The Parade of Homes Inside a Whale

For what it's worth, this post has been published and unpublished a number of times now.  I still think it never quite got "there," but maybe that's the point.  Mercy.  Even for the badly-crafted post.

I had that dream again.

But first...I got up.  I pretended to make breakfast.  I read about Alma with my children, and then slurred my way through an explanation of how he was related to the people who crossed the Red Sea on dry land.  I knelt in a circle and prayed.  I put the hair up (no doubt it will be hot again today).  I put a private message on every body's lunch sack.  I sat next to Savannah and listened as she recited rhymes about the piano bass clef.  I stood by the door.  I double checked lunches and water bottles.  I kissed and well-wished.

And then I went back to bed.

David had already made it, but he told me to lay down anyway and take a nap.  At least half an hour he said.

Yesterday was a long day.  It started very early and ended very late and plus I was the star of the show most of the day.  Yeah, you read that right.  THE STAR of the show, I'm telling you.  It was all adrenalin and nerves most of the day, and then afterward it was driving across the dark desert in the middle of an Alabama-worthy rainstorm, which is a highly-technical coordination of brights and wipers and keeping my eyes on the yellow line.  (It is very wearing to be THE STAR with no personal driver.)  

And so this morning, I had that dream again.

The one where we live in that huge house we have to renovate.  And every time I have the dream there are more rooms in it...more rooms with walls as tall as cathedrals, all with peeling, atrocious paint.  Today I dreamed I was sleeping in this absolute mess of a house--different flooring in every room, peeling mauve paint on all the walls, black-grouted tile, decorations of carousel ponies in three of the living rooms--when the parade-of-homes people came by to decorate my house.  They were stunned at the state of things and started telling me all these things I was going to have to do to make the place acceptable.  I walked into the dining room and thought, "Okay, I could scrape these walls down and repaint in here today," and then I walked around the corner and I saw another room, and beyond that another room, and beyond that another room, and beyond that a whole other floor that I didn't even know existed.  I sat down.  Worn out by the thought of it.

If we ever have the chance to buy this house in real life, I'm totally going to think twice.

I only have this dream when I'm so exhausted and simultaneously so aware of my own failings and inadequacies, that all my mess gets translated into walls and flooring and bad paint as high and as deep as a mountain. 

Last night, as we were drifting off in the dark and the day was swirling around me, David said, "You know you're amazing, right?"  I didn't answer because the truth was choking me.  "Have you seen this room?"  I wanted to say.  "Have you seen this one?  And that's nothing.  There are rooms beyond those, and rooms beyond those, and whole floors beyond those."  No amount of amazing is ever going to cover all that territory.

Yesterday we nearly drowned with Jonah in Sunday School.  We swam the depths with him.  I felt myself swallowed whole with him, weeds encompassed about my head, buried as deep as the bottoms of the mountains.  At the moment of great alarm he remembered the Lord.  Alma had the exact same experience this morning in our family room, when he was in the gall of bitterness.  Apparently there's a lot of that going around.

Today I noticed that the very same word appears in both stories.  Mercy.


The truth is, I'm a dead ringer for Jonah.  Drowning.  In need of a whale.  (Send help.)  Slow to remember.  Even slower to extend the same mercy I receive to others. 

I heard a story about Elder Hanks as I was preparing my lesson.  He was speaking about a verse in Micah that says, "what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  And then Elder Hanks said, "My specialty is mercy."

I wish my specialty was mercy.

My specialty is closer to hard-hearted, stiff-necked.  Slightly less desirable, no?

After yesterday, I've decided to make my specialty mercy. 

Note to heaven:  I may need a little help with that.  You may have to send another whale. 

Or two.