She smiled at the morning and then paved a way. She made room for their messes, imaginations soar. She helped them make sense of their huge world and her own such a blur.
She cheered for the funnest dreams. . .yes, the United States could use a queen! She pointed to leaves falling, can you hear the rustling? She filled up cups with water for stubby stems and weeds. She picks out mundane magic hidden inside of everything.
And when the magic ran all out. …her arms gathered up their growing pains. Her voice, “this is how a deep breath goes.” And her heart, “I’m here with you, and I love you very much.” Their eyes, “mom! our best nightlight, our knight in shining armor!” We are big and safe. We are strong and brave. We are loved and happy.”
Still she held back tears, sighed, “I don’t make art anymore.” But how can this be true?
She painted life by living, and like colors on a canvas, her art filled up her children. and greater still, where are the children standing next to her? Because all I really see are artists standing tall who just can’t wait to emulate the wild art of living, of painting like their Mother.
a note // please do make some art if you can & enjoy those hobbies & pastimes but for the seasons and/or days which are all consuming & demanding DO NOT LOSE HEART! Tiny artists in your care!!💓
It may sound a little crazy but it feels like there’s this idea floating around that beauty = ugly, or beauty = bad, or even, beauty = a vain woman.
But I disagree.
Beauty may be vain in that it doesn’t last and isn’t the end-all/be-all, but a beautiful woman is not automatically vain (or mean!) because she is beautiful. We are far too busy running away from beauty, feeling insecure about it, or feeling without it.
Enough is enough!
So, what if we weren’t afraid of beauty? In ourselves and in others?!
What if we weren’t afraid of however it shows up in our lives?
What happens when we don’t back down from what is lovely and what God made beautiful?
Of course, beauty isn’t the only thing, but it is a good thing, and a good thing we don’t have to be afraid of noticing, acknowledging, and even having. May we not impose a fear of beauty in our daughters. May we raise daughters and be daughters who can hear YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and not feel threatened by the words or fearful of being defined by it.
For whatever reason after I finally posted, A Mother in Warfare, I could not write any new words. Not really. I read through old work and edited an old poem making it better. But truly new words? New ideas? Not a thing. Perhaps due to a few things. Who can really tell? I have my suspicions. No one thing the sole culprit.
You can push through writer’s block fine enough, but this particular time (these days in general) didn’t seem like a time for pushing through. It seemed like a time for waiting. Just letting that absence of creativity lie dormant. Of not forcing beautiful words on a page. I had none, anyway. I was blank space.
But then my husband and I were in the garden with our son. He turns two this August and I’m already getting excited. I’ve been thinking of his birthday since I was early pregnant with our daughter. Birthdays light up my soul, I suppose.
And his is so special.
I can remember the anticipation I felt leading up to his birth. I can feel those long days of labor. Picking zinnias before going to the hospital (the first time, heheee). The laughter. How he felt on my chest in those first minutes. Bringing him home to sunflowers and our first walks in the garden holding him tiny in my arms. I was thrown into this kind of magic that hasn’t stopped. I’m getting carried away. Like I said. . .birthdays.
And more specifically the birthdays belonging to my children.
Well, anyhow, he’s almost two and that evening in the garden, we picked him a snow pea and showed him he could actually eat it. I hope I never forget his face. It will always be one of the sweetest things I’ve experienced earth-side. A moment so small and so big and beautiful. . .his realization that some things grown in the garden can be picked and eaten too.
And for me? I felt I could write again after that. I didn’t know what the words would be just then, but they would come soon. The following poem feels like a way forward after my latest, Even Mothers, Even Here.
So here we go. . .the words that came that evening after June snow peas in the garden.
Snow in June
after too much death
much too soon,
after wrestling with the words,
after all the words ran out,
after the Psalms ran on audio,
after nursing my daughter in
the dark of morning
afraid of lights out, life out,
of bad news down like
I’m in the garden with my son.
he’s standing, loved, between us.
and he’s full smiling, hint of grinning,
we’re picking snow peas in June.
now height of morning light in evening
watching him taste and see
the fruit of our hope,
that this fruit even exists
that it can be for him. . .
not untouchable like the roses
not to save like the daisies
not to spare like the pink blossoms
. . .but to pick and eat,
its beauty in the tasting
its joy in the process.
eyes alight, its snow in June,
us right there with him.
fresh delight and nightfall soon. . .
life here is not only madness.
for I have also tasted,
and I have also seen.
the Lord, indeed, is good.
I’m not sure what I’ll write next or when. . .?
I’m in the days I can’t really explain.
I can imagine a mixture of postpartum, mothering two, shifting into a new camp season, wrestling with my fear of loss, trusting God with my whole being, and experiencing my faith deepen has life demanding my full attention without margin or capacity to write. I may be a solid two months past giving birth to my bright-eyed, wonderful Heidi, but I’m only a solid two months past. So there’s a lot still happening.
But Shasta is on his Y Bike in the bathroom batting his toddler hand at the dust particles floating in the morning sunlight.
And Psalms 16:8-9 upholds me in the night.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.
Heidi smiles at the drop of a hat.
Words will come again. The days sure do. I’m grateful for every single one.
So while I wait, grow, heal, learn, deepen and surrender, I think I’ll enjoy another snow pea in the garden this evening.
Our garden tells the story. Our bright yellow shed. The way we approach each new spring. How we laugh together.
It’s been seven years of marriage.
We wear our ugly crocs and go out in the garden in the evening after our children go to bed. He waters. I trim roses. We admire our tiny bursting sunflowers every day. In awe at how they’ve grown.
We walk on the garden path of stones, almost completed. I pick up our little boy’s toys all over the garden. Our two plastic hand-me-down chairs sit side by side tilted on the grassy hillside. We make plans for the rose bed. Note the new growth on our daughter’s rose bush. It’s a story we’re living in exploding color.
And I celebrate seven years with the poem I wrote for Hope Gives a Eulogy. Because this story which the garden tells and our laughter accompanies, began years ago when in our earlier youth we stumbled through the graveyard, harsh reality nipping at our heels.
From the grave the garden grew and our love deeper with it.
Happy people live here.
Bright yellow, light blue,
Big parties, belly laughter,
And year-round Christmas lights.
Happy people live here
Even after the music box
Abruptly changed its tune.
Happy people live here.
Making up magic and merriness,
Composing a new anthem
For easily missed things
Too big to fit in a box.
Happy people, the happiest
They gave a backbone to
While harsh realities nipped at our heels we cultivated life with our fingertips. Side by side. Until the bright yellow on the walls became the bright yellow in our laughter and the music box got swallowed by the music of a garden that keeps on growing.
We pass through the garden gate made of splintered scraps of wood, and close it for the night. We walk by the sunflowers, step into our home, children sleeping soundly.
Indeed, it has been happy.
A grave. A garden. A dying, living, growing thing.