Thursday, November 28, 2013

Below My Feet

There's a wise blogger who's been on about Thanksgiving all month long. Longer, maybe. And she told her readers to let every step (every time your feet touch the earth), to let it be a kiss of gratitude to the God who makes the road rise up to meet you. That, as gravity binds you to the ground and the soles of your feet touch the dirt and the pavement, thanksgiving is the only answer. That the best and surest way to happiness is to thank and praise God in the good and in the bad. It turns blessings and curses into miracles and marvels.
Today has been a day of blessings and curses and miracles and marvels. The church-cleaning and the tomorrow-preparing and the Christmas-tree-hanging happened quick and painless this morning. Then it was back to the mission and moving 4,000 boxes of stuffing and cranberry sauce to be delivered to families tomorrow morning and a human chain stretched three blocks to save steps. And it was cold but not freezing and the sun was on my back and a school group on my right and a bunch of Catholic teenagers to my left and it would've been amazing (easy gratitude), except that I'm a girl. And sometimes that means that I am sicker than ibuprofen and water can manage and sometimes I throw up and sometimes I pass out and sometimes I just hurt. Today, I hurt. So I'm sitting in the breakroom, slumped against the wall, waiting for the magic pill a friend gave me to kick in. And I hate sitting still when everybody else is spinning and I'm asking God how this can possibly bring Him glory? Me down for the count with work to be done? I mean, sure, if I was the soldier who could stand up and get back to work and grit my teeth and grin through the pain through the power of God, that could please Him. That could be worth something. But I'm not. When this girl hurts, she hurts.Soldiering wasn't going to happen. (Difficult gratitude is less fun.)
But eventually pills kick in (to some extent) and I stand up and everything's alright and don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know, but I'm thinking and thanking.
The rest of the day was great. A friend is in town unexpectedly and I got to help with different-than-usual things and little league baseball teams make any job go faster and I don't usually get trusted like that, but I did today and it was fun.
Tomorrow is the day that all of this has been working towards and I should be nervous, but I'm mostly excited and it's going to be perfect.
And I want you, reader, to have fun tomorrow. To be grateful for good things and bad things. To enjoy your family and your friends. Happy Thanksgiving.
"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Day for Duck-Duck-Tic-Tac-Toe

It's been the kind of day where duck duck goose and tic-tac-toe get mixed up and crossed around each other, and bags of cocoa puffs get gobbled and traded and dropped in the mulch under new picnic tables. It's the kind of day where Supergirl discovers the view from the top of the world (in the branches of a tree) but big brother wants to get down 'cause he's a little bit 'cared (but wait just a minute and look up and see how the sun comes down through the leaves, and look out and see how high up you are, and enjoy the view for just a minute, I promise I won't let you fall). A day of almost-skinned-elbows and almost-splinters and almost-bumped-heads and grace. A day of no, we're not brothers, just really close friends, and no we don't have any homework, and can we just have some snack before we go back to playing. A day of I'm sorry, I know you tried to say hello yesterday, and I just kept my head down, and we've just been going through so much lately. And a day of sorry, I can't come to the door, I've been in the hospital this weekend, and can you pray for me. It's been one of those days when I remember why I love my job.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Choosing OR How To Breathe

Did you ever have that moment when your heart starts beating again? When you find that the self you had thought was shrinking away to nothing was really there all along, waiting for you to remember it.
When the person who probably loves you the most of anyone alive tells you you're in danger of disappearing, you listen. You sit up and fly starlight. You cry, because you realize, like knife points, the truth of every word. And you change.
And when the person you thought was to blame tells you they're on your side, tells you you have to do what's right for you without worrying about anyone else, tells you they could tell you weren't breathing, well, that helps too.
When I came here, I was running scared. Since halfway through high school, the thought of there being an ever after to this girls story seemed inconceivable. I don't know why, or if that's my fault, or what it says about my mental health, but it's true. So when I got here, it felt like clambering onto some sort of tenuous reality. I needed it. For a moment, it kept me sane. But it it isn't the only reality. More of a pocket universe on the larger bubble of the rest of my time on planet earth. 
Good things have happened here. God has used me for good here. I've met people who will never not be a part of me. I've learned things about myself: like the reason that I will love teaching-I love meeting new kids, like I don't mind shouldering and consuming and swallowing more than my fair share of the world's bitterness and ugliness and negativity-as long as I have ample time and opportunity to release it and enough tying me down that I can return to myself after it's all over. It's a useful human being to have around-one who doesn't have to have the upper hand. And beyond that-I'm braver now, just in the silly things. In the making phone calls and  the answering phone calls and the talking to people and the saying hello in the grocery store and the running into acquaintances in Starbucks and the ordering what I actually want for dinner. My brother was saying just the other day, 'You're so good at that. Talking to people, looking like you know what you're doing.' That's something I used to be incapable of, and now I'm not anymore. I'm less the scared child, more the self-assured adult. I'm braver.
But there's more to it than that. I needed the time to become brave enough to choose the rest of my life, to choose the person I want to be, the person I'm supposed to be. I had to find the courage to decide, for myself, to go after my existence with everything I have. I needed  to find the place inside myself that wants to be me badly enough to keep trying it. And when you choose that, when you make that decision, the decision to love yourself and keep trying, you're heart beats again and your lungs fill with air and art happens again because "art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are."
Today? I chose. I choose.
("Wrote 'love' on arm. Saved self.")
And maybe it takes time and maybe changes don't happen tomorrow, and maybe the struggle isn't over yet because there's going to be hard conversations and some people won't understand (but hopefully the ones who matter will and the ones who won't don't matter) and maybe you never wander far from a mission you believe in with your whole self, and maybe you can't live in this town and not participate in what God is doing through it, and maybe you come back sometimes, and maybe the only somebody who could tie you here makes up his mind and reaches for your hand and then some things (but definitely not all the things) are subject to change (or maybe he doesn't and life goes on and maybe you don't really care that much anyway). And maybe there are other changes that will be hard, maybe living at home again, even as much as you ache for it, won't be without challenges. And maybe you're going to have to look for a real job, and maybe having a drivers license isn't much good without a car, and maybe your cell phone is on a company plan, and maybe life is complicated.
But everything is going to be alright.