With Nana and Papa

With Nana and Papa
Family Times at Flathead Lake

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Bunnies

 
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We All Fall Down

Drama ruled last Sunday, as Daniel joined Mom, Dad and the big kids for our first all-family ski runs of the season. After the usual trauma of getting a pole-less five-year-old up the faint hill and through the lift line, we had difficulties with the lift assist and the lift dismount. No one was hurt, but a ski pole lost its life in the process.

Our first greens were so easy and slow that Daniel could not get enough momentum to finish, especially with a biting, stiff wind in his face. After frozen fingers thawed in the lodge, we embarked upon slightly more difficult greens where D could practice his turns and actually make it through a run without multiple parental pushes or big sister pole-pulls.

Prematurely flushed with his success (and the aforementioned wind), we went up the mountain to longer, tougher green and green-blue runs. Alas, we took a wrong turn and ended up on a pure blue slope. I unwisely let Rob have Daniel to himself, taking my turn to ski down with William, and watched as chaos ensued on the snow. Daniel forgot his turns in his fear of the steeper slope and started careening down the hill. Rob forgot logic and attempted to corral D by skiing right next to him. This maneuver was promptly followed by Daniel skiing right over Rob's tips and causing them both to crash hard - Rob right on top of the little guy.

I missed the next part, but Rob filled me in later that night; Daniel started screaming at the top of his lungs, "Call 9-1-1! Call 9-1-1! I need a hospital! Oh, my arm, my arm!" Well, we have never heard him say that before so Rob was terrified, and promptly lifted him up and skied him down the mountain. Aden brought extra skis and poles to me, and we followed in a motley and sad parade.

Turns out that our youngest was fine. The ski patrol / health clinic checked him out and pronounced him whole after their inspection produced nothing but tickles and giggles. Daniel got a package of Oreos out of it, and his parents got a few more gray hairs. Next time . . . lessons!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Going Through the Desert

Frail.
Flawed.
Limited.

These are not words I would normally choose to describe myself. Though I have realized their truth, especially in the past ten years, I keep the knowledge to myself - partly hidden even from myself. I think that the flaws and the limitations are not so obvious; perhaps most people won't notice.

Right now I am at a point where the truth is undeniable. I am in the desert of late February, an appropriate place to be during Lent, I suppose. The wind howls outside, running paths are still snow-covered, kids are getting sick, and I am sick. Having an autoimmune disease sure makes you aware of your flaws, it's not pretty to have one part of your body attack another part.

I went to the doctor last week on an issue unrelated to the celiac, and discovered that one of my heart-valves leaks a little. It's no big deal now, but he cheerfully assured me that one day it would be. My sick son was playing his Nintendo DS at the appointment and heard the summary. The doctor asked at the end of the appointment, "What do you think of your mom? Is she a good mom?" William replied, "Yes, but she needs heart surgery."

I left feeling like I wanted to punch my hand through the wall. It's not that the situation is so bad - it's not - but it's not clean, not pretty, not perfect. My body is a perfect metaphor for my 'self'; it is uniquely flawed, with definitely limitations (not always clean, pretty, or perfect). On the other hand, it's functional, has certain gifts, and as far as I know it remains my only option.

I heard this morning that the Navajo people make beautiful woven blankets with a perfect pattern, but they always weave an imperfection into one corner on purpose. They know that absolute perfection is not part of nature, not part of life. I had to laugh, because I would never have made myself so obviously imperfect on purpose, but perhaps that is the perfect way to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

The first day of Lent and I am home with a sick child. Pondering how to re-work the schedule of the next two days as he recovers from the fever of early morning, and pondering the meaning of Ash Wednesday. As a child, the ashy cross on my forehead was both a distinction and a sign of bad things to come. Smears of grey and black on your forehead just don't foretell a fairy tale ending.

Lent also meant giving up meat on Fridays and giving up desserts (except for Sunday nights, which are not officially part of Lent, not being counted in the 40 days before Easter). Going dessert-free was no fun, and I never saw how the lack of ice cream and cookies helped me in my pursuit of spiritual growth. Then again, I did not really pursue spiritual growth as a child, so at least I got in the habit of going without sweets.

As an adult I have continued the practice of giving up things desired: chocolate, coffee, etc. When you fast, you're supposed to think of God or a spiritual focus whenever you crave the given-up item, but mostly when I wanted chocolate,I just thought of chocolate. In the last four or five years I have not given up anything for Lent; my diet is so restricted already it seemed beside the point. I added morning prayers and some meditation last year, but I am still doing those, so what now?

Fortunately, my spiritual director came to the rescue by challenging me to give up anxiety for Lent. He asked me to think about what it would mean to give up anxiety. On the surface, it sounds great! Sure, I'll give up sweaty palms and late night do-overs, no problem. But on further reflection, I realize that giving up anxiety means letting go of all illusions of control. Stuck in traffic? Can't control it. Sick child? Can't control it. Foot in mouth remark made on the playground? Done and over, can't get it back. So, definitely a greater challenge than it seems. I think the payoff might be worth it, so I'm giving it a go. Will keep you posted . . .

Friday, February 17, 2012

Drug-Induced Fog

I had to go back on medication for celiac-related issues this week. As a result I have been tired and cranky, a bit sorry for myself and slightly resentful of demands made by children and others. Today I realized that I have only myself to blame; the children are all in school so if I really need the rest, I should take it! A novel concept. Anyway, I have been puzzling over the idea of our culturally-supported hypnotic trance and wrote a few thoughts about my personal fog . . .

Hypnosis

I am dedicated
to vodka - cranberry,
People Magazine
distraction.

Daydreams of vampire lovers
Spar with laundry basket,
grocery list
awareness.

Addiction to acquisition
of on-sale running gear,
latest bestseller,
barely checked.

And yet. . .

Rain-scent shudders through insensate haze.
Piano chords ripple into deafened daze.
Skin on skin embraces the moment now,
Kiss on warm globed cheek remembers how.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Be Awake

"To become aware of God’s presence in our lives, we have to accept what is often difficult—that human culture is in a mass hypnotic trance. We’re sleep-walkers. All religious teachers have recognized that we human beings do not naturally see; we have to be taught how to see. That’s why the Buddha and Jesus say with one voice, “Be awake.” We have to learn to see what is already there."
- Father Richard Rohr, Adapted from Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer,pp. 29-31

I received this quote in my daily email from Father Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation in the days after the Super Bowl. Watching that pageant on and off for several hours made me feel that we are truly a culture operating hypnotically. We move from morning news or ESPN sportstalk through our hectic days, shifting from computer to Blackberry to cellphone and ipod in our rush to check all the boxes off our list, check all the boxes off our children's list, and sit down at night (often) in front of video games or reality TV. We are asleep, blind to the miracles that exist in front of and all around us as we focus on the football teams, fashions and foibles of our day.

This troubles me a lot because the great spiritual masters also teach that we only have NOW - this moment - to fully live our lives. If we sleepwalk through each one of our NOWs then we will be left at the end of our lives with a stacked pile of completed to-do lists and no awareness of the deeper joys and tragedies, the miracles and the mysteries of our lives. One of my biggest challenges is to live in the now and to relinquish regret and longing for the past, relinquish plans, daydreams, concerns about the future. I know that I am called to do so and it is only lack of determination and discipline that keeps me from awareness.

"Discipline" comes from the same root as "disciple," and recalls Jesus' urging to his disciples in the Garden to stay awake. He tells them multiple times, but they fail him. He forgives, but sadly. Am I awake? Do I see the daily miracles of my children's growth, my husband's love and dedication to his family, nature's multiple gifts? Rohr helps me to set my alarm and realize it's time to wake up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dabar*

A word, a deed
Born in the bones,
Borne by blood
Through narrow passages.
At times catching, slowing, to
Drip from the tongue,
Each a scythe or a suture.
Or, a torrent hemorrhages,
Spilled uncautiously from mouth portal,
Sourced in hidden conflict:
To dialogue or dominate.
What word began, word can end.


*Dabar is a Hebrew word meaning both "word" and "deed"