We were 208 feet off the ground and teetering on the edge of insanity. White-knuckling the seat in front of me, I stared at Ali, my eight-year-old, with wide eyes. In a matter of seconds we would plunge into a 116° inverted free-fall, followed by a series of loops and corkscrews through which this new roller coaster would spin at speeds up to 70 mph.
What were we thinking? A few days earlier the ride was still being tested! It’s name? The Cannibal. Because it eats other coasters in its tracks. As well as cell phones, sun glasses, hats, and any common sense you had on the ground. Billboards around town are advertising the new screamer with this bit of advice, “The Cannibal. Bring a change of shorts.”
Wise counsel. The ride was nutso! We screamed. We fell. At an angle beyond vertical! But we survived. Even without a change of shorts.
We laughed our way out of the exit and yelled to my sister, “You gotta do it!” My kids and their cousins were wearing neon yellow t-shirts. Couldn’t miss any of the them as they dodged in and out of crowded lines. My sister-in-law made the shirts for our Keddington reunion, and on the front she displayed one of our favorite family sayings, “Our IQ demands it!” A philosophy preached by my Grandma Dorothy, who believed life was best lived with a curious mind and an adventurous spirit. Continue reading
Sunshine spreads across the breakfast table, glints off my cereal bowl. I fish for oatmeal squares in milk then set down my spoon to read. The boys race in and out of the kitchen, clacking plastic swords as I move Elder Holland’s book to my lap:
“One of the unfailing facts of mortal life is the recurring presence of trouble, the recurring challenge of difficulty and pain… Though we have received great promises regarding the lifting of our burdens, the weight of them is still often ponderous while we wait for that relief. It was for just such days of opposition, such ‘times of trouble,’ that the biblical psalms were written” (3).
Already I am wiping tears. It began last night and continued after waking. Moments of weepiness as I placed dishes in the dishwasher, moved laundry, hung up a new towel before showering.
Yesterday, my Mother had an MRI to determine the status of a second brain tumor she has been battling since 2008. In the last twenty years she has had four brain surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and a bundle of miracle years. While we thought the tumor was in stasis, recent imaging showed it is growing again. Continue reading
Our life of late has been a rush and swirl of light, in varying degrees.
Hospital visits, a child with a broken leg, twin birthdays, baptisms only a week away, a friend juggling new babies in arms, a new niece about to be born, my mother in the ER, mercies, disappointments, sunsets that stop me in my tracks, and love riding carefully against harsh words – unseen, maybe even unknown.
I could write about each of these, for paragraphs and more. Continue reading
Each new year I have a cluster of friends who choose a word. A word they will focus on for the upcoming year.
I first noticed this trend when I was in the throes of babies by the double. People I admired were choosing words like see, lift, simplify, breathe, accept. I loved their words. I wanted one. But the only word I could think of then was survive. And the drowning, muffled ring of it didn’t set right. So that was that.
Two years later, I considered it again, but my brain had no space for it. It felt like one more thing. As 2015 bobbed in, however, I watched my five children toss balloons and blow streamers, and thought, maybe this is the year.
Maybe I should choose… a word.
My long-time friend and young women’s leader, Cristie, always chooses a word. She is a radiant, happy woman who still drops by with an unexpected gift, cares about staying in touch, and lives a consecrated, joyful life. Twenty years ago, she let me sit on her bed late at night and talk with her (and her husband) about big life decisions, boys, marriage. This year she made a number of darling bracelets for her daughters and friends who chose words.
Just before January she posted her word. It was listen. And with it she posed a question. What will your word be?
I thought about it for a week. I tried on words others were using. I tried being original. I tried being deep. I tried and tried and tried, but nothing fit or felt right. I needed so many words. Yet no single word seemed to possess in its meaning the salve I searched for. Continue reading
Just a few lines I love from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ (1884-1889) poem, The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe.
Nazareth 1842 Continue reading