Friday, March 28, 2014

Riding on the Clouds

The window next to the design counter.
Something happened this week at the shop.

We're almost six months in our new location now and it seems that during most of that time it's been a harsh and hopeless winter. We trudged through a lot of desperate days in February and even into this month as it's continued to dip into merciless temperatures day-in and day-out. But yesterday we opened our windows and let the wind inside.

You're right. It was still too cold to do that. But how can a person really live or breathe with the windows closed? My poor husband has put up with this ideology from me for 32 years because we sleep with the windows open almost every night in every season. (To do otherwise, obviously, would cause instant suffocation and relentless complaining and carrying on.)

One of the front windows at the shop.   
So with wild abandon of common sense we opened our windows and the wind caressed our souls while we worked. We could smell the earth and the sky and the promise of the rain that was still miles away. And with that cool sweet wind permeating our afternoon we thought maybe it was possible that it would -- eventually -- be Spring. We thought maybe we might even survive this harsh and unfriendly winter to see it.

When I got home last night I immediately raised the bedroom window and sat on the edge of the bed, resting my chin on the window sill to watch the clouds boil into the sky and the bare black branches on the trees shiver and frenzy in anticipation.  Frankie, our eight-year-old wiener dog, paced nervously back and forth on the bed, whining occasionally, as he always does as the thunder drew closer while Lucy, our fifteen-year-old wiener dog, stretched out under the blankets for her after-supper-sleep. Frankie simply couldn't be calmed or comforted. Lucy simply couldn't have been happier or more content.

It's been a hard winter in every single way. And all winter long I've stomped around like Frankie, incapable of receiving any comfort at all and whining more than occasionally. My goodness. It has been hard. But if I could have settled down... If I could have stopped stomping around, maybe I could have been happier and possibly even content.  Like Lucy. Just cuddled in to rest. 

I guess there's something Frankie doesn't know about storms. The Lord rides on the clouds. He rides on the clouds. Glorious glorious glorious.

"Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him -- his name is the Lord." Psalm 68:4

Calm down, little Frankie. It's just a storm. Calm down, little sister. It's just a storm. When the rain comes, it'll wash the storm away.  Meanwhile, ride on the wind. High on the wind, little sister, is the Lord.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This Old Life

Lydia reads Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
 having chosen the smallest chair in the house for herself for the task.
 That's our babydoll!
 Always ladylike and always completely and totally cool.
As Micah often says, "Go, Lydia, Go!"
As I sit on this old couch in this old house, I look out this old window and see the rugged black sculpture of the same old oak tree I've been looking at for decades against that old and tired Missouri-white sky. On my lap is an old afghan we received as a wedding present over thirty years ago and lying on my legs and feet beneath that cover are two old wiener dogs, one fifteen and snoring and the other eight and always alert in case I should happen to open a bag of potato chips.

Outside that old window are the now broken and partial wind chimes that have clinked around in the wind for years.When my daughters were little, we called them prayer bells and, imagining their sweet tones accompanied our prayers to heaven, hung them in branches all over the yard. They still ring. They still ring and ring and ring and can be heard throughout the house and into the fields and woods beyond. So many prayers. So many many prayers.

The old dirt road that rolls with dust just to the south of this old house was built in part by my grandfather when he was young and strong and beautiful and raising a family of his own a little more than a mile farther down this road. And the old oak tree that I see from this window? He planted that when my mother and father were still young and strong and beautiful and building their own little two-room house here on this little high hill when they married almost sixty years ago.

And now. Now. Now so many are gone. My father. My father-in-law. My grandparents. My brother. Aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and co-workers and so very many people we worshiped together with week after week.

What is loss? Just the passing of time? Is simple change equivalent to loss? Is loss something that happens or is loss merely the sum of how we interpret what happens? How often in these last several months have I asked aloud to an empty room, an empty house, an empty car, an empty office, an empty sky, "Dad? Where are you? Where did you go?"

In this last year of often desperate and difficult times, I wrote a lengthy list of all the things I perceived as negative in my life. It replaced the lengthy list I had written eighteen months prior to that. One long night as I lay side-by-side in bed with my younger daughter (we spend the night with one another once in a while and never sleep... only talk of deep and wonderful or silly and wonderful things all through the dark hours), I recounted my bitterness and sadness and inability to see even the possibility of anything better.

"You can't say everything has been terrible," she said.

"It is! It is!" I wailed.

"Three years?" She said softly. "In three years -- Micah, Lydia, Jonah, Raphael. In just three years."

These little souls come into the world with such aplomb. We celebrate and look in wonder, mystified by how they change and grow each day. We love them joyfully and deeply and profoundly and fearfully and with complete abandon. We search their faces and their personal quirks and find our children in them. We see their difficulties and shortcomings and see ourselves and our spouses and our souls grieve for the difficulties we know they will endure because of them.

After Alicia's answer to me in the dark, I felt no better.  Instead, I said, "Great. Now I can't even feel sorry for myself. That's just great, Always gotta ruin my big pity-party."

I'm a forgetful and ungrateful soul. I long for the things that were... I forget the things that are... living day by day in a state of distraction and selfishness that prevents me from perceiving God's current and ongoing and overwhelming and overflowing blessings.

The floors in this old house sag lower with each passing season and the old oak at the edge of the yard sheds huge branches into the yard with each ice or thunder storm. I find that I grow older and more experienced, but not much wiser. But the prayer bells still ring. They accompany our prayers. If we will but humble ourselves and pray, their sweet soft song will accompany our prayers into the the very Throne Room of our gracious and forgiving Father in Heaven. And from this old home by this old road on this old hill beneath this old sky, they will carry the names of these new souls -- Micah, Lydia, Jonah, Raphael -- high and clear and precious in the sweet Spring wind.