Sunday, May 25, 2014

All The Rivers Actually Connect

"Why do you think they have pictures in Bibles?" Lucy smooths her fingers over the tissuey paper of her Bible.

Moored at the black table, empty plates and bowls pushed to the center, I pause, memory work strewn in front of me. "Because they are afraid people won't want to read it if there aren't enough pictures," I say.

"Oh," she says. "Sometimes I want another picture, but not that often," she says it in half-voice and then nods, almost to herself, her eyes back on the text.

I trace words, mouth them across the canopy of my mind. She points at sentences, combs her index finger underneath them, whispers the words.

"All the rivers and oceans actually connect," she says aloud.

I nod but loll out cursive curls to the next comma, then look up. "That's true. How'd you know that?"

"I think," she pauses to review a mental list, "Jack told me. And it says it right here." She jabs halfway through a column of text: Genesis one.

"Oh, well that's right," I say. I click the lead out on my pencil and resume the rhythm of copying. Head bent over and propped on her hand, she continues too, pink fingernails laced through her hair.

"It keeps saying: And this is what really happened," she says. "This is a grown up Bible, but it doesn't really sound like it when it says that."

Grown-up Bible, I remember her digging through the stack. That must have been what she was looking for. "It's actually a middle Bible," I say. It's bigger than the kid Bibles, but it's not the same as this one." I pat the leather back of my Bible.

"Oh," she says. A tiny disappointment jangles across her face and drops free like a marble.

She finds her place; I find mine. And we cadence on. The morning weaves in its braided sort of way. Dishes find their way to the kitchen, Bibles into the stack. Children assemble in skirts and flip-flops. Jack dons a checkered button down. We hogtie Joey and coax him into a teal plaid.

We trolley to church and back, a sermon ingested. And still, I'm hanging on to the tail end of her words. It doesn't really sound like it when it says that.

"Doesn't it feel good when you worked for it," I reel back five days earlier, picture Lu there in the garden, "and didn't just wait around for someone else to do it?"

I'm poking nasturtium seeds in the ground, her balanced on the brick wall. "Like what?" I say.

"Like cleaning the house," she says.

I poke two fingers in the soil, drop a swollen seed in each hole. I glance up at her, swimsuit and shorts, big blue sky a cloak around her. "Yep. Yes, it does," I say.

Doesn't it feel good when you worked for it... I hear it, something like a note perfectly tuned. Truth. Even a slight deviation rings dissonant.


5382. Lucy gets accepted into another twelve week study with the flicker glasses.

5383. Croakies -- a glasses strap for the new glasses -- she pulls them tight across her nose.

5384. Lucy lets her hair run wild and loses my favorite hair sticks. Mom passes down two almost like it.

5385. Beatrice. Beatrice comes to live with us, a tiny bumblebee baby doll. Jane glows, girlhood a perfect circle around her.

5386. Pizza night. I shall never tire of this. Family, pizza, salad, and ice cream -- my life has strung together many happy pearls on this thread.

5387. The kids make strawberry rhubarb jam in our crockpot. They spoon it over oatmeal. "This is amazing," Myra says. "I really hope this isn't a dream," Lucy chimes.

5388. Three spools of fresh white thread, quilting adhesive, I complete the finishing touches on two more quilts. Craig says one is his favorite. (!)

5389. We finally have Thanksgiving dinner down on the farm, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, a perfect match. We bloom in gratitude. Craig's aunt visits from Montana.

5390. The turkey transcendent, the gravy smooth gold,  rhubarb cake ala mode, a small gathering of family, we relish the meal.

5391. Craig's mom sends me home with recipes and his dad's favorite hymn: Oh The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.

5392. My brother sends me an excerpt from C.S. Lewis on praise.

5393. I try to leap over a small gate at church only to find it unlatched and fully mobile under my weight. Craig and I laugh at the disastrous result, one final attempt at being sporty.

5394. I plan another quilt in my mind and thank the Lord for meaningful toil.

5395. Meaningful toil, so much pleasure wells from this spring.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


"Jaaaane, Jane come here," I call. The ironing board sprawled open in the sunroom, I press the iron down. It steams.

"Yeah?" Jane says. She leans around the kitchen counter. Poked out like an island, it marks the end of the kitchen, beginning of office and sunroom.

"Hey," I say, "you had such a nice attitude cleaning that up," I nod to the kitchen, the blast of dinner shrapnel cleaned and wiped away. "I just turned around, and you were gone, and it was done."

She smiles, her cheeks round out in apples.

"You did a good job when you realized you had to change your attitude." Had to, I wasn't exactly vague on that point. She skips over the lip of the sunroom down to the ironing board. I pull her close, kiss the top of her head.

"I was trying to figure out what changes attitudes," she says.

I pause, pull the iron upright. It hisses. "What does change an attitude?" I say.

"Oh," she shrugs, tilts her head, "you just tell yourself: I'm happy. I'm happy. I'm happy. And then you are happy." That effortless grin, felicity, soft and supple, I take it in.

"Yep," I finally say. "You're right. I guess that is how." I wonder how little effort I actually put into that kind of happiness. I press the iron over another seam. And then you are happy. The sinews of a new muscle begin to flex.


"Well, you're six," I say to Lucy. "Do you feel bigger?"

"Yeah," she says. We trip-trop over a curb, down onto a cobbly path. "I'm not really feeling bigger in my body, but," she trails off.

"Here wanna hold hands?" She slides her hand in mind. We pass under the cool of an enormous tree just leafing out what will soon be leaves the size of a man's hand. "Where are you bigger?" I say.

"Well," she trails off again as if the approximation of words were jagged and trapezoidal. "Like, I'm doing more grown-up things," she says. We tromp up a hill, cross a sweltery black road, and lip over the edge of the curb. Soft grass peeks past the edges of our sandals.

"Yeah?" I say. "Like what?" Grass tickles our ankles. Humidity encircles us.

"Mmmm. It's probably not stuff that you would really see," she says.

"Yeah?" A few more steps and we're almost to a bush of flowering onions.

"Like in Daddy's class," she says, "there are some kids that don't follow the rules. And when I was five and a half, I would just let them be. But now," she nods, her hands drawn in as props, "now, I go and tell them: STOP. You HAVE to follow the rules."

Something immovable flashes across her face then melts into smile lines at the corners of her eyes.

"Huh," I say. "Yeah, that is very grown-up."

We trolley hand in hand, snap pictures of tulips and daffodils, let the soft green face of lawn hold us.

I trace again that immovable arc, defiance rightly placed. Honor. Something like honor reverberates through all that humidity and warm brown dirt, tiny nuclear vibrations, electrons in perfect time.

STOP. You HAVE to follow the rules. Follow the rules. It's the staff on which all the music is built.


5365. "Well, it's a new year, Lu. How can I pray for you?" I say. "That I would become better at singing," she says.

5366. A big pot of stew, the vegetables finely chopped, the Tuesday girls meet around a big pot of stew.

5367. A whole bouquet of new colored pencils, Lucy beams, spreads streamers of color.

5368. Cerissa brings me a bowl of minestrone.

5369. Soup, salad, and ice cream, it feels like summer around the big black table.

5370. Kale salad with cherries and pecans.

5371. Sewing machine oil.

5372. I service my sewing machine. It purrs.

5373. A summer dress all in stripes.

5374. Jane adds two fat quarters to her fabric stash. She strokes them like children.

5375. I finish a quilt top all in scraps.

5376. Craig takes the family on a frozen yogurt date. Joe finishes his first.

5377. Craig and I have our yearly conference to plan our garden. It envelopes a whole afternoon.

5378. Friends invite us to dinner. The kids disperse in the bliss of tag and picnic games. Adults weave food and flatware into full plates and wide smiles. Our many years of friendship bloom again. Once again invisible riches sustain us.

5379. Our pastor speaks on testing. Anything of value is tested. A statement of value. Even a $50 bill will be tested by the cashier if you try to spend it. How much more is my value than that?

5380. Past faithfulness gives us courage in current trials. Faithfulness. Faithfulness gives us courage. This makes me want to read my Bible more, to know the full account of God's faithfulness. Faithfulness is under appreciated.

5381. Lucy turned six this week. It's as if we've reached a tipping point. We all felt a little older but better and wiser too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


"So has the Lord taught you anything lately?" I ask. Jane and I skirt down a narrow street. Budding trees line the curb. Green the color of adoration silhouettes the sky.

"Be nice," Jane says, "even if you don't get what you want." Her liquid blue eyes, the gems of her face, guileless, unguarded, smooth over the green trees.

"Mmm," I say. Be nice. Nice. A small sphere of rightness slides down my throat. The shape of a bubble, the weight of a universe, it slides, slides down until I can't feel it any more, just a growing revulsion at the meanness I laced through my words at Craig.

"I've gotten many chances to practice that lately," she says. For a moment, our worlds overlap. The cathedral of sky, the shattering glory green of those trees, defenses fall and there we are: the pivot point of a perfect circle.

"I know the feeling," I say. A horizon of rightness encircles us. Be nice. Do good. Lay down our life along that perfect rim of goodness. For a minute I see it, the choice: receive good or become good. "That's a good one," I say. "It seems like we never get done practicing that one."

"Never ever," she says. Balanced there, the age old question dangles before us. We take it in. Receive or become. A silent camaraderie passes between us.

Cobblestones of faith take shape beneath our feet.


5346. "I can't hear the reading inside my head when you guys are talking," Lucy scolds during silent reading.

5347. "Hello, cold hands," Myra says when I give her a hug.

5348. "My high," Lucy chatters at dinner, "was that I was able to do multiplication. And my low, um, um," she crunches the long arm of a carrot. "Um. I didn't have a low. Wouldn't it be funny if you didn't have a high?" Inconceivable.

5349. "Smells like a horse," Myra says. "I think it smells like someone smoking," I say. "I think it smells like a frog," she says, "and an elephant. Pooping. It smells like poop is somewhere."

5350. "That is a girl I like," Myra points to a construction sight. A woman in neon green holds a stop sign across traffic. "'Cause her has a cute hat in my favorite color," she says.

5351. My parents come for dinner. We enfold in the usual banter, dinner the playground of love.

5352. Almond soap, the kind that can envelope a whole bathroom.

5353. Mom and I compare notes on the state of this world. We find an indelible thread of truth laced between the words.

5354. Myra turns 4.

5355. Lucy turns 6 tomorrow.

5356. The big wide family comes over for a birthday party. We scribble notes about each girl, let the moments pass slowly, memorize the love between us.

5357. "I ate my oatmeal," Myra chirps, "'cause that's what the Bible says. If you don't like it, eat it anyway."

5358. "I don't really like you drinking out of bowls," I say. Myra frowns, lower a full bowl of water form her mouth. "'Cause I will wreck it?" she says. "No, it's just kind of weird," I say. "How I drink out of it?" she says and stares at her hands. "No, people just don't drink out of bowls," I say. "I know," she concedes, then leans forward in a conciliatory way. "Sometimes I do," she says, "I want to 'cause I like doing it." Four, it's a beautiful age.

5359. Mother's Day. I salute the unimaginable sacrifice and perfection of my mother. Craig's too. Nothing compares to a mother's love.

5360. Another quilt takes shape beneath my fingers.

5361. Material for a ladybug picnic skirt.

5362. Jane and I take a date to the Cathedral. They let us wander the magnificent old building for 40 minutes all alone. To the glory of God, we find this written all over its walls.

5363. Joe holds up a grubby paw. "Is that dirt?" I ask and brush off his palm. He grins, tilts his head. "No, HAND," he says.

5364. Third John 1:4 rings in my ears: I have not greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. My hope, my prayer, my anthem, I have no greater joy.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


"Probably in the car we can play a game with our mouth," Myra says. She angles her head to capture my eyes. I stack a Renaissance book on another about Columbus. "Talking, I mean," she says. She emphasizes the T as if it were a lollipop.

Talking. It's a date, Myra and me. We go to the turtle place. We stop at the red tulips and point. Then, we halt at the saffron yellow poms of a wild daisy.

"Let's memorize them," I say, "lock them in our heads." Her willowy fingers in my palm, we stare at the little gold suns.

Then a half-skip at our heel, we trolly on. The gradual scape of rocks, we weave a gentle incline.

"Yeah, "I'm brave," Myra says. She steps over a lump of rock, a tiny staccato spring in her knees. "'Cause that's how people are supposed to be: BRAVE." I smile, her fluttery composure pulled tall.

We trip-trop to the edge, a rounded lip of stone. "Ya wanna sit?" I say.


"Look, there they are," I point to a hen and two drakes, trolling the water below, mallards. We watch. Feet the color of orange crayons push and pull them across the water, a blue feather pokes out from under each wing. The drakes rile, form a game of modified tag to impress the hen.

"Who do you think is the smartest person in our family?" I ask.

"Daddy and Mommy," she says.


"'Cause you're big and strong."

"Uh-huh," I say. The mallards skiff the water. One dives, and buoys a few seconds later.

"But Daddy's stronger," she says. "But you're strong. But not BOY-strong." One of the drakes, now in flight, skids orange feet into the water.

"Yeah," I say.

"Yeah," she says, a gossamer thread of strength there between us.

The date turns and orbits like a planet across the sky, that invisible tether there between us. When we finally circle back to the car, we roll down the windows, let the wind blow in our hair.

"This is my stor-y, this is my song," I hear Myra sing in the seat behind me, "prai-sing my Sav-ior all the day long." Each word arrives on time.

We finally pull in the driveway, slip through the front door. We step into the whirling jump rope of home, the rhythm bound up inside.

And then it's a couple of hours later. There at the piano, her head tilted, shoulders slack, I remember the scene that started the date: the lie.

She lied to me, baldfaced lied. And for all the slivering pain of that lie, for all blood and incision and sutures between us, for the dogged determination to have truth between us, I feel it again, that gossamer thread.

"Myra," I kneel down, "I'm really glad you told me the truth earlier." I encircle her with my arms, but she pulls away, searches my face as if seeing it for the first time.

"I feel like I want to touch this part," she says and strokes her finger across my eyebrow.

"Yeah?" I say, the full light of her face shone across mine.

"It's cute," she says, "and nice and brown." She traces the soft horizon of my brow. I smile into the solar system of her face. Truth, the empty fabric of space, holds us both.


5381. A neighbor give me a rooted rosemary cutting. I plant it out front.

5382. "My muscles are charging," Myra says and flexes her arms at me elbow first.

5383. I get to have a snagged cami replaced.

5384. Headband elastic.

5385. Quinoa salad with bacon and avocado.

5386. Salted almond chocolate.

5387. Face cream.

5388. Pizza and salad. Butterscotch cookies.

5389. "A few seconds ago I saw by your eyes that you wanted the sunroom clean," Jack says a coat draped over one arm and a book in the other.

5340. FABRIC in grays and blues and yellow -- the next quilt.

5341. A walk with Mom.

5342. The Mother Daughter Tea in Craig's hometown.

5343. Grilled cheese with smoked cheddar and raspberries, a friend wins a grilled cheese contest, and shares with us.

5344. Craig buys me new running shoes.

5345. I overcome another headache and land Sunday night, a sense of rest over my body.