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.

 

Why I Don’t Say I’ll Never Forget and a couple of moments I hope I don’t

I used to say “I’ll always remember…..” or “I’ll never forget…..”

I don’t anymore.

Not since I watched as Alzheimer’s Disease tore away page after page of memories for someone I loved, slowly at first it seemed and then more quickly.  She covered well; I’m not sure how many could pinpoint what was going on exactly.  She was great at asking questions that you could ask over and over and it not seem very odd.  “Seen any good movies lately?”  “How’s the weather been back home?”  and so on.

And so I tuck away precious moments into my memory bank, and sometimes I wrote about them here, in the hopes that they will always be there for me.

But I know they may not.

Today was just such a day, one that I’d like to always remember.  I have snapshots in my mind of sweet moments that I want to keep.

  • Our Princess and her friends have been having a great time with the sand and water table on the back deck.  I originally got it thinking that Cooter and his friends would enjoy it more.  But his two buddies moved, and the girls have taken it over.  They flood the water side, and they pour just enough into the sand to make it the consistency of a nice “scrub.”  They are playing spa, y’all.  There are two chairs on one side–one for the person being served and the second for the next in line.  The other side has one chair that is rarely sat in, as the person giving the spa treatment is very busy.  They spread mud–ahem, excuse me, scrub–all over their feet and then rinse them a few minutes later.  They don’t know that I’m aware, I was peeking out of my bedroom window at this hustle and bustle of activity.  It was so wonderful to see their imaginations blossoming in a way that I never would have thought of.  It amazes me, especially since over the past few weeks it’s been a Ninja School back there, and our Princess was the instructor.  I just love it.  Who needs a pool when you have a SPA in your backyard?  Never mind, please don’t ask my children that.  I know what they will answer.  (We do.)
  • Cooter rode off on his bicycle with his Daddy and Miss Sophie for her evening constitutional.  I stopped and watched as he rode up the street.  And it occurred to me–I never tire of watching him ride his bike.  He is so graceful and smooth as his little legs pump the pedals and his hair flies out behind him.  And he always smiles the biggest smiles.  He LOVES his bicycle. (Has it really already been seven months since he gave up the training wheels?)  I nodded as I thought to myself, I could sit and watch him and his joy and movement for hours on end and never lose interest.  And then I was thankful that I feel that way.  In the busy-ness of life, it is so easy to get distracted.  But not when my baby boy’s making the wheels go round and round.  That’s good stuff right there.
  • I have been doing some cleaning and organizing and culling around here.  (That’s right, I said culling.  I will pause for a moment so those of you who know me and my tendencies NOT to cull can catch your breath.)

 

 

  • As I mentioned, cleaning up.  Straightening up.  And so on.  I found a basket with a couple of devices and several cords all tangled up.  *sigh*  That’s about par for the course around here.  As I started to untangle by grabbing the larger “outlet plug” end first, I soon became frustrated with how hard it was to push that big end through the knots of cords to disentangle.  And then it occurred to me to try the other end first.  To take the tiny little end, the one that plugs into a device, and work it through the knots.  So much easier.  So much quicker.  And the gravity pull on the heavier end helped me figure out how to work through the knots.  Win!  As I disentangled cords in record time, it hit me that this is probably a lesson for life.  To work through situations that are such a mess, maybe it would be easier and make more sense if I start with the small bits first.  Don’t dive in and tackle the biggest part of the problem first.  Take it slow and easy and work through it.  And the answer will present itself a little quicker.  I don’t know, maybe a stretch, but it was worth pondering over anyway.

 

Tonight I’m thankful for a napless day–and it’s not often you’ll hear me say those words.  I had the energy and the drive and the patience to make some things happen around here, interspersed with moments I hope to treasure for a long, long time.  Thankful for all of that.  It was a day of one thing leading me to another room where I saw something else that needed doing, started on it until it led me to something else.  And yet, somehow, a few things got done.  And I’m very thankful for that.

May your day be filled with moments to treasure and easily untangled “cords.”  Love to all.

What would you take?

Sleep is an elusive creature these days. I can be very, very tired, eyes drooping and fall into a deep slumber only to find myself wide awake in the early hours and unable to fall asleep again anytime soon. I find myself missing my college days of truly sleeping in–rising on Saturdays at 11:30 and dashing over for brunch in my sweats before they shut it down at 11:45. Those were the days…..for sleeping anyway.

But last night, I was sleeping soundly. So soundly I did one of those things where I woke up, reviewed my dream, and fell back into it. In part one, friends of ours stationed in Germany were living in this huge complex that was housed in a beautiful, historical looking building. They were living up on one of the top floors. Outside of their “apartment” was this very open staircase area, and the staircase could be seen as far down as you could look. It was as though there were no end–they were up that high. The husband told us that’s where we should live–it was beautiful and efficient and a great place. Well…..heights and me…..fair weather friends. I can handle it in some situations, but not in others. And never,  in my wildest dreams, would I live in such a place with the scary, horrifying stair situation. Oh wait. I was wrong. In my wildest dream, just last night, I DID live in that place. This was after the intermission where I woke up to think, why is he telling us to live there? That’s just crazy. Zzzzzz I was back out and there we were, living in this very high rise mansion. With all those staircases.

But good news, it was beautiful. However, this is about the time someone started talking about structural instability…..and how the whole thing could collapse at any point. The culprit? You got it. Those ridiculously frightening staircases. I knew when I stepped out on it and IT SHOOK, we had serious problems. This is when the order was issued. Everyone was to get out. There actually were elevators in the complex,  and some folks were using them. No way. I know what can happen with that. So I started easing my way down those already collapsing staircases, only to find myself back in the apartment with the assignment of grabbing what was important to take with me.  (I think my children were with me, maybe, but this was a pretty egocentric dream, truth.)  What I chose to take couldn’t be very heavy or cumbersome. I grabbed a bottle of spices–probably the Greek seasoning I used to make our Greek chicken burgers last night, but I didn’t have time to really check. I also grabbed a huge glass jar of juice or liquid of some kind. You know, because that’s not awkward to manage at all when exiting a collapsing building. Then I was off.

Not the actual jar and spices from my dream, just added for special effects

Not the actual jar and spices from my dream, just added for special effects

The rest of the details are hazy, and I woke up again. And I lay there. Spices? Juice or whatever? Seriously?

So I thought about my LIST. I have a friend who has a specific list of what to get out in case of a fire. I know in general, but a specific list? Beyond the children? Ummmmm, not really. So at 3 a.m. I worked on my list. In the dark.

What really matters in that situation is humbling, isn’t it? I think I would grab the hard drive. It has our pictures on it, and I wouldn’t want to lose those. I would like to grab the fire proof box, but I decided I would chance it living up to its name because it’s pretty heavy. I have a bag that has legal documents that I’m dealing with right now, so I’d better grab that or I’d be in big trouble. The thing is, there are so many things I am not able to get rid of for sentimental reasons or because “I might need” or “Maybe one day,” but when it comes down to it…..I didn’t put a one of them on my list. My children and my pictures. My past and my future.

Someone shared the other day that if you see your house is on fire and are relieved, that should tell you something. I do not want my house to burn down, but when it comes down to what is really important, what I no kidding do not want to let go of, that is telling. This is the season for rebirth and spring cleaning and growing into something new. I think that my dream last night, and the hours of processing after are teaching me something. I can let go of some things that I haven’t been able to before. It might not be the easiest thing to do, but when it comes down to what really truly matters in my life, I have a bunch of stuff around me that really doesn’t matter.

And included in that are the spices and that jar of juice.