Birthdays get me thinking. It's not like turning 34 warrants a mid-life crisis. But maybe it is a good time to have a pre-mid-life, practice crisis.
For some reason, this year turning another year older strikes a certain chord. A certain need for reflection, for regrouping. I realize that in 10 years, in 15 years, the choices that I make during this time, this incredibly abundant, fruitful, busy, in-the-weeds, don't-have-time-for-reflection time...will begin to bear fruit. Or not. The decisions I make now about how I spend my time will begin to show and flower and be something beautiful, like the bluebells we have here in Virginia that burst into magnificent bloom so unexpectedly each Spring. Or, like many of my real-life gardening efforts, those seeds could bud just a little, bit and we'll wonder if I maybe should have watered more.
So this year, with these reflections, I’m calling it My Year of Availability.
We're making some big changes around here that will literally require my availability. But even more I mean that, as I look out my kitchen window and see the little people who once were part of me and still are very much a part of me, that when they come to me I won’t turn them away. No matter. No matter if I’m doing dishes, or laundry, or writing that Very Important Report. No matter if I feel that I cannot let go of what I am doing because in the end, they are the point. If I do not give to them, I do not give at all. I must plant these seeds now, while the soil is so ready, so primed. If I do not give them the time and measure of me that they need of me, what can I expect to see in the Springtime?
So, I'm reflecting. I'm reflecting on how these little pieces of me that are flit-floating through the green grass and soaring through the sky on the monkey-bars and rope swings are little seeds brimming with beauty, and the potential to become so much more. They are all red shirts and purple rain boots and plaid skirts soaring through the blue sky. A stick becomes a sword, no matter its length, no matter their age. The boys become pirates, and the girl -- not a damsel in distress, by any measure -- but the Captain of the Ship.
These years of play, of make-believe, of Pirates and Fairies and Capes, of skinned knees and bonked shins, and falling over and making friends... these days with their long, long hours are passing by so fast.
The little seeds are growing up. Getting physically, mentally, emotionally bigger. They are saying things that are so profound they make me pause over my breakfast. “What did you just say?” And they pause, blankly. Um, pass the toast? They know not the wisdom in those little hearts, the crystal gems that beat for God because they do not yet know that they could choose something else. I love them -- I love them so much it hurts. I love them when they punch me in the gut and say they are leaving and are So. Mad. Because I would not let them have cookies for dinner or play ponies in the rain when it is 20 degrees. Or because we did not get in to the Butterfly Exhibit at the Natural History Museum and the vendor only sells hot dogs for lunch and the backup plan of looking at the dinosaurs with three thousand other children was just so, so off....
So, why “Available?” Why this word? Because more than ever, I feel the strain. I feel the temptation to be Anywhere but Here because “Here” is hard. Being with them when they are Crazy and Mad and Hitting Each Other and Yelling at Me is pushing-me-over-the-edge maddening. The siren call of Anything Else wails clearly. Sometimes, I give in.
Sometimes, I’ve turned instead to the “anything else.” True confessions here.
But there is precedent to follow. I find it first in Mary, Mother. Mary, who is barely mentioned during Jesus’ ministry, who appears so little in the Gospel accounts of His life. She is Mother – she is there. But she is in the behind. Am I willing to be in behind? To be “unmentioned?” This is not a one-time choice, but a daily decision to recede, to fall back, to be available in the ebb and flow of what is in the background. Even when it seems I’m in the foreground, this means to be the support, the lean-to. It is to be the one the camera cuts in half because they are standing just slightly left of center.... to be the one with the watering can, gently nurturing, gently sowing, gently pruning.
Available. So that in this season, in this crazy, busy, running in every direction and pulled so tight I cave to "Super Why" and "Curious George" just so I can think about why I'm in the kitchen and why there is smoke coming from the oven... this is the time, to make the time, to start to dig deep.
To plant. To water. To love.
To plant. To water. To love.