In an effort to find a rhythm of deliberate written reflection, here’s a stab at a weekly wrap up. Designed to influence or impact no one, merely to articulate memorable, significant, or even completely irrelevant moments of the week on what is generally a Sabbath for me – I offer my week, in review.
I DROVE TO DC. Sydni and her significant other left Monday on separate flights, headed opposite directions – but at least from the same airport. An elaborate plan involving trains and busses sounded…well, too elaborate. So I offered to drive. “Mom, that’s six hours of driving in one day…it’s almost three hours to Dulles…”
Yes, my child. I know. But I am your mother, and these are the things we do.
It was good to have those few moments with her, and particularly with her with him. One specific moment stands out; Syd and I were chatting and navigating from the front, and The Boyfriend took the back seat. I glanced once or twice in the rearview mirror and saw him sleeping. It was a quick glance – I was driving – but still, I noticed; it’s a profoundly intimate thing, I think, to see someone asleep. Vulnerable, open, unguarded. Not that he’d been guarded or anything less than authentic in the five whirlwind days he’d spent with our family – but that moment in the mirror is what I remember.
They got out of the car and ventured into the international chaos of Dulles Airport together; she went west to San Diego, he headed east, back to London.
And on we go from here.
I WATCHED MOVIES. A dormant fascination with Smith & Wesson .44 magnum pistols (on my husband’s part) had awakened the prior week during some post-Christmas shopping. Peering into a gun case at Cabelas, I said, “That’s Dirty Harry’s gun!” Not that I know a lot about guns; but I do remember Dirty Harry movies, and my dad, who – in his younger days – reminded me of Clint Eastwood and his lanky frame. I remember, via VHS, the snarl and the spit: “You gotta ask yourself: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” We tried to remember the phrases, and the dates, and the plot points, and finally we remembered that we live in the age of miracles, when pretty much anything you want to watch or listen to is instantly available.
So, New Year’s Eve saw the purchase of the Dirty Harry Bundle and led to 10 hours of non-stop 70’s era action. I made it through two movies, total; all of Dirty Harry, half of Magnum Force and half of The Dead Pool (hello, young Liam Neeson). My husband watched them all in a glorious binge. It was an interesting walk down memory lane and contemporary culture that we both lived – albeit from different perspectives (our 8-year age difference mattered more when he was 21 and I was 13….)
I READ A BOOK. I thank God for my mother, who always gets on the lists at the library for the most in-demand new releases. I don’t even know I want to read something until Mom gleefully calls or sends me a Facebook message, exclaiming, “I GOT THE NEWEST JOHN GRISHAM BOOK!” or “THE NEW PATRICIA CORNWELL IS OUT – YOU CAN READ IT FIRST!” Last week, she waved the latest Louise Penney book at me when I stopped by – but refused to give it up until she finished. She passed it on last weekend, and I dug in.
I love book series’ that reflect the ongoing development of a community of characters, and I’m a sucker for Chief Inspector Gamache and the assorted residents of Three Pines. Loved this, like I love Mitford and Father Tim. There’s some connection there with my early passion for the Hardy Boys, I think; it wasn’t just the adventures – it was the family and friends who stayed constant.
I finished Kingdom of the Blind and then opened Wild Tales, which is Graham Nash’s autobiography. My thoughtful husband picked it up along with Reckless Daughter, the Joni Mitchell biography he surprised me with a few weeks ago. Graham loved Joni; it’s an interesting perspective.
I LISTENED. I had two spiritual direction sessions this week; one with a woman who’s partnered with me as a ‘guinea pig’ as I continue my schooling, and another with someone who reached out at the end of the year and asked to explore this method of spiritual growth. To be honest, she said, “I need to get back on the right track with my spiritual relationship.” Today, she said, “I’m gonna need you to kick my butt.”
That’s not exactly how it works, but it was a beautiful reminder of the divine patience of God, who meets us and fills our sacred spaces. We just have to open our eyes. I continue to be amazed at the fruit of this sort of partnership, regardless of which chair I’m in – as the ‘director’ or the ‘directee’. Either way, it’s profoundly moving and soul-filling.
I SANG. I am playing in the band back at our Powhatan Campus this weekend, and we’ve pulled up an old song to close the service – one that I brought with me to introduce to our community when I arrived fifteen years ago.
The song pours out of me with joy and confidence; I’ve sung it for years, and it carries all the truth of my personal belief. Rehearsal was a blast; Sunday will be fun.
I COOKED. What I created was not that significant, just my standard go-to chicken soup. But I made it for someone else; someone I love who has a cold. I struggle with wanting to fix things and help people and manage stuff that’s going haywire, but too often I become paralyzed and overwhelmed by the magnitude of So Much That Needs To Be Fixed. I’m learning – by experience – the truth of the simple fact that One Small Thing is a legitimate offering. So, someone I love isn’t feeling well: I made soup. That simple equation, for someone wired like me, is a big deal.
I MARVELED. Finally, I processed a bit more of the remarkable gift my children one another at Christmas. Our tradition, inherited from their dad’s family, is that everyone gives a gift to everyone, and those gifts are presented and opened, one by one, according to birth order. The youngest (David) starts, giving his gifts from youngest (Daniel) to oldest (Tony, then my parents and Tony’s mom). We take time with the opening and the gratitude and the laughter (when appropriate). It’s wonderful; it’s also long and can be expensive.
This year, the kids said, “We’re doing something else. It’s too much money, it’s too hard to buy decent gifts that we can afford, and it takes forever on Christmas morning.” I complained; I didn’t like it one bit, but I reminded myself how frustrated I was as a young twenty-something, in the same boat with their dad’s SIX siblings and nephews. It made sense, so I shut up.
What they did still boggles my mind.
The boys have tattoos, but this was the first time for the girls. That’s no small step. They referred to it as their Sibling Tattoo; the design and meaning is obvious, if you think about it (and know who’s who).
A few years ago, in some sort of team-building work setting, we were asked about a life goal. I think these things vary, but at the time, this was true for me; my life goal was for my kids to want to come home.
That’s really a larger metaphor reflecting my hopes and dreams for my sons and daughters; that they realize the value of community, that they appreciate – sooner, rather than later – their shared history and common bloodline. I have come to believe that wholeness starts with knowing who you are, and such self-knowledge always starts with family of origin. My deepest desire is that my kids love and honor one another, and that they want to come home – to be with me, and to be together.
The first Christmas in which they chose to deviate from the long-established gift-giving tradition, they elected to permanently etch their connectedness on their skin. Regardless of how you feel about tattoos, it’s impossible to escape the deeper meaning and motivation.
I marvel, indeed. And I am oh, so grateful.