I am sitting at my parents’ house, on call to help my dear mother if she needs anything in the night. The last month has been more than trying for her. First she suffered through the painful weakness of a shingles case. Just as that was starting to heal, there came a severe double sciatic inflammation and now she has a case of Bell’s Palsy on top of it all.
Yesterday I taught the preschool Sunday school class about Job and his steadfast trust. I suppose my mom and dad will never know if there were conversations between the devil and God concerning their faith, but it has certainly been sorely tried. I have watched my dad with something like awe as he took on the role of patient and kindly nurse. I didn’t even know he had it in him, and there he is, day after day, night after night, helping Mom get comfortable and praying for her when she simply cannot be comfortable. If you have some space on your prayer list, put them on it, please?
It’s June! Have you noticed? Here in central PA that means just about perfect weather. It means strawberries and peas and cherries. June is wonderful! The thing that happens is the constant busyness and running, running. It takes a conscious effort not to parch one’s soul in the host of good things to do.
A few weeks ago we had an especially crazy stretch of days and a sweet friend asked me after church, “So what has the Lord been teaching you this week?” I had been gulping small sips of “Streams in the Desert” and running along for days, and all I could say was, “Well, I am experiencing the fact that the cares of life choke out the Word.” (Mark 4:19) Just venturing a guess here that I am not the only one who has experienced the unfruitfulness that comes from lack of water. It reaches into creativity as well. When I am running dry, I just do what I have to do and there is nothing left to make something fresh. So maybe this is what happens when there are weeks of no writing. Or maybe my mom is sick and I am spending time at her house.
Gabe and I had an engagement anniversary (15 years) last week. I already told you the story of when he proposed. We were thrilled that we would get to change the world together! The week before our wedding, we were praying one evening and we both got a really strong sense that our marriage was meant to be about much more than two happy people. (Hello! I know this is basic, but it is quite easy to forget when you are young and in love.) There was this odd feeling that we were going to face hard times, not in spite of, but because we were casting in our lot together. This is a bit of a jolt when you only ever want to live together forever. We stopped praying and looked at each other. Did you get that too? Is this worth the risk? But of course. We were in love and we would be together and all would have to be well.
There is a quote by Jimmy Meacher that I have always liked:
“A wife is a spiky, complex creature brought into conjunction with another spiky, complex creature. For the rest of their lives they will be working out how to fit into the small world of marriage without damaging each other.”
(you can buy these hedgies here)
My friend Joy, who just celebrated 5 years of marriage, wrote a very wise post about the perfect marriage recently. You should read it, especially if you are realistic enough to know that love is kind of hard sometimes, you know, in the middle of the plush hearts and chocolates.
This morning we got up early and picked peas as the sun was coming up. Gabe set up a speaker and we listened to love songs while we picked. It was so ordinary and such a funny way to change the world. My opinions about middle-aged people have altered, obviously, since I am quite close to that category myself. I still don’t think that it is okay to live solely for the pleasure of a cute little family and all the stuff that can be accumulated to make it happy. But I think that middle-aged people who do the next thing, the right thing, the unselfish thing, might just be the fabric that holds society together. What if everybody was always traveling, keeping up with fashion, eating sushi in every city, and not having children because they are too much trouble and expense? While I do not begrudge these experiences (in moderation 🙂 ) to those who are unfettered by responsibilities, I see the potential extermination of the human race right there.
I am listening to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich when I pull weeds in the garden or have to do anything kind of unpleasant, like mending. It’s great, because it makes me mad and that gives me energy. At the same time I have been learning a bit about Winston Churchill and how he was consumed with concern for the welfare of others, even though his forceful personality and way of showing his care often made people dislike him. Talk about prickly! He had a saying when he was tired of it all and wishing to throw in the towel, “We have to just KBO.” His family and all his staff knew that this meant, “Keep Buggering On,” that he wasn’t giving up. I am sort of adopting this as a life motto. There are verse fragments that mean the same thing, “Don’t be weary in well-doing,” etc. but KBO is so easy to say and it makes me laugh at myself.
So, the cares of life, they are real and the worries that attend them. It’s not just the children anymore. In this stage of life it’s the parents too. It’s all part of the responsibility and the circle of life. And here we stand in the middle with all this stuff to do. That is why we have to focus so specifically on the things that really matter. My husband just did a study at church on meditation and it has encouraged me to stay hydrated.
- Soak yourself in the water of the Word of God!
- Bear fruit that nourishes others.
- Give freely.
(Fruitfulness is not just about having babies.)