Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Incorrigible Hope

Two weeks ago, Keith received an email from his mentor and dissertation advisor at Baylor.  A lead on a potential teaching job.  A real lead, a really good lead.  The best one he's had all year.  Plus the first to come along since he graduated, so that his resume says Ph.D. instead of "ABD" (meaning he has completed "all but dissertation").  A small school with a Baptist background.  Baylor alums on the faculty.  Keith's advisor wrote him a very kind introduction.  Keith applied for the position the next day, and the battle began.  The battle with hope.

You can see it immediately.  The extra spring in our step, the extra glint in our eye.  Then the constant moderation of expectations.  The holding back.  The holding on.  We share a glance.  What if?  What could be?  Then we find ourselves shaking our heads.  Don't get too excited, now.  We don't know yet.  Anything could happen.  And that's just the point, isn't it?  Anything could happen.  Anything wonderful.  Anything beautiful.  Anything disappointing.  This is the danger, the necessity, of hope.  Incorrigible hope.

Hope is such a tricky, slippery thing, you see.  Without it life is static, colorless, tired.  Without it, there's not much in this life worth doing, worth dreaming.  Without hope, we lose.  We die.  Too much hope though, can be too risky.  Hope can be blinding.  We can ride hope too high, and if it suddenly slips from beneath us, well, it hurts when we fall.  So we protect ourselves.  We ground ourselves.  We make sure to pop our own little bubbles before they have a chance to carry us too far away.  Before someone else has a chance to pop them for us.  Because we're so sensible.  And we're so safe.  And we're so tragic.

We don't always realize what we're trading, do we, for that safety?  For that sense?  Is it naive, or is it essential, to let ourselves hope.  To swell with it.  To burst with it.  How do we know we'll come crashing back down?  Maybe we won't.  Our hope might just carry us on to something better.  Some new, higher, solid ground.  What if it doesn't even matter?  Whether we land or whether we fall?  What if it's all the same and only the rising means anything?  Always rising.  Rising up, rising beyond, rising over.  And one more time, rising again.

Anything could happen?  Could we rise so high that we can't even see the ground anymore?  We could rise so high that we can't even reach the ground anymore.  So high that the ground is gone, just disappears, and there's nothing left to bruise us when we fall.  What's the difference between falling and floating?  Between floating and flying?

I don't know if I'm brave enough to find out yet.  I still feel that reflexive tug, that guard-against, when hope pulls at me.  I'm still moderating expectations.  I'm trying not to rise too high.  But Keith has a phone interview on Friday morning.  And anything could happen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Water

When I need to hold on,
I go down to the Water.
       To be Soothed
       To be Tamed
       To be Found.
Great, rolling swells of blue-green clarity murmur Old Stories,
And spill Truth into me with a steady cadence.
       Be Silent.
       Be Strong.
       Be Still.
I soak it up till my limbs are heavy with it.
It holds me up, holds me in, holds me down.
But silence I cannot keep, and strength will fail me.
So I will borrow Stillness- just a moment more.

When I need to let go,
I come up to the Water.
       To be Savaged.
       To be Wild.
       To be Lost.
Fierce, jutting peaks of jet-black ecstasy cry out New Songs.
And pound Truth over me in a violent rhythm.
       Be Raucous.
       Be Brave.
       Be Free.
A greedy, sucking tide bears me away, empty.
It tears me up, tears me apart, tears me down.
My voice gives out and my brave-face crumbles.
But still I thirst for Freedom- there is never enough.

When I need to be whole,
I look to the Water.
       I am Washed.
       I am Cleansed.
       And Made New.
Cool, fresh currents whisper Sacred Secrets.
And Truth shimmers all around me.
       Who I was.
       Who I am.
       Who I'll be.
Sweet abandon brings a full surrender.
I am pieced back together in strange and shining shapes.
I leave and remain and disappear and return,
Then a sudden, fleeting Fullness- fading fast.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Bit of Catching Up

I cannot say how sad I am that my blogging has fallen off so dramatically of late.  I was doing so good and really enjoyed posting several times a week.  Then work threw me off my game by ramping into high gear in a way that I completely saw coming and fully expected, but it still felt like a sucker punch, and now, here I am, barely scraping together one post in a week.  It's a sad day.  Although at least, in my absence, Keith is doing much better than I am over at his new blog.  I think I've created a monster.  Though I must say, I love seeing things that we've talked about turn up there.  He's a pretty good read.

Anyway, here are some pictures I've been meaning to post ever since our trip to The Valley for Mom's birthday last weekend.  Hope this will tide everyone over for now.  You can see even more pics here, if you like.

We kicked the weekend off with a surprise party thrown by Mom's amazing friends.

The menu featured margaritas, enchiladas, rice and beans...

And dumpster-diving-carrot-cake.  A long story for another time.

Everything was SO delicious!

Of course with tequila involved things soon got a little out of hand.


I don't even want to tell y'all how out of hand things got!

We continued the festivities with an all-family party at Grandmom and Pop's new house.
Pop manned the grill, as per usual.  He's a grilling-god!

Grandmom played the lovely hostess.

And I know the evening was supposed to be about celebrating Mom's birthday.  But these guys...
were the real stars of the show.

You can't see it, but that's a tiny, plastic, portable wading pool he's diving into.

All smiles.

And the scrumpchiest cheeks!

Plus the lady of the hour.  And me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Fairy Tales and Birthday Wishes

For some people, each day that goes by feels like living in a fairy tale.  For a fortunate few, life is larger than life and every day events are grand adventures.  Magic happens.  Mystery and wonder abound.  Curses break, princesses wake from deep slumbers, handsome princes slay fearsome dragon.  Life is precious, destiny is real, and even the littlest things (and the littlest people) matter.

I know what that's like.  I know what it feels like to live in a fairy tale.  I am one of those fortunate few because it's the way I was raised.  I grew up with belief in the impossible, the miraculous.  I was surround by the most enchanting stories, wrapped in the most beautiful mantle woven of Truth in fiction.  I know what it's like to live in a fairy tale world, because one was given to me.

My mother made it.  She spun it by hand and by voice, conjuring song and story, hearts and souls, goodness, mercy, faith, imagination.  All the things that make life wonderful, weighty, worthy.  All the colors, sounds, feelings, that inhabit my world.  She gave them to me.  She taught them to me.  She birthed them in me.

The things that I aspire to, the qualities I seek, she models them for me.  She has always modeled them for me.  Compassion, humility, selflessness, servanthood.  Love and love and love, never flagging, never tiring, never-ever-ever giving up.  Like some mythical being, like a well that is never dry, like a river overflowing is my mother's love.

And this is just a part, just a small part of all that she is, all that she does, all that she means to all of us that love her.  These are just some words.

Her birthday is today- my mother, fairy-tale-weaver, life-giver...who loves without ceasing.  Happy birthday, Mommie.  I love you more than any words can say.