"After eating a bowl of oats, three cookies, and some apples, it feels good to eat some actual REAL food," Myra says.
She wolfs a mounding spoon of rice to her mouth. I stir a bowl of creamy tomato soup, electric burner clicking with effort, the makeshift bathroom/kitchen a card house around us.
"Yeah?" I say.
"Yeah. It's just so. good," she says another bite bulging in her cheek.
Rice. So. Good. Nourishment. I scoop a sticky mound into my bowl and cover it with tomato soup. We lean over a rustic cutting board and spoon rice and soup as if it were life itself.
"It's like it was actual worship," Lucy says.
There, in the front seat of the suburban we wind up an afternoon date. It's the traveling cafe, suburban front seat. I buy chocolate. We climb in the front, crank the heat, and watch rain splatter the windshield, conversation and chocolate between us.
"Yeah?" I say.
"Yeah," she says, "actual worship. 'Cause sometimes in children's church they are like, Come on sing LOUDER," she claps her hands and raises eyebrows in time with sing LOUDER. An overly sweet smile alit on her face.
"Huh," I say.
"That DOESN'T mean it's worship," she says.
"Yep." We nod, the crinkling of foil, the dull crack of chocolate fractured and pulled out of the wrapper.
"It's like the other night when we were at that worship time; there, it actually was worship."
"Huh," I say.
I picture us there, the whole row of us, back of the sanctuary, music unfurling. I sang with my eyes closed. I'd peeked to count my chicks, gathered Betsy to our row and slipped back into worship, with images of Jack raising his hands, earnest, serious, Joe at half-mast and the other in various stages of mimicry, solemn, careful imitation.
"You're right," I say. "That was actually worship. I love that you can see that." Again, we nod, small agreements like tokens of affection.
I replay this discovery, the dumbing down of spirituality makes it small and tiny, thin in the eyes of this nine-year-old, pretend. Then there we are at the back of the church just standing there singing, just the naked effort to sing to God and suddenly, she sees it. Worship. Naked adoration, unmistakable.
6381. Lucy begins to understand worship.
6382. Jack bakes cornbread. Lucy invents a cranberry bread recipe. And the two of them bake enough ginger snaps to make a tower.
6383. Jane begins to gain traction with another level of her math.
6384. Myra takes off with reading carrying a book like a cowboy with a pistol all the time now.
6385. Joe and Betsy try to copy her achievement by "reading" the pictures in books.
6386. I catch coffee with a dear friend, and we spill our souls, puddles of connection, meaning, and encouragement. Peace and courage ensue.
6387. Even amidst a week of out of town engagements, the pressure and chaos of regular life, and bone-weary tiredness, Mom and I eek out an afternoon of errands and a continuing river of conversation and connection.
6388. We begin a new journal/devotional as a family.
6389. We make the first hot chocolate of the season, a whole pot of it on the little electric burner. Milk, chocolate, and sugar, just simple.
6390. I find the joy of a new friendship, visiting over motherhood, life, and baby wraps.
6390. The kids begin to navigate the waters of what it means to "leave someone out'' when kids are playing. Everyone senses my complete intolerance of this.
6391. I continue to knit an ochre sweater for George.
6392. He begins to favor certain toys and scream displeasure if they are taken away. I smile at his resolve. Training the will is so much easier than teaching a passive child to have initiative. Oh joy, no lack of initiative.
6393. Betsy and I fall into the arms of our big wooden bed and sleep away Sunday afternoon.
6394. I begin to gestate the idea that the goodness of my soul must put down roots and thrive when things are hard. Isn't that the true measure of strength, the moment of adversity?
6395. I set my mind to see adversity as the moment when things become as they really are. The gift of unveiling.
6396. Every single day our moments are mingled with conversation after conversation, human lives intertwined. All these children and it's a symphony of becoming. Every move affects someone else. Joy and adversity hold hands.