24 February 2009
Today I am thinking about it - the day, the word, the concept. The hopeful song of a red-headed orphan comes to mind...
Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmmmmm.... tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow...
Yes, tomorrow's forecast is sunny and 62. It's only a day away.
It promises a bright, beautiful, bare slate - 24 hours of purpose, potential and possibility. It affords time to complete, to continue or perhaps to begin the tasks and work of today. It yields the fruit of yesterday and offers ripe soil for next week, for next month and for next year. It symbolizes and signifies hope and opportunity free of today's cobwebs and sorrows. You can bet your bottom dollar that the sun is coming.
Or can you?
Another song comes to mind. This, the resonant, tenor ballad of a blue-eyed cowboy in a black, ten-gallon hat.
My relentless hope in tomorrow is both my heel und mein kampf. I have looked ahead. I have held on and put my stock in tomorrow. Yet, I have also put off, held back and missed out all in the name of the same day. Spelled backwards, it is worromot.
And what of yadot?
Today, leafless winter trees sway in the breath of wind's whispers. They reach up and out against a cloudless azure sky. A symphony of birds chirp. A distant chime sings.
Tomorrow is a precious gift. It is cause for hope, for gratitude and for celebration. But the sweet, speckled girl in the red dress with the white belt and the black Mary Janes failed to mention that it is infinite except in its assurance. Tomorrow is everything but a guarantee.
Annie, meet my friend Garth.
We must always hope in tomorrow. And if it comes we may welcome it with love, thanks and open arms. But in so doing, we mustn't miss today. Today is an often overlooked and consequently undervalued commodity. It offers all the promise of tomorrow, but it is infinitely more valuable because it is within grasp. Today, it is sunny. Breezy. 70.
I look around today, and I see fields of good fruit and ripe soil. Yet, I hesitate to consider how vast a harvest this could have been but will never be because of yesterday's misplaced focus. I suppose that would be today's tragedy: to waste another moment of thought on the empty spaces in today's harvest.
Instead, I will open my hands and my heart and my mind to receive. I will take, eat and enjoy. I will taste and share the sweet splendor of today's fruit without regard for what was and what will be.
Yes, this harvest is ripe. There is far more fruit than I will ever be able to pick, to consume or to give away. But a far greater tragedy - one I have seen and lived before - is to stand overwhelmed (and hungry) surrounded by the firm, plump, crisp, juicy fruit of today and to let it fall and shrivel and die for fear of picking from the wrong tree or worse, waiting for tomorrow, which may never yield anything.
I mustn't delay. The harvest is ripe.
Yes, I may bypass the sweetest, choicest, tastiest fruit. But, I am of no value to myself, to God or to anyone else if I stand paralyzed by the possibility of choosing "wrong." I will listen and learn and I will be filled. Perhaps today will be the day that I pick the sweetest fruit of the bunch. And perhaps it will remain untouched. Perhaps it will shrivel up in the heat of today, it will fall to the ground and eventually, it will die. But I will continue to hope that the seeds of today's dead fruit will blossom into the cobweb-free harvest of tomorrow.
And if I awake tomorrow, I will gambol in the sun with a smile of my face, and I will eat and give of its bountiful harvest. And if tomorrow never comes, I will have dirtied my slate with the sweetness and stickiness of today's fruit. I will have lived and given my best, and I will be full.
02 February 2009
I know this is not a sentiment often heard, but for me, it's the truth.
Long before the sun stretches from its slumber and warms the morning sky, I eagerly spring from my bed into uniform: one ribbed, power-blue, long-sleeved shirt, which swims beneath a lived-in, loved on Pepperdine t-shirt. I don a pair of used-to-be-black Capri pants, which loosely hang from drawstring at my waist, and two red-banded, stretched-out heather gray socks, which swallow my calves and limply pool around my ankles. Tightly tied around my head is a sky blue, paisley bandanna, which almost matches my undershirt and secures loose tendrils in place that threaten to escape from the coif atop my head. My feet are shod with house slippers that almost match the faded, muted, black(ish) of my pants. Finally, two tiny white pearls, which conspicuously stand against the ebony backdrop of my earlobes, accentuate a sporadic spattering of head-to-toe bleach stains and pull together the perfect outfit for one of my favorite occasions: cleaning day!
My Mondays begin with a tall glass of water and hearty bowl of oatmeal, and they proceed with a second precious commodity: time - time to think, time to write, time to read, time to pray, time to work out, and finally, time to clean.
Paul is on deck to hustle with the bustle of 7 a.m. (a.k.a. groggy, empty bellied, pint-sized, caramel latte kiddos longing to be loved, fed, groomed and dressed), so I – gloved from fingertips up to elbows with squeaky, yellow rubber and equipped with sponges, brushes, rags and an assortment of cleaning products – am carefree and poised to tackle another Monday as the sun and my children arise.
Almost immediately, I am swept away on the tides of a to-do list through the paradise of Pine Sol to the universe of my thoughts. I frolic through lush landscapes of laundry and get lost - in audiobooks and dreams and gratitude. I wash and rinse; I get down and dirty, and I have grown to love it. High on life (and fumes), I feel thankful for toilets to scrub, carpets to clean, clothes to fold and the time and space in which to get it done. As I complete tasks, I delight in the simple pleasures of productivity, efficiency and teamwork. Awestruck, I get to witness the systematic transmutation of chaos to temporary order – of night sky to morning sun - and it is beautiful.
This particular Monday, as another outstanding morning of cleaning neared its conclusion, I ascended the stairs enveloped in my thoughts with a growling vacuum in tow.
I was stripped from my ethereal Eden and wisked back to Westminster, as a red blur whizzed by my face and brought me back to the present.
Screams… the thunder of running feet… discord… my son barrel rolls over the back of the couch and lands to the floor with a thud.
Just then, another projectile – orange this time (I think) – is launched from the lower level of my house over my head, and strikes the ground with a second thud.
Chortles and giggles squeak from behind the couch.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Maya, with the grace and silence of a jungle cat, slink across the living room from the coat closet to the shelter of the TV hutch. Immediately behind and in contrast to her, Cole bellows a tribal roar as he springs from his hiding place and leaps back onto the couch. This time, he is struck squarely in the chest with a black, foam ball. He shrieks, clutches his chest and drops to the cushion below, as a chorus of hearty belly laughter erupts from the couch, from behind the TV and from the family room.
Aha… Dodge Ball. The only rule is that the game is over when somebody cries.
As I watch the game play out from the stairs, still delighting from another delicious Monday morning, my cup runs over. I can’t help but to join in the chorus; I laugh until I cry.
The vacuum drones on.
On this particular Monday, I feel especially thankful that the Monday mornings of old – dreary, bleary and drab – are long gone. Today they are a colorful, creative, chaotic… and clean. I am thankful for the one-sided world in which I delight - of cleaning days and quiet times and story times and quality time, of sunshine and good nutrition, of museums and parks, of bike rides and of long hikes. I am equally thankful that Paul periodically rescues us with moments of commotion and clutter, of adventure and dance parties. He brings peanut butter and jelly and side ponytails and dodge ball to Monday mornings, and they are just beautiful.
Shortly after I climb and clean the last few stair steps, I emerge triumphantly on the landing. I look down just as my teammate - my husband, my best friend and my partner - assumes his pitcher’s stance, and looks up. I grab hold of his gleaming baby blues on this particular Monday, and I hold on tight. He smiles, and my heart races. I am in love.
I smile back, round the corner and head for the showers.