This monday morning finds me in an unexpectedly contemplative place or it could be that my coffee is simply not doing its job well enough. One more mug and I’ll be as impatient and disquieted as ever I expect.
But while I’m here, sitting in this relative peace I thought I’d type up some thoughts. Because my kids are young and homeschooled I have to grab these moments. It’s too bad really, that my first instinct is to snatch them up and stuff them in my pockets rather than just relax a minute, holding those moments in my hand, open palm, vulnerable. Somehow I think that keeping them tucked safely away means that later on I’ll be able to pull out my treasure trove and let it all sink in but we both know that’s a trick of the light, don’t we? It’s like an old fable or a new movie plot, once I have the chance to take in that stored up moment I realize that it was perishable and it’s rotted in the dark of my pocket.
And then I’m grieving because I realize I cannot put my fingers on that moment ever again.
It sounds dire and perhaps it is. It’s especially dire for me right now, mother of four home-schooled chaos champions. Those moments are manna, vitamin packed and yes, perishable. It’s hard for me to remember that, to take the time needed to eat, to be ready for the next grouping of catastrophe prone adventure. In some ways I suppose I always thought that the reward for keeping us intact day after day was this moment of peace and clarity but I see now it’s not. It’s fuel. The day-to-day living part is where the magic things happen, I’m not just a cog in the wheel in those moments. I’m not only there to keep us intact, in fact I’m not sure I’m there to keep us intact at all. I like to imagine myself, the center of the swirling storm during the day-to-day chaotic living, arms raised in orchestration, smiling though the thunder and lightning. Looking back now, in this moment of reflection I confess I can see it all clear now. I don’t feel that “eye of the storm” calm. I feel cranky in those moments, out of control, desperate and grasping for any dry land I can find. I’m not the eye of the storm at all and it surprises me to realize that I’m as much a chaos provider as the rest of my wacky family. It surprises me and right now, honestly, in this moment of quiet I realize too that I’m relieved by this realization.
While being the “eye of the storm” looks to be a satisfying role to take and one I hope I will be sometime, somewhere, I understand now that trying to operate from that vantage point with no real margin or motivation ends up being a total drag. I’m not holding the line, I’m barking out commands, I’m laden down with fear and doubt and I’m having no damn fun.
What this season of Advent affords me, I hope, is the reminder about the manna. This moment of reflection isn’t my reward for mistakenly thinking that I’ve kept this ship afloat all along because that’s an arrogant statement at best. Rather, this moment is a filling up of my spirit so that when the next storm hits I can wrap my arms around it well, not to stop the storm from happening or to lash us all to the masts and hope for the best but to be there, all hands on deck, riding it out. To be on this ship together, on this unpredictable and wild sea is the choice we’ve made here. Maybe in this family, in this season of our lives, it’s less about storing up the quiet and all about living in the storm.