We are in the rainy season here (such that we have in Colorado that is), which is perfect for morning bike rides, then lazy afternoons of reading and dozing! This morning one of the girls rode with me toBoonzaaijer's, a cute little Dutch bakery on the west side--they made the cake for Laura's weddinglast year. If you are in the mood for delectable European pastries, check them out...you won't be disappointed!
For those of you who check here every once in a while, I didn't mean to take such a long break from blogging. These past few months have been particularly tumultuous. But summer is almost here and the sun is shining and it's finally warm in Colorado! I hope to share soon some of the things I've been learning about grace amidst chaos, especially about grace. For now, though, I'll point you to some of my favorite poems about mothers and I'll say that some of the most amazing graces in my life have been my four daughters and son-in-law. They are in many ways the most courageous people I've ever known, compassionate and interesting and just plain fun! I love you Laura, Michael, Lea, Lynnae, and Lydia!
And because he's brilliant and funny, a poem by Billy Collins, "The Lanyard," perhaps dedicated to his mother.
With my fundamentalist/evangelical background (long ago and yet still somehow with me), I have always felt a bit wistful with the keepings of the church calendar, as if it is a bit of a family secret that I should know but really don't. I long to measure my days by these reminders and yet when I try, it feels awkward and foreign. But the following profound reflection on Ash Wednesday does resonate (thanks to Richard Beck for the link):
...lurking within this day’s penitential posture is a celebration of our mortal existence. It is a liturgical episode that takes our physical existence seriously. It is, perhaps surprisingly, an extraordinarily hopeful day. The superficial gloom of ashes to ashes, dust to dust, points to the paradoxical, deep truth of the Christian faith: those who lose their life will gain it. It is a day to be released from the deadliness of doing, which is to say released to live in the world.
Later in the article, the writer references and explains TS Eliot's lines in "Ash Wednesday," "Teach us to care and not to care / Teach us to sit still":
The merger of caring and not caring might be thought of as non-neurotic engagement with the world. It implies a “doing” that is not deadly. When we sit still, we are still sitting in this world, with our bodies – not longing for escape. What Eliot, later in that poem, calls “the time of tension between dying and birth” gestures at our temptation: to turn this tension, the fact of our status as beings-toward-death, into a lack of stillness, of too much caring, of heaping burdens upon ourselves. This stillness ultimately resides within ourselves, for the swirl of the world surely is never ending. The task is not to flee such a world, but to dwell gracefully within it. We can, as Eliot puts it in the first stanza of “Ash Wednesday,” “rejoice that things are as they are…” Acceptance, total acceptance, and not mastery and reform, is the message of Ash Wednesday.
I've been reminded before about being present in the world, about the relationship between paying attention, gratitude and joy in this "time of tension between dying and birth". I am reminded again of how to keep these days, by "inhabiting" the now, whatever it is, "gracefully and lovingly."
(Thanks to family and friends who "dwell gracefully" with me...not an easy task believe me!... and to Anne, for the book that is embodying these ideas in real stories and fresh language).
A friend recently pointed me to Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability and its relationship to human connection. It's worth your time. What she says about transparency and courage is worth your time..."to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart". Even when it's messy--especially when it's messy. It reminds me of what some of my students said last year about brokenness and living a beautiful life. If you struggle with perfection and control or if you panic thinking about being vulnerable (as I do), maybe you will relate to her message.
When the girls were little, they loved having tea parties. They had valentine teas, teddy bear teas, summer garden teas. They could (and did) attach almost any theme to tea, whip out the tiny tea cups, and Voila! a tea party.
The girls are all grown (or almost), but they (we) still love a pretty tea table. Now it's a time and space to slow down, to talk, to laugh, to knit, to savor warmcranberry breadand chai latte (or a cafe au lait for me). -- Just what we needed this Sunday afternoon after a somewhat busy, stressful few weeks.
The tea set and tablecloth are from Austria, where I spent the early years of my life.
This afternoon tea was her idea...
In Austria, with my sister, where we also spent many happy hours having tea parties.
Our 2nd daughter, Laura, married Michael, one year ago today! In one year, they married, moved to London where Michael finished his Masters at London School of Economics, squeezed in a honeymoon trip to the Amalfi coast, and moved back to Denver where Laura is finishing her degree at DU. They've had quite a year! It's been lovely having them close these last few months. Happy year one, Laura and Michael! May you always "love the gaze of each other's mind."
I spent yesterday putting away the Christmas decorations and dutifully dusting a few nooks and crannies that were desperately needing it. It was a different Christmas than I had expected, yet also sweet in the giving and receiving. We went to Angel Fire, NM to be with my parents and siblings. Christmas day, the cousins chose a tree from the cabin's lot and decorated it with handmade ornaments.
I was able to find some perfect gifts for the girls (thanks to a very generous jar from an anonymous giver). We were so surprised and thankful that we decided to keep a Christmas jar for someone next year. Here are a few that were fun to give and to open!
Lea wearing her cute glasses--a gift from her early morning stocking.
Michael, reading Truman Capote
I found a great deal on Oxfords and owls (necklace)...isn't she pretty??
I love the striped top she found for me! Notice the buttons (I love buttons :-)!)
Michael and Laura are full of beautiful and exciting dreams, so I was elated to find the perfect bird teapot and cup for Laura (wish I had taken a picture!), with Aristotle's words, "Hope is a waking dream" inscribed inside the tea cup. Isn't that a lovely idea?
Lynnae and I exchanged favorite books. Gilead for her (I love this book too) and a book of blessing for me.
Finally, for those of you who check here every now and then, thanks so much for stopping by and for your comments of love and support. Happiest 2011~