She’s Been Listening

This evening on the way from one place to the next on our list of day to dailies, our Princess spoke up with a question, completely out of the blue.

“Mama, our family from way back on your side and Daddy’s sides of the family–they weren’t always from here, right?  I mean, at some point they moved here, right?”

Wondering where it was going, I answered her. “Yes.  Someone even traced our family tree back to the first ones who came over from England in the 1700s.  Thomas and Faithful Carse.”  (I’ve always loved their names so they stuck with me.)

“Wow,” she said, thinking.  “So then, aren’t we all in some way–aren’t we all immigrants?”

Oh baby.  Yes.  Yes we are.

I share this tonight, not to start a political discussion, because I will walk away from that in a heartbeat.  I can no more convince anyone to change their beliefs to resemble mine than anyone can change my mind.

No, I share this simply to say:

Y’all.  Please be careful.  Our children–and they are all of ours, whether we gave birth to them or not–all of our children are listening and watching.  They will call us out on all of this chaos and hatred and all the misunderstandings eventually.  It might not be until much later when they truly comprehend what is going on in our world right now, but they will call us out.

Guard your words and your heart.  These little ones are growing up watching and becoming what they see, despite our best efforts otherwise.

Teach them with your actions as well as your words.

It’s not easy, but I made a vow tonight to start doing better.

Join me?

Love to all.

Cobh_-_Annie_Moore

“Cobh – Annie Moore” by Marcus Kircher MKir 13; sculpture by Jeanne Rynhart – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons   

“Annie Moore (January 1, 1877 – 1923) was the first immigrant to the United States to pass through the Ellis Island facility in New York Harbor.”

Making Room for What Is Coming

So it’s Lent.

A season which is confusing at best.

For me, anyway.

My first exposure to Lent and the longest lasting impression of the season for me is one of giving something up.

That was in college when I had a friend who was Catholic.  So we all gave up something. (Ummm, in most cases, I think it was chocolate.)  It was interesting too, because there was the debate of whether or not Sundays counted as part of Lent.

After college, I found my way back to the Episcopal church, where Lenten traditions were observed, and yes, we gave up something, and Sundays did not count.  I gave up sweet tea (clutch my pearls and gasp), which was VERY significant and a challenge for me.  Rather than keeping the tea in the house, on Saturday afternoons, I would ride to town and pick up an extra-large (read half-gallon or some ridiculous amount like that) of sweet tea from Dairy Queen (closed on Sundays) and tote it back home and keep it in the frigidaire until Sunday.  It lasted me all day.  Oh my land,, with all that sugar it should have lasted me a week.

Then there were years I gave up chewing gum.  Another nail biter.  But I made it.  Then there were years that I gave up eating meat during the daylight hours.  That was interesting, especially when I’d go to Mama’s and she made her “green pizza”–spinach quiche with bacon on top.  She would either make me one without the bacon or she’d pick the pieces off my slice.  Mama was like that.  Supporting whatever I had going on.

It was important that I did something each day to focus on the season.  In more recent years, I’ve struggled with healthy eating.  I found out during a book study where we limited what we ate that, while I do not have an eating disorder, it’s best not to mess too much with my eating habits.  It’s a rocky slope.

And so I don’t.  I enjoyed reading the thoughts of a friend about Lent (it’s a must read–you’re welcome), as in we need to create space for what is coming, much like a bird does with a nest.  That I can get on board with.  That is exactly what I need this year.  Creating space.  Quieting my spirit.  My mind and my heart open.  Yes.

A work  in progress, but I’m embracing it.

Some folks are taking the forty days of Lent to get rid of 40 bags of stuff.  That’s ambitious, and I’m impressed.  It terrifies my pack rat, semi-hoarding sentimental self, but for those of you attempting it, you go!  I’m proud for you.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished emptying out a storage unit of things from Mama’s, and then we cleaned up a LOT of stuff (read “we only had a path from the door of the garage to the door of the house” *ack!*) from our garage.  So Imma have to rest on my laurels from that one for a little while, realize I’m okay without all of that stuff, and then I’ll be ready to tackle another pile or closet.  But it  probably won’t happen during Lent.

And I’m okay with that.

The thing about cleaning out our homes and our souls is that a lot of it is trash, isn’t it?  So often it’s not really anything anyone else can use, even though we surely want to recycle it and pass it on.  Sometimes deliberately (with a sad, tired pair of shoes or that Chia pet we never opened) and sometimes not so much (passing on the ugliness and hurt we’ve been feeling).  But it’s still trash.

Nobody wants that Chia pet.

I’m just saying.

Or that hurt and pain either.

Let it go, folks.

Hugh Hollowell shared about some things that had been “donated” to Love Wins, “a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.”  (Chia pet included.  I can’t even.)  His friends and folks who cared commented, sharing things that well-intentioned people had donated to their missions–expired food items, used bars of soap, used underwear, torn up furniture.

Y’all.  For the love.

So as we clean out our hearts and minds and spirits and closets, let’s remember to let the trash go.  All the brokenness and broken things we’ve tucked away and can do without, so can everyone else.  I’m all about sharing the joy and hugs and encouragement and items in gently-used condition (I love me some thrift shops, y’all know), but sometimes folks are better off if we just toss it in a bag and take it to the dump.  Literally and figuratively.

Others, especially those hurting from their own stories, shouldn’t have to deal with our rubbish.

May we all find something wonderful–joy, a smile, kind words, a pair of gloves, or a much-loved, still lovely blanket–to share with another today.  It’s all about building that nest.  To have room for what’s coming.

Love to all.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

 

Whom Do You Need to Kick Out?

Y’all.  Yesterday was a moment in time I will replay over and over in my mind.

Those fingers were flying y'all.  And what they made that banjo do was nigh unto amazing!

Those fingers were flying y’all. And what they made that banjo do was nigh unto amazing!

Banjo music.

I was done for.  I sat with my toe tapping and my heart singing.  I once heard someone call good stuff for the soul “soul tanning.”  Too true.  I didn’t even recognize the songs but it didn’t matter.  It resonated with me and I was home. Sitting there in one of my favorite places surrounded by friends and family.   I could have sworn my Granny was there too.   The banjo player is a friend of Aub’s from college.  This young woman is going to go places.  She is not even a college graduate and yet she already recognizes the value in preserving, sharing, and celebrating things from the past.  Like this toe-tapping, ear-pleasing music.  I could have listened for days.

As if that weren’t enough, two of my favorite authors took the stage to share about their newest books.  Karen Spears Zacharias (“Mother of Rain”) and Ann Hite (“The Storycatcher).  They shared stories from their pasts and stories from their books.  It was entertaining, informing, and just downright fun.  I love hearing the stories of others about as much as my Daddy did.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias sharing "Conversations with Mountain Women." Too much fun.

Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias sharing “Conversations with Mountain Women.” Too much fun.

This morning we were back at our favorite coffeehouse, which hosted the writers’ events.  Ann led a Writer’s Workshop and Karen wrote along with us and shared her thoughts as well.  It was the most encouraging, challenging, and exhausting two and half hours I have had in a long time. (With this crew I live with here, that’s really saying something.)  And did I mention exhilarating?  Yes, that too.  Definitely.

I haven’t written fiction in a long, long time.  There are things you give up and then you look back and think–when?  why?  And I have my suspicions but no definite answer so let’s just say I gave it up.  But today we were writing and sharing fiction based on writing prompts Ann shared with us.  Pen to paper, and lose that editorial voice.

Lose who?  You mean that voice in my head that constantly quirks its eyebrow over word placement, comma usage, and for goodness’ sake, have you completely forgotten how to spell everything?

Yes.  That one.

Perhaps that wasn’t the hardest thing.  Not to nibble on the end of my pen and wonder what this character’s name should be.  What room in the house are they in?  Ooops, I should really rewrite that.  None of this is worth reading anyway.  Might as well just start over.

Hush up.

And just write.

It doesn’t matter if it’s good.  Ann Hite said that too.  It doesn’t matter.  We will write junk on the way to the good stuff, and it’s okay.  Karen said that the reason people get published is that they don’t give up.  Well that would do it, wouldn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about that voice today.  It used to sound a lot like the voice from my previous life.  And I’ve thought a lot about the voices we let in our heads in general.  Whom do we have to kick out of our heads to allow us to TRY for that full potential?  And what will it take for us to finally do it?

I had a sweet, precious, and tenacious lady who was a patient of mine when I worked with Hospice.  We became fast friends.  She was younger than most of our patients, too early for retirement anyway.  She had a degenerative disease, so her husband had placed her in this nursing facility.  I got the impression that he wasn’t a kind husband to begin with and suspected that she actually might have been better off in the facility than at home.  But she didn’t talk a lot about that.  I soon figured out that she still heard his voice and that it was a negative one.  One day we were visiting and she shared that her husband was on a hunting trip.  We shared stories, and  I complimented her about something.  She pretty much waved it off.  I was being sincere and I said it again.  She said, “No no no.”  I knew she was dealing with all the negativity she’d been handed very possibly for years.  I touched my temple with my pointer and said, “Is that what he says? Is he in there saying all of that?”  My sassy friend cocked her head as best she could, smiled, and pronounced carefully and deliberately, “No.  He’s in the woods.”  She laughed, and I did too.  At least she could keep her sense of humor about her.  But I’m not sure she ever could completely silence his voice.

I am thankful for the voices that are much, much louder than all of the others, especially that negative one from the past.  I hear my Mama saying, “You can do anything you want to do.  Just try.”  Or my Daddy asking me, “Did you not have the time or did you not make the time?”  Believe it or not, that is a positive one.  He reminds me to be intentional with that one.  They both told us girls that we could do the same things that boys could do, not to let that limit us.  I always felt encouraged by them and I still do even though their voices are only echoes of things said in the past.  They said them enough and with so much conviction that I believe their words will always be with me.

I do wonder what voices my children will carry with them and hear in the future.  Will it be the “hurry up we have to go now” or will it be the times I’ve told them what a good job they have done, or how I’ve told them people trump everything–relationships are what is most important in our lives?  I know what I hope it will be, but I really don’t know.  It reminds me of a Brian Andreas quote:  “There has never been a day when I have not been proud of you, I said, though some days I’m louder about other stuff so it’s easy to miss that.”

I need to learn to be louder about the stuff I want them to remember and hear from now on, long after I can’t say it to them myself.  And I need to work on kicking out my own negative voices and dreaming of what I will try if those voices aren’t telling me I can’t.  Scary but exciting, all rolled into one.   Oh, and I definitely need to listen to more banjo music.

Whom do you need to kick out of your head?  Go ahead.  Try it, and dream big.