I met my Beth thirteen years ago today. We had our first date three days later, and pledged our lives to one another (unofficially) two weeks after that. Capricious, unwise, love-drunk fools we were. Five kids and thirteen years later, I am as enraptured with this woman as I’ve ever been.
In the last few years Beth has developed into a fine writer - something you’ll know if she has sent you a heart-felt Facebook message at 2 in the morning because she can’t stop thinking about what’s weighing you down. What I like about the way she writes is that nothing ends tied up in a ribbon. You always get the sense that she and her audience are right in the thick of things, and that she expects nothing less or easier of her audience or herself. It’s this mentality that has led her to dub our new home in Kankakee, The Thicket.
She’s given me permission to post one of her journal entries. She wrote it in the backyard at our old Chicago house, The Roadstead. She wrote it during some very hard days, when it was becoming clear that God was leading our family to a place she couldn’t imagine being home. As much as I’d love to wrap THAT up with a ribbon, I’ll stop here and paste in her journal entry. Enjoy.
May 8, 2013 8:45am
Robins listening, glistening.
Christening my day
I prayed again at group last night. I was brought to the memory of watching the robins in the backyard last week. Watching how they bent low to listen for the worms and then spiked their beaks into the earth, made softer by the sprinkler water, to catch one up. I had gone outside to sit and be still and listen for God's voice. I was (am) in deep need of knowing his nearness and had grabbed the few minutes of occupied children to sneak outside. Left the Kitchen of the Sticky Floor just as it was, true to it's name, and put off the start of schooling for the day. I needed to hear from God. I needed to connect because I knew (know) in my knowledge-brain that all of these feelings about being dragged along on the Olivet journey and about my experience not mattering as much as Brian's and about there not being life and joy where we're going were not, and are not, true. So I sat out there and tried to connect again so that I could hear from Jesus how untrue those things were. I needed help transferring the truth over to my heart-brain. As I was sitting/thinking/praying/being, I kept being distracted with those robins.
How regal and stately they were. How they walked through the spray as if they didn't even notice it, were unfazed and unimpressed by it. But I saw their eyes.
They loved it. They relished in the cool drops that polished their slate backs. They knew, too, that the unsuspecting worms would be inching closer to the surface in response to the artificial rain.
And how the Sun blazed through those drops. It had no concern about where the water was coming from or if it was a good decision, by some mortal being, to spend water on new grass seed. It wasn't thinking what I was…about how it was a good decision to plant that grass and it was worth the water spent to maintain the Roadstead's secret, safe soccer/tag/baseball/colors game/apples-and-peanutbutter-for-a-snack field that my children and so many others rest and play and simply are in throughout the summer. The Sun was not being so reflective. It was simply reflecting and flashing and prism-ing each one of those sprinkler drops like it may never rain again.
So, as I watched those robins, I asked Jesus to make me aware of his presence. And, ever so softly, so as to not startle the birds, I'm sure, he told me that he had put those birds there for me to watch. And I sensed, ever so subtly and gently, his hand shooing them over into our yard to put on a show for me. And I resisted it at first (ah, beth, you of weak faith), because we have lots of robin friends who visit often. But then I asked, how do I feel that Jesus put those robins there for me?
Cared for. So very cared for. And noticed.
And now I sit at McKinley Park, abandoning my school-mistress responsibilities for the morning, and there is a teeky tiny little red bug crawling on the once-painted-black-many-moons-ago picnic table. So I watch it scurry and I ask, Jesus, help me be aware of your presence. And he says, 'watch'. So I do. And the bug scampers around and then disappears into a crevice of the used-to-be-a-strong-beautiful-tree plank of the table. It's gone from me. But there is another little bug flitting around the table too. And Jesus says, 'there is life'. Here. There. (Wherever there ends up being).
Does this feel true, I'm asking.
Yes. Yes it does. Very gently, it does. Creator is here with me. And Creator is there. There is life.
I said to the Almond tree,
Speak to me of God.
And the almond tree blossomed.