilled to see me, gave me much to ponder on the drive home. And to be honest, part of that pondering included wondering if our physical distancing non-compliance was observed by someone inclined to report us or qualified to issue fines.

I’m sad that this even had to enter my thinking. I’m sad that my current students’ faces have been resized to fit little boxes on my Chromebook screen, when the life-sized versions are so, well, full of life.

I’m sad because we are made for and need connection and relationship. Social distancing is saving lives, but it is also shrivelling our spirits. I don’t think I realized just how much I have been affected by not being able to fully interact with others until that parking lot encounter. It continues to fill my heart and fuel my love for all the wonderful, generous, loving young people in my world.

I miss them, I really do.

Windows vs Screens

Lately, I’ve thinking, not for the first time, about how much information is being disseminated through the Internet. The barrage is never-ending and beyond impossible to absorb, yet there is an unwritten, unspoken expectation that truly informed people connect with every allusion, tweet, subtweet, hot take, meme, sound-byte, pop-cultural historical political entertainment celebrity sports THING that virals across our screens.

It’s exhausting and increasingly meaningless.

The irony that I am posting this on a blog is not lost on me. I am aware that I contribute to the meaninglessness through my likes, ‘hearts’, comments, and posts. I may be but a drop in the vast ocean, but I’m still there.

But I’m also here. Sitting in my living room, looking out the window at a stand of trees readying themselves for winter. They anchor me to the real world in which I live.

A world that has seasons of growth and decay, of struggle and strain, of harvest and abundance. Seasons that exist in elongated rather than snap-chat time.

A world that requires the slow, often hard work of building and maintaining relationships with words and actions rather than clicks and emojis.

A world that doesn’t insist that I know everything about everything and everyone, but does invite me into knowledge and truth.

The window-view nourishes where the screen-view often numbs me.

I’m grateful for windows.

Woven Together: A Life

Lately I’ve begun imagining my life as a lengthening cord of woven strands. The cord is multi-coloured and lumpy with portions of the weave wide and thick while other sections are narrow and patchy.  Each strand represents a person who has been a part of my life – those who remain integral to the core weave are easily recognizable, and the ones whose strands only appear for small segments are just as easy to overlook.  

I’m not exactly sure what started me on this reflection – perhaps some recent conversations that reminded me of valued relationships, perhaps a continuing dissatisfaction with shallow representations of relationship enabled by social media, perhaps my age which continues to sag toward words like ‘old’ and ‘retired,’ perhaps just the need to see life on a larger scale than the narrow confines of the present. Whatever its origins, the reflection has turned out to be an exercise in humility and gratitude.

Part of me wishes I could speak to some of the people who only knew a much younger version of me.  I (mostly) am not that person anymore, but there is something very comforting in knowing that for all my immaturity, naivete, and awkwardness, I was still seen and known and loved.  

I wish I had been more at ease with myself back then.  I wish I had been more aware of others and their needs.  I wish I had put less energy into trying to find my place and more of it into living fully in the community where I already belonged.  

I am grateful for the people who bring such strength to the early strands of my life – you represent my history, something that few people in my present world know or understand.

Family members are firmly woven into my life-cord – some right from the beginning, others entering in their appointed places along the way through birth or adoption or marriage. The strands of these relationships have been shaped by many things, sometimes losing their luster in the give-and-take, taken-for-granted, yet shifting priorities of an expanding family unit. Sometimes strands frayed and needed mending. In a few places knots hold things together again. As unsightly as they may seem, these knots declare that there are relationships that must never be abandoned.

I wish I knew my family better. I wish they knew me better – not the me they knew from growing-up years or the newly in-lawed years, but the present day, still-flawed-but-growing-in-grace me.  

I am so very grateful for the ways the strands of family have both deeply blessed and challenged me – you represent a foundation necessary to understanding so much of myself.

The strands of friendship are of particularly varied lengths, textures, and colours. Some are long and strong, bridging weak areas, smoothing broken edges, providing continuity for things like hope and purpose.  Patterns woven from our shared memories are often delightfully refreshing and continue to inspire me. I’m equally saddened by the strands that end abruptly. If I look closely where they disappeared, I sometimes find dark threads of hurt and even anger, and I have to carefully pull them out. Again. Discard them. Again. Choose forgiveness. Again.

I wish I had been a better friend. I wish I had learned earlier what I am still learning now: how to just be with others without comparison, without judgement, without needing attention or questioning how to fit in. Sometimes I wish others had heard my heart when my words weren’t working very well.  I wish I had been a better listener.  

I am grateful for the many strands of friendship woven in from childhood to the present – you represent a dynamic and living community that has both shaped and sustained me.

One particular strand begins the day a certain young man suggested that we go on a Saturday hike and I said yes. Several ‘yeses’ and an exchange of ‘I do’s’ later, our separate strands became permanently intertwined as one.  I can’t imagine my life without this man who continues to know me and love me anyway.

I have many wishes and regrets about my adequacy as a wife, and certainly about my ‘success’ as a mother to our three children, but I am grateful beyond words for the strong, faithful strand of my husband – you represent an anchor keeping me moored to truth about myself, about God, about us.  

I am grateful that although there have been many times when I have felt alone, the woven strands of my life remind me that I have never ever been without family, friends, and community.  

Grace upon grace.

9. Absent

“So, what did I miss in class today?”

Well, a few things actually…

some poems about hands
that were really about relationships

some review of prepositions
that are all about relationships, too

some conversations about literary themes
like ambition and facing hardship-
either one can build or destroy relationships

I guess you (we) missed a chance for relationship today.

Glad you are back.