Tuesday, September 26, 2006

laid back

Maybe it’s the two jumbo mugs of caffeine I abused to get me through the afternoon. Maybe it’s the ten-hour days I’m pulling at work. Maybe it’s the accumulation of unfinished projects lurking in the house, the yard, the garage. Maybe it’s the added responsibility of being a room mother, cafeteria mom, assistant chef, and folder stuffer, not to mention spelling list checker, reading buddy, memory verse mentor, and research assistant. Whatever it is, it is rising like the water level during a hard, steady rain and threatening to drown me at any moment.

Lucky for me, I’m good at treading water.

It was a skill I learned in elementary school but perfected as a matter of survival during my four summers as a YMCA camp counselor. After seven or so hours at the park with ten first grade boys all over me like squirrels on a tree, I desperately needed the time in the pool as a respite. I had a firm rule that I was not to be touched in the pool (just ask my husband—I put him in timeout for dunking me one summer), but to further insure I would be left alone, I would position myself right smack-dab in the middle of the deep end and tread water for two hours. It was brilliant. I could keep an eye on everything I needed to, carry on adult conversations without being asked for the eleventh time for permission to go to the bathroom, and the kids could swim out and talk to me for as long as they could tread water themselves. Since the average first grader can tread water for only about two minutes tops, it worked like a charm. Treading water—that I can do.

But perhaps, now, I’ve been in the pool a little too long. What was meant to be a two-hour respite has become a way of life. I’m getting a little prune-y, and, honestly, a little worn out. My muscles are fatigued, and I’m beginning to struggle to stay just above the rising levels of anxiety and stress that threaten to shoot up my nose, causing me to choke and sputter like a child who’s inhaled at the bottom of the water slide, not that I have reason to know what that feels like. I feel tired, overwhelmed, a little panicky—maybe it’s just the caffeine. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never really been comfortable in the water…

I was never one of those kids who could lay back and relax in the pool—although I floated like a buoy (go figure), floating was uncomfortable to me. I didn’t like it. Too vulnerable. Too laissez faire. Too trusting. Despite my teacher’s best efforts to coax me, I would not remain in a float any longer than was necessary to prove I could accomplish it. The fear was too great. True to my nature, even in the pool I was more comfortable striving to be in control than allowing the water to do what it was created to do. I’d like to say I’ve changed. Unfortunately, most days, I cannot.

The irony is not lost on me that water, in dreams and visions, often symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The pool is full of that which can uphold me, and I’m flailing in the middle of the deep end, wearing myself out trying not to drown, looking more than a little silly in the process. This is my life, most days. But oh, for the ability to trust—to lie back, arms outstretched, and allow myself to be upheld. To hear the Instructor’s voice whisper Just relax—I’ve got you. I am not at ease. Maybe it’s the caffeine. Maybe it’s PMS.

Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and dare to trust that the laws of nature really do apply to me and not just to a fortunate few. Maybe it’s time to plug my nose, and lay back and float a while.

Monday, September 18, 2006

a pellet gun would suffice...

So, my hubby and I were sitting out on the deck late one night this weekend, enjoying the cool, relaxed September evening and celebrating it with a fire in the chimnea, when a dark figure made an arc around our yard. Is that a cat? my hubsband asked. I squinted as it made its way through the shadows to my right. I'm not sure, I replied. Momentarily it disappeared from sight, reappearing seconds later at the foot of the steps just below me. Its masked features peered up at me in the firelight, and my husband and I groaned in unison.

Raccoon number five.

Anyone have a firearm we could borrow?

Monday, September 11, 2006

i'll leave the light on...

He walked through the front door, put down his bag, and turned off the lamp on the table next to him. I came behind him with his carry-on, and watched as he walked through the dining room into the kitchen, turning off the lamp over the piano as he went. I smiled a wry smile. You're officially home. How symbolic.

My husband left two weeks ago on an airplane bound for Zambia. His absence was most felt in the evenings--the kids asleep, the sky dark, and our bed empty. Knowing myself well, I did what I needed to do to make it through those 15 nights alone.

I left the lights on.

The two lamps my husband extinguished as he entered our home this morning had been burning since he left. Literally. In one fail swoop he announced to my spirit and all others in attendance that darkness was no longer a threat to me--he was home.

The light of my life was home.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006