There comes a time for every mover when she turns away from the wide-open maw of a half-filled cardboard box. The packing tape will live to sing another day. The empty, soft bed is so inviting, and the thought of hot streaming water is a song unto itself.
And because a little green voice within me starts squawking whenever I make generalizations, I’ll just say that if that time doesn’t come for every mover — well, it ought to.
For me, the moment came last night at 9pm and left me sitting on the kitchen floor, eating blueberries. Tonight it’s a bowl of salad with cranberries and pumpkin seeds on a blanket in the living room.
Y left for a meeting after dinner, so I had full bath- and bedtime duty tonight. I think I can safely say I loved every minute of it, though Little Jo was sad for a minute when she had to give up her beloved bubble wrap to get ready for bed. She loves bubble wrap, and has been flapping around the house with a piece in each hand for the past few days.
After drying their hair and telling Jo where I hid her sippy cup of milk — I began this nightly game thinking it might help her learn some spatial terms — and settling down with our old Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible with Lucy perched on my knee, we read. I listened to Lucy read the first two pages, and then she asked me to take over. We read about Jesus going to Nazareth, and I stopped to explain to her why a prophet would have no honor in his hometown. Then we sang, and prayed, and I started forming a prayer that I verbalized twenty minutes later as I put a cheerful baby down in her crib: that these two daughters might know the joy of walking with the Lord all the days of their lives, and that there might always be two things at the forefront of their consciousness — our need for Him, and His all-sufficient grace for us. Then a pat for Little Jo, a breath on the pinwheels for her, and the shutting of the nursery door. It’s nothing significant, but I always do a little cough outside the door after I close it, both to help her know that I haven’t disappeared, and to give a nonchalant feel to my leaving. It ranks nowhere among topics for parenting books, but I love including it here because it’s one of the many small, distinct things I get to do as a mother to these particular two children.
Once upon a time I thought that deep thoughts and sensitive observations would be easier to come by if I had more time, more calm in a day. This was when I was younger, and I had before me C.S. Lewis’ Problem of Pain and writings by other authors.
But life is so rarely a vacuum. Long and meditative hours are not in my current job description, and it’s often on the busiest of days that my eyes really come alive to the plump, velvet-blue skin of a berry and the satisfying burst of its early summer juice between my teeth. These moments of brief relief are so nice, in fact, that I could probably form the habit of trudging through work and chores and life on the promise of having a few minutes to myself here and there.
Yet something else is happening too, a peculiar joy I get from pulling the More Relaxed, More Observant, Blueberries-on-the-Floor Me into the busier places of the day. The girls danced on a sheet of bubble wrap yesterday, and I laughed at the sheer amount of elation that was pouring over onto that crackling and popping piece of plastic. It really was worth every potentially naked bowl or cup in our kitchen that’s waiting to be packed. Tonight I reminded Lucy that I’d like her to do what I ask the first time that I ask, but I managed to do it without tacking on more unhelpful criticism or a frustrated tone. Paltry stuff for others; a victory for this mama.
This is where I see the Kingdom of God coming, on a cellular level. When empathy and patience don’t keep to the off-duty moments, but begin to spill over into the tight, depleted, stretched-thin hours… these tricklings are my evidence that the Holy Spirit is doing what all the pit stops in the world couldn’t do in me, and show that He is more determined and more able to bring grace into every corner of my life than I am.
Further up and further in, friends. And to this I raise, literally, a spoonful of blueberry crisp.