31 Days of Aging Gracefully: Day 5 — Finding Beauty

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Beauty shines. It’s all around us, all the time. But, oh! We need eyes to see it. We need intention and we need attention and we need an open heart.

Lord, open the eyes of my heart, the eyes in my head. 

No matter our age, the truth is always the truth. And here’s the truth: our God is a God of beauty, a God who loves beauty, a God who makes beauty. 

And it shines!

Through the back of a pink hibiscus.

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Through the tassels in long grass.

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Even from a string of new lights from Cost Plus/World Market!

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You can find it in the clouds that roil and roll, and the water that glistens below.

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You can see it in the whiteness of the bluffs as they meet the water and in the reflection they create in a pond of scummy slough water.

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And that scum supports a long list of beautiful shore birds. Beauty downright startles in the silhouette of the greater heron, with his elegant white coat and his bright yellow feet.

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And beauty delights us as we eat our dinner and enjoy the momentary quietude of this small winged creature. 

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And, I gotta tell you that it is beauty that smiles back at me in the handiwork of our much-loved son-in-law, who makes it possible for books to sit on their own shelves and files to nestle in their own drawers. He even added a spotlight to make it all look downright heavenly.

Where are you finding beauty these days?

Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Focus

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It’s just a little thing. A ring on your lens to turn, or a button to push partially down. But it can make such a difference in your pictures!

Sometimes it’s fun to experiment. To turn off the auto-focus and see what effect you can get. I like this fuzzy picture of the two large wheel-like chandeliers that hang in our church sanctuary, and I intentionally shifted the focus to take this shot.

But sometimes, the focussing mechanism doesn’t work right, and that is frustrating. My newest camera is particularly difficult to manage and the pictures sometimes come out unintentionally blurry. 

Much like perspective, which I wrote about a few days ago, focus can really change your view of life, can’t it? If I find myself focusing on the wrong things, then everything gets kinda blurry!

But if I can keep the focus on Center, on Jesus and the work he is doing in me, then everything else comes more clearly into view. 

It ain’t easy. And sometimes, even after all these years of knowing him, I still forget to keep that focus sharp. How about you?

Here’s a picture of the same chandeliers in sharper focus – there’s quite a difference, right? (Both pictures are heavily cropped, so they’re fuzzier than I wish they were.)

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Just Wondering

31 Days of Looking for the Little: Memories

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This picture is about 35 years old. And it’s a fun example of one of my very favorite ‘little’ things of all: photographs. We have hired one of our grandsons to slowly scan all of our old photos (and believe me, this is a BIG job). And it’s been both fun and frightening to look back over the years.

I’m astounded at some of the things I wore over the last 50 years or so! And I’m saddened to remember how heavy I’ve been at different times of my life. Such a burden for me and for everyone who loves me. 

But mostly, I’m delighted to take a walk down memory lane. This was the only professional photo we ever took with our three children. They were about 12, 10 and 8, I think, and the photographer liked this picture so much, he had a huge copy of it in his window for a couple of years.

Those were good years. I’m not sure I knew that at the time, but I hope I did! Little things like photos can make a big difference in my life, helping me to recall past events, milestones, places we’ve seen. 

I had a very artistic friend once who told me that she didn’t believe in photos. She felt that the camera got in the way of actually enjoying the experience, whatever it might be. I gasped. To me, that statement was almost sacrilegious! Photos of all kinds are one of my greatest links with the past. Not only my own past, but my parents’ and inlaws’ past, too.

What do you think about photos? Are they important to you or can you get along without them?

Just Wondering

Q & A: Week One – Letting Go of the List

I want to begin by saying that I am FLABBERGASTED by and deeply grateful for the response to last Friday’s introductory post in this . . . shall we call it a series? I want to call it a conversation, one in which we can share questions, ideas, concerns, without ever doubting anyone else’s sincerity or questioning one another’s commitment to growing in grace. I also want to state very clearly (and undoubtedly, will do so again) that I do not pretend to have answers to All.The.Questions. I don’t think that is possible or, quite frankly, even desirable.

We are works in progress, designed by God to search and seek until we are found. I hope you will consider this space a safe one for exploration, wondering and discussion. And I’m pretty sure that those of you who are here are not interested in argument, in fact are exhausted by it. So. . . may this be a place for stories, for honest questions, for differing opinions . . . but not a place for theological arm-wrestling. We’re all pilgrims on the way, and it’s good to walk that way together, don’t you think? I have barely scratched the surface of this week’s topic, and I will be looking at it again in this conversation, I’m sure!

Next week’s question?

What’s with this ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ stuff?

DSC00474 Surf’s up! And the water looks great. So grab your board, find a trail down to the beach and let’s venture out into the deep, blue sea.

Safety first, however.

Remember that the ocean is vast, extends way beyond our view, is deeper than we can imagine and can sometimes prove treacherous. Even if we’re waiting right next to each other for a new set of waves, each of us will have our own experience.

We’ll use the same general skill set, grapple with similar pieces of equipment, and wave at one another when the next swell rises. But when we catch that ride, we’re on our own, finding our way back to the beach. DSC00492 We can share with one another helpful hints, scary stories, good (or bad) memories of past ventures out into the deep. And that’s a very good thing, that sharing. We can teach each other, learn together, experience the rolling of the water as a team. But what we cannot do is make assumptions or hold onto unrealistic expectations about any of it. We’re all finding our way. And by the grace of God, we’ll discover reservoirs of courage and grace we didn’t know were possible. 

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So, bearing all that in mind, let’s push our way out into the deeper water for a while. 

Earlier this month, I wrote a one-word post for 2014, bemoaning the fact that the word I was given is NOT a favorite of mine. It’s a word that carries piles of negative freight, instills fear in the hearts of toddlers, and frustration in the minds of most adults. It flies in the face of what we believe is the highest value known to humanity: freedom

My 2014 word is this one: obedient.

I’ve wrestled with this word for most of my life, my rebellious heart resisting the very sound of it. Strangely enough, however, I have lived my life in an outwardly obedient way. I never did anything as a teenager that brought angst to my parents. Yes, I was outspoken, given to crying jags, and beginning to pull away from a wonderful but sometimes invasive mother. Still, I was a good girl.

A very good girl.

There was a problem with that, however, and it took me a long time to figure out what that problem was. Yes, I was obedient to the ‘rules,’ both written and unwritten. The rules of my family, my culture, my church environment. I was downright dutiful in many ways, helpful around the house, caring for my much-younger brother, getting good grades in school, not experimenting with anything. I learned to conform, to live up to the expectations of all kinds of others, and I worked hard to be pleasing, lovable, accepted. I had a clear picture of right and wrong in my mind and I toed the line conscientiously. Sometimes too conscientiously.

Yes, indeed, I was obedient.

But I don’t think I had a clue what that word meant. In fact, I’m still learning, unpeeling layers, redefining terms. I had internalized a long list of rules as a young kid, and that list just kept getting longer as I moved through high school and college. A few of those rules are part of my life today — I’ve learned that boundaries and limits can sometimes be gifts, giving shape to life, and hope in the midst of confusion.

But the problem with a too-long list of rules is that it can become like that many-headed water monster of old, the Hydra, the one that grew two heads for every one you cut off. Before you know it, you can find yourself gasping for air, the very life sucked out of you as you frantically try to contain all of life’s contingencies in their own secure, little boxes.

Here is just one, small example. Very personal to me, not necessarily applicable to you.

I began teaching Bible studies when I was 14 years old, immersing myself in devotional reading, prayer, journaling. And I kept teaching Bible studies, off and on, for the next fifty years. FIFTY YEARS. And I loved it. For one thing, it kept me ‘in the Word,’ which had been drilled into me as the most important rule of all, to be in that Word every day of my life. I am grateful for the depth of my own experience with scripture and I love it dearly.

But a funny thing happened when I retired from pastoring: I stopped doing daily devotional reading. And you want to know something even ‘funnier?’ I believe I was being obedient when I did so.

Okay. Now catch your breath, close your mouth and relax.

I still read the Bible. I still love the Bible. I even still study the Bible, though not as often as I once did.  But I know now, three years into this strange land called retirement, that daily reading had become a ‘list’ item for me, one that had to go, at least for a while. Why? To draw me deeper into the heart of God, that’s why. To teach me — again — that obedience is not about adhering to a list, not about earning my way to grace, not about proving myself worthy.

For hundreds of years, people followed Jesus with their whole hearts without ever — EVER — holding a Bible in their hands and reading from it by themselves. Sometimes we forget that truth. I do not mean to diminish the remarkable gift that is ours in this book we call holy — it is the very breath of God and a primary means of encountering God in this life. I am grateful for it every day of my life.

But following a reading plan, in obedience to some inner call to toe the line, be a good girl (or guy), to check those fifteen minutes off the list, to prove to myself, or heaven help me, to God, that I am worthy of love and grace? Not good. Yes! The discipline of reading the Word is important, especially in the earliest years of faith commitment. But doing it in response to an internalized list of rules does not necessarily lead us into God’s heart. 

And that’s where this word ‘obedience’ can get tricky, isn’t it? Obedience to what? To whom? To an ever-growing external or internal list of acceptable behaviors? Or does it look more like this: learning to listen to the voice of Love within, and to follow where Love leads.

This is where Jesus tells us we are to look, this is how we’re called to listen: to love God, and to love others as we love ourselves. Our dear Lord took the shining sword of his own sweet tongue and sliced through the multitudinous lists of the professional religious folk all around him when he said this: 

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – Matthew 22:37-40, The Message

Now that is a very short list.

So this is how this small facet of obedience is unfolding in me at this juncture of my life, at this end of fifty years of immersing myself in the Word of God. Over those years, I memorized some good-sized chunks of God’s word. And much of it, I still remember. During these last three years of digging deep instead of spreading wide, I’ve been grateful for that memory work. Most days, I chew on phrases — sometimes just a single word! — from that memory bank, and I ponder them while I walk, focus on them when I sit in contemplative prayer. I think I spent about four weeks just holding the word ‘glory’ in my mouth and in my heart, amazed at all the ways in which I could see it shimmering all around me.

Being obedient to this strange new call has brought profound reminders of who I am and who God is. I am grateful that as I move into the next decade of my life, I am slowly re-learning that God calls us to relationship, not a head trip; to transformation, not information; to love, not lists.  

DSC00497 So, you over there, the one riding the board next to me? What is God teaching you about obedience these days? What further questions are being raised as you think about it, or as you read my thoughts? Share in the comments OR join your own blog post about this question by linking up below.

Next week’s question, for Friday, January 24th:
What’s with this ‘more of Jesus, less of me’ stuff?

And here, thanks to the hard work and creative genius of my friend Lyla Willingham Lindquist, is your choice of a button or two to put on your own blog as we walk through these Q & A times together:

Diana Trautwein - Living into the Answers
Diana Trautwein - Living the Questions

Delving into the Mystery — Introducing Q & A

I will admit that this new year is already kicking my butt. I know that sounds rude, and, to tell you truth, it feels rude.

I have one more year in my 60s. One.More.Year.

And I’m feeling it.

My husband has already moved through that milestone. And he’s feeling it, too.

We’re tired, cranky at times, worry too much over our old, dementing moms and our beautiful, energetic grandchildren, and our joints ache almost all the time.

Yet, here I sit, staring out at the brilliant noonday sun on a winter day, grateful right into every aching bone for the life I’ve lived, the gifts I’ve enjoyed, the things I’ve learned.

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Yes, these joints hurt. But this heart and soul are still beating, still singing. I am grateful to be here, inhabiting this space for however long the Lord grants it.

And in between the groans and sighs, I’ve been listening. Paying attention. Reading. Learning.

Case in point.

This week, I took a walk on the bluffs near the University of California, Santa Barbara. I love that walk, the glorious views in every direction, the energy of a university campus beating its way underground clear out to Coal Oil Point, where the surfers hang ten.

So I took my very fancy new point-and-shoot camera and I walked. And I watched the surfers as they inhabited that immense sea.

Who knew that surfers could be such powerful teachers?? Here’s a little of what I learned on Tuesday afternoon:

To be a surfer requires dedication. These kids ride their bikes out the long, dusty pathway, holding their boards — holding their boards — close to their bodies.

DSC00569To be a surfer requires community. You will never see a lone ranger, waiting for the next set. Always, always, they do this thing together. Yes, their rides are individual, but the waiting? The learning from the water? The ebb and flow? This, they do together.

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To be a surfer requires patience, long stretches of sitting, watching, sensing, obeying the rhythm of the water. In between the thrilling stuff is a whole lot of boring stuff, but all of it is what makes an expert out of a beginner.

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To be a surfer requires flexibility, and a willingness to go with the flow. From straddling to crouching to half-standing, to a full-out-stand-up-look-at-this, you’ve got to be willing to change your position on a dime. Take a gander at these:

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DSC00554Dedication, community, patience, flexibility — all part of the surfing life. And all part of being obedient to what the water has to teach, don’t you think?

If we want to learn —

we’ve got to get wet,
we’ve got to find a tribe,
we’ve got to be willing to wait out the lulls,
and we’ve got to move with the rhythm of the water.

I’ve been following Jesus all my life, cannot remember a moment when I didn’t know him. And still, I fall off that board, miss the cues, lose the rhythm. I’m not there yet — not exactly a beginner, but not quite an expert, either.

All along the way, I have managed to learn a few things,  Some of them are painful, painful enough to leave scars. And though I would never seek it out, I’ve lived long enough to know that pain can be a place of profound growth, even of transformation.

Every surfer worth his or her salt has endured bruising, battering, humiliation and defeat. But the ones who choose to learn from all of that are the ones who become adept, adaptable, creative and committed. In short, the ones who yield to the mystery of it all, and accept that an occasional punch to the gut is part of the process — these are the ones who catch the waves, time after time.

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This cross stands at the edge of the cliff that sits between the two primary surfing coves along the Coal Oil Point Reserve. It is glorious and sturdy, withstanding wind and weather for as long as I’ve been living. I like the juxtaposition of sturdiness and wildness that I find in this place, the unpredictable mingling of formed and unformed, hand-created and God-created.

It reminds me of life – this crazy mix of goodness and grief, beauty and horror, healing and brokenness that makes our four-score-and ten (if we’re lucky) the rich and remarkable thing that it is.

I am quickly approaching that number, on my way to three score and ten very soon now. Over the years that have been granted me, I have never been able to settle for the quick and easy. Don’t offer me truisms, cliches, pat answers or formulas, please. I’d rather hear a different way of asking the question! Because, here’s the truth of it: I am a person who loves the questions; I believe they are worth the patient work of exploration, prayer and lived experience that can sometimes lead to answers. In fact, I believe that my word for 2014, obedient, is as much about asking the right questions as it is about finding answers.

For as long as I pastored, there was a beautiful calligraphic print that hung in or near my various offices. It contains these words, written by Rainer Maria Rilke in his small book, “Letters to a Young Poet.” This is a truth I believe; this is a truth I try to live:

“You are so young, you have not even begun,
and I would like to beg you, dear one, as well as I can,
to have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and to try to cherish the questions themselves,
like closed rooms and like books written in a very strange tongue.

Do not search now for the answers, which cannot be given you because you could not live them.

It is a matter of living everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then, gradually,
without noticing it, one distant day,
live right into the answers.
 

I would like to invite you to spend some time living the questions, beginning next Friday, January 17th. I’ll start us off with some reflections on a question that I’ve lived with for a while. And we’ll do that every Friday until there are no more questions to be asked.

Although I’ve got a list of about a dozen that I’ve discerned from my own life experience and from much of what I read on the internet, I am open to suggestions. Please leave them in the comments or email me directly at dtrautwein at gmail dot com.

Also? YOU are invited to link up your own reflections — either on the question that I raise or on another one that you’ve been living for a while. PLEASE NOTE that this is not an invitation to extended theological debate. There are lots of places to go if that’s what you hunger for. What I’m looking for are stories, experiences, concerns, points of conflict — anything that sets you down the road of wondering about the life of faith.

I think we’ll come closer to living an answer if we tell our stories and if we live our questions. Next Friday’s question set?

Why is there so much talk about ‘obedience?’
Does following Jesus mean I have to give up having fun?

Diana Trautwein - Living the Questions

Then, beginning the following Tuesday, January 21st, we’ll try our hand at discovering how we are living the answers. I will do some personal reflecting on truths I’ve been living into — perhaps connected to the question of the previous week, perhaps not. Sometimes I’ll look to scripture for help, sometimes to life, sometimes to both. And I can tell you right now, that some weeks there will be no ‘answer,’ just an encouragement to live with the un-knowing, to explore the mystery . . . to wait for the wave. 

Diana Trautwein - Living into the Answers

I have no idea if this will work or not! It is an experiment, one that I think is worth the risk. I hope you will, too.

I’m willing to get wet, are you?
I’m looking for my tribe, will you be a part?
I’m okay with the lulls, especially if I’ve got company.
And I’m willing to move with the rhythm of The Water.

So . . . let’s do a little surfing, shall we?

31 Days of Giving Permission . . . TO DANCE

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Sadly, my husband grew up in a tradition that not think highly of dancing. So we have never danced together.
However, our family has found a wide assortment of ways to engage the world with acts of joy.
Herewith, a sampling, ranging from water play, to miniature golf, to stalking the beach with a camera, to giggling with daddy. Just in case you need something further to give yourself permission to move your body with exuberance, I’ve included some great quotes on the gift that is THE DANCE. 

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
― Martha Graham

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
Great dancers are great because of their passion.” 

― Martha Graham

“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same things,
just moving at different speeds.
A sense of humor is just good sense,
dancing.”
~William James 

“All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes
that fill the history books,
all the political blunders, 
all the failures of the great leaders,
have arisen merely at a lack of skill
at dancing.”
~Moliere

“So the darkness shall be light,
and the stillness, the dancing,”
~T.S. Eliot 

“The dance can reveal everything everything mysterious
that is hidden in music,
and it has the additional merit of being  human and palpable.
Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.”
~Charles Beaudelaire

“I would believe only in a God who knows how to dance.”
~ Friederich Neitzsche

“Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you face.” 
~ Terri Guillamets

“There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.”
– Edwin Denby

31 Days of Giving Permission . . . TO SEE

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“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.
I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend
so that you will always have someone with you.
This Friend is the Spirit of Truth.
The godless world can’t take him in
because it doesn’t have 
eyes to see him,
doesn’t know what to look for.
But you know him already
because he has been staying with you,
and will even be 
in you!

John 14:15-17, The Message

Give yourselves glorious permission to see the wonder of God’s creation!

Blessed Sabbath, friends.

12 Things I Learned in August

That Emily Freeman, such a talented and fun lady. She started a meme a couple of months ago that I’ve been dying to try, so this is my first entry for the link that goes up tomorrow. August started so very well and is ending . . . not so much.

Most of these pictures are from item #2 on this list, except for the wedding picture, the stained glass church window from Hanalei, Kauai, and the last 2 miscellaneous shots from the same paradise. 

1. A personal calendar is truly only effective if you LOOK AT IT. (The editors at A Deeper Story/Deeper Family are very kind people, who forgave my forgetfulness and inattention, even providing space for an essay written very late indeed. Thank you, Megan Tietz!)

2. Playing miniature golf in Kilauea, Kauai is a whole lot more fun than playing miniature golf almost anywhere else on planet earth. Yowza, it was beautiful. Who knew you could combine a mini-golf course with a botanical garden and SCORE with both.

3. Saying good-bye to paradise gets harder to do each time I do it. For the first time I can ever remember, I did not want to come home from vacation. Sigh.

4. Getting airline seats early enough to secure the 2-seats-by-the-emergency-exit-in-a-3-seat-section saves the day. Literally.

5. It is possible to undo 4 weeks of restful vacation time with 9 medical visits during the first 10 days you’re back home. NINE, people. Nine.

6. Making slight adjustments in the medications of a 92-year-old dementia patient can make a large difference in her happiness and your own.

7. Discovering that 27 adults in your congregation of about 300 people are willing to come to quarterly meetings in support of your children’s and student ministries team is one of the single most heartening things you can discover about your community. Wow.

8. Rediscovering that meeting with people for spiritual direction is a privilege, a joy and a challenge, all rolled up into one, helps soothe the trials and tribulations of re-entry. I met with my five directees this year within hours (well, really, it was days) of returning home and each one of them is a gift in my life.

9. Seeing the daughter of a dear friend and former colleague marry a good man – outdoors and in a park, no less – provides nourishment for the soul that lasts a long time.  (And the actual meal was delish, as well.) Also? Cowboy boots look grand with sassy coral-colored bridesmaids’ dresses!

10. If  you sit with someone for a Google+ chat, said chat can be videotaped and PUT ON FACEBOOK. Who knew?? Good thing I love Deidra Riggs, because she’s the one who put us out there. It was a privilege to talk with these four women about a film that touches on so much important stuff. (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

11. Having dinner with all your children and all your grandchildren (including the ‘big boys’ who are now in college) is the best reward ever for anything. Such great people.

12. The Telluride Film Festival is a BIG DEAL and they keep their schedule tightly under wraps. But . . . I have a copy of it on my computer because. . . TA DA!!! . . . my #1 grandson got the film he was the cinematographer for into the festival! This is good news, my friends. And this ‘student’ film? One of the best short dramas I’ve ever seen anywhere. It is that good. (And it is featured Saturday and Sunday morning at the festival. YES!)

All in all, August has been a good month, despite all the medical crap in and around everything else. Every single test I had came back just fine – and there were a heckuva lot of those suckers. Thanks be to God – and to those vigilant doctors, too.

Couldn’t find a button of any kind, so just click here to jump over to Emily’s place and see that grand collection of posts all about what we learned in August.

5 Minute Friday — Rhythm

It’s been a while. Lisa-Jo’s got such a good thing going with these Friday prompts and I’m trying to make room for doing them more and more often. If you hop over to her blog, you’ll see lots of folks’ 5 minutes of unedited reflection on the prompt for the week.

Five Minute Friday

The prompt for today is — rhythm

GO:

Sometime, it feels like we should all be dancing —
all the time.

Everything about this earth of ours is marked
by rhythm of one kind or another —
the seasons,
the years,
the rising and setting of the sun,
the ebb and flow of the tide.

The beat of our hearts,
the changing tempo of our breathing,
the swirling of our thoughts —
how do we keep from tapping our feet?

Why are we so often mired in the monotony of stability?

Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with steadiness.
But even steadiness has a beat to it, right?

I sit beneath a slowly circling fan,
listening to a bubbling fountain just outside our bedroom door.
Occasionally,
I hear a frog-song,
a bird-song,
the wind soughing through the trees.

And I want to jump and shout,
I want to sway these hips,
these old, child-worn hips,
and swing my partner,
even if that partner is imaginary.


LIFE is rich and good
and sings a siren song of joy-in-the-moment.

Come and dance with me!

STOP 

Foggy Morning: Ruminations & Photographs

I spent Thursday morning at the Goleta Slough last week,
and I spoke into my phone as I sat there.
This is the transcript of that speaking. (Pretty much!)
I’m thinking this was an artist’s playdate of sorts. . . 

Cormorants, beautiful black and sleek, yet they wreak such havoc.
The trees above these birds are sticks now.
Ashen, dead.


I sit, staring.
The tide ebbs and flows, the horizon fades away.
An occasional gull, tern, cormorant, or duck flies by.
I can hear the chatter of children far down the beach.

And the, low  guttural tones of the men who drive these weary motorhomes.
What must it be like to live like this, day after day?
Chatting in the parking lot, slugging back a six pack.
Suddenly a dolphin surfaces very close by.
Oh, have I ever told you how these creatures speak to me of God?
I see he has a companion.
Somehow life is better with a swimming partner.

Summer must truly be here, a lifeguard walks by,
carrying his bright orange rescue pad.

Summer in Santa Barbara is often gray,
as the heat from the central valley of California rises,
it sucks the fog up to the beach along the central coast.
But today, instead of feeling suffocating, this cool, moist blanket is soothing.

My husband is flying to Chicago, once again attending meetings.
He gets so nervous before he travels, and so do I.
Neither one of us likes to travel alone anymore;
I’m not sure we ever did.
We have surely done it often enough,
and once we arrive at our destination, most worries dissipate.
But travel days are hard — and the days leading up to travel days.

47 years is a very long time.
We’ve had adventures, raised children, cared for grandchildren,
moved several times, each dealt with the stresses of our own individual careers.
And we’ve done all of it together, growing up together,
growing into marriage together.
So separation is both good and hard.
It’s good for us to remember that we are separate.
Each of us is an individual, with different gifts and interests,
and those gifts and interests need nourishment,
encouragement, outlet.

Yes, we still need
to do those things which nurture us as people as well as a couple.
But the other reality is this one: everything else in life is better together.

I just saw a plane take off in my rearview mirror, perhaps it was his.
He flies first to San Francisco, then on to Chicago.
Meetings all day tomorrow, half a day Saturday, then home again Saturday night.


I look forward to his return, but I also look forward to some space and time alone.
Taking an hour to sit and stare at the ocean is something
I find more difficult to do when I know my husband is at home.
Why is that, I wonder?

I think I still carry a lot of baggage from my early life.
I still hear the voice of my mother in my head,
the one reminding me to be ever present and careful,
to look out always for my husband’s interests above my own.

I have come around intellectually and on some emotional level to the belief that
each of our interests and gifts are important,
that decisions are made mutually,
that God’s call is unique to each one of us
as well as unique to our marriage relationship.

But I still hear my mother’s anxious questions.
“Does Dick think this is okay?”
“Are you keeping your husband happy?”
And I still remember, clear as a bell,
her words about one of her very best friends,
after her husband betrayed her with a member of his congregation
and left their marriage.
I still remember these words:
“If only she had taken better care of herself.
If only she weren’t so smart.
If only she had kept all that intelligence in check.”

It makes me physically sick to write those words.
Yet this is what my mother believed, and this is what she raised me to believe.
How sad is that?

The cars are starting to pull into the lot now –
it’s a summer day at the beach.
People will be here in droves.

My clue that time is up.
What will this day bring next?

It brought a lot of loveliness and a fair amount of pain, actually. Leisurely shopping for the first time in ages; lunch out, every bite delicious, while reading a favorite author on my Kindle; time at the beach at the other end of town as the sun was setting. Unfortunately, on my walk there, my ‘bad’ knee acted up fiercely, requiring a trip to urgent care the next day. Three x-rays and 1 shot of cortisone later, I am much better. Undoubtedly, this relaxing day helped to move that recovery along.

Joining this with Laura, Michelle, Jen and Ann: