what we're about

Attempts to illuminate our brief mortal existence

Friday, November 30, 2012

On Embodiment

In a comment on this post by Jessica, I prefaced a statement about my sleep habits by saying: "I am much more mortal, embodied, and human than I realized when I was 18...."  And then this morning, as I clicked through some links from Sarah Bessey, I found this article that put into words (ironically) some of my own struggle with using words.  And all of this made me think about embodiment.

Before I wrote this, I washed the dishes.  I put my hands in hot, soapy water, and wiped a dishrag over ceramic plates and cups.  I scrubbed a wood cutting board that smelled of the onions chopped on its surface.  I drained the water from the sink, then brought my cast iron pans over from the stove to coax the debris of breakfast cooking off their surfaces - eggs from one, bacon from the other.  I rinsed coffee grounds out of my french press.  I wiped the counters and the stovetop.

After the dishes, I took care of a diaper, left to soak before I started the dishes.  There's little that's more embodied than a dirty cloth diaper, waiting to be swished, rinsed, scrubbed, wrung out, and dropped in a pail with other diapers to await wash day.

This, here, is life.  The thoughts that I think about it in my head are not life.  The abstractions and lessons and principles that I take from it are not life.  This is life.

Embodied.  Rinsing eggs off of cast iron.  Wringing toilet water out of cotton.

I struggle with how to use the words that I have been given, because I want life to embody the abstraction of my words, instead of using the abstraction of words to convey the embodiment of life.  When I kept copious journals as a teen, they weren't so much for the purpose of pouring out life as it was, but for rationalizing life as it was with the big things that I thought life should mean.  They were for wrangling, bending, and obfuscating, not for expressing clearly.  As a coping mechanism for an emotional teen, this isn't the end of the world, but now as an adult I struggle with the place of words (which I love) in my life.  I would still like to use them to construct what I think that my life should be, instead of conveying what my life is.  I want to skip ahead.  I want to use abstraction to justify, excuse, or rationalize life.  But over and over I have heard a call to embody.  To use words to show things as they are.  I hope that in the future, this space will do a better job with that.

And now everything that I need to learn in life (embodied in my child) has woken up from his nap.  So long!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

On Days and Years

Five years ago, I was 19.  The beginning of the school year in 2007 marked the end of a golden summer, full of the relative independence of young adulthood at home, fun work at a coffee shop, and a solid group of friends. Although a major tragedy in the life of a close friend knocked me flat in August, and in the upheaval I made the decision not to go back to school for a year, I still spent the autumn and early winter working at my coffee shop, talking to my now-distant friends by text and telephone almost every day, and travelling to see them at every opportunity.  The next year I planned to go back to Bible college, then maybe to California to finish my Bachelor's degree, then maybe somewhere else for more school, or for some mission work.

Five years later, I am sitting in the living room of our small apartment in Notre Dame, IN.  I'm married to a physicist who is working on his Ph.D at the University of Notre Dame.  My 8 month old son is playing happily on the floor with our neighbor's 23 month old daughter.  I'm babysitting her so that they can attend the football game this afternoon.  I need to get the dishes done soon and tidy up the apartment so that my little family doesn't go crazy from the disorder soon.  And I need to make food for tomorrow.  I do have the Bible college degree to my name, but only one semester - so far - put in of that Bachelor's degree.

Five years is all that it took to turn a 19 year old student, unbeholden to place or person, into a 24 year old wife and mother, with a little house to keep and friends' children to babysit.  I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised by this; after all, as I look back I can see that five years worth of stuff has taken place.  I met Landon, married him, worked, went back to school, and had Christopher.  The surprise isn't that a lot has happened in five years, it's that I didn't feel those years go by.  It's only in being brought up short by the strangeness of my comfort and contentedness in a situation radically different from where I was at 19 that I feel the movement of time in years, years which seem suddenly to move more quickly than days.  Days I can feel passing, stretching out before me to the horizon, then collecting themselves into weeks and months behind me.  They move slowly towards me, and I can feel the weight of the ones that will pass before the ones on the horizon reach me.  Years, however, seem suddenly to be rushing underneath me, flashing by almost too quickly to note each one.  As I live my daily life, I have no sense of them going by.  One year seems always to be the same as another - only filled with different weather, new locations, and unique days and months - until suddenly they have piled up behind me with frightening suddenness.   

Is this how it always is, I wonder?  Or could it be that as the years pile up behind me they will slow down in front of me to be like the days?  Will I someday cease to feel them like a constant rhythm around me, and instead feel them passing one by one?  Or will they always be invisible until they are gone?   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On compensation

Between two and four weeks of age Christopher started crying on occasion when we set him down, and ever since then he grows more and more demanding of distraction, stimulation, and interaction.  But as he grows more demanding, he also grows more delightfully interactive.  He started with smiling.  Then cooing expressively.  After that, he began giggling when Landon and I made faces at him.  And then when we tickled him.  Eventually, he started reaching for us and trying to pull us closer.  Currently, he is bored with all of his toys and very insistent in his desire for playtime with Mum-mum, but he has also started giving giant, slobbery, gummy baby kisses.

And now, he is crawling - mobility has arrived, the ultimate in parental time and attention demands.  He can crawl towards the phone cord in the wall.  He can crawl towards the open door into the bathroom.  He can crawl toward the book forgotten on the floor.  Nothing is safe.  But in addition to all of the above, he can crawl towards me, place his tiny baby hands carefully on my toes, and look up at me with a face covered in drool and eyes full of living delight.     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On pain

I carried Christopher into the study room last night for his bedtime story with his dad.  He's a wiry baby, all upright body and active limbs, with barely an ounce of superfluous flesh.  As I held him, facing away from me, I felt his little tummy move with his breaths - out, in, out, in.  Effortless life.  And for a moment, caught in that boundless vitality, I saw a reality that I'm aware of, but don't often feel.

I saw myself and my Little Guy mapped over other mothers, other infants; people who are occupying my thoughts, but as they once were, not as they are now.  I saw my grandfather, my Saba, once the small infant of another woman.  I never met his mother, and I know so very little about her.  Could she possibly have ever imagined the moment on Saturday when we buried him?  Could she have pictured her tiny child become an old man, white bearded, leaving behind, after nearly 62 years of marriage, a widow, 8 children, their spouses, 42 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren?  I don't know if she could have.  My own tiny child is one of the six, and this future is too strange for me to imagine.

For another fraction of that moment I became my aunt, holding her own firstborn son 30-some years ago.  She and I share the position of being the first girls born into our respective families, and her firstborn is the oldest grandchild of her parents, as is mine for my own parents.  This image brought a flash of panic, a flare of anger, and a threat of tears.  30-some years is easier to imagine than 80, and that firstborn, my oldest cousin, is lying in a hospital bed in Mexico recovering from stab wounds in his chest.  His little tummy breathed against my aunt's hand the way that Christopher's does against mine.

Kyrie eleison.  Christe eleison.    

This child, this little man who lives and moves and breathes in my arms, has cracked open some of the deepest veins of joy in my heart, and yet his every breath draws me in, closer than I ever wanted to be, to all the heartache of this moment in my family's life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Liebster Award!

I have a dear friend in Canada named Jessica.  Through her, mostly by way of her delightful blog, I get to live vicariously the life of an insanely busy, shoe loving, distance running, ever beautiful Francophile.  Since this is clearly not the life that I lead in person, I am grateful.  And today I'm grateful because she named for a Liebster Award.

In essence, this means that she loves my blog and likes hearing me talk about myself.  All that I have to do is list 5 things about myself, and answer five questions that Jess asked.  I'm also supposed to tag five more people, but all the other blogs that I read are by people who are more blog-accomplished than myself, so I would feel silly tagging them as "up and coming" blogs.  So, without further ado, here goes.

Part 1: Five Things about me.

These jammies have ducks on the feet.

  1. My son (on the right there) is both one of my favorite things in the world, and one of my greatest annoyances.
  2. I. love. writing. papers.  
  3. My son (yes, him again) is growling adorable little baby growls at me from the floor at this very moment.  
  4. I like chocolate ice cream more than real chocolate, and chocolate ice cream with peanut butter more than either one. 
  5. I married a nerd, who has only gotten more incredibly nerdy in the three years that we've been married, and I love it so much that I wish that I was cool enough to be a real nerd myself.  

Part 2: Questions from Jessica

  1. Where would you live if you could? - I don't have anywhere particular in mind, but in general: a small town, within 45 minutes of a big city.  A house or apartment next door to a park, down the street from an awesome independent coffee shop (that would magically have cheap iced lattes), and across from a yarn shop.  Failing all that, I'll take a small, old apartment in married student housing at the University of Notre Dame, as long as I can have Landon and Christopher.  Luckily for me, that's exactly where I live now. 
  2. What is your weakness? - Peanut butter and/or iced lattes.  Also, I don't deal well with loose ends.  Give me a plan to follow, or a pattern to fit everything into, and I'm happy.  It's hard for me to look at these days with nothing much in them (aside from the obvious feeding/changing/playing with my child) and just fill them up with all the things that I know I want my life to be full of - reading good books, knitting pretty things, writing, and playing that piano that I finally have.  Perhaps intertwined with this is a dearth of self-motivation, and too many gremlins in my head
  3. What was the best day of your life so far? -   It might have been the day that I went with my piano teacher and a group of her family and friends to dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, and then to a Broadway Across America performance of The Phantom of the Opera, in Columbus, Ohio.  The music, the voices, the whole thrilling production went off in my soul like a firework.  It was a revelation.  (I know that I'm supposed to pick my wedding day, or the day of my son's birth for this, but those are a different kind of "best.")
  4. What would your last meal on earth be? - Oh, this is so easy.  A juicy cheeseburger (the good kind) with hand cut seasoned french fries.  A slice of rich, creamy, plain cheesecake for dessert, along with an iced latte.  Oh yes.    
  5. If you became independently wealthy, what three things would you buy first? -   1.  A stack of really good layering tees/camis.  Odd, I know, but they're one of the few wardrobe necessities that I can't reliably find at Goodwill, and I hate paying full price for them.  2.   A maid.  Technically this would be hiring rather than buying.  3.   A good, solid, reliable car.    
And that's all.  Since I'm not doing my own blogger list, I'm going to ask everyone who reads this to answer Jessica's questions as they pertain to themselves in the comments.  And then go give Jess a visit, 'kay?  Thanks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On being saved by their faces

This is a post for Sarah Bessey's synchroblog, "What is saving your life right now?".  You can read about the synchroblog, find out how you can participate, and read other entries here.  

It's their faces that save me.

Christopher's, when I'm grumbling to myself about how he's "already" awake, at 5:30 or 6:00 from a night's sleep, or from his nap after only 40 minutes. I look into his crib, where he's once again on a mission to figure out exactly what these things attached to his feet are, and he instantly forgets about his all-absorbing toes and bestows on me a look of the purest joy that I have ever seen.  Clear blue eyes alight, toothless mouth agape, little cheeks round with the effort of communicating so much happiness.  It's hard to stay grumpy in the face of pure gratitude.  And then again, it's Christopher's face that saves me when he's wailing on his blanket on the floor, not because he's hurt or tired or hungry but just because he has recently discovered that this makes Mom more likely to come and play with him.  I snap at him "No, Christopher, you may not do that!" even though I know that he doesn't understand.  I'm angry at myself for yelling at my tiny tiny child, but he just looks up at me from the floor with a happy smile because I stopped what I was doing and talked to him.  His happy little face: it breaks me, and then it saves me.

Landon's, when I interrupt his homework to think aloud, again, about the hard, beautiful, messy things that life is handing to us.  Discouraged, feeling desperation creeping upon me, I ask him, "do you think that I can even do this?"  That's when he smiles up at me, his eyes meeting mine squarely, full of the light of his confidence in and love for me and says, simply, "yes."  He is one of the people in the world who knows me best.  He has seen me work, and be pregnant, and go to school, all at once and separately. If he says that I can do this, then I can do it - this abundant, unnerving, bewildering life.  It's Landon's face that saves me again this morning when I've messed up, scolding him as though I'm his mother instead of his wife.  Even though I'm the one stewing while he runs to the store for diapers - stewing when I'm not the one who got hurt - when I apologize he smiles at me.  And when he tells me that it's alright, I know that he's already erased it from his thoughts of me.

These faces.  They save me.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

On living lightly

I inherited, whether by physical or mental genetics, a packrat tendency.  I'd say that I have only a marginally bad case of it, but ask my Mom - I've been married for three years and still have childhood stashes at their house.  If something has sentimental value, is potentially useful, or potentially pretty then I want to keep it.  So I keep clothes that I don't wear, but that are so pretty that I feel like I should.  I store up years' worth of potential projects, because if I can think of something to turn a pair of Landon's old pants into, then I feel like I should do it.  I keep cards and notes and snapshots because I can see the scrapbook pages that these could turn into, even though I. never. scrapbook.      

I'm also a packrat of potential priorities.  I am, officially, a stay at home mom, and without an outside job to structure my time I struggle with an excess of possible activities, and with knowing how to balance them.  I have the baby to take care of, of course, and that takes up a fair amount of time.  There is also laundry to be done, food to make, menus to plan, grocery shopping to accomplish, surfaces to clean, and trash to take out.   And then there are books and blogs to be read, thought about, and commented on.  Blog posts of my own to write.  Things (so many things!) to knit.  A piano to play.  New friends to socialize with.  I don't want to let anything go - I want to be a knitter, a mother, a reader, a writer, a musician, a scholar, a housekeeper, a wife, a seamstress, a gardener, and probably two or three other things that I'm not remembering right now.  And I don't. have. time.

My packrat tendencies in both of these areas - stuff, and activities - weigh me down.  Guilt, confusion over priorities, and simply having stuff laying around that I don't know what to do with clouds up the workings of my mind and heart.  I know this intellectually, but I've also begun to learn it experientially simply by observing what happens when I get rid of things.  When I throw away an unfinished (or unstarted) project, or donate clothes to Goodwill, I feel lighter.  I no longer expend any mental energy on guilt for not doing or wearing those things.  It works the same way when I grant an activity the priority level that it deserves in my life.  When I decide that music is a hobby to enjoy when I have time, and not a priority to be devoted to, I can stop feeling ashamed for not practicing every day, and start enjoying the time that I do get to play.  On the other hand, acknowledging that reading, thinking, and writing are a part of my creative vocation frees me from guilt about taking the time to do those things.  Recognizing housekeeping as a practical vocation helps me battle against resentment on the one side and the pressures to make it my creative vocation on the other side.  

Hanging onto unnecessary stuff and unrealistic expectations keeps me from fully devoting myself to my legitimate work and activities.  Letting go of excess leaves me free to concentrate on what I am called to do, and what I find fulfilling.  I want to learn to live lightly, dropping things that weigh me down so that I can run through this wide open life that Jesus has graced me with.  I am free from so many externally imposed weights that limit many women in this world - oppressive political or family systems; grinding poverty; absent, unhelpful, or abusive spouses.  If I can't drop the weights that I create for myself through packratting and vague priorities, then not only will I not be free to concentrate on what is central to my life and callings, but I will also not be free to help lift anybody else's burdens.   

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Gremlins

It was right around 9:30AM that the mental gremlins descended.  They came from nowhere, overwhelming me with the realization that the day was already all wrong, and I had to do something, make something happen, to fix it.  It's like the feeling when the seam on the front of my socks runs crooked over my toes, or my skirt is just twisted a quarter turn around my waist, or my french braid is not exactly in the middle of my head.  It's a physical feeling of wrongness, and I cannot concentrate on anything else until it's put right.  The problem is that when this feeling strikes about a whole day, it's awfully hard to satisfy it.  I'm at the mercy of the gremlins, trying to hear them tell me what the next right thing is to do or not do.  Meanwhile, everything that's a little imperfect is a catastrophe.  While nursing the baby, I got so tense and angry over his never-quite-right latch that I had to put him down on the floor and walk into another room while he screamed because I was afraid that I would accidentally hurt him while trying again, futilely, to make that latch what I feel it should be.  When I looked at the day ahead, full of laundry and little chores, I knew that I just had to go back to bed because I would never be able to play out the day in a way that would satisfy these mental tyrants.  Nothing would be right.  Everything would be wrong.  There would be no functioning.

And then, in a moment of grace, I remembered something that I've learned before: there really is no satisfying these tyrants.  I can knock myself out trying to satisfy the compulsion for mythical perfection, and I will end up unsatisfied.  So I committed myself to a "what comes next" day.  Slowly, carefully, I do the next thing that I know needs to be done.  I changed out of my pajamas into real clothes.  I combed deliberately through my hair, pulling it back into a curly little ponytail, and slipping a soft headband on just at my hairline, because I knew that I would not be able to tolerate flyaways in my face today.  Then, without giving myself a chance to overthink the next step, I sorted through the laundry - a few articles of clothing, the big hamper full of sheets and towels.  When the first load finished, I sorted it out from the washer.  Sheets on the bottom of the basket, some of my light shirts next, Christopher's clothes on top.  It was as I turned one of the baby's rompers inside out so that it wouldn't fade as it hung in the sun, that I began to feel the routine, the ordinariness, the comfortable intimacy of this task begin to drain some of that tension out of me.  In the quiet satisfaction of these everyday tasks, I learned all over again about the kind of stillness that shouts louder than my mental gremlins.  Sometime, all that needs to be done is the next thing.    

Friday, June 29, 2012

On Expense

I recently read an article where an objection given to a proposed course of action struck me as completely out of place.  Since I don't want to turn this conversation political, and the fallacy of the objection had nothing to do with the subject matter, I'm not going to link to the article.  In this particular situation, the objecting party was reacting to the suggestion that they put in place some policies that would presumably safeguard the health of the general public.  The objection?

"We can't do that.  It would be hard and expensive."

Huh?  Not, "this wouldn't work and it would be expensive," or, "there's a better option that would be less expensive," but, "nah, we don't want to do that because it would cost us too much money."

What really got me thinking is the way that seeing this excuse used on a high level, with lots of money at stake, highlights my use of it on a lower level, and usually without much money at stake.  I sometimes make decisions based on their impact on my level of disposable income, not the morality of either option.  In a way, I suppose that this ties in with the previous post about owning and living out Truth as best I can see it, but in this is more specifically about the ways that I use my money.  The food and clothing that I buy.  The businesses that I support.  The good causes to which I do (or mostly don't) contribute.  If it's the right thing to do, shouldn't I do it?  And if doing something right means I can't afford to do it, isn't it better to just not do it?  If, for example, I can't afford to buy coffee that is sourced in a humane way, then maybe the answer isn't to feel guilty as I buy less expensive coffee, but to cut down on my coffee drinking.  If I can't give to a good cause and also have money left for yarn and lattes and pretty clothes, then maybe I should cut down on the clothes.  Okay, and the yarn.  Fine, the lattes, too.  The point is, it's easy for me to see the inconsistency of a large corporation saying "but it's so expensive to treat our sewage!"  But my (legitimate) disgust at that should also show me how to feel about my own equivocations over (apparently) lesser matters.

Note: the moral inconsistency of myself and the general population does not excuse the refusal of corporations to take responsibility for the toxic byproducts of whatever it is that they're making money on.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Truth

Truth, goodness, and beauty.  Ideally, my life is dedicated to these, specifically as they are revealed in the person, life, and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Ideally.  But here's the truth about my relationship with Truth: I want to love the truth, but really I just love being comfortable.  I like to read things that reinforce what I already believe.  I like to hang out with people who believe what I do.  I like to find reasons that the beliefs of those with whom I am hanging out could be true.  I like being in the group that's rocking the boat a bit, but I really don't want to rock the boat all by myself.  As we all know, truth doesn't work this way.  

I've always known this, of course, but I began to discover it experientially as my life became more fragmented, and different parts of it started happening among diverse groups of people.  For most of the past two years, I worked with one group of people, went to church and hung out socially with a second group of people, went to school (some of the time) with a third group of people, kept in touch long distance with the fourth, fifth, and sixth groups of people, and was related to approximately the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth  groups of people.  Trying to cobble together a coherent set of beliefs by believing what is important in each of these groups is like trying to cram a spider monkey into a washing machine.  It doesn't work, and ultimately will not end well for the spider monkey.  But I tried.  

I tried to hang on to the bits of where I came from that seemed to be the most important to the people there, while simultaneously learning which bits of the new groups seemed to be the most important.  But while I was trying to be agreeable to people on both ends, there were real changes happening.  I'm a different person than I was two years ago.  The problem is that sometimes it's been hard to realize those changes, what with all the spider monkey limbs that I was trying to manage.  Is this limb a real change, or just one of these beliefs that I tried on for size?  Is that tail really something that I still believe, or just something that I don't want to let go of because it will cause a family ruckus?  These kind of questions make it hard to process new questions, debate new idea, and test new beliefs.  It's for this reason that I've been too silent for much of these past two years on what was happening inside of me.  I've decided that this has to change.  So I'm determined to begin to try to think clearly.  To face Truth honestly.  To question what I don't wish to question, and be ready to accept what I don't wish to accept.  To think out loud so that errors can be corrected before they form into beliefs.  To be ready to be wrong.  And to be ready to decide on what I think is right. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

On Something

At first, there was nothing.  There was just a space.  Nothing.  And then there was a fateful January day.  And something started to grow up in that space.  Something grew up in between us that was not either of us, but came from both of us.  A late May day the next year, we promised to always be with each other, no matter what, and the space filled up.  And two years later, from that nothing and something between us, suddenly there was something tangible.  A something that swelled my body, and squirmed around inside of me, and was born on that cold February day to become Christopher.

From nothing, something.  And that something is growing, and giggling, and squirming, and rolling over, and one day, all of a sudden, he will be like us.  He will be an adult.  Just. like. that.  Something from Nothing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Munchkin

Some women, more power to them, can nurse their infants while doing other things.  They nurse and also watch movies, read books, wrangle other small children, cook supper, and play basketball.  Since I am essentially incapable of multi-tasking, I cannot do this.  It doesn't help that Christopher has always had trouble nursing, and probably always will.  So I sit down in the rocking chair to nurse Christopher, and I have absolutely nothing to do in that time but soak him in.

This child has changed so much in his three short months of life that I can't imagine the changes years will bring. I'm trying to memorize him at every stage.  I gaze into his fathomless blue eyes, deep indigo edges fading into sea blue meeting clear steel grey blue flying out from his pupils in a delicate star burst.  We think that he might keep these blue eyes.  I memorize again and again the way that the sunlight picks out the white gold strands in his long, long eyelashes.  His eyebrows and eyelashes were almost invisible when he was born, and his hair was light, too.  We thought for a while that we might end up with a blonde haired, blue eyed child, and then who would believe that he was ours?  But there are dark hairs growing in on his perfect, round head, and in his eyebrows and eyelashes.  Some of those fair hairs stuck around, though, and when the sun hits them it lights up his eyes in a way that a makeup artist would kill to be able to replicate.

I laugh at his eyebrows, still so fair, but growing in that distinct pattern that I know so well; he's going to have his Daddy's eyebrows.

Then his smooth, round cheeks; perfect, classic baby cheeks.  His face is so much longer now than it was when he was born that I can barely discern the shape of the little almond cheeks that I saw when the nurse handed him to me the second time, cleaned up and quiet.  Those little tiny bits of face that were squished between the curving lines of his eyes and his little mouth.  Now, as then, I can't resist touching them, relishing their softness.  I wonder if its possible that this little face is going to grow up into adolescent skin, with pores and oil problems and little marks and scars.

His nose.  His nose makes me laugh, too.  I was convinced when he was born that he had a Shenk-nose, which, for those of you who don't know, is not a proboscis to be taken lightly.  We're very proud of it.  We have to be; it's hard to ignore.  But now Christopher's nose looks like it's flirting with the idea of the Lehman nose: narrower, and turned up at the end.  It's hard to tell.  But I try anyway.

And then he's done nursing, and he looks up at me, and he grins at me with his perfect little wide mouth.  Flirtatious little grins, and wide, delighted smiles, and toothless giggles of wonder.

Sometimes I'm glad that I can't multitask.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Building tents and keeping secrets

"And Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.'" - Mark 9:5, ESV

I think that I understand Peter. He was experiencing a moment like none other, witnessing on earth the true glory of the Son of God.  Two heroes of his faith stood before him. And he wanted to grasp the moment. He wanted to live there. And, with the permanence of tents, maybe he wanted to share it. There's nothing inherently wrong with the impulse; as far as I know, humans have always had this urge to share their experiences. But then a voice from heaven came, and told him what this moment was really about. "This is my beloved son.  Listen to him."  

"This is not a moment to be grasped," He seemed to be saying. "This is a moment of revelation. This is not a moment to live in. This is not even a moment to share. This is a moment to remember."

Today, Landon and I packed our little guy in the car and drove 45 minutes to Lake Michigan. We visited Warren Dunes State Park, a spot that I dimly remembered from a family visit more than 10 years ago. We drove through trees, catching an occasional glimpse of water and sun, until we rounded a curve in the road and the dunes came into view, along with a wide open view of white-capped Lake Michigan. 

We were amazed.  

Wrapping Christopher in blankets to ward off the chilly wind that gusted off the lake, we headed across the beach.  The red flag was out to let everybody know to stay out of the water, and Landon gave me disapproving looks as I walked down far enough to let the cold edge of a breaker just barely wash over my toes.  I laughed at him, and at the sea gulls. We read the signs about the history of the state park. And then we climbed the dune.  

Landon tromped steadily up, carrying the baby, barely a sign in evidence that he wasn't walking flat on solid ground. I slipped and slid up, my bare feet sinking into sand that packed itself down under his shoes.  But eventually we both got to the top.  The wind was stronger than it had been on the beach, stirring up a fine mist of sand that stuck to my sunscreen covered calves, and occasionally whipped up towards our faces.  There were a few hardy trees, some dune grass. And there was the view, Lake Michigan spread out before us. I was on top of the world with my husband and son, breathing in the beauty. And I had no camera. There would be no photographic evidence of Christopher's first trip to the lake, his first time up the dune.  No pictures of us, smiling at the top or grimacing as we climbed. I regretted this for a minute. I wanted to build a tent. But no tent could hold this. No picture could capture this weather, this sky, this moment, this joy.  

So I stood at the top of the dune, and watched the whitecaps appear far, far out in the lake, blinking in and out on the distant water like fire-flies in a far meadow on a summer day.  There will be other trips.  And maybe the next time there will be pictures.  But for now, this is just ours.  This is a secret. I can give you the words, but the images and the memories and the tiny, wave washed pebble that we picked up for a keepsake, they are mine and they are Landon's, and someday they will be Christopher's. Some moments were never meant for tents.   

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My excuse

This is what I've been up to since the last time that I posted here.  Yeah, he's pretty adorable.  He's also a lot of work, and makes getting out of the house quite a challenging task.  Since I had no internet at home at our last apartment, this meant that, even if I had time, inspiration, and discipline to write a blog post, it would be difficult to get to a computer where I could post it.  Now that we've moved, thanks to Landon's awesomeness at getting into grad school and all, we have internet at home, and I begin to consider the possibility of actually writing on a regular basis.  Shocking, I know.  Meanwhile, just gaze on the cuteness that is my child, and anticipate another photo soon that will let you know that he's only gotten cuter as the months have gone by.