In my mind there is a balance, with which I am constantly trying to weigh unequal things against each other. Two weeks ago on one side was the horrible, senseless, preventable deaths of 10 students at Umpqua Community College–just a fraction of the gun violence in our country this year because we lack the courage or compassion or common sense to put an end to it. On the other side that night was a delicious meal of roasted pork and red potatoes that I had made in the crockpot for the first time.
There is gratitude that I am joining new communities, like the covenant group I met with last night, which I am co-facilitating. The group is designed to help people get to know themselves and each other better, and I was stunned by the candor of the participants, and their willingness to listen with quiet empathy. And then there are the times when I feel excluded, wishing I fell more easily into circles or relationships where you always know you’re going to be genuinely welcomed, that you’re not intruding, where you know what treat they’d most like from the bakery, and you don’t hesitate to ask for help because you know it will be freely given.
Of course there is the moment to moment dichotomy of colossal love for your children and awe at their development–Zeke just started to say “I love you” to us completely unprompted, and there’s pretty much nothing better than that. His language skills and vocabulary are thrilling. Tonight Zoe said we were going to have pancakes for dinner when she meant pizza, and Zeke said, “You were just joking!” He says please and thank you of his own accord and will eat anything you put in front of him. And then there are those moments when he hits us with a stick or a remote control or throws a plastic shovel across the playground at the boy who wouldn’t let him cross a line of acorns he was creating in the sand, or when he keeps running when I yell “Stop!” or melts, boneless, into the mulch, when I say it’s time to go.
There is the leak under the kitchen sink that we have already had fixed several times. Right now there are layers of wet newspaper on top of rotted cardboard until I get around to calling a plumber. The cleaning supplies are clustered in a corner of the kitchen. There is the back panel of the dryer drum that needs to be replaced because a tablecloth accidentally included in the laundry melted onto it. But then again, the dryer still works in the meantime, and we have mountains of dirty clothes to keep testing it. We have endless clean water flowing from our faucet and a sink full of dishes on which we enjoyed good food.
There is the sacred and the profane. The Syrian refugees and those who are welcoming them and providing sanctuary and those who are arresting them or turning away. There are delicate, cool fall days. There is sickness and depression and more than enough emotional and physical anguish to go around. There are weddings and new beginnings and the messiness and embrace of family. There is Zeke approaching Zoe at the end of an evening where everyone was dancing in celebration of a marriage, saying to her, “Zuzzy–dance?” and dancing so joyfully with his big sister. And she was so delighted to dance with him. There are mice in our house–again. Tonight while I was reading in the family chair I saw one emerge from under the sofa, look around, and dart back underneath.
There is sleeplessness. There are naps. I have a lot of work to do and I am painfully behind in doing it, which is not really like me and uncomfortable and embarrassing. But I am thankful to have work and so happy that I’ve been working for myself, doing what I love, for 10 years now. I know I am lucky to have a vocation that I identified 33 years ago and I’ve been pursuing it every since.
I have been struggling with this idea that I am always seeking equilibrium that is impossible to achieve. My head and my heart so often see-sawing up and down, so easily weighed down or lifted up.