Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Right Now

The director of a private school hired me to grade papers. All I knew was that she was overwhelmed and needed me to get this work done quickly. I drove forty minutes to pick up the papers and receive instruction. I assumed the grading would be objective--maybe math tests with an answer key, definite right or wrong answers. To my surprise, she wanted me to grade high school essays! I wasn't sure I was up for the task but thought I'd give it a try.

That afternoon I pulled out the papers and began to read. Lucky for me, the students had just read Romeo and Juliet and were writing papers based on the teacher's assigned thesis and specific points. So I knew exactly what was expected of them. Arielle had just finished reading this play for her literature class at the co-op and had written her own paper, so the story was very familiar to me. I did have to ask Arielle a few questions on facts as I was going over the essays, and she was a big help.

It was a very warm afternoon and we all sat at the dining room table, the girls finishing up school work. As twilight came, a light breeze cooled us off. Liana finished typing her essay on pianist Clara Schumann and Arielle continued work on her research paper on endangered tigers. What a lovely, peaceful evening! At first... Then came interruptions--phone calls, Fred's arrival home and needing food, Liana's cries of frustration over math, a sudden ant invasion, a bee flying over our heads and the girls screaming. Now I am frustrated! How was I going to finish up these papers when I couldn't hold a thought for two minutes?

I read a quote from Ann Voskamp. She was cleaning up the messes left by her six children and she wrote: "I get to be here and do this." Simple words, much implication. I get to be here! I am privileged to be here in my own home with my treasured daughters and husband. I get to do this! Right here, right now, I am able to do this work. How often I need to be reminded to live in the moment and be grateful.

This morning I wake to a chorus of thousands as the bamboo birds chatter to each other, preparing to fly away for the day. They sound so joyful, ready for their adventure, whatever it may be. My dear husband brings me coffee and my daughters sleep on. It's a new adventure for us all this beautiful spring morning. Thank God for another day of life--for an ordinary day of extraordinary blessing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Life

Sometimes April comes with tears amidst the blooms of spring. Last year my friend wept into her hands, knowing her time on earth was coming to an end. But right outside her glass door a hummingbird hovered over a pot of scarlet petals and we watched with wonder. A couple of Aprils ago a late night call crushed my soul. My little sister, battle-weary, finally let go, her eyes lingering on her son's face for the last time. That spring an apricot lily I'd never seen before unfurled outside my door, bold on a strong green stalk. We rage against the injustice and marvel at new life bursting forth from the the dead of winter.

This April we longed for a return to good health, and we thanked God for healing. On Thursday before Easter, we prayed and confessed. My precious daughters, my husband, my granddaughter--we soberly reflected on the death that brought the only hope to the world as we walked down the aisle to take the bread and wine. "Take eat...drink of it, all of you." On Sunday we were refreshed, and with joyful tears I saw my son and daughter-in-law submerged in the waters of baptism.

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." Romans 6:3-5.

Our family gathers in the warm afternoon sun and children look for colored eggs in the fresh green of the lawn. A new baby cries for his dinner and we rejoice in our blessings and God's work in the lives of our people, beloved people around our table. April will bring other tears at later times. We treasure our time in this world, but when the time comes to say good-bye we will not grieve as others who have no hope. We will suffer because he suffered. We will die because he died. But we will be raised because he was raised. The promise and our hope is that one day God will wipe away all tears from our eyes and death shall be no more. All things will be made new.