Sunday, May 25, 2014

We Will Run

Late last night my middle child and I returned home from the Florida Parent Educators Association Homeschool Conference. While there, instead of doing my usual of stalking the vendors' booths and attending workshops, I had the privilege of working in the IEW booth by assisting parents in selecting materials for their children. I saw the gamut, too. Some parents were brand new, excited and charged to begin their educational journey with their kids. Some parents had hit that bump in the road, and came in with tears swimming in their eyes. Some parents waxed nostalgic as they selected materials for their child's last year of homeschooling. I was crazy busy, and no wonder, too, as I later learned that that conference was officially the largest homeschool conference ever the world!
In my element! (Thanks, Michelle, for taking the photo!)
Perhaps that's why, once I got home and crawled into bed, I had this dream. In it, I was traveling with my family in an RV. We were cruising down the back roads of America, on our way home from a long journey. Suddenly the RV came to a halt. There was congestion up ahead. As I looked around, I realized there was no way to turn the RV around, so I climbed out of it, walked about a football field length away to find out what was holding everyone up, and searched for assistance. While I was searching, I saw the congestion almost magically clear and the RV, containing my loved ones, instantly disappeared with everyone else, presumably on its way home.

I was alone. Here's where it gets strange. Oddly, I wasn't afraid. In an instant, I decided I would just run home. I kicked up my heels and took flight. And I was fast! I ran quickly and nimbly, easily jumping streams and running up hills, and I never got tired or out of breath. I knew with all that I was that I would see my family at home as long as I stayed the course. When the alarm clock rudely interrupted my epic journey, I was initially upset. I could still feel the warm breeze on my arms and smell the grass in the field. I could hear the trickle of the stream. I wanted to be back in that dream and not sitting on the edge of my bed, rubbing my eyes, and willing my sore feet to move.

This dream reminded me of C.S. Lewis' fabulous series, The Chronicles of Narnia. In the last book (The Last Battle), the Pevensie children go through the mysterious door to a wonderful land on the other side. Excited, they also begin running, "further up and further in," little suspecting they have arrived in heaven. They run joyfully, faster and faster, marveling at having no fatigue. I thought it was such a powerful description of heaven written for young children, fascinating them and encouraging them, as they imagined the Pevensie children's fate.

Life, any way you slice it, is tiring. Daily we face uncertainty and battle fatigue. Life places demands on us, and we respond, but simply because we live in finite bodies, we tire. As we go about our daily business of living, loving, working, playing, and serving, it is a comfort to me to know that at the end of the race, there will be rest. Perhaps my favorite scripture illustrating this comes from Isaiah:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
the will run and not grow weary.
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV

Those are words of comfort and truth! They provide rest for my soul, and strength for my day. And when my days are done, they will carry me over.

Mac Powell sings a song that I keep reflecting on. "When Love Sees You," is sung as if it is the Lord Jesus singing to us. I love the video, and I hope you do too. May you have peace for your days and rest in Him!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ars Gratia Artis (or Living the Luddite Life)

I believe there is a monumental disconnect in our society with the tactile arts. I believe there is a tragic forfeiture of anticipation that has been supplanted with the immediacy of information. I believe it is strangling our creativity, our relationships, and our health.

What do I mean by tactile arts? I am brushing with a broad stroke, but in general I am referring to anything that is done that elevates and improves the mind. In this vein, reading a classic novel, baking homemade brownies, tending a small garden, and journaling with ink and paper all count. I am specifically excluding anything of an electronic nature (this blog incuded) in my definition, simply because the internet ether has become our modus operandi, almost our god, of late, and I think it's important to carve out time to deliberately leave that world.

For me, creativity flows in several ways. Lately I've been spinning. It's as if the incessant spinning of my life has sparked a need to reflect it in a more creative and peaceful way. The more briskly my world moves, the more I struggle to break free of the constraints, the more I choose meditative pursuits to practice.
My latest spindle spun yarn
Bottom Edging
Happily, I am now in the finishing stages of my Lily Cardigan now, too! The knitting is completed, the blocking finished. All that's left is to tuck in the ends, sew on the button, and then wear and enjoy!

I have loved every step of this swea- ter, and I'm already envisioning wearing it in air conditioning. Contrary to what many may suppose, Florida is definitely sweater weather for much of the year, except it's born of the necessity of living in cool air conditioned houses!

It is my hope that in reading this post, you may be encouraged to slow your steps for even just a few spare moments. Linger a little longer over a book (or start one you've been meaning to start!). Pull out a favorite recipe and prepare it. Think of the person who gave it to you. Doodle. Dabble. Dream.

Am I a Luddite? No. I love my technology (just ask my family!). But, I recognize the dangers technology presents that I don't regularly think about. It can be isolationist. It can be all-consuming. The potential is there, and I see the results not only in my life, but in the lives of my friends, my family, and my community.
So what will you try today?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day

It's May Day! A reminder that sweet spring is here is the first bloom of my gardenia bush.
These are my favorite flowers, both for their sweet scent and even sweeter memories, as they were the flowers I carried the day I married my sweetheart!

I remember as a little girl my sister and I preparing May baskets for our neighbors back in my small hometown. We would grab whatever flowers we could find:  lilacs, pansies, dandelions. Whatever we could find (and hey, we occasionally "borrowed" flowers from neighbors as well), then we formed cones out of newspapers or wove baskets of construction paper and delivered our gifts to the neighbors. Sneaking up as quietly as two giggling girls could, we would lay the bouquet down on the front stoop, ring the doorbell, and run away as fast as our little feet could carry us. They are sweet memories. How I wish I could experience the joy of a sloppy sweet floral gift from a neighborhood child, but I've never had that pleasure before. I think it must have fallen out of custom. Even my own children haven't done them. Perhaps it's time to rectify that today!

May Day reflects back on a fascinating heritage, most notably of which is the May Pole. I remember dancing around the May Pole at the summer solstice garbed in my Swedish Dancer costume. It was so much fun to weave in and out with the ribbons and gaze as the  the pole grew attractively clad in the bright colors.

There is an obvious pagan connection that as a child I never considered, but the May Pole dance goes all the way back to the medieval period. Other connections, such as fertility and male and female relationships are also reflected in May Day traditions. It is only natural, given that this time of the year is just bursting with new growth.

Regardless, let's not let this May Day go unobserved.

Here is a lovely poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson called May-Day. I've reprinted just the first lines, as it is quite long, but it is gorgeous, and I plan on stuffing myself full of it later today! Enjoy!

Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring,
With sudden passion languishing,
Teaching Barren moors to smile,
Painting pictures mile on mile,
Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths,
Whence a smokeless incense breaths.