Conversations and Visions From My Bed

I was going to do a quick, effervescent post about my Thanksgiving preparations.  About the 12 cups of shortening chilling in the refrigerator waiting to become pie...(lots of pie, apparently.)  About the scrubbing and the shopping and the aprons I washed and pressed this morning for the occasion, the occasion of one the greatest weeks of the year for domestic goddesses everywhere.  There would have been mention of National Clean Out Your Fridge Day last Thursday and how I didn't clean out mine and how I regretted it yesterday and how it is a terrible thing to live with regret.  And how today I wore my Superman shirt under my apron so the kitchen would know who's boss.

And you would have enjoyed it.

But I have something else entirely coming out.  Don't worry.  You'll probably enjoy it, too.

The talk in our bed lately has been about the coming holidays.  As we're drifting off and slowly waking there is talk about lights and gifts and cards and decorating and budgets.  Last night I was listing the flaws in the current version of the Christmas CD we are giving to our friends and neighbors, the songs that have to go and the songs that just have to be on it regardless of what anyone thinks of us afterwards.  (The integrity of our holiday music mix must be preserved afterall.  We have a reputation to uphold.)  And this morning as I awoke, I told David that I received an email that our Christmas cards had shipped and he said, "Well you know what that means..." and then said the rest of it with his eyebrows, which was all about how I need to get writing and how he was nervous about this but was doing his best to keep it to himself and wasn't I proud of his effort. 

And lately I have been sighing inwardly that this is how it will be (waking and sleeping) for the next thirty days or so, despite my deep need for it to be different this year. 

Every year I think, "Next year will be different."  And every year it isn't.

So far this year has been no exception.  I started having actual nightmares about Christmas Eve in early October.  I have earnestly tried to "do less" and "simplify," thinking that will make it different, but honestly it doesn't fundamentally change the way we prepare and celebrate the holidays.  It just makes me anxious that "less" won't be "enough."  I have also tried to "do it early" but somehow this only seems to prolong the process.  There needs to be a change at the heart of it all.    

Early Monday morning I dreamed that David and I were at a beach house.  He was smiling at me under the sheets, and the sunlight was streaming through the windows setting the white sheets ablaze in light.  His skin was glowing like resurrection morning.  His eyes were pure love beaming up at me.

I woke up breathless, blinded by light and beauty and a feeling of overwhelming contentedness.

This morning under the covers I thought about that dream again.  I thought about how there has to be a better way.  A way full of light and love and contentedness.  I thought about how afterall that was the whole point of the birth we are so madly celebrating.  I thought about how tired I am already and how many lists I've made already and how I want to give up already.  I thought about those blazing sheets and resurrection morning and the love of my life.  And I thought about how to create a space big enough for that, for each one of my darlings.  Big enough that they can each be overwhelmed by love.

When I told David about the dream I said, "That's what I want for Christmas."

He asked, "A beach house?"


Confused, "No?"

"I want that feeling.  All that light and joy and love spilling out of our eyes and our fingertips and our windows and our doors."

He nodded, relieved, I think, that I did not want a beach house.  But I was less relieved.  Because I am good at fighting.  I am good at anxiety.  I am good at grudges and blowing things out of proportion.  (Boy, am I.)  I am good at stress and short answers and rushing through my days for the sake of a list.  I am good at missing the good stuff.

I want light and love and resurrection morning.  I want it all month long. 

Is this too much to ask?  Perhaps.  Especially given my considerable talent for the opposite.  But I'm asking anyway.  I can see why all that white, delicious fruit was so appealing to Lehi.  I am after a basketful of it myself.  I want light and love and resurrection morning dripping from my chin.

Let's eat.


We were reading Isaiah's poetry this morning at scripture study.  And this line stuck out at me:

"And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, (who, me?)

and thy neck is an iron sinew,

and thy brow brass;"

Let's be honest.  Isaiah is just plain brilliant.

And just as I was repenting of my brass brow and stiff neck, I got a call from David telling me he had just admitted himself to the emergency room.

I arrived to find him hooked up to the EKG machine. 

Which would soften anyone's iron sinew.

They did some blood work, and an ultrasound, and took his blood pressure.  They could find nothing wrong, which was horribly embarrassing to him and a glorious relief to me.  He kissed me hard and went to his next meeting.

I told him I loved him.  And vowed inside to soften my neck and my heart, for real this time. 

It is very tiresome living with regret.

Ring in the New Year

We are working our way backwards.

Passing the quiet snow-covered barns of Michigan and Indiana, the quiet fields and bare trees of Illinois, and the arch on the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis.  The air is warming with every mile.

The gloaming is just coming on now, turning the Missouri sky purple and blushing.

There is something reverent about watching the sky all the way from the slow black-to-blue of early morning to the rosy embers of the coming night.  The beginning, middle, and end from my seat in the car.

It makes me wistful and pensive.  Full of the regrets of last year and the yearnings for this coming one.

I don’t do well with starting lines.

I get too nervous and tense waiting for the gun.  Which always results in a bad start, and too often I grind to a halt, knowing inside that the race is already lost. CIM is too often “all or nothing.” Poor RIM.

Clean calendars and new days are full of pressure and anxiety for my inevitable failure.

I do better in the middle:  the middle of conversations (just ask David…answering his first questions of “How was your day?” completely stymies me and turns me to stone), the middle of the day (so much more cheerful and productive once the morning chores are done again and the real work can begin), the middle of the week, the middle of dinner (after my blood sugar has risen a bit).

That said, I have only one resolution for 2009.  I am in the middle of something.  A seed planted last year, that I hope will continue to grow into a life of less regret.  I only want to continue to nurture this one seed.  And that is enough resolution for me.  More than enough.  The rest of the "new year's list" always dissolves and disappears amidst spelling lists and laundry piles and emptying the dishwasher and science projects.  I know this now.  I have had enough fresh starts to know this for sure.  But my resolution to change my heart can be (and in fact must be) accomplished amid the sprawl and chaos of regular life.

Last week in church we sang the song: Ring Out, Wild Bells, which we only sing on one Sunday a year.

Which is right, I suppose.  But which I still think is a shame.

It touched me to tears, and seemed to capture the essence of my resolution, particularly verse 3.  And so my word of the year is RING.

Here are Tennyson's words:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

The larger heart.  The kindlier hand.  The vast landscape of my own heart in need of more light.  


I hope I am positively vibrating this year.